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Ms. Bonita M. Pennino - Chairwoman of the Board

Pennino earned a Masters Degree in Counseling from the Medical College of Virginia. She received her undergraduate degree in 1977 from Virginia Commonwealth University. She has been employed with the American Cancer Society South Atlantic Division (ACS) since 1997 where she is currently the Government Relations Director. During her tenure with the ACS she has held positions as Public Education Manager for the Virginia Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program, Coordinator for the Cancer Prevention Study II LifeLink Research Project, and Cancer Control Specialist. Before joining ACS, Ms. Pennino worked for Fairfax County Government as a Management Analysis. From 1990 to 1995, Ms. Pennino worked for the Department for Rights of Individuals with Disabilities (DRVD), where she served as Administrative Liaison to Virginia General Assembly, state agencies, state policy boards and consumer groups. While at DRVD, she coordinated and facilitated studies requested by the Virginia General Assembly, drafted legislation, provided expert information to the members of the Virginia General Assembly, analyzed policies and legislation to determine consumer impact and developed and implemented advocacy training for consumers and disability advocacy groups, as well as facilitated grant writing and responses to proposals from federal agencies for model service delivery project development. From 1987 to 1990, Ms. Pennino worked for the Virginia State Department of Education, where she was responsible for the implementation of a demonstration grant from the US Dept of Health and Human Services for interagency case management and secondary transition for youth and young adults with disabilities - Project VAST. Project VAST was selected by the Secondary Transition Intervention Effectiveness Institute at the University of Illinois as one of ten exemplary projects for 1987 & 1989. Prior to joining the Department of Education, Ms Pennino worked with individuals with disabilities in sheltered workshop, job sight training, and recreation settings. Ms. Pennino lives in Vienna VA, with her husband of 7 years, W. Kenneth Garnes. She was diagnosed with breast cancer October 2006.

Mr. Ken Plum - Founding Chairman of the Board
Occupation: Retired teacher and school administrator after nearly 30 years. Served as Director of Adult and Community Education, Fairfax County Public Schools. Member of Virginia House of Delegates: 1978-80; 1982-present.

Ken Plum has along history of community involvment, with a particular investment in the disability community. Current memberships include (but are not limited to):

• House Democratic Caucus, Chair
• Democratic Party of Virginia – Former State Chair
• Dulles Corridor Rail Association - Founder and Chair 

• Virginia Literacy Foundation - Charter Member of the Board of Directors 

• Celebrating Special Children, Inc. (publisher of a resource guide for parents of special children) - Founding Chairman and Member of the Board of Directors 

• Greater Reston Arts Center - Advisory Board 

• Computer Learning Centers Partnership of Fairfax County - Board of Advisors 

• Virginians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty - Board of Advisors

His many recent recognitions include:

• Plum Center for Lifelong Learning named in honor of Delegate Ken Plum, 2009

• Conservation Hero, League of Conservation Voters, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010
• Virginia Education Association Legislative Achievement Award, 2009
• Coalition for Northern Virginians with Mental Disabilities - Distinguished Leadership Award, 2007 

• Virginia Association of Health Plans - Distinguished Public Service Award, 2007 

• ENDependence Center of Northern Virginia - Appreciation Award, 2007 

• Infant/Toddler Family Day Care - Achievement Award, 2007

• Recognition from the March of Dimes for the Expansion of the Newborn Screening Program, 2005 

• Mental Health Community Contributor Award by the Fairfax-Falls Church Mental Health Advocacy Community at the Mental Health awareness Week Conference, 2005 

• Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Cultural Foundation - Community Service Award for extraordinary commitment and leadership in improving public education for youth and adults in the Reston community and in the Commonwealth of Virginia, both as a professional educator and as a legislator, 2003 

• Establishment of the Kenneth R. Plum Scholarship to the outstanding graduating senior, Fairfax County Public Schools, enrolled in "Project Opportunity."



Mrs. Patricia Cettin – Secretary of the Board

Patti Cettin has been the Executive Director of Taking Action for Special Kids (TASK) in Tazewell, VA, since 1995. TASK is a non-profit agency in Tazewell County assisting families of special needs children by providing information, referrals for needed services, website, Facebook page, support groups, trainings and workshops and a four week summer enrichment program for the past 30 years.  TASK works in partnership with PEATC to provide parent/professional trainings in southwest Virginia.  In addition to administering TASK, Patti responds to requests from support groups, SEAC’s and professionals in southwest Virginia to provide trainings and resource displays at events. Patti is originally from Pittsburgh, PA, studied English at Carnegie-Mellon University.  She worked as a public librarian and in customer service in the personnel field before becoming a special education advocate and trainer.  She has been trained to provide PEATC Parent-Professional Trainings since 1996.  She has also attended numerous trainings provided by T/TAC at Virginia Tech, VADOE, DBHDS, and Wrightslaw. She has served on local and state committees: DRVD DD Advisory Committee (2001), CVCA Head Start Advisory Committee (2009), Smart Beginnings Smyth/Tazewell (2011); and has been a member of the Tazewell County CPMT for 15 years, and the Tazewell County SEAC for 17 years.  She is also a member of the Substance Abuse Task Force in Rural Appalachia (SATIRA), Truancy Committee, and has served on the Tazewell County Public Schools Citizens Advisory Committee.  In her current position as director/advocate at TASK she has attended over 2,000 school meetings with families. Patti is very proud of her adult son who had an IEP for a learning disability during his school years. He graduated from Virginia Tech and now has is employed with the Department of Energy.

Recognitions include:

• Anderson Chitwood Educational Leadership Award – PEATC -for building positive futures for children, 2011

• Virginia Board for People with Disabilities –Certificate of Recognition –for commitment to inclusion of children with disabilities in all facets of community life and 25 years of advocacy for children and families in southwest Virginia, 2010

Carol Hagen - Treasurer of the Board 

Carol's education and early career path built on her interest in science and engineering.  This  morphed into work as a Department of Defense Budget Analyst before changing direction when her oldest son was diagnosed with autism in 1996. 

     Since then, she has worked within the Special Needs community in a variety of volunteer and advocacy roles.  She worked for the Family Involvement project for four years working with families who have children in Early Intervention in Northern Virginia.  Since 2011 she has been employed by Blue Ridge Care Connection for Children in Charlottesville as the Parent Resource Coordinator.  She recently completed a year long parent leadership course with the Association of Maternal and Child Health Programs.


Ms. Laura Nelson M.Ed. - Editor in Chief / Director of Operations

CSC currently has one full-time dedicated and committed staff member in Laura Nelson who, as editor-in-chief, gives immaculate attention to all details of the website and facebook page, ensuring their accuracy and completeness. Being the surviving sibling of a brother with profound cerebral palsy, and having spent many years in the publishing/design industry, she is uniquely qualified for this position. Currently also employed as subsitute teacher for Fairfax County Public Schools, she encounters the triumphs and challenges of the Special Education system on a regular basis, and these experiences enhance her ability to remain senstive to these populations.

She recruits numerous expert writers, as well as laypersons, who provide content for the publication and website with minimal remuneration.  Having a single paid staff person to perform the tasks of editing, design and layout, and community outreach, as well as office management, means that more than 95% of the monies donated can go directly to maintain the website and facebook page.

• Substitute Teacher, Fairfax County Public Schools -
• BA in Theatre, Catholic University - 1978

• M.Ed in Educational Psychology (concentration in curriculum and instruction) George Mason Univ - 2010
• Fairfax County Council of PTA Liason to FCPS School Board Human Relations Advisory Committee
• Former Newsletter Editor/Designer - Lake Braddock Marching Band, Burke, Va. Volunteer position included assembling/editing submitted information and designing newsletter layout.
Former Newsletter Editor/Designer -Fairfax County Council of PTAs, Fairfax, Va. Volunteer position included assembling and editing submitted information and designing newsletter layout.
• 2001-2003 PTA President, Kings Park/Kings Glen, Springfield, VA
• Received Certificate of Appreciation from FCPS for volunteer service in 2002-2003
• Fifty-year resident of Northern Virginia, one son, attends George Mason University

About Us
Celebrating Special Children

PO Box 5333
Virginia Beach, VA 23455