Our Staff

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Eric Nelson, President

 

Eric holds degrees in biblical studies from Gordon College and a master’s of divinity from Gordon Conwell Theological Seminary. He has helped oversee and manage several group homes and emergency shelters for adults with developmental disabilities and has also been director of sales and marketing for a start-up business technology consulting company in Washington, D.C. Eric has been a pastor for more than 15 years.

 

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Holly Nelson, Director of Education

 

Holly is a special education teacher with a degree from Gordon College, and is certified in moderate and severe special needs, as well as early childhood education. In addition to the 10 years of teaching in public school systems, she has also created the educational program every year for their three adopted children who each have Down syndrome.

 

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Rachel Redmond, Director of Education

 

Rachel has a Master’s degree in Special Education from the University of Washington and obtained qualifications as a Board Certified Behavior Analyst in 2015. She spent 5 years teaching children with moderate to severe disabilities in Oak Harbor, Washington and has also worked as an ABA therapist for children with autism. She specializes in using behavior analytic techniques to help students with autism and other disabilities gain communication, academic, and self-help skills.

 

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Lauren Svymbersky, Director of Education

 

Lauren is an ASHA certified Speech Language Pathologist, graduating with her Bachelors in Speech and Hearing Sciences from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign in 2011 and her Masters in Speech Language Pathology from Northern Illinois University two years later. During her time at NIU, she found her passion for working with children and adults with significant language disorders. She spent two years working in Champaign, IL as the Speech Language Pathologist on the Functional and Essential Skills classrooms multi-disciplinary team, which also included substitute teaching. She joined Special Hope Network in November of 2015 and is excited about the opportunity to work in Zambia.

 

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Andrew Morrissett, Director of Finance

 

Born and raised in Roanoke, VA, Andrew moved to Charlottesville to attend the University of Virginia, where he graduated with a degree in History in 2009. After graduating, Andrew worked with Charlottesville Abundant Life Ministries, a community development non-profit serving in a low income neighborhood. His experience in nonprofit management and advocating for vulnerable populations make him well-suited to contribute to Special Hope’s work in Zambia.

 

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Laura Menenberg, Director of Operations – US

 

Laura is a Registered Nurse and has a Bachelors of Science in Nursing from the University of Washington. She worked as a pediatric ICU nurse at Seattle Children’s Hospital before moving to Lusaka, Zambia in 2011. It was in Zambia that she found her true calling serving children with special needs. After she and her husband Ben adopted their Zambian son Nathaniel, who has hydrocephalus and cerebral palsy, she began to work with SHN as the Director of Health Care. Laura and her family returned to the US in 2013. They reside in Bellevue, WA along with their twin boys and German Shepherd.

 

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Milika Phiri, Manager of Community Care Centers

 

Milika graduated from Chelstone High School in Lusaka. She then worked at Kasisi Orphanage for one year, where she was part of the start-up Special Education classroom outfitted by Special Hope. After attending several training courses with Special Hope, Milika became one of the organization’s first full-time Zambian staff. She now leads her team of Educational Specialists in the delivery of quality care to kids with intellectual disabilities in all of Special Hope’s programs.

 

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Mirriam Zimba, Manager of Home Care

 

Mirriam graduated from Kabulonga Girls High School in Lusaka, Zambia. She is now working to earn her diploma in Social Work from Lusaka Vocational Training Center, while she works for Special Hope and cares for her own two children as a single mom. Her experience and studies allow for her to interact with parents and caregivers in a professional, yet sensitive way. She now works to train and equip parents to better care for their kids at home.

 

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