Board of Directors
Meet the Tourette Alliance Board of Directors
Suzanne Lavery, Tourette Alliance Board of Director Chairperson:
A qualified Community Youth Worker currently involved in a West Belfast charity, Suzanne Lavery is the mother of two sons. Her youngest, Daniel, began having tics at the age of six and was diagnosed with Tourette Syndrome at age 10. Since then, with the help of her family, Suzanne found a local support group and found her calling — helping ensure the next generation of individuals diagnosed with Tourette and Tic Disorders have readily available access to information and support.
Deborah Anderson spent most of her life working in education. Well versed in writing the Individualized Education Plans that guide the learning environment for special needs students, Deborah worked with both special needs students and in mainstream classrooms. Now a Learning Support Assistant, Deborah became an advocate when her son was diagnosed with Tourette Syndrome at the age of 12. She has spent the last 15 years tirelessly working to ensure a brighter future for her own son and others who are affected by Tourette Syndrome, Tic Disorders and the secondary conditions which can accompany them.
A business woman and mother of four, Traci understands what it’s like to feel alone when a family member is diagnosed with Tourette Syndrome. Her son was diagnosed at an early age with ADHD, yet his symptoms began to get worse and he began to show signs of TS. Anxiety and tics caused issues in school for her son. After months of searching for answers, Traci met Board of Directors Chairperson Suzanne Lavery and found in her the support she’d been desperately in need of and the hope of a more positive future for herself, her family. Traci has spent the last few years working towards awareness and acceptance of Tourette Syndrome to ensure that those who are diagnosed with Tourette Syndrome and Tic Disorders and their families never again feel they have nowhere to turn.
A middle school teacher for 33 years, Susan Conners is currently the President and founder of the Tourette Syndrome Association of Greater NY State which was established in 1984. Having served on the Board of Directors of National Tourette Syndrome Association for 12 years she was also founder and Chair of their Education Committee. Following her retirement from full time teaching, she served for seven years as the Education Specialist for National TSA, Inc. Susan continues to run the chapter while concurrently presenting and doing private consulting all around the country. She has presented hundreds of workshops on the education of children with Tourette Syndrome and associated disorders in 48 of the 50 United States as well as in Canada, Spain, Norway, Poland and Puerto Rico. A winner of numerous local, state and national awards for her work in this field, Susan has also published extensively including articles, brochures, videos and book chapters on the education of children with TS. Her first book was published in 2011; The Tourette Syndrome & OCD Checklist: A Practical Reference for Parents and Educators. Susan has also consulted with and made appearances on the following television programs:
- ABC’s 20/20
- The Geraldo Show
- The Montel Williams Show
- The Maury Povich Show
- Several local TV and radio programs
- Consultant to ABC’s The Practice
- Featured in a 1992 article in Parade Magazine about Tourette Syndrome
- Emmy Award winning HBO Documentary “I Have Tourette’s but Tourette’s Doesn’t Have Me” on Tourette Syndrome, 2005
- Consultant to BBC Discovery Channel Special on Tourette Syndrome
- Consultant to and appearance on ABC’s Emmy Award winning Prime Time documentary on TS in 2008
Tanya Sockol Harrington:
Tanya Sockol Harrington began her career in the United States Navy working in military intelligence. After serving, Ms. Sockol Harrington left the Navy and began work as a Firefighter/EMT, where she’s continued to serve for the last eighteen years. A mother to five, Tanya found herself fighting a very different sort of battle in the aid of her eldest son, Connor, who was diagnosed with Tourette Syndrome at the age of 7 along with his younger brother and father. Having spent several frustrating years navigating the education system in the pursuit of an appropriate classroom experience for her son she found herself motivated to ensure that no other child with Tourette or Tic Disorders was left behind.
As a result she has spent the last seven years working to advocate for shared knowledge and a base of support for those whose lives are affected by Tourette Syndrome, Tic Disorders and their associated conditions. Mrs. Harrington worked with the Florida chapter of the National Learning Disability Association on several projects, including developing recommendations for the Governor’s Task Force on Education, and participated in multiple workshops addressing the educational needs of children with disabilities. She truly believes that knowledge is the key to allow each and every person reach their greatest potential.
The mother of three boys, Christine found herself overwhelmed when her eldest was diagnosed with Tourette Syndrome at the age of 6. Handed a leaflet and told that she shouldn’t worry, she and her family were sent home after the initial diagnosis with far more questions than answers.
Feeling lost, frightened and alone, she and her husband were unable to tell their son about his diagnosis. How could they explain to their child, when they didn’t understand it themselves?
After months of searching for support, Christine stumbled upon the Facebook Group that would eventually become the Tourette Alliance. She found others fighting the same fight and, suddenly, she felt like she wasn’t alone any longer. It didn’t take long for her to see that there was a need for others like herself to have information, support and advocacy. That’s when she gained the strength to begin working to ensure that no other family felt overwhelmed again and that no child who had the diagnosis of Tourette Syndrome ever felt ashamed.
Damian Luke Friel:
Diagnosed in late adulthood with Tourette Syndrome, Damian has become an inspiration for others with TS and Tic Disorders, traveling to speak about his condition and working ardently for awareness. Having appeared on the Stephen Nolan show and been the feature in several newspapers, Damian is now turning his passion into a career in the hopes of seeing a positive change for the future. Currently a student mental health nurse, Damian hopes to one day use his training to create a world in which Tourette Syndrome is not only understood, it’s accepted.