On behalf of the Board of Directors of Family Voices, Inc., I announce the retirement of our Executive Director, Nora Wells, which will be effective March 31, 2023. Nora has served as Executive Director since 2014.

Nora Wells

Nora’s Remarkable Career

Like many family leaders, Nora began her career in health advocacy by seeking care and services for her own son, Dan. The Federation for Children with Special Needs, which was formed in 1975, obtained the first funding for family information, training, and support for special education. In 1981, Nora co-wrote a proposal to address health professionals’ knowledge of special education laws. Alongside other Massachusetts families, she worked tirelessly to educate professionals about the needs and experiences of families and to change health care services and policies. In 1985, with interest from the Federal Maternal and Child Health Bureau (MCHB), Nora co-wrote a proposal to provide information, education, and support for collaboration between families and health professionals. A significant highlight was a unique collaboration with Deborah Klein Walker and the staff at the Massachusetts Department of Public Health and other private providers. With this first funding for families, Dr. Vince Hutchins and Dr. Merle McPherson at MCHB became key supports of family initiatives.

Nora’s work with Family Voices began before the organization was formed, when she and others focused on in-home care and community inclusion with the intent to highlight and share more about families’ experiences.  As President Clinton’s health plan was being developed, it became clear that the voices of families needed to be heard and included. Together, Julie Beckett and Nora made numerous trips to Washington, DC to convey families’ needs. Family Voices was formed in 1992 by Polly Arango, Josie Wall, and Julie Beckett, with numerous other family leaders, including Nora. Although the Clinton health care plan was not immediately successful, families’ voices were being heard and respected. This strong group of family advocates would later develop a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization that would serve a nationwide network of families. Additional MCHB funding, both regional and national, brought together family leaders like Betsy Anderson of Massachusetts and others such as Molly Cole, Nancy DiVenere, Donene Feist, Donna Olsen, Gina Pola Money, Martha Jean Madison and many more. In the mid-90s, Nora oversaw a modest survey to capture family experiences with health services. In 1998, Nora led a 20-state survey, “Your Voice Counts,” jointly run by Family Voices and Brandeis University, to understand and describe families’ experiences and challenges with health systems.

We are thankful to have had Nora’s leadership, not only at the birth of Family Voices but also over the past several years of her service as Executive Director. Please join me in thanking Nora for her leadership at Family Voices, and please take the time to congratulate her on her upcoming retirement by sending Nora a personal message or by making a donation to Family Voices in Nora’s honor.  Nora has made many contributions to the family engagement movement and has connections across the country with our network and friends. She will appreciate having you celebrate this new season with her. Stay tuned to Family Voices for plans to celebrate Nora.

Announcing the Interim Executive Director, Dr. Allysa Ware

We are excited about the team of outstanding staff members that continues to carry the work of Family Voices forward. The core of our work remains strong, even as we grow and transition.

Dr. Allysa Ware

The Board of Directors has named Dr. Allysa Ware as Interim Executive Director of Family Voices. Dr. Ware is a social worker whose research focuses on autism, and she is the parent of a young adult daughter with autism. Her work has primarily addressed early childhood and transition to adulthood.

Dr. Ware, who began as a consultant with Family Voices eight years ago, has served as the Associate Executive Director for the past year. Her prior experience as a program manager and project director for Family Voices has helped her build extensive connections with our network, partners and funders. Dr. Ware has expertise in family engagement, finance, strategic planning, and diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging (DEIB). She has successfully written and led multiple grant projects at Family Voices, and she is thrilled to lead Family Voices through this transition.


Nanfi N. Lubogo | President | Family Voices Board of Directors

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Our Vision

With families at the center of health care, all children and youth reach their full potential and health disparities are eliminated.

Our Mission

Family Voices is a national organization and grassroots network of families and friends of children and youth with special health care needs and disabilities that promotes partnership with families—including those of cultural, linguistic and geographic diversity—in order to improve health care services and policies for children.

In honor of