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Our Team

At Rhode Island Advocacy for Children, we are proud of the team that we have developed. We have an experienced group of educational advocates, evaluators, administrators, trainers, and tutors who work everyday to fight for your children's rights and educational success.


Our Advocates

Mary Lou Kennedy Rossi, M. ED.
Educational Advocate

Mary Lou Kennedy Rossi is a retired Elementary School Principal, Special Educator, and General Education Classroom Teacher. Mary Lou is the parent of five children and step-children and a grandson with special needs. Ms. Rossi earned her Bachelor of Science from the University of Rhode Island in Elementary Education and Social Sciences, Master of Arts from Rhode Island College in Special Education, and post-graduate certification in Educational Leadership from the Principal Residency. Currently, in addition to to her advocacy work, Mary Lou is a Professor at the University of Rhode Island: College of Education teaching behavior management course, seminar class and mentoring beginning teachers in their elementary student teaching and practicum placements.

With a steadfast belief that all children deserve the best education possible in the least restrictive environment, Mary Lou has advocated for all students throughout her thirty year career with exceptional clear and consistent communication skills. Developing family engagement initiatives, focusing on social/emotional learning, and improving executive function skills have been highlights to her work and identity within the educational community. Her mantra remains the same “Parents are a child’s first and most influential teacher… Seize the opportunity!”

Sandra Parquette, M. ED.
Educational Advocate

Sandra Paquette has been involved with the education process for children with individual learning needs for over 40 years. She has served as a Special Education teacher, Consultant, Local Education Agency Representative, Eligibility Team facilitator, and Advocate. Sandra received her Bachelor of Sciences from the Rhode Island College, her Masters of Education from Boston College, and numerous post graduate courses in education. She also holds a Mediation Certificate which allows her to further participate in Special Education meetings.

Since Sandra has started working as a special education advocate, she has found great success due to her dedication to make sure children obtain the appropriate services to meet their educational needs and her thorough knowledge of IDEA and State law. Sandra feels privileged to be working with parents and professionals to guarantee that the educational needs of so many children are met.

Dr. Jane C. Perkins, EdD.
Educational Advocate

Dr. Perkins is an educator of 18 years, an accomplished writer, group facilitator, and researcher. She has a Bachelor of Arts from Oglethorpe University in Atlanta, Georgia and a Masters of Arts in Teaching from Rhode Island College. In 2015, Jane earned her Doctorate in Educational Leadership from Johnson & Wales University. After earning her doctorate, she founded Strategically Prepared, a school safety consulting firm which focuses on raising teacher self-efficacy with regard to protecting students during a school crisis. She has also written a book, "Read. Write. Evacuate", which is based on her research and the topic of her presentations at both regional and international educational research conferences.

Linda Kortick, JD
Educational Advocate

Linda has recently moved to Rhode Island from Somers, New York where she served as a parent representative on the Town of Somers Committee on Special Education. Linda is a licensed attorney in the states of Rhode Island, Connecticut and Washington, D.C. During her professional career in Rhode Island she was employed as in in-house attorney for Textron Financial Corporation in Providence, Rhode Island. Linda received her Bachelor of Arts and Juris Doctor degrees from the Catholic University of America and holds a Masters of Business Administration from Bryant University. She has been advocating for children with disabilities for several years including that of her daughter who is a current freshman at the University of Notre Dame.

Linda is passionate about helping families understand their due process rights while navigating their journey through the special education process. From pre-school to college entry Linda aids and assists families with questions regarding special education evaluations, eligibility, IEP services and 504 accommodations. She is thrilled to be back in Rhode Island and looks forward to lending her support to special education students and parents here in Rhode Island.


Educational Evaluators

Susan A. McLaughlin M. Ed

Educational Assessment Specialist

Susan is a retired Special Education Teacher. She taught in Westerly Public Schools for 25 years. Susan was hired in Westerly as the Behavior Specialist, working with both regular and special needs at risk students. She worked as the Behavior Specialist at the middle school and elementary level. Susan also was a diagnostic prescriptive teacher, as well as, a resource teacher during her years at Westerly. Susan began her career at Bradley Hospital in the Preschool Day Program and earned her Master’s degree in education while teaching at Bradley. Susan became head teacher for several classrooms and supervised student teachers while at Bradley Hospital. Susan also worked at several schools performing educational testing while she was raising her two children. These schools included Briggs School, Sophia Little Home and NFA (Training School for Youths).

Susan is a strong advocate for character education and positive behavioral supports. During her years at Westerly, she was the character education coordinator and presented at the state and national level surrounding advocating for inclusion for all students. She co-published and presented in Washington, DC in 1994-A Monograph on Inclusion for the Council for Children with Behavioral Disorders. Susan is proficient at writing detailed educational reports that are based on standardized data, as well as, including individualized data about the child as a whole. Susan believes that all children can succeed and every child has potential for growth. Susan lives in Richmond, RI with her husband Jack of 37 years. She has two grown children, Cara, a Doctor of Physical Therapy and her son James, a payroll specialist. They both work and live in RI.

Susan is excited to join the team at RI Advocacy for Children and advocating for all students to reach their full potential.

Andrea Winokur Kotula, Ed.D

Educational Assessment Specialist

Andrea Winokur Kotula has over 40 years of experience in education as a teacher, reading specialist, higher education faculty, educational consultant, and researcher. She maintains a private practice as an educational consultant to schools, hospitals, advocates, attorneys, and families and has conducted hundreds of comprehensive educational evaluations for children and adolescents.

Dr. Kotula has focused on the diagnosis and correction of reading and learning disabilities throughout her career. She has a doctorate in Reading, Language, and Learning Disabilities from Harvard University. She was also chair of the International Literacy Association’s Special Interest Group on Readability from 1997 to 2014 and co-chair since 2016.

Dr. Kotula was a senior research scientist at Educational Development Center in Massachusetts for 12 years. At EDC, she was the principal investigator and project director of many educational research projects and studies. Prior to Dr. Kotula’s work at EDC, she was employed as the director of the department of Reading and Educational Resources at Franciscan Hospital for Children in Boston, where she conducted educational evaluations as part of multidisciplinary teams.