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SPAN Who's Who


Debra Jennings, SPAN Executive Co-Director for National Projects and Parent Leadership Development.

Debra leads SPAN's national efforts promoting the capacities of the approximately 100 Parent Training & Information Centers and Community Parent Resource Centers assisting families with children with disabilities in each state, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, Guam and Palau.  These projects provide Parent Centers with the information and materials that support their individual parent advocacy efforts and systemic improvement activities across disabilities and across age spans from birth to 26.  Debra's experience as an advocate and leader includes organizing and supporting grassroots parent advocacy organizations and efforts around general and special education issues.  She joined SPAN in 1997 to lead its “Parents Engaged in Public Policy Project.”  On several state and national advisory committees, Debra is committed to ensuring that the voices of parents/families and communities are not left out of discussions of policies and practices impacting children and families.  Debra is a graduate of Northwestern University with a degree in Economics and has completed coursework in business, finance, public administration and non-profit management at the Kellogg School of Management and Seton Hall University Center for Public Service.  Debra’s eclectic professional experience prior to joining SPAN in 1997 includes construction, economic development, finance and constituent affairs.  Debra also served on a local school board.    She is the mom and first advocate of two daughters, one of whom received special education services and the other who participated in Title I Basic Skills.  Both are college graduates.  She lives in New Jersey with her husband, a middle school administrator.

Diana Autin, SPAN Executive Co-Director for Health and Family Support.

Diana is an attorney who has used her legal knowledge to help train and support parents and parent leaders as advocates for their children and families as they navigate the education, health, mental health, child welfare, and other systems.  Diana brings the voices of parents, families and communities to the table on a number of state and national advisory committees on health and education.  Diana is a graduate of University of Michigan Law School and studied economic development and management/ organizational leadership at Columbia University as a Revson Fellow.  Diana has participated in several national leadership programs including serving as an Advocacy Institute Senior Leadership Fellow. She is the adoptive mother of four children, from diverse cultures, ranging in age from 20 to 26 years old, including one who is currently attending college.  She is also the proud grandmother of a 6 year old.  A Cajun and Native American, Diana is deeply committed to cultural reciprocity and language access.