Melissa Heifetz, Executive Director
Melissa Heifetz received her undergraduate degree at the University of Maryland, College Park. She received her Juris Doctor degree from the University of Baltimore School of Law, where she graduated magna cum laude. After graduation, she worked as a Staff Attorney in New York City’s Legal Aid Society, Juvenile Rights Division, where she advocated for children in Bronx Family Court. She later received a fellowship to work in New York University School of Law’s Public Interest Law Center. At The Arc of Loudoun, in addition to overseeing our programming, she works on local and state-wide legislative advocacy issues affecting individuals with disabilities. She also coordinates our Positive Interactions with Law Enforcement Initiative (PILE) and conducts trainings, advocacy, and outreach on various issues affecting the disability community including: special education, employment, housing, transportation, and public benefits. She has served as the Vice Chair of Communication for the Loudoun County Special Education Advisory Committee and currently serves on the Advocacy Committee of the Loudoun Human Services Network. She also created a Community Action Team in the county and developed Loudoun’s first Disability Response Team. In 2018, Melissa received the Nonprofit Executive Award at the Loudoun County Chamber of Commerce Community Leadership Awards, for exemplifying outstanding leadership and commitment to support the Loudoun community and its residents. She lives in Sterling with her husband and 2 children.
Denise Daffron, Chief Development Officer
Denise has championed people with disabilities since she was in grade school and is passionate about fundraising and marketing for causes that support families raising children with special needs. Originally from Texas and after graduating from Hardin-Simmons University with a BA in Public Relations, she began her career in promotion and advertising agencies working with such clients as Snapple, Chick-Fil-A, and Labatt USA. Her career in nonprofits began when she joined Special Olympics International, managing their national cause marketing partners and campaigns for Procter & Gamble, Kodak, M&Ms, and Coca-Cola. She continued her career in nonprofits where she directed corporate partnerships and strategic events for the American Red Cross of the National Capital Region, the American Heart Association of the Greater Washington Region, and most recently, served as Vice President of Advancement for Jill’s House, a respite center for children with special needs headquartered in McLean, VA. Denise has generated over $42 million for nonprofits and their missions. She also owns her own event marketing and production company and serves as a technical production volunteer at her church. She joined The Arc of Loudoun in July of 2017 and is honored to be leading the charge of generating the resources needed to help create a lifetime of opportunities for people with disabilities.
YaTonya Abdullah, Chief Operating Officer
YaTonya holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Special Education with a concentration in Emotional Disability/Learning Disability from Hampton University. She has taught in self-contained classrooms for elementary-age students. Upon relocating to New Jersey, she began working with the preschool population, as a liaison between school, families and school districts coordinating special education services for students with disabilities. She essentially obtained her Master’s Degree/P-3 Certification in Early
Childhood Education from New Jersey City University. She comes to Aurora, combining her experiences in Special Education and service coordination for children with disabilities to fulfill the position of Program Support Coordinator. She later took on additional responsibilities as Executive Administrative Assistant. After working in the AWESOMENESS of the Aurora School, YaTonya transition into the position of Chief Operating Officer and now has the great pleasure of working in conjunction with all of the programs on Paxton Campus.
Eileen Shaffer, Administrative Director of ALLY Advocacy Center
Eileen received her undergraduate degree from Mary Washington College in Sociology where she was awarded the Jean Donovan Award to promote human rights. She received her Master’s Degree in Social Work with a Specialization in Health from Virginia Commonwealth University. She has worked in group homes with adults with developmental and intellectual disabilities. As the Resident Services Director of a continuing care retirement community in North Carolina, she worked with individuals across the spectrum from independent adults, assisted living, skilled nursing, adult day care and dementias. She works as a Care Manager in Loudoun and Fairfax Counties. She has experience coordinating care for her clients with community and healthcare resources. As the Advocacy Coordinator at the ALLY Center, she provides resources and referrals to families and clients; empowers families to advocate for their children in the IEP process; works with self-advocates and supports a variety of educational outreach programs to educate families and caregivers. Eileen has been an active volunteer in Loudoun County, initiating volunteer programs with Backpack Buddies, Girl Scouts, the Loudoun Homeless Shelter. Eileen lives in Leesburg with her husband and two daughters.
Megan Allman, Administrative Director of Open Door Learning Center
Megan Allman has been working with kids and young adults with developmental disabilities for the past eight years. After earning her B.S. in Business Communications from Grove City College in 2007, Ms. Megan began her work in the field at the Blue Ridge Autism and Achievement Center. During this time she discovered her passion for ABA and early intervention. Since then Ms. Megan has continued to grow as an educator. She has worked as an ABA Coach for the Roanoke County Public School System and as a Clinical Supervisor providing in-home services to students with autism. She has consulted in ABA classrooms, general education classrooms, and inclusion preschools. Ms. Megan completed her BCaBA coursework through the Florida Institute of Technology and became a Board Certified Assistant Behavior Analyst in January of 2013. She joined the Paxton Campus in February 2015 and is very excited to be working in the field she loves alongside such passionate co-workers.
Kendra McDonald, Director of Clinical Services for The Aurora School and the Aurora Behavior Clinic
Kendra began her career in behavior analysis after her son was diagnosed with autism in 2002. Following the successful implementation of his home program, she worked as an in-home ABA therapist for other families affected with autism. She completed her behavior analysis coursework at UMASS Lowell and she has a Master’s Degree in Psychology from The Chicago School of Professional Psychology. She secured her BCBA in June 2014. Kendra emphasizes the principles and teaching procedures of verbal behavior across all teaching opportunities including communication, social skills, and academics. Her interests also include analysis of complex behavior such as remembering, teaching mediating behaviors, and other private events.
Amy Metaxa, Administrative Director of The Aurora School
Amy began her career as a Special Education Teacher in 2005 in Somers, Wisconsin as a teacher for students with severe cognitive disabilities. In 2012, Amy moved to Northern Virginia and continued her career with Prince William County Schools as a Special Education Teacher for students with learning disabilities and autism. Amy has a Masters Degree in Special Education from the Cardinal Stritch University-College of Education and Leadership, graduating Magna Cum Laude. During Amy’s time as an educator she has earned the designation of Highly Qualified Educator, served on numerous committees at the District and Local levels, mentored new teachers, opened a new school, functioned as the Team Lead for a Special Education Department and has been the recipient of numerous accolades based on student performance. Amy’s philosophy has always been that all student’s can learn and find success. Amy is a proud wife and mother of two children. Amy’s hobbies include kayaking, participating in outdoor activities and spending time with her family.
Helen Parker, Clinical Director of Ability Fitness Center
Helen graduated from Columbia University in 1998 with a Master’s degree in Physical Therapy. She received her Doctorate in Physical Therapy from Marymount University in 2003. She completed her NeuroDevelopmental Training (NDT) in 2001 and has been a board certified Neuro Clinical specialist (NCS) since 2006. She is a Certified Clinical Instructor Affiliate (CCCE/CI) through the American Physical Therapy Association and has been an instructor at Mercy College Physical Therapist Assistant Program. Helen has spent her career as a physical therapist focusing on people with neurological conditions. She has worked in acute-care, inpatient rehabilitation and outpatient facilities. She has been active in community involvement with the Parkinson Foundation of the National Capital Area (PFNCA), with the Stroke Comeback Center (SCC) and with her stroke support group “The Survivors.”
Matt Smith, Director of Facilities
Matt joined The Arc of Loudoun team in 2010 as a volunteer on the very first haunted house fundraiser. Prior to joining the team as the Director of Facilities in 2011, Matt owned his own home improvement business and worked as a general contractor. In addition to his contracting experience, he started his professional career as a mechanic. Matt keeps the Campus buildings and grounds looking its best, and supervises new construction projects. Matt also continues what he started as a volunteer and is now the creative genius behind Shocktober. However, Matt’s favorite part of his job is working with the STEP Up team. He has learned so much about people with disabilities and the challenges they face in life since joining The Arc. Matt works hard in supervising some of our employees with disabilities, so that they enjoy their jobs. He hopes coming to work is the best part of their day.
Morgan Payne, Marketing and Communications Coordinator
Morgan received her Bachelor’s degree in Media Arts & Design from James Madison University, where she graduated Cum Laude. While at JMU, Morgan was a member of University Program Board, the university’s largest event-planning organization. Morgan was also the Public Relations chair for JMU’s cultural club, Filipino Americans at Madison (FAM), and as PR Chair she was responsible for all the organization’s social media accounts and created the promotional graphics for the organization. Morgan first joined The Arc of Loudoun at Paxton Campus team as an intern in 2017. During her internship, she created the social media campaign, “50 Faces of The Arc” to promote the organization’s 50th Anniversary!