Structure of the Board

The Self-Advocacy Association Board of Directors is made up of people with developmental, or other, disabilities. SANYS Board members speak up for you and the region that you live in. They are your voice.

There are up to 18 Board members from around New York State.

The State is divided into six regions: Western, Central, Capital District, Hudson Valley, New York City, Long Island.

Board members are elected by you, other self-advocates.

Executive Committee

Coleen Mackin


Long Island, Nassau
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A little over ten years ago I was living in a group home. Then one day I went to the SANYS Long Island regional conference. What I learned that day helped me change my life. I learned to start speaking up for what I wanted. I started advocating to move out of the group home I was living in.

Now, ten years later, a lot has changed. I live in an apartment with one other person instead of a group home. I have 2 jobs which I love and am President of SANYS.

As President, I have spoken at a lot of public events. I have met with self-advocates, parents, legislators and all kinds of people. I used to be shy but now I believe in myself and am proud to speak up for people and be an example to others. One thing I wasn’t to tell self-advocates is that you can do everything I have done. You can help yourself and others get a better life.

One of my favorite things I have done with SANYS is visiting students in schools here on Long Island. We go in and teach them about self-advocacy. I love helping them and their parents understand that people have to take risks or they will never learn or get what they want out of life.

Robert Terry

Co-Vice President

Lower Hudson Valley
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I first discovered self-advocacy about 7 years ago. I started attending my local self-advocacy group called the tall timbers. I ended up discovering SANYS through the SANYSU classes. I learned so much from them and am proud to say that I am SANYS U graduate.

Since getting involved with self-advocacy and SANYS my life has changed completely. I learned how important it is to speak up for myself and other people. I worked hard and ended up getting elect4ed to the SANYS board about three years ago and now I am Treasurer. When I joined the board, I felt it was important that I was able to travel on my own and our advisor at tall timbers helped me learn how to take the train. I now travel independently up to Albany 4 times a year for our board meetings.

As Treasurer, I have learned a lot about how it is important to ask good questions. I and the board work together to help guide SANYS to work toward our important mission of “speaking up for ourselves and others”. I am happy to be on the board and have met self-advocates from across New York State. I can’t wait to see what life has in store for me next.

Carl Grayson

Co-Vice President

Western/Finger Lakes
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I became a member of a local self-advocacy group named “The Powers that Be” in the late 1980’s. I moved up quickly within the group and became secretary then President. I served as President for about 20 years and then stepped down. I am now a member of the Arc Alliance self-advocacy group in Rochester, NY. I started attending SANYS statewide conferencse in Albany about 10 years ago. Seeing so many people with disabilities, and many differences from one another, come together was really great. Everyone at SANYS was so welcoming. When I came to SANYS I saw that the organizations mission lined up with my purpose in life. I believe very deeply in speaking up for myself and others.
I love how SANYS helps give people the tools to speak up for themselves and others.

Being elected as co-vice President shows me how far I have come in my life. As Co-Vice President I will try my best to help other people speak up for themselves and make good changes in their lives . Self-Advocacy Rocks!

Harvey Pacht


NYC, Brooklyn
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I and my late wife Ethel got to go to a self-advocacy conference in Princeton, NJ in 1986. We met Bernard Carabello (the founder of SANYS) at that conference. Through Bernard, Ethel and I joined the steering committee that was working to form SANYS at that time. It was a good feeling to help get SANYS started in those early years. Ethel and I knew that we had done something worthwhile.

By being involved with SANYS I learned that eve in if a person has a disability it doesn’t mean that they are not a normal person. It is just a part of who they are. Every human being has strengths and weaknesses but we are all people.

Now I am Co-Vice President of SANYS and it is a real honor. This is an important role because your serve as a leader and role model for other self-advocates. I have had some great opportunities at SANYS. I was one of the delegates to the SABE national conference in Alabama this year and really was proud to represent SANYS and self-advocates from NY there.

Tim Tompkins

Immediate Past-President

Western Region, Southern Finger Lakes
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About 20 years ago I was working at Stuben ARC and took some of the people I worked with to the local self-advocacy group. As I am also a person with a developmental disability I found self-advocacy meaningful.

Years later I got involved with SANYS on the local level in the finger lakes region of NY as I was working with Chemung ARC. Over time I got more involved with regional groups at SANYS and decided to run for the SANYS board in 2014. I served two terms as President from 2015-2017. My time at SANYS has made my life fuller and I have learned a lot about self-advocacy and a lot about myself. I enjoyed my time as President I found that I really love supporting people to become the people that they want to be.

Mikayla Hoskins


Upper Hudson Valley
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In 2011, I joined my local Self-Advocacy Group, “The Renegades” of the Arc of Ulster-Greene. I became President and also Treasurer of the SA group, over the years. I then was nominated by the Renegades as a candidate for SANYS Board of Directors. I was elected in 2015 and became Secretary of SANYS’ Board and participated on the Executive Committee. I am currently still a member of SANYS’ Board and serve as the Treasurer.

To me, Self-Advocacy means “Speaking Up for Yourself and Others” to get the things you need and want to have a happy and fulfilling life. Also, our voices are heard when we “Speak UP”.

As a SANYS’ Board Member, I have learned many new things and continue to grow. I enjoy speaking up for “bFair2DirectCare”. By Speaking Up, advocates across New York State have helped Direct Support Professionals get salary increases so that they can stay employed with us. We need our staff to help support us and "We Love Them”!"


BJ Stasio

Western Region, Buffalo

Robert Baums

Central Region, Binghamton

Michelle Rosenberger

Upper Hudson Valley, Capital

Tony Phillips

NYC, Manhattan

Kasheena Oatman

NYC, Bronx

Matt Hoefel

Long Island, Suffolk

Bernarda Rivera-Valez

NYC, Staten Island

Thomas Kernehan

NYC, Queens

Chris Wiseman

Central, Northern

Michael Brooks

Upper Hudson Valley, Capital

Michelle Wolfe

Central Region, Syracuse


LaRenz Pickens

Ann Hardiman

Chester Finn

Jason Signorelli

Tom McKluskey

Be on the Board

Elections for board members are held at SANYS Regional Conferences. Board positions last 3-years.


Board members at SANYS have a wide range of responsibilities. Below are three core responsibilities.

A board member is asked to attend four (4) board meetings a year. These meetings are two-three (2-3) days long. They are held in the Albany area.

SANYS board members are expected to represent their regions. Board Members attend regional self-advocacy meetings to hear from the self-advocates that they represent.

Board members speak in public and attend other regional or statewide events as necessary.

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