Our Mission

The mission of the Utah Parent Center (UPC or Center) is to help parents help their children, youth and young adults with all disabilities to live included, productive lives as members of the community.

We accomplish our mission by providing accurate information, empathetic peer support, valuable training and effective advocacy based on the concept of parents helping parents.*

*The term parent is broadly defined to include anyone serving in that role.

What is the Utah Parent Center?

The Utah Parent Center, a 501c3 non-profit, is an award-winning training and information center founded in 1983 by parents of children and youth with all disabilities to help other parents facing similar challenges throughout Utah. The caring and competent staff of the UPC utilizes a proven, effective parent-to-parent model to help many thousands of parents annually.  We also represent families in many systems level activities. The UPC staff have built collaborative networks with education, health and human service professionals, agencies and organizations. The Center promotes change within community through various projects and activities.

The UPC is founded on the philosophy that parents are full partners in the decision-making processes that direct their child’s care and programs and, as such, can provide significant support to other parents in similar circumstances. Services of the Utah Parent Center are typically free.  One-on-one consultations, workshops and presentations for parents are free. There are registration costs for some conferences and there may be a small fee for large quantities of materials.

Who are the staff of the Utah Parent Center?

Staff of the UPC are primarily parents of children with disabilities. Each of them have a child of varying ages with different disabilities. Their unique perspective of being a parent themselves allows them an opportunity to provide real-life experiences and positive lessons learned.

jennie and son outside

Our staff helps parents and professionals through:

  • toll-free telephone access to the Center and trained parents (Parent Consultants) who provide information, support and referrals.
  • workshops and presentations on a variety of topics related to special education, health and other issues pertinent to the needs of families.
  • an online calendar of events.
  • online training resources, such as video modules, webinars and print resources.
  • an annual conference attended by hundreds of parents and professionals.
  • an electronic newsletter (e-Connections) which contains the latest information and updates (some availability in print for families who require copies).
  • a library of resources to help parents increase their knowledge and improve skills.
  • trained local volunteers and IEP Coaches to support parents.
  • services and supports to Spanish-speaking parents.

Governing Board of Directors 2018-19

Amberly Dattilo, JD, Board Chairperson
Disability Law Center, Attorney, Parent

Jeff Skibitsky, MA, Board Chairperson-Elect
CEO, Alternative Behavior Strategies

Cheralyn Creer, BA, Board Secretary
Director of a program for blind youth, Parent and Person with a Disability

Curtis Ryan, BA, Board Treasurer
CPA, Westminster College, VP of Finance and Administration, Parent

Allyson White, MA, Board Member
Ascent Academies, Special Education Director, Guardian of Disabled Sister

Amanda Dickson, BA, JD, Board Member
KSL Radio, Radio Personality, Author, Motivational Speaker, Parent

David Nixon, BS, Board Member
VP, JLL Commercial Real Estate

George Squires, MA, Board Member
Northwestern Financial, Wealth Advisor, Retired

Jessica Merrill, BS, Board Member
Marketing Director, Overstock.com

Justin Draper, BS, Board Member
HR Business Partner, Varex Imaging, Parent

Matthew Wappett, PhD, Board Member
Utah State University Center for Persons with Disabilities, Executive Director, Parent

Patsy Milligan, MA, Board Member
SpedCO, Program Specialist, Parent

Paula Peterson, APRN, MS, Board Member
Primary Children’s Hospital, Nurse Practitioner

Dr. Patrice Johnson, PhD, Board Member
Superintendent, Jordan River School District

Sara Doutre’, MA, Board Member
Private Consultant for state Early Intervention, Education, and Health Departments, Parent

Joey Hanna, Ex-Officio (non-voting) Member
UPC Executive Director, Parent

Note: UPC Board composition must maintain a majority of parents of children, youth, and young adults with disabilities.

Advisory Board

Ryan Nelson, Board Chair
Regional President, Zions Bank

Sharlene Wells Hawkes, Board Member
President, Story Rock – Remember My Service

Ken Eliasen, Board Member
Vice President, Edwards Life Sciences

Mark Durrant, Board Member
Partner, Dorsey & Whitney, LLP

Kyle Nelson, Board Member
Founding Partner, Max Connect Marketing

Sharla Jessop, Board Member
President, Smedley Financial

Kent Bowman, Board Member
Partner, Tanner LLC

Key Utah Parent Staff

Joey Hanna, Executive Director

Gina Pola-Money, Associate Director

Sherrie Wignall, Fiscal Manager

Jennie Dopp, Development Coordinator

Cassandra Shaw-Myers, Lead Administrative Assistant