We Are

Partners

In PROMISE

Protecting the Rights Of Military children In Special Education

through educating and advising military family members, military service organizations, Department of Defense and public officials.

All children receiving special education are entitled to a free appropriate public education.

The data shows there are systemic problems with special education for military families across the US and the trend is many school systems are not providing the required standards of education.

We founded the non-profit Partners in P.R.O.M.I.S.E. in February 2020 to elevate the concerns of military special education students and their families to ensure they have the same access to an education as civilian students.

Our Team

Partners in PROMISE is a 501c3 nonprofit organization that serves as a representative voice for our Exceptional Military Family Members (EFMP). We are led by active duty military spouses, with boots on the ground that give us insights into the complexity of special education. Our team is comprised of Special Education advocates, Special Education attorney, former EFMP staff, educators, researchers and journalists who help to inform and educate our community. Most of our staff have personal experiences with special education, ranging from those at the beginning of their special needs journey to those of us who have been in the special needs community for over 19 years.

Michelle Norman

Founder & Executive Director

Michelle Norman is a Navy spouse of over 25 years and mother of a 17 year old daughter with cerebral palsy.   She is the Executive Director and Founder of Partners in PROMISE, a non-profit organization focused on educating, advising and advocating for exceptional military families and their education.  After years of successfully advocating and winning multiple legal cases to ensure her daughter receives the minimum education required by law, Norman was contacted by multiple military families across the country dealing with similar problems in public schools.  Realizing that so many children will benefit from her dedicated efforts, the Virginia Beach resident has become a passionate advocate for military children with special needs and their families.  Michelle has been recognized for her military family advocacy efforts with the 2020 Heroes at Home Military Spouse of the Year Award for Hampton Roads and 2019 AFI Navy Military Spouse of the Year Award.  

Jennifer Barnhill

Chief Operating Officer

Jennifer Barnhill is the Chief Operating Officer of Partners in PROMISE, a freelance writer with a focus on military family advocacy, Navy spouse and mother of three. 

Her reporting has been featured in Military.com, We Are the Mighty, Military Spouse Magazine, Military Families Magazine, TheMilitaryWallet.com and The War Horse.  She serves on the National Military Spouse Network Day of Advocacy Steering Committee. She is currently studying at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill in pursuit of her Master of Public Administration, with a concentration in nonprofit management.

Her passion for the military family community brought her to Partners in PROMISE in March 2020. And she brings that passion to all she does to help the EFMP community.

Meagan Consedine

Development Director

Meagan Consedine is an Army veteran, active duty Army spouse and mother of two. Her youngest child was diagnosed with autism at age 4. As a highly mobile family, they have experienced first-hand the challenges of transferring an IEP to a new school. Meagan has worked in the private sector as a business development operations manager and a proposal manager. She has a Master of Public Policy (MPP) from Oregon State University, with a concentration in social policy, and a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Notre Dame. In addition to her professional experiences, Meagan is also an active Family Readiness Group (FRG) volunteer. 

Tricia Ross

Marketing Director

A proud military wife of 19 years, Tricia was named the 2012 Armed Forces Insurance Navy Spouse of the Year for her advocacy efforts in support of military children. As a former educator, she is passionate about connecting families to resources that alleviate the hardships associated with frequent moves throughout a military career. 

Prior to volunteering with Partners in PROMISE, Tricia gained more than five years of experience working with national nonprofits in volunteer and program management. She has also held leadership roles with various organizations including the PTA, school advisory committees, and other community organizations. Tricia has been a featured writer for Military Families Magazine, GI Jobs, and Military Spouse Magazine. 

She earned a Bachelor of Science in Behavioral Science from Wilmington University and a Master of Science in Human Services from Capella University. Tricia resides near Naval Trauma Training Center at USC, Los Angeles, California with her husband and four children.

Hilary Laxson

Social Media & Content Manager

Hilary Laxson, a former Coast Guard spouse of 12 years, has been in the military community since 2000. She graduated from the University of Denver in 1999 with a BSBA in Finance and obtained a graduate level paralegal degree in 2000 from University of San Diego. 

She spent time in California, Georgia and Hawaii as a Coast Guard Family member. She has a child with severe dyslexia and other learning disabilities in high school. She’s the parent volunteer for Decoding Dyslexia Military for Georgia and actively involved in advocacy for active duty families in the State of Georgia. Last February, she attended “Say Dyslexia” Day in order to help bring more attention to dyslexia in the State of Georgia. She runs a parent support group on Facebook called Warrior Parents of Dyslexics for parents all over the USA who need help navigating the world of dyslexia. When she’s not helping parents with dyslexic children she works full time as an online business consultant and business manager. 

Mary Monrose

Advocacy Assistant

Mary is a Navy Spouse and mother of 3 children, one of whom was diagnosed with ADHD. Mary knows firsthand what it’s like to endure the stressors and lack of support when it comes to the Exceptional Military Family Program. Mary recently graduated from Regent University with a Master of Arts in Law with a concentration in Criminal Justice. She has a passion for helping others and being a voice for those who have a hard time being heard. 

Grace Kim, esq.

Founder & Special Education Law Expert

Grace is the principal attorney of The Law Office of Grace E. Kim, PC. She is also an Air Force spouse and parent of a child with Autism, ADHD, Specific Learning Disability, PHPV, and other neurological and physical disorders.  Grace has experienced firsthand the struggles faced by military families of children with special needs and is able to help others through their challenges. She practices special education law in the Commonwealth of Virginia and is honored to represent many military families. She lives in Fairfax County, VA with her husband Joshua, and their children Josiah and Karis.

Crystal Mahany

Special Education Legal Analyst & Secretary

Crystal works as a Legal Analyst in Special Education Law.  A proud wife to an Army Aviator, Crystal has served the military community in many capacities and is committed to serve until and beyond her soldier’s retirement.  She strongly believes in serving military families and the surrounding community at each duty station.

In 2014, her oldest son was diagnosed with Childhood Apraxia of Speech and Autism.  Two years later, her youngest son was diagnosed with the same speech disorder.  These diagnoses thrust her family into the Special Needs and Special Education community.

Driven by her passion to help, Crystal went back to school and focused her research on Disability Rights and Special Education Law.  She is deeply committed to continuous service to Special Education families.

Carla Wyrsch

Guest Blogger & Content Creator

Carla Wyrsch is a Marine Corps’ spouse and mother of two. She has devoted her career to educating and advocating for children with disABILITIES. Her experience spans a variety of settings, including residential treatment facilities, military bases, public schools, and the Cleveland Clinic Children’s Learner School for Autism. In addition to her work with children, she enjoys providing coaching sessions to both professionals and parents in the areas of behavior modification and other best practices.  

Our Founders

Shannon DeBlock

Founder

Shannon DeBlock is a proud Navy spouse for the past 16 years and a mom to 2 boys. Her youngest son was diagnosed with autism at 16 months old. His educational needs have been difficult to meet across duty stations partially due to the severity of his disability and the lack of support and accountability from the public education entities responsible for educating him.

Shannon teamed up with 3 other military spouses in 2019 after a 2- year legal battle with Poway Unified School District in San Diego, CA where the district sued her 11-year-old son to remove educational supports that he had been receiving for the previous 5 years at a prior duty station. She co-founded the non-profit, Partners in Promise, and subsequently the PROMISE ACT in an effort to support fellow military families with educational challenges for their special needs children and bring change to lawmakers.

Kaci Mccarley

Founder

Kaci McCarley is an active duty Army spouse and mother of a 14 year old son with Down syndrome. After gaining her undergraduate degree in special education and working as a teacher for several years, she joined Goodwill of the Olympics and Rainier Region as Director of Disability Services where she had opportunity to support military students transitioning from K-12 education into adult services.

She became an advocate for students with disabilities after seeing the tremendous stress military families endure during times of transition, and the lost instruction that negatively impacts academic achievement and development. Kaci currently works for the Military Child Education Coalition who champions quality, inclusive education opportunities for all military-connected children.

Resources

Looking for more information regarding special education and medical for EFMP families?

Partners in PROMISE is a 501(c)3 organization
EIN: 85-2828270

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