Meet The Advisory Board
Executive Director, and Co-Founder at Decoding Dyslexia
Nancy is a reading and dyslexia specialist with a combined MA in psychology and in school counseling; trained in assessments, evaluations, scientific research evaluation, and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (C.B.T.). She often provides families, educators and advocates with the information they need to address learning disability, including dyslexia, school anxiety, frustration and poor academic performance. She is currently the Executive Director and Co-Founder of Decoding Dyslexia Massachusetts. Nancy was appointed by MA DESE to the Subject Matter Knowledge Committee for Reading Specialist Licensure in MA. She serves on the Governor’s Early Literacy Expert Panel for MA; the Advisory Group for the International Foundations for Effective Reading Instruction; and the National Center for Improving Literacy. She received the 2019 International Dyslexia Association MA Branch Garside Award for her advocacy work. She has presented professional development and workshops to educators, advocates, attorneys, policy makers, and families, connecting the legal obligations of I.D.E.A. for reading with the decisions made on the national, state and local level.
Director of 2Empower Parents, Parent and Executive Function Coach for Neurodiverse Children, Teens, Young Adults and Adults
Courtney is passionate about empowering people to pursue their dreams and build the life they want, no matter the obstacles. Courtney masterfully blends her personal background with a professional passion for coaching students, parents, and adults and is committed to making a difference in the lives of others who face challenges, uncertainties, and obstacles that are related to physical, mental, neurobiological, and/or neurochemical factors. Courtney earned her Bachelor’s degree from Washington and Lee University in 1993 and went on to complete a Master’s of Science degree at Virginia Commonwealth University in 1997. She received her license as a physical therapist shortly after graduation in 1997 and went on to specialize in pediatric physical therapy where she coached and empowered parents while helping infants and toddlers with developmental delays and/or disabilities. Since 2000, she has also provided chest physical therapy to patients with chronic, life-shortening pulmonary disease and from 2017 until 2021 she served as the executive director of that practice, Chest Physical Therapy Services. Most recently she has worked at Effective Effort Consultings as an executive function coach for people who are neurodiverse including those who are twice-exceptional, a parent coach, and the Director of 2Empower Parents. Her struggle to find help for her son whom she did not learn was twice-exceptional until he was 17 is what inspired her to become a coach. In addition to her work with EEC, she has been involved with the Chris Walsh Center for Families and Educators at Framingham State University as well as with the Massachusetts Association for Gifted Education in the advocacy group. She is a member of SENG, MAGE, and NAGC. Courtney has 3 young adult children and lives in Framingham, MA with her husband and her faithful walking companion and dog, Baxter. When not coaching, she can be found competing on the tennis court, enjoying travel, getting her feet in the sand or the ocean, or spending time with family and friends, near and far.
Chair of the Framingham Disability Commission, Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination Advisory Board, Framingham Age and Dementia Friendly Coalition
Sheryl Goldstein is one of the founding members of the center since its inception in 2015. Over the past two decades, she has spent much of her professional attention on advocacy within school systems, especially where it pertains to students with differentiated learning styles. In addition to being a 2018 recipient of the prestigious Unsung Hero Award from the Massachusetts Commission for the Status of Women, she also sits on the Framingham Disability Commission as Chair and on the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination Advisory Board. Sheryl has an undergraduate degree from Northeastern University in Communications and is close to finishing her Master's Degree in Social Work from Simmons University. Sheryl, her husband, two daughters, and dog Coco live in Framingham.
Executive Director of Education, MetroWest YMCA
Heidi Kaufman has been working with young children and their families for 30 years and has held her current role as Executive Director for Education at the MetroWest YMCA since 2001. At the Y, she serves as a member of the senior leadership team; supervises all of the EEC licensed programs including the Early Learning Center, After School programs, and summer learning programs. She leads the Y’s opportunity gap work; manages all the related contracts and grants; and provides assistance, expertise, training, and supervision as needed both within the Y and in the community. In addition, Heidi is the Chair of the Youth Policy Committee for the Alliance of Massachusetts YMCAs and often represents the YMCAs of Massachusetts in state and regional task forces and committees.
Heidi holds a Certificate of Advanced Graduate Studies in Education from Lesley University, a Master of Social Work Degree from Washington University in St. Louis, and a Bachelor of Arts from Brandeis University.
Director of the Center for Inclusive Excellence
Eric Nguyen (he/him/his) joined Framingham State University in June 2021 as the Director of the Center for Inclusive Excellence, and brings extensive experience developing programs that prioritize equity, social justice, and belonging for all students. In particular, Eric is committed to an intersectional approach that centers and uplifts the voices and narratives of students who hold historically marginalized identities.
Prior to joining FSU, Eric’s work focused on expanding academic opportunities and building community to empower first-generation, undocumented, and low-income students of color in middle school, high school, and college settings. Eric holds a masters degree in education leadership from Teachers College, Columbia University, and a bachelors degree in psychology from Amherst College. He is currently enrolled in the doctor of education program at Northeastern University. His research interests are shaped by critical race and community cultural wealth theories and focus on the ways in which minoritized students navigate power dynamics throughout their college experience.
In his free time, Eric enjoys outdoor activities including rock climbing, trail running, and mountain biking. He is also an avid photographer, and he enjoys birdwatching, hiking, gardening, and raising a young child with his partner Bonnie. He has served in community and non-profit leadership roles with the Natick (MA) Equity Task Force, Appalachian Mountain Club, Concord Academy, and Natick Community Organic Farm.
Gail Palmer has worked as an independent consultant with various companies and organizations on strategic planning, marketing, sales, and business development for over 20 years.
As a parent of two children diagnosed with Dyslexia, her own personal experience navigating the special education system led her to contact her legislator Chris Walsh, and advocate for a way to offer support to other struggling families. This kicked off the process of establishing the Chris Walsh Center at FSU.
Another grassroots effort in which she has been involved is Decoding Dyslexia of MA. Whereby, she lobbied legislators in the house and senate and provided testimony in support of new legislation for early literacy screening that went into effect in 2018.
She strongly believes in the value of supporting students and their families in their efforts to obtain a quality education. To support this purpose; she currently serves on the steering committee for the Child Find Project – MA.
She feels privileged to officially join the advisory board of the Chris Walsh Center.
Visiting Lecturer in FSU's Education Department
Marissa is a passionate learner and educator in the realm of special education. Her previous professional experiences include working as an Early Childhood and Elementary Special Education teacher in Massachusetts public schools and as an Early Childhood instructor of students with diverse learning challenges at Lesley University. At Framingham State University, Marissa teaches courses in special education for students studying Early Childhood and Elementary Education.