We’re on a mission to change what’s possible for people with Down syndrome.

It all started with a small group of parents in 1991. Parents raising children with Down syndrome in a world that didn’t believe children with Down syndrome were capable of much. But these parents knew different.

These parents knew that with the right support and resources, their children could do anything. They could learn and succeed in school. They could make friends and become part of a community. They could find meaningful work and contribute to society. They could reach their full potential and live happy, fulfilling lives.

The world might not believe it, but these parents wouldn’t have it any other way.

Since 1991, DSACF has grown from a few parents to more than 1,200 individuals with Down syndrome and their families. We serve families across eight counties with help from more than 17,000 friends, professionals, volunteers and other supporters. Our powerful community believes in the extraordinary potential of people with Down syndrome. We’re bringing out that potential in extraordinary ways every day.


We change what’s possible for people with Down syndrome through:

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PROGRAMS that propel children and adults with Down syndrome toward their full potential.
Have A Meaningful Career
RESOURCES to support families at every stage of their life.
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ADVOCACY to promote inclusion and protect the rights of people with Down syndrome.

Join the DSACF family.

Your membership makes great things possible for you and your family, and so many others that we serve.
DSACF Walk Families and Children

Our Team

Heather Barnes

Heather Barnes

Executive Director
Heather has a Master’s degree in Mental Health Counseling from the University of Florida (Go Gators!) and originally began her career as a practicing clinician. For the last 19 years, Heather has held various management roles within nonprofits and has worked with the disability community for the last 17 years. Prior to joining DSACF, Heather spent the last 13 years working for Best Buddies, another nonprofit that provides programs for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Through her work with Best Buddies, Heather has gotten to know, and love, so many of the individuals and families with Down syndrome living in Central Florida. Heather has a 15 y.o. daughter, Hailey, and 13 y.o. son, Luke, whom she is frequently found chauffeuring around town to various sporting events.

Lauren Kelley

Development Manager
Lauren has a Bachelor's in Event Management from the University of Central Florida and has worked in the hospitality industry for over 10 years. She has worked in several different sectors of the events world, but her passion lies within non-profit organizations. She even served as an intern at DSACF while in college, which helped spark that love for non-profits. She lives in Maitland with her partner, Kevin and their dog Ozzy.
Marnie Castro

Marniebel Castro

School Age and Adults Program Coordinator
Marniebel has a background in hospitality and event coordination. She first became a member of DSACF in 2013 as a parent. In the past 5 years she has been a volunteer and took on the role as Chairperson of the Step Up for Down Syndrome walk. She has a passion for helping and advocating for people with Down syndrome. She currently resides in Orlando, Fl with her husband Philip and son Tommy (9) who has Down syndrome.

Ashley Hofer

Adult Program Coordinator
Ashley has a B.S. in Psychology from the University of Central Florida and has a background in operations and administration. She has always had a passion for giving back to her community and is excited to continue doing so in her role with the DSACF. Ashley currently resides in the Orlando area with her husband Ron, her daughter Nora, and her son Liam who has Down Syndrome.
Cynthia Rosado

Cynthia Rosado

Office Administrator
Cynthia has an Associate’s degree from the University of Puerto Rico and worked in the pharmaceutical and medical industry for more than 23 years. She is blessed with a six-year-old daughter, Zoey, who has Down syndrome. Cynthia loves being able to combine her passion for the special population community with her career at DSACF. Cynthia leads our family/community outreach and memberships and is excited to join our families on their precious journey.

Board of Directors

Troy Culley

Troy Culley

Hylant, Client Executive

Marc Miller, CGC

Project Manager, Clancy & Theys Construction

Zak Sultan

Senior Vice President at ServisFirst Bank

Cory Aspelieter

PCL Construction Services, Sr. Procurement and Equipment Manager
Jeff Goodman

Jeff Goodman

Business Development Director, Katmai Corporation
Patricia Lewis

Patricia Lewis

Retired, Special Education Teacher
Catherine McWhorter

Catherine McWhorter

Lake Nona Wave Hotel, Sales & Marketing Coordinator

Chris McVay

Craft Financial Group, CEO

Ben Strombeck

Vice President, Strombeck Consulting, Inc.
Candace Whiting

Candace Whiting

Self Advocate and Motivational Speaker

Mary Beth Eliason

Senior Copywriter, Advanced Customer Experience


The DSACF Medical Advisory Board is composed of physicians, psychologists, therapists, and other health care professionals who have an interest in and/or experience in caring for individuals with Down syndrome and are familiar with accepted standards of various general and subspecialty care of individuals with Down syndrome.

Samuel Smith, D.O.

Advent Health, Pediatrics

Lynda Pollack, M.D.

Orlando Health, Pediatric Genetics

Jennifer Tucker, PT, DPT, PCS

UCF, College of Physical Therapy

Annuette R Cabiac, M.D.

Orlando Health, Pediatrics

Gerson Valencia Villeda, M.D.

Orlando Health, Pediatric Cardiology

Sheryl Logan, M.D.

Women’s Care, Obstetrics & Gynecology

Julie Denham, M.D.

Nemours, Gastroenterology

Wendy Yovaish, ARNP

Orlando Health, Pediatric Genetics

Kristin Marie Castillo Farias, M.D.

Private Practice, Internal Medicine

Daniel Irizarry, M.D.

Kanan Medical, Family Medicine

Stacy Taylor, MA, B.C.B.A.

Advanced Behavior & Learning, Special Education and Behavior Analysis

Our Partners

Thank you to our partners, whose generous support makes our programs possible.