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Special Education Academy™ (SEA)

Advocate Partners

We’re excited to announce that Karen Mayer Cunningham, the Special Education Boss™, and the Special Education Academy™ are collaborating with dedicated advocates personally trained by Karen. Together, we’re committed to delivering the best advocacy services to families in need.

Our Special Education Academy Advocate Partners have joined the team to enhance our mission, paving the way for successful student outcomes. We’re united in our dedication to empowering every student to thrive. 

“Remember, when we get it right for the child, we get it right for everyone.”

~ Karen Mayer Cunningham 

Gina Whitsitt, Special Education Advocate
Professional photograph of Dr. Dannette Taylor,
Special Education Academy Advocate Partner Logo
Travis S. Moses, Advocate
Shannon Mares, Special Education Academy Advocate Partner
Photograph of Stephanie Rodriguez-Barnett, Advocate
Christina Cabral, Special Education Academy Advocate Partner, Special Education Academy

Click Advocate Photograph for bio.

Having a daughter with a genetic condition, 22q11.2 Deletion Syndrome, led to her passion for helping families by advocating for students. Shannon has the compassion, communication skills, and knowledge to work with families and school districts, bringing them all together to create successful IEPs for students.

Shannon Mares

Advocate Partner, Special Education Academy™

After witnessing the inequities in the education system through professional and personal experiences, she dedicated her life to addressing these issues.

Charlene ensures each child gets a tailored Individualized Education Plan (IEP), advocates for inclusive classrooms, and offers vital support services. Additionally, she guides families to navigate the complex special education system, empowering them to advocate for their children.

Driven by the firm belief that education is a fundamental right, regardless of disabilities, Charlene’s mission is to help families find meaning and equality in special education.

Charlene Clifton

Advocate Partner, Special Education Academy™

My passion is to serve and celebrate children and families. My focus is to ensure your child has what they need, not just for today, but for their future. I will work tirelessly to have your child supported for who they are and given what they need to succeed while I assist you to understand the 504/IEP process.

My introduction to Special Education started over 10 years ago navigating the needs of both my children with disabilities ranging from learning disabilities to rare medical needs, limb differences, and AAC devices. As a part of my commitment to serve the community, our family founded a nonprofit with the mission to support awareness through education for children and families with limb differences and rare disorders.

The best outcomes for students come from a comprehensive plan and celebrating our children for who they are while supporting their unique individual needs. Let me help your family navigate Special Education so we can create a successful plan and protect your rights under IDEA.

Christina Cabral

Advocate Partner, Special Education Academy™

My desire to make a lasting impact on children’s lives began over 30 years ago. Throughout my career in education, I have served as a general education teacher at both elementary and secondary levels while holding roles in reading intervention and English as a Second Language. In special education, I have served as a resource and inclusion teacher and case manager. I have attended countless 504/IEP meetings in each of these roles including that as a parent for my own child. I understand how intimidating it can be to navigate the special education process for those we love.

I have a Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education and hold teacher certifications in general education, special education, and English as a Second Language. In addition, I have my certificate in the Science of Reading. Although based in Texas, I advocate for students across the United States.

Walking away from teaching students was a difficult decision, but I truly feel called to advocate for our most vulnerable students. My goal is to work with families and school-based members to create an IEP that follows IDEA law and allows the student to reach their full potential based on their unique circumstances. Together, we can truly make a difference!

Gina Whitsitt

Advocate Partner, Special Education Academy™

Dr. Dannette Taylor is a seasoned professional who began her journey as a special education teacher, where she developed a deep understanding of the unique challenges and needs of students with disabilities. Her expertise and commitment to special education were further demonstrated in her roles as a special education administrator and assistant principal. These positions allowed her to influence and improve educational programs, ensuring they meet the diverse needs of students requiring specialized attention and care.

At the heart of Dr. Taylor’s career is her unwavering passion for serving children, particularly those with disabilities. She is deeply committed to ensuring that these children receive the education they not only need but truly deserve. Her advocacy and leadership in the field of special education have made a significant impact, improving the educational experiences and outcomes for countless students.

What truly sets Dr. Taylor apart is her personal connection to her work, being a mother of a child with autism. This experience has enriched her professional insight, allowing her to empathize deeply with the families she works with and advocate passionately for children with disabilities. Her in-depth knowledge of Individualized Education Programs (IEPs) and 504 plans, combined with her personal journey, positions her as a valuable resource in the education community. Dr. Taylor’s dedication extends beyond her professional duties; she is committed to ensuring that all children, especially those with disabilities, receive the education they rightfully deserve. Her work is not just a profession; it’s a personal mission to make a difference in the lives of children and their families.

Dr. Dannette Taylor

Advocate Partner, Special Education Academy™

I was born and raised in Montana. I have had many personal experiences with IEPs and filing Federal complaints against a university for myself and others. Enjoy working in the community and being a member of The National Federation of the Blind and the Lions Club. My college background is in Social Work.


Travis S. Moses

Advocate Partner, Special Education Academy™

Stephanie is a distinguished operations leader and advocate for special education, with over twenty years of diverse professional experience. She currently serves as a School Board Trustee and has made significant strides in advocating for students, special education, and public schools, demonstrating a deep commitment to educational issues.

Her dedication to special education is rooted in personal experience. Married to a military veteran and a mother of three, Stephanie’s journey into special education began in 2017 after her child was diagnosed with ADHD, expressive language impairment and multiple learning disabilities. Her mission is clear: to ensure that every child she serves receives a free appropriate public education. Stephanie’s unique blend of professional skills and personal dedication positions her as a powerful advocate for special education. As a mother to children with special needs and having endured a traumatic brain injury herself, Stephanie’s advocacy is both personal and profound.

Stephanie has represented educational interests on Capitol Hill and at the Texas Capitol, and has trained elected officials on special education topics with entities like the Texas Association of School Boards and the National School Boards Association. Her educational background includes a Bachelor’s Degree in Criminal Justice from the University of North Texas, along with a certificate in volunteer management and she’s certified in mergers and acquisitions.

Stephanie Rodriguez-Barnett

Advocate Partner, Special Education Academy™

All Advocate Partners associated with Special Education Academy are independent consultants and not employees of Special Education Academy™, Special Education Boss™, or Karen Mayer Cunningham. Each ‘Partner’ has been trained by ‘the Boss’, has advocacy experience, and comes highly recommended by Karen Mayer Cunningham, the Special Education Boss™. However, it’s essential to note that they operate independently and bear individual responsibility for their actions, advice, and services.

While we consistently aim to collaborate with professionals and have confidence in those we’ve trained, any arising issues, disputes, or disagreements should be addressed directly with the Partner involved. Neither Special Education Academy™, Special Education Boss™, nor Karen Mayer Cunningham holds liability for any Partner actions and is to be held harmless for any advice, activities, or actions undertaken by them.

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