Meet our Team

Dr. Lanisha D. Makle-Ridley

Dr. Lanisha Danielle Makle-Ridley


Dr. Lanisha Makle-Ridley is currently serving as the Co-Project Director for the NJ Family Engagement Hub, responsible for infrastructure and coordination. Previously, Dr. Makle-Ridley has served the project director for the New Jersey Council on Developmental Disabilities’ (NJCDD) Diversity, Equity, Cultural Competence and Linguistic Responsiveness Project, as well as the National Center for Learning Disabilities’ (NCLD) IEP Focus Group project. Dr. Makle-Ridley has also served as the Northern NJ Coordinator for SPAN’s Parents as Healthy Champions project. Dr. Makle-Ridley is the former Director of the Department of Community Development for the City of Paterson, beginning her tenure on September 7, 2010, which concluded on June 30, 2014. Prior to her appointment, Ms. Makle-Ridley served as Director of the Passaic County Workforce Investment Board, a position which she was appointed to in September 2006. Dr. Makle-Ridley was born in East Orange, NJ. She graduated high school from Blair Academy and continued her postsecondary education at Smith College in Northampton, MA. Dr. Makle-Ridley has a master’s degree in Administrative Science from Farleigh Dickinson University and a master’s degree in public administration from Kean University. She has earned a Doctorate in Management, focusing on organizational leadership from the University of Phoenix. Dr. Makle-Ridley is the mom to one son, Brandon.

Jeannette Mejias

Jeannette Mejias


Jeannette has been in advocacy work with the SPAN Parent Advocacy Network in New Jersey for 15 years, starting as a Family Resource Specialist (FRS) in the Special Child Case Management Unit in Middlesex County. As an FRS, she provided individual assistance, coaching, and parent-to-parent support to families with Children with Special Health Care needs. Jeannette has worked in a few other capacities as well and through her various roles, she has collaborated with professionals, educators, and pediatric practices. She offers training, tools, and best practices to ensure family engagement and meaningful partnerships with underserved families by highlighting and helping to remove the existing barriers that hinder immigrant families from accessing vital resources and becoming effective advocates. 

Jeannette has trained over 300 + volunteer parents statewide, building advocacy capacity for families with children with disabilities as the Director of the Special Education Volunteer Advocates program funded through the Department of Education Office of Special Education Programs. Through this work, she continues to enhance the support available to families seeking quality inclusion and effective transition to adulthood services. Jeannette has supported families to navigate multiple systems and firmly believes in helping parents to share their voices and experiences at every table which is essential to ensure their children’s future success.

Jeannette Mejias

Kim Rivers

Training Coordinator and Information Specialist

With 13 years of experience as a Family Resource Specialist at SPAN Parent Advocacy Network, I’ve dedicated my energies to supporting and empowering the parents of children with disabilities. As an Information Specialist on the Warmline project, I’ve been on the front lines for families seeking guidance and resources for their child’s education. I’ve also spent over 5 years as a SPAN trainer, presenting workshops designed to build the capacity of both families and professionals, with a variety of offerings in areas such as Basic Rights, Inclusion, Youth Empowerment, and Transition to Adult Life. I look forward to starting this new journey toward building a better future for all by starting with outreach and family engagement.

Faith Victor, Family Engagement Specialist

Faith Victor

Northern Regional Family Engagement Specialist

Faith Victor is a Haitian American advocate for families that are in need and that display challenges in education, the home setting, college development and all areas of personal needs. She is currently functioning as the Northern Regional Family Engagement Specialist for the NJ Family Engagement Hub. She is a graduate of Montclair State University with a Bachelor’s of Arts in Family Sciences and Human Development (with a minor in Child Advocacy and Policy). 

With a solid background as a Family Advocate at Montclair Child Development Center, a Behavioral Health Counselor at The Alexander Youth Network in North Carolina, Intergovernmental Relations and Community Outreach with the Port Authority of NY & NJ, serving and working with NJ AMERICORPS and continued extensive experience in family services, Faith Victor has an unwavering passion for helping and supporting families from different backgrounds. Whether advocating for essential services, coordinating support networks, or facilitating communication between stakeholders, she is driven by a genuine desire to empower families to overcome obstacles and thrive. 

Faith loves what does!

Tiffany Molina NJFEHUB

Tiffany Molina

Central Regional Family Engagement Specialist

Tiffany Molina is a first generation college graduate. She started with an Associates degree in Human Services: Child Development from LaGuardia Community College, then a Bachelors degree in Disability Studies: Mental & Behavioral Health from the City University of New York School of Professional Studies. Tiffany is now in the process of earning a Masters degree in Education at the New Jersey City University. Tiffany is a dual certified special education teacher and has spent most of her adult life thus far as an educator in high needs districts, which explains her growing passion for educational advocacy. Tiffany has five children who were born
and raised here in New Jersey, while she was born and raised in New York City by a strong Latina queen. Tiffany is also bilingual (Spanish).

Tara Szymanek

Tara Szymanek 

Southern Regional Family Engagement Specialist 

Tara Szymanek serves as the Regional Family Engagement Specialist for the Southern Region of the NJ Family Engagement Hub and is responsible for infrastructure and coordination. Tara has served at SPAN as a trainer for the PTI Training Team and Special Education Volunteer Advocates (SEVA) and served as a Family Resource Specialist (FRS) for the Family WRAP project, supporting Special Child Case Management Units in several vicinages and SPAN Warmline. In this work, Tara worked with parents to build capacity in understanding effective communication strategies, options for advocacy, and rights and responsibilities they can use when partnering with schools to support their students.  

Tara Szymanek is a military parent, and her family is stationed at Joint Base McGuire Dix Lakehurst in Burlington County, NJ. She has worked in various support capacities for parents and professionals in special education since September 2016. She has expertise working as a registered behavior technician with children with significant behavioral, language, and functional support needs. She served as a family support partner with the Family Support Organization (FSO), supporting families within the Children’s System of Care (CSOC), navigating and advocating within military health and base Exceptional Family Members Programs and Services (EFMP), and as a parent leader within the school leading various advocacy endeavors including capacity building for parents, faculty, and Administrators. She is a 2021 Partners in Policy Making graduate and advocates on state and federal levels on the National Fragile X Foundation, Rare Disease Caucus, NYMAC, NJ DOH, and CGLI Genetics team.

Tara is a passionate, outside-the-box thinker who wants to see more inclusive practices for all. She enjoys building capacity in others, supporting change to school culture and climate, and working with parents and professionals to remove collaboration barriers. She is committed to immigrant rights, language access, inclusive community practices, and youth empowerment and independence.

Alexix Pratt Community Engagement Specialist

Alexix Pratt

Community Engagement Specialist

Alexix Pratt started work in February 2024 as the Community Engagement Specialist at SPAN Parent Advocacy Network on the Family Engagement Hub project. Before this, she worked part-time at the Boys and Girls Club of Mercer County in Trenton, New Jersey for nine years as support staff and the Garden Manager. Alexix has an A.A.S. in Illustration from Mercer County Community College. Alexix Pratt graduated in 2021 from The College of New Jersey, located in Ewing, New Jersey. She earned her BA degree in Interactive Multimedia.