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Post Date:04/02/2018 12:00 PM

Yonkers, NY- April 2, 2018 --  On Monday, World Autism Awareness day, City Council President Mike Khader announced final selections for his newly created Children with Special Needs Advisory Board.

City Council President Khader has chosen nine qualified professionals, parents, and community members to advise him on issues that affect children with special needs. He will also be appointing a special liaison to facilitate communication between the advisory board and the Board of Education. The City Council President believes this board will serve as a vital resource for our city’s most vulnerable children.

“I am especially proud that on this day, World Autism Awareness Day, I can announce that my office is working to help children who cannot help themselves,” said City Council President Mike Khader. “This is a growing global health issue impacting 1 out of every 68 children, and it’s time that we dedicate more resources to ensure that these children are getting the level of care, and the quality education that they need to thrive.”

Members of the board will serve for two-year terms and responsibilities will include:

  • Identifying the imminent special education concerns within Yonkers Public schools
  •  Analyzing special needs data
  •  Gathering feedback from the community
  • Brainstorming ideas for potential solutions and effective policies to improve special education funding and resources
  • Raise awareness and help eliminate the stigma attached to disabilities

Findings from the efforts of the Special Needs Advisory Board will be presented in a report to the Board of Education.

The newly selected members include:

 *Aminah Lucio is the Director of Academic and Behavioral Interventions for the Yonkers Board of Education and Special Education department. She is a strong and devoted advocate for students with disabilities and continues to work toward the betterment of education for children with special needs. Aminah will serve as an appointed special liaison for the Children with Special Needs Advisory Board and the BOE.

Gail Baxter is a retired long time parent coordinator of Yonkers Public Schools. She continues to devote her passion for education through assisting parents with special needs children. Gail has also received recognition in the community for her dedication and leadership.

Dr. Sonia Byrd obtained her Doctorate of Psychology in School-Clinical Psychology from Yeshiva University. She is also a long time Yonkers Public school psychologist with vast experience in psychological assessments.

Deborah Collier is a special education teacher with vast experience in the educational development of children with special needs. She was also formerly Vice President of the Yonkers Federation of Teachers Union.

Jennifer Gamby is a parent of a special needs child and is also an educator for children with special needs for nearly 20 years. She is dedicated to helping children obtain more resources, material and benefits that will help improve special education.

Dr. Arthur Maloney received his Doctorate of Education from Columbia University and has extensive experience in education both as a special education teacher and as a high school administrator for over 20 years. He is also a grandparent of children with special needs.

Jeanne Martinelli is a strong advocate for children with special needs. She is also a devoted grandmother of a special needs child and is committed towards helping obtain more services for special education.

Kristina Meola is a parent of special needs children and a strong advocate for special education. She is a Daycare owner and has a degree in early childhood education.

DaQueen Monroe is the founder of The Autism Project – F.L.O.S., an organization that focuses on educating parents on how to advocate for their special needs child. She is also the parent of her special needs adult son.

Louis Olander
is a doctoral candidate in Urban Education at the CUNY Graduate Center and teaches in the Special Education Departments at Hunter College and City College. He is also a veteran of the United States Army National Guard.




Briggette Sayegh

Communications Director, City Council President

City of Yonkers – City Hall | 40 So. Broadway | Yonkers, NY 10701

Office:  914-377-6063 | E-mail:


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