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Board of Directors

Executive Officers

  • Michael Federico- Board President
    Michael Federico- Board President

    Michael Federico has over 25 years of law enforcement experience in Southern California. He is currently a Police Lieutenant. He holds a bachelor's degree in Vocational Education from Cal State Long Beach with an Associates Degree in Criminal Justice from Ventura College. Mike has a beautiful 21-year-old daughter, Cameo, who has Down syndrome. He has been very active in the special needs community for over 20 years. Cameo and Mike also owned and operated a family Italian Restaurant in Southern California; they created a very fun place for families, which included a work program for the special needs community.

  • Tammy Porter- Vice President
    Tammy Porter- Vice President

    Tammy Porter is a digital marketing professional living in Los Angeles, California. She has over 15 years of experience elevating brands and ensuring their success online. With extensive experience in business development, strategic planning, brand management, and experiential marketing, Tammy also spent over a decade as a celebrity and entertainment event planner in Hollywood. When not busy fulfilling her role as Digital Marketing Director for GoDaddy, Tammy enjoys travel, scuba diving, writing, public speaking, and advocating for two of her philanthropic passions: male breast cancer awareness and the disability community. Tammy’s profound experience growing up with an uncle who had Down syndrome ignited her passion for promoting inclusion and awareness for individuals with Down syndrome and their families. She is proud to partner with DSALA and serves on the Board.

  • Wayne Geffen- Chief Financial Officer
    Wayne Geffen- Chief Financial Officer

    Wayne Geffen began his career in accounting for corporate entities as an Accounting Manager and Senior Accountant. In 1984 he became Vice President and Controller for a multi-unit retailer. Wayne has held Vice President and Controller positions since 1984. In 2010 Wayne started his Consulting Firm, assisting existing and start-up businesses by providing strategic financial and operation guidance. In 2012, Wayne was hired as Vice President of Finance for a large international grocery company chain with several high-volume stores in Los Angeles.

  • Melanie Dow- Board Secretary
    Melanie Dow- Board Secretary

    Melanie Dow is a professional copy editor and has served in the publishing industry for over five years. She also has experience in marketing, mainly focusing on blogging and social media platforms, which she brings to DSALA.
    Melanie spent more than two years working as a nanny to a toddler with Down Syndrome and has since been an advocate for those with Down Syndrome. She joins DSALA with her skills in marketing, social media, and blogging in hopes of helping the organization’s online presence

Board Members

  • Yesenia Holwager
    Yesenia Holwager

    Yesenia is a native of Los Angeles County and has been involved in law enforcement for over 30 years. She’s currently a Deputy Sheriff. She takes pride in serving the community, and she loves being an advocate for her older brother, Buddy, who has Down Syndrome. They spend a lot of time together creating Down Syndrome awareness by sharing his smile and laughter on social media. She’s honored to be selected as a Board Member. She looks forward to advocating with the DSALA and making a difference in the Down Syndrome community.

  • Ranjani Reyes
    Ranjani Reyes

    Raised in Agoura Hills, Ranjani Reyes is a graduate of Agoura High School class of 2014 and Miller Transition Center. Upon graduating, she worked in retail for the Macy’s Department Store before deciding to pursue a career in acting with The Performing Arts Studio West, Born to Act Players, and the Triple Threat Program at The Miracle Project. Ranjani loves performing comedy, dance, writing, and singing. She has appeared in #NotSpecialNeedsPSA, The Politician, Atypical, Speechless, Jubilee, and the 48 hr film festival ‘Get Over Her Day.’ In her free time, Ranjani loves to volunteer and help other up-and-coming actors.

  • Claudia Richarte
    Claudia Richarte

    Claudia S. Richarte is a Senior Academic Advisor at the Matador Advising Hub. She earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in Child Development and Psychology in 2000 and a Chicana/o Studies degree in 2009. Claudia further pursued her passion for learning by successfully obtaining her Master of Arts in Educational Administration with an emphasis in Higher Education in 2014 from California State University, Northridge (CSUN).
    Claudia has always felt a passion for service in the Down Syndrome community, having a nephew and three cousins with Down Syndrome. The focus of her work within this community emphasizes independent living, self-help skills, and personal empowerment. Claudia is dedicated to advocating for those who may not be able to advocate for themselves and helping them to find their voice. Through her work, Claudia strives to educate others, break stereotypes, and eliminate negative stigmas associated with Down Syndrome. She is humbled and grateful for the opportunity to raise awareness of the Down Syndrome community as a member of the DSALA Board.

  • Heather Sanford
    Heather Sanford

    Heather Sanford is an Operations Manager in the healthcare industry, specifically in Medical Benefits Administration. Heather’s career focuses on effective team building, training, process improvement, staff development, and drafting manuals, policies & procedures. She has over 20 years of experience in her field but considers her most important job to be the mom and advocate of a toddler with Down Syndrome.

  • Jordan Nichole Wall
    Jordan Nichole Wall

    Jordan is a student at LA Harbor College and a working actress. She has been on shows like The Politician and Stumptown and in commercials for Comcast, Google TV, Instagram, FabFitFun, and Goodr. She is a Special Olympics athlete and has been a Special Olympics Global Messenger since 2016. She competes in swimming, bowling, tennis, and cheerleading and aspires to be on American Ninja Warrior. Jordan’s hobbies include singing, dancing (ballet, hula, hip hop, and tap), horseback riding, boogie boarding, painting, and playing the piano, guitar, ukulele, and tambourine. Jordan wants to help people with Down syndrome of all ages to chase their dreams.

Past Presidents

Jimi Vaughn
Colleen Bellitti
Gina Vivona
Lynne Shulim
Tom Von Der Ahe, Jr.
Michael Muchin
Darryl Mikuni
Stephanny Freeman, Ph.D.
Theodore Feit, M.D.
Sandra Finch
Joseph Hart
Susan Rackerby
Kathryn Heukrodt
Michelle Shaw
Nancy Hall
Marlyse de Laat
Deborah Bogen
Sandra Thlick

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