Our Vision and Philosophy
We aim to provide services to people with any form of self-identified or diagnosed disability.
We believe in the Neurodiversity Paradigm and specialize in providing information and services to the Neurodivergent population.
We support use of self-selected inclusive language, using either identify-first or person-first language.
We do not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion (creed), gender, gender expression, age, national origin (ancestry), disability, marital status, sexual orientation, or military status, in any of our activities or operations.
We recognize that mainstream services and supports are not the best fit for everyone. We aim to provide information on support options available outside of the traditional service model paradigm. Specifically, through assistance with using self-directed county based programs, home education, and entrepreneurship as a form of workforce development.
To conduct education on alternative funding sources needed to remain living in the community and prevent institutionalization
To foster and facilitate community integration from a grassroots and person-centered perspective
To conduct outreach to economically and culturally marginalized populations
To provide low or no cost person centered support planning for Medicaid waiver recipients, or recipients of other federal, state, or local funding
To provide information and coaching on alternative education options for youth, that accommodates their specific needs and ensures their academic success and workforce readiness
To connect to alternative community resources and supports
Sarah Biddlecome, Executive Director
Sarah has professional experience in human services, working directly in client services and administration. She also has held business and finance positions in major corporations. Sarah has been a Certified Support Planner for five years. She received her Bachelor's degree in Sociology from the University of Minnesota. She has also completed graduate coursework in Instructional Design and Technology at the University of North Dakota. Sarah is on the Consumer Support Grant Program. She has a daughter and a sister that are disabled and are on the Consumer Directed Community Supports Program. She homeschooled her daughter for seven years and administers a Facebook group for parents on home education for special needs children.
Misha Liang, Director of Operations & Compliance
Misha has professional experience in education, ensuring adherence to school policies and procedures. She has training in state and federal privacy laws and standards. Misha is a Certified Support Planner and received her Bachelor’s degree in International Relations from the University of Minnesota. She has also completed graduate coursework in Educational Policy and Administration at the University of Minnesota. Misha is the agency HIPAA Compliance Officer and a cofounder of MNDSA. She has three children and a spouse with disabilities. She homeschools her children and administers Minnesota Special Needs Home Educators, a Facebook support group for parents.
Sarah DeMers, Director of Technical Writing
Sarah has experience working with legal aide through appeals in educational and county programming. She is a Certified Support Planner and is the resident subject matter expert on Medicaid Waiver programs, as well as on Community Support Plan writing. Sarah received her Bachelor's degree in Dietetics from Saint Catherine University. Sarah has four children, including a son with complex medical and behavioral health needs who has been on the Consumer Directed Community Supports Program for ten years. Her son receives home bound services through the school district.
Stacy Vigiletti, Program Director
Self-Advocacy Training & Support
Stacy has over fifteen years experience working with children and adults with varying types of abilities. Stacy also has three years experience as a Case Manager, as well as two years experience as a Certified Support Planner. Stacy completed her Bachelor Degree in Psychology from William Paterson University in New Jersey and now lives in Minnesota with her husband and three children. She has two sons with disabilities, once of which is on the Consumer Directed Community Supports Program.
Kayla Bertrand, Program Director
Kayla has been active in the special needs community for five years. She has been working with families who are starting their special needs journey for four years. She is also a volunteer for an organization that connects families of children with special needs and who need help navigating the system. Kayla has been a Certified Support Planner for two years. She has a daughter who has been on the Consumer Directed Community Supports Program for four years. Her daughter has complex medical and behavioral needs.
Jules Edwards, President and Treasurer
Virginia Hunter, Secretary
Sharnyetta Phipps, Interim Chair
Hua Moua, Member at Large
Milena Bates, Member at Large
MNDSA was officially incorporated as a nonprofit in February 2018. The idea for MNDSA evolved from the experiences of Sarah Biddlecome, Sarah DeMers, and Misha Liang within the disability community.
Sarah Biddlecome had lived for over 15 years as a member of the disability community, without much need for career, academic, or economic assistance. However, she continually felt that there was a lack of community organization or supports offered for disabled individuals from within the community itself. Furthermore, when her daughter was diagnosed with multiple disabilities, and she needed to seek academic and economic supports, she discovered that navigating the systems set up to assist the disabled was a complex task.
In an effort to support her daughter, Sarah made the decision to homeschool after trying a variety of educational settings. She was also able to establish her daughter’s eligibility for Social Security and a Medicaid Waiver. Sarah encountered others within the disability community that were also struggling with the lack of career, academic, economic, and community supports. Misha Liang’s children had also left the traditional school setting. Sarah DeMers had a complex behavioral and medical child that needed economic, academic, and community support. The three were active in the relevant disability groups and made it their mission to garner their experiences and education to meet the self-identified needs within the community.
All three obtained their certifications as support planners and served as a resource to community members in general on economic supports. Sarah Biddlecome and Misha Liang founded a Facebook group for special needs homeschoolers, which organically grew to have over 500 members. Sarah DeMers and Sarah Biddlecome continued to work within the community sharing their knowledge and building connections. As the three of them began to work together, they developed a mission and plan to meet the self-determined needs of individuals and families of their communities.
MNDSA is an exempt organization as described in Section 501(c)3 of the Internal Revenue Code; EIN 82-4536995.