WHO WE ARE
Mr. Gary founded the Special Education Advocacy Group in 2014 to serve a growing need for advocacy services in the East Bay and Tri-Valley areas. Mr. Gary entered the special education world almost 15 years ago as parent, and has been intimately involved with it ever since, both personally and professionally.
Mr. Gary began supporting families of children with special needs as a member of a ground-breaking PTA Special Needs Committee, eventually receiving the PTA’s most prestigious honorary service award, the Golden Oak Service Award for individuals making significant contributions to the welfare of children and youth in a community. Mr. Gary was asked to help guide and improve special education in his district alongside staff as a parent member of a Special Education Steering Committee. He eventually served on a small panel of parents and staff tasked with a year-long process of redesigning the district’s special education processes and procedures to better support both families and staff. Mr. Gary helped his local district become a single-district SELPA, and has served as Chair of its Special Education Community Advisory Committee on and off since 2006.
Mr. Gary eventually served professionally as a full-time Special Needs Liaison for six years, supporting families and staff at 35 schools with a population of 32,000 students. In addition to training both staff and families, he acted as an independent neutral and facilitator to resolve all manner of disputes regarding special education and special needs. He has attended over 700 IEP and 504 meetings (although he isn’t counting anymore), and has supported nearly as many families on their individual special education journeys.
Mr. Gary has presented countless parent and staff education workshops on topics regarding special needs, including the IEP process, 504 Plans, IEP goals, effective communication, helping struggling children, fostering independence in children with special needs, alternative dispute resolution, successful collaboration, accommodating students with special needs in the general education classroom, and more. Mr. Gary remains sought after by both parent groups and school districts for such presentations.
Mr. Gary is the father of two remarkable young men, of whom he is very proud, and a lucky husband of an amazing woman. He is a scout leader, a SRVHS mountain bike team ride leader, and loves to ski, snow board, cycle, sail, camp, backpack, and do just about anything outdoors – especially barbecue.
Ms. Lucey strives to empower families navigating the special education process, and to help ensure that individuals with special needs receive the best educational experience possible. She believes that special education advocacy, when approached with commitment, integrity and humility, can ultimately have a positive impact on all involved, and on the education system as a whole.
Ms. Lucey’s advocacy practice is a natural extension of her educational, professional and personal background in early child development, family systems, and special needs. Ms. Lucey received a graduate degree in early intervention and early childhood special education. Professionally, she has served as program director for a Bay Area early intervention and pediatric educational therapy program. She has held a specialist teaching credential in the State of California, and has worked in a vendorized Regional Center clinical program, a non-public school, and in California public education as a special day class teacher. These experiences allow her to bring a systems-based approach and breadth of perspectives to her advocacy on behalf of families and children.
Ms. Lucey’s professional experience was followed by the personal, as she found herself navigating the world of special education as a parent. She has served as chairperson of an award-winning PTA Special Needs Committee that organized monthly parent education events, an annual resource fair for programs serving individuals with special needs, a lending library of books and media related to parenting a child with a disability, an abilities awareness program for students, staff, and parents at school sites, and nurtured parent-to-parent support. She has also served on various district-level committees which further enable her to be an effective advocate in the educational system. She currently serves on the SELPA Community Advisory Committee of a large school district.
Ms. Lucey monitors legislation impacting our educational system, and remains active in education legislation advocacy. She stays current with new educational and therapeutic interventions and trends via ongoing professional development.
Ms. Lucey is the happy wife of a devoted husband and faithful mother to two loving sons. She is a member of the Contra Costa First Five Children and Families Commission and an active leader in the largest PTA council in northern California with over 20,000 members. In her leisure time, she enjoys fine arts performances and exhibits, relishes time at the ocean with her family and friends, is a member of an international cooking club and various book clubs.
Laura is passionate about helping children receive the education and services they need and deserve. She brings over 20 years of educational experience to the practice as a Special Education Advocate, Special Education Program Supervisor, Teacher for Moderate-to-Severe Special Day Class and an Independent Home School Teacher/Principal.
After beginning her career as an Independent Home School Teacher/Principal, Laura returned to school to support her transition to special education when she found her enthusiasm for helping children with special needs. During her first year as a Teacher in a moderate-to-severe special day class, she won an Excellence in Teaching award from the SELPA for her work advocating for her students and implementing curriculum. Her classroom also served as the model high school classroom for the country based upon the unique moderate-to-severe curriculum she taught. Laura next transitioned into the role of a Special Education Program Supervisor where she worked tirelessly assisting and advocating for her students and their families to establish the supports and services needed for success.
Laura transitioned into her role as a Special Education Advocate in order to work more closely with students and their families without the constraints of the public school system. Having worked on both sides of the table, she has developed strong working relationships with district employees and understands how to brainstorm and collaborate to achieve the best possible outcome for her clients. Laura’s calm demeanor, honesty, and practicality supports parents on every step of their journey. Laura’s experience allows her to provide expertise, passion, energy, and most importantly hope to every family she represents.