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Meet our Board of Directors

We're run by a passionate group of Board Members. We're constantly working to improve the lives of individuals affected by Down syndrome within the Rhode Island community. Get to know our team as we share our mission, our history, and our journey ahead.

Melissa Hansen

Interim President and Vice President

Ralph Salvatore

Recording Secretary

Being involved and advocating is the best gift I can give Giuliana. I've met so many wonderful families since I joined the board.  I have two daughters, Emilia, and Giuliana. I joined the board in 2020 to share my experience, and journey with my daughter, Giuliana, hoping to make a difference in her life, and the lives of others with Down syndrome.  Giuliana and I love to go to the beach, cook, and watch movies together. One of Giuliana's goals is to work in a restaurant.

Clifford Bannon


There isn't a crystal ball to predict the future but if you continue to advocate for your child it will be okay. It's not easy and that's why DSSRI's here. We'll help you support your child or adult to succeed. Plan accordingly, begin early, develop a long-term plan, and follow through! Reach out for help. It takes a village. My wife and I had our daughter, Teagan, in 2014. Like many of us, we didn't expect to have a child with Down syndrome. Teagan was only three weeks old when we attended our first Buddy Walk.  We met a wonderful support group and a few months later, I was elected on the Board of Directors. My favorite part of this community is the ability to share thoughts, ideas, advice, experiences, opportunities, and social networks with other families. Remember, you're not alone. Attending our first Buddy Walk was difficult as we were in denial but since we've joined the community, our lives, especially our daughters' have forever changed for the better.

Stephen Feole II

Board Member

In 2016, my wife, Pasqualina, and I called DSSRI to ask some questions and a year later, I became a board member.  My wife and I have two boys, Antonio (11) and Vincenzo (9). We like to work in the yard together and go bike riding. Don't give up and don't be afraid to question everything. You have to advocate because no one else will fight for your child like you. Being a part of the DS community has had a huge impact on our lives. We participant in many events where the kids and parents are involved, and accepted for who they are. Seeing the smiles and excitement on their faces is what keeps me going to do what I can for the organization.  As someone who struggled academically, I'm proof that with the right support and guidance, you can achieve your goals in life.

Keith Hansen

Board Member

Michelle Coleman

Board Member

My husband Kyle and I are proud parents to our three kids: Owen (2017), Patrick (2019), and Mae (2021). Three days after Patrick was born in May 2019, we found out he has Down syndrome. As an educator and a mom, I knew immediately I wanted to get involved. I joined the board in September 2019. I am passionate about not only being part of the local Down syndrome community but getting people outside of our community to understand Down syndrome and help change the outdated narrative around it. Part of my role on the board is presenting to schools on inclusion and Down syndrome awareness/acceptance. Hearing students get excited about Down syndrome, restate facts, and ask great questions makes this role extremely fulfilling. In addition to advocacy and education, I love spending time with my family outside, exploring, yoga, and reading a good book. I am very thankful for DSSRI and the connections I’ve made here. I especially love meeting the new families navigating this new chapter. Even though everyone is on their own journey and timeline, there’s nothing quite like being around other people that just get it.

Katie Furtado

 Board Member

I joined the board in 2021. I 've been coming to events since I receive our daughter's Down syndrome diagnosis when I was 17 weeks pregnant. My husband and I have three children; Celia, Ava, and Bobby. Celia was born with Down syndrome in 2010. My favorite part about being on the board is getting to help with so many wonderful family events. I love watching people connect and learn from other families in this amazing community. Outside of the board, our life is filled with our kids sports, theater, and play dates! We're very busy but we have a lot of fun. My favorite thing about being in the Down syndrome community is that I get to raise my other children in it. They are amazing siblings who have the chance to see life in such a beautiful way by having Celia as their sister.

Gerilyn Smith

Board Member

I was inspired by the organization after having my son, Julian, in 2020 and joined the Down Syndrome Society of Rhode Island in August 2021. I knew my purpose was bigger than myself and being involved in this community was extremely important to me. I am a mother to two wonderful boys. My husband and I enjoy spending time with our family, making memories, and embracing what life throws at us. My favorite thing about being part of the DS community is to educate and advocate for our community. I enjoy meeting parents from the organization and forming bonds. It takes a village! “Motherhood is about raising and celebrating the child you have, not the child you thought you would have. It’s about understanding that they are exactly the person they are supposed to be and that, if you’re lucky, they just might be the teacher who turns you into the person you are supposed to be.” -Joan Ryan


Ashley Scungio

Maggie Camara

Crystal Greene

Ashley Alexander

Robert Castagnaro

Brian Greene

Jon Kalnicki

Are you interested in joining the DSSRI Board of Directors?

We're accepting applications and nominating individuals for our Board of Directors. Whether you're an individual, parent, sibling, friend, or loved one to someone, with Down syndrome, we’d love to hear from you! 


Email us at application at

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