Melissa Kremmel joined CTFSN in 2015. She has three children, including an adult son who is diagnosed with bipolar disorder and a younger son with autism, food allergies, and asthma. Her youngest child has also been diagnosed with ADHD and a nonverbal learning disability. Experiences in advocating for her children have led her to help other families. Melissa has previously served as Parent Co-Chair of the Waterbury Family Focus Partnership. She has also participated in the Connecticut Network of Care Transformation workshops and actively participates in network building for Connecticut’s western region. She was the Plymouth SEPTA president for four years and served on the Plymouth Board of Education for 5 years. Currently, Melissa Serves on the Medical Home Advisory Council, The Department of Developmental Services Community of Practice Steering Committee, and the Help Me Grow Advisory Council.
Assistant Executive Director
Adrianna Ramirez joined CTFSN in 2021. She is a mother and advocate. She has always served as an advocate for family members with intellectual disabilities and special healthcare needs. She also has experience being a caregiver and supporting disabled aging family members and family with intellectual and developmental disabilities with special healthcare needs. As a bilingual individual she has supported her family and members of her community with researching various services to meet their needs and has experience in mentoring through her coaching background. Adrianna has years of experience championing for her family member’s medical needs and researching community resources. Adrianna is passionate about arming families with resources, skills and tools to empower them as advocates for their loved ones as well as parent leaders in their communities.
Family Support Coordinator ~ Northwest Region
Rachel Keesler joined CTFSN in 2021. She has two children; her 9 year old son was diagnosed with a rare neuro-metabolic disorder when he was 2 ½ years old. Rachel understands how important advocacy is and enjoys supporting other parents. Rachel also has experience supporting families through the PPT process as well as helping support families seek early intervention for their children. She was also a Parent Mentor for CPAC. Rachel earned a bachelor’s in psychology where she focused on families and children.
North Central Family Support Coordinator
Born and raised in Connecticut Melissa is a married mother of two adult children with special needs. She is
a fierce advocate in the disability community. During her tenure as an Volunteer Advocacy
Advocate she worked effectively with community members and elected officials to enact
positive policy change on both the state and federal level. She also holds a Connecticut Real Estate
license and pride herself on advocating and negotiating for her clients while navigating the
home buying and selling process.
South Central Family Support Coordinator
Lena joined CTFSN in 2022. Her journey started 17 years ago when her lovely daughter was diagnosed with Autism. Throughout the years, she has learned so much from her. Her daughter is her inspiration to learn, educate herself and deal with all the challenges that the system has brought them. Her daughter is nonverbal and has multiple disabilities. Lena worked in New York for 15 years. She relocated from New York to Connecticut in 2013.Transition was a big struggle looking for services and programs for her child. She started participating at Connecticut Parent Advocacy Center during the pandemic and later became a facilitator for Next Steps and SIT. During the past years, she has been dedicating her life to help families to make sure everybody can understand all the information, processes and guide them to different community resources. As a native Spanish speaker she wants to serve as a bridge between her community and the system by helping them navigate through the process. She is part of several advisory councils, committees and represents Connecticut in different groups as a parent leader. Advocating is her passion and to help is her vocation. She wants to continue dedicating her life to empower families all around her region and Connecticut to always do the impossible until it is done.
Northwest Spanish Speaking Family Support Coordinator
Yury Cruz joined CTFSN in 2022 as our Spanish Speaking Family Support Coordinator supporting the Northwest Region. She is a mother of 2 boys, ages 9 and 6. Her 9 year old was diagnosed with autism at the age of 3, at the time, she knew nothing about autism.
Ever since her child’s diagnosis her professional life spiraled after news of the diagnosis because she understood how important it would be to educate herself and equip herself with the tools that she needed as a mother to help in the process of raising her child with any difficult challenges that may arise.
Her passion is to help other parents that are, just like her, starting this journey in an unknown world, a path on Neurodiversity.
Yury has previously been a facilitator of the Spanish support group of Sun Moon and Stars and Padres Unidos de Danbury.
She is a current board member of SpedCT, and a recent 2022 PLTI graduate. Yury earned her bachelor’s degree in accounting from the University of San Buenaventura in Colombia, South America, her country of origin.