Community Advisory Board Bios

Rosemary Cook, Family Member

I am an advocate for individuals with special needs because my son Curtis has Autism and is 34 years- old now. Because of him, I have a strong passion for helping people navigate the system.

Sue Hamilton, Family member

I am an EDN (Early Development Network) services coordinator in Grand Island. (18 years) In this role, I work with families who have children who are at risk for delays in their development, helping them access community resources that best meet their needs. My husband, Jim and I are parents of a son, Christopher, age 29 who has physical and medical needs. We live in Grand Island and have 8 children in total. Jim and I also have been foster parents for 18+ years and have guardianship for a 5-year-old, Milly who has high medical needs.

Graciela Sharif, Family Member

I am the mother of two children, ages 14 and 11. My 14 years old son has Down syndrome, and he has received services from MMI since he was a toddler. I am originally from Peru and have lived in NE most of my life. In addition, I work at PTI-NE as an outreach coordinator, helping Spanish speaking families access, navigate and receive appropriate school services for their children with disabilities.

Candi Koenig, Family Member

My husband, Tony and myself live in Kearney, NE. I am the mother of two children, ages 13 and 11. My son has had a myriad of health issues since birth including seizures, mild intellectual disabilities and some behavior challenges. I am a former educator but currently work as a family advocate for Families CARE; under the Umbrella of the NE Federation of Families for Children’s Mental Health.

Susan Kringle, Family Member

I am a mom to Stephanie and 2 other children. Stephanie has a developmental disability and requires 24/7 care. I have served on many different boards at the local, state and national levels.

Toya McIntosh, Self Advocate

I ama self-advocate and am also a single mom of 2 boys. My youngest son has Cerebral Palsy and so do I. I was told that by now I should not be walking, but I am.

Dave Merrill – Region V Representative (DD Provider)

My sister experienced Down Syndrome and we watched the development of services throughout the 50’s and 60’s. I work for Region V Services in Lincoln and chair the Nebraska Providers’ Network.

Jeff Swanson, Family Member

I am a father of 2 children. My younger daughter has developmental disabilities.

Dee Valenti, DD Council Representative

I am on the CAB representing the NE Developmental Disabilities Planning Council. I am the parent of an individual with developmental disabilities (dd) and also the guardian for other individuals with dd. I am on numerous Boards and Committee to advocate for those with developmental disabilities.