Update March 1, 2023

We are now a team of three!

Julie Swersey, Advocate
Denise Elliott, Advocate

About Julie Swersey

Soon after my eldest daughter was born in 2011 we realized she had a number of medical complications. Initially she had a team of doctors that could field the Celtics. Later, she had a team that could field the Red Sox. Today, I’m involved in fielding her New England Patriots sized team, some of whom are one of only a handful of specialists in the country.

Ensuring an appropriate educational program for a child with special needs is complicated. Managing the medical care for a medically complex child is at least as complicated. I sit at the intersection of both.

When you come to the table with a school district you are dealing with professionals who deal with IEPs all day every day. Your child may be the only child you deal with in this circumstance. As an advocate, my goal is to level the playing field and help you operate as if you have as much experience as they do.

In my previous career, I worked as an attorney for the NYC Department of Consumer Affairs and Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP. While I am no longer in practice, my legal training gives me a strong background in dealing with bureaucratic systems, reading and interpreting laws, and understanding regulations.

I live in Newton, Massachusetts with my husband, Jonathon, daughters Belle (11) and Sadie (😎, dog, and two cats. I hold a B.A. from Binghamton University in Political Science and a J.D. from Fordham University.

About Denise Elliott

I have been working in the field of special education for over 30 years as a teacher and an administrator. My role for the past 16 years has been the Director of Learning Services at a private school in Andover, MA. In this role, I supported families to obtain special education evaluations and advocated for these families in IEP meetings. I would ghost write evaluation request letters, review testing and support families throughout this process.

I have also successfully supported families in their requests for IEEs and mediation with public schools in the Merrimack Valley. I recently left this school and I have started my own advocacy practice.

I have completed the COPAA SEAT 3.0, the PCTI training with the Federation for Children with Special Needs and a Wrights Law Training on Special Education Advocates Tactics and Strategies along with professional development on EF strategies/coaching, Dyslexia, Dyscalculia, ADHD academic and psychological evaluations.

About Andria Entsminger,

Owner & Advocate

I have spent the past 12 years working in the field of property management.  I’ve done everything from managing large scale corporate residential ventures to building a start-up property management company from a few multi-family units into a profitable portfolio of over 700 units.  For the longest time, I thought I would be in that business forever….  That all started to change when my stepson Marky came into my life.

Marky is a thirteen year old boy with OCD, Autism and Tourette Syndrome.  The experience of parenting him has changed me.  Seeing this sweet boy and knowing the almost insurmountable nature of his needs spurred me on to work for him day after day.   Intake forms, admissions paperwork, IEP’s, regulations, waiting lists, and miles of bureaucratic red tape (MassHealth applications!) are what I fought through on a weekly basis to get this boy the services that he so desperately needed.

This really opened my eyes to the educational challenges for special needs children.  While there are many laws and protections for such children, I found out firsthand how challenging it is to navigate the maze of paperwork, endless phone calls, and meetings required to secure it.  I realized that I was not going to waste another moment in the corporate world; instead I wanted to help families get what their children need to receive an education.

3/21/2019 Edited to add.....

It was recently brought to my attention that my website has something missing, today I correct that.

On the About page I wrote about how Marky, my stepson was one of the inspirations for my career change and how I learned just how much extra help some kids need.  I did not write about my 12-year-old stepson Chris and what he has contributed to who I am today.

I did this because Chris is in public middle school (ACK!) and I wanted to respect his privacy. Recently Chris asked me why he was not included on my website, I told him, and he said he was ok with me sharing about him.

* Note to self – ASK next time, don’t assume I know what a 12-year-old is thinking.

So today I am thrilled to tell you all about Chris!

He is without a doubt one of the most creative people I know in real life.  He has a super-fast brain that he is still growing into and learning to control so the rest of us can keep up with him.  His memory is excellent and when he is interested in learning something, he learns it completely, top to bottom & inside and out.  Our favorite thing to do together is to watch movies and pick out characters that reminded us of his Dad, think John Candy in Uncle Buck….yes we do this mostly to laugh about the ridiculous scene that we can see being recreated in our kitchen if only his Dad could find a shovel big enough…but we do it with love so I’m pretty sure its allowed.

Chris, as the younger brother of Marky had early intervention from a very young age and has had many different labels and diagnosis over his lifetime.  He currently has listed ADHD and a SLD in reading.  What I most want to explain is that Chris has shown me that we need to teach kids how they learn, not how we think they should learn.  I know Chris will do wonderful things with his fast, creative brain and I love that I get to have him in my life.  I am especially honored that Chris trusts me and believes in me, its pretty much the best feeling in the world.

I have received training in advocacy and special needs education laws from The Federation for Children with Special Needs, SPAN, and Wrights Law. My clients today include children from ages 5-22, with challenges including ASD, OCD, trauma, emotional disabilities, ADHD, executive function issues, specific learning disabilities, communication impairments, Tourette Syndrome and behavioral issues.

My volunteer services include working at the call center at The Federation for Children With Special Needs and serving as a special education surrogate parent for children in state custody.

Marky & Andria
Chris & Andria