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 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
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 Friel is a mental health nurse from Derry~Londonderry working in an in-patient CAMHS unit in England. He has appeared on BBC Northern Ireland’s Story of a Lifetime with Stephen Nolan, Channel 4’s First Dates and BBC3’s MisFits Like Us helping to shine a light on Tourette and associated mental health conditions. Damian also uses his Vlogs on YouTube to raise awareness of Tourette Syndrome and as a co-host on the MenTalk Health podcast he challenges mental health stigma. He is a founding Board member of the Tourette Alliance.
Tanya Sockol Harrington:
Tanya Sockol, a founding Board member of the Tourette Alliance, volunteers internationally to advocate for those whose lives are affected by Tourette Syndrome, CTD and their associated conditions. Tanya is a mother to five, two of whom have Tourette Syndrome, and has multiple other family members with Tourette Syndrome, including her husband. Tanya regularly gives lectures on TS to Educators, Clinicians, Law Enforcement, Fire/Rescue, Families and Businesses and authors a blog about her experiences. Her ultimate goal is to see identification, support and acceptance for those living with TS worldwide.