Family Leadership Network Training Press Release


Starfire, Riverside Community Care, The Nemasket Group, and Multicultural Community Services Collaborate on Family Leadership Network Training 

Starfire Council of Greater Cincinnati and the Massachusetts Family Leadership Program funded by the Massachusetts Department of Developmental Services are pleased to announce the launch of a family-led training program designed to support families of loved ones with developmental disabilities build inclusive community projects. 

On September 10, families can attend an informational session for the Family Leadership Network. Based on Starfire’s community-building model, the Family Leadership Network empowers families of loved ones with intellectual and developmental disabilities, like Down syndrome, autism, and cerebral palsy, to developing relationships based on common interests, and beyond paid staff.  

Ten families will be paid for their time and receive microgrants to launch a Family Project within their Northeast, Southeast, and Central Massachusetts communities. Family Projects enable families to share their unique interests with their community – from backyard movies to hip hop dance lessons to pop-up puppy parks – while becoming known for something other than their disability. 

Families also receive monthly, one-on-one guidance from a dedicated Starfire Family Mentor during the nine-month-long mentorship. Each Family Mentor is a parent of a loved one with a disability. Each has first-hand experience in breaking the cycle of social isolation, creating sustainable community supports, and developing better stories for themselves and their loved ones. And, each Family Mentor has launched several Family Projects and grown relationships with neighbors and community members. 

“Starfire’s mission is to further a more inclusive world, one relationship at a time,” offers Mitch Haralson, MSW, LCSW, interim executive director, Starfire. “We are excited to partner with the Massachusetts Family Leadership Program to help more families create identities beyond disability.” 

“Our families can’t wait to share their gifts with our community!” says Maryann Welch, Director of the Northeast Massachusetts Family Leadership Program. 

Interested families can log in Zoom, HERE. 

About the Massachusetts Family Leadership Program 

The Massachusetts Family Leadership Program empowers families and caregivers to advocate for their loved ones with disabilities to live in their communities as naturally and typically as desired.  This is done by 1) providing information and tools to effectively advocate for change, 2) guiding families in developing a vision, building knowledge, and growing leadership skills necessary to support family members in creating the life they want in their community and 3) providing opportunities for them to join with other families to share experiences and ideas. 

About Starfire 

Starfire is a visionary organization working to build better lives for people with disabilities. Since 1993, Starfire has worked to create a more inclusive world by partnering with people with developmental disabilities, like Down syndrome, autism, and cerebral palsy, to help build richer, more fulfilling lives. The data is clear: people with disabilities grow increasingly lonely and isolated as adults, so Starfire works to discover identities exclusive of disabilities to connect people to relationships that decrease social isolation via Starfire’s Community Building Network, Family Leadership Network, and Learning Network.  Learn more at


Karen Claudio 

The Nemasket Group  

109 Fairhaven Road 

Mattapoisett, MA 02739 


Robbie Jennings Michels