Disability Advocates Team Members

Team Members

Nancy J. Murray, Senior Vice President of Achieva and President, The Arc of Greater Pittsburgh

Nancy Murray M.S. is the President of The Arc of Greater Pittsburgh and Senior Vice President of Achieva. She has 45 years of experience in the disability field in the areas of public policy, advocacy, family support, supports coordination, health care and state government serving people with disabilities and their families. Nancy’s primary area of interest and study is the resilience of families of children and adults with disabilities and the long term impact of caring for a person with a disability on a family. Nancy and her husband are the parents of two adult children with Down syndrome.

Nancy is the founder and Project Director of Achieva's Disability Healthcare Initiative and was the founder and first Director of the Down Syndrome Center at Children’s Hospital (UPMC) of Pittsburgh. She has served as the President of the Board of Directors of the Pennsylvania Assistive Technology Foundation; a member of the Pennsylvania Medical Assistance Advisory Council; numerous committees through the Pennsylvania Office of Developmental Programs; numerous committees of The Arc of the United States; and the National Council of Executives of The Arc; a member of the Pennsylvania Waiting List Campaign; co-chair of the federal RAISE Family Care-giving Council; a member of the Pennsylvania Adult Protective Services Advisory Council; a member of the Pennsylvania Governor’s Council on Reform; and a member of the Advisory Council for the University of Pittsburgh’s Center for Research, Training and Dissemination of  Family Support for People with Disabilities Across the Life Course. 

Nancy received her B.S. from Gettysburg College and her M.S. from the University of Pittsburgh.

Julie Trbovich, Director of Advocacy and Family Supports

Julie Trbovich is the Director of Advocacy and Family Supports. Over the last 20 years, her career has focused on assisting and advocating for people with disabilities and navigating through the many systems to advocate for her son with significant mental health challenges.  Julie previously worked as a special education teacher in the public school sector and at a long-term psychiatric facility for children. She also held the position of Program Manager for children and families with a statewide mental health advocacy organization. Her passion is being a part of the challenges to change the culture, educate people on the importance of advocacy so they can be self-advocates and improve systems for families and their loved ones. In her different roles, she had the opportunity to create and deliver presentations to school districts, education staff and students, parent groups, law enforcement and the general population.  Julie participates on several committees and workgroups in the southwestern Pennsylvania region which aides her in keeping up-to-date on current issues and best practices.  

Julie received her B.S.from Duquesne University.

Achieva Disability Advocates

Lori Capperis

Lori has worked at Achieva since 2016 in various roles: IM4Q (Independent Monitoring for Quality); Older Adult Protective Services Case Aide; Older Adult Protect Services Investigator; FSS Coordinator; and Disability Advocate with Advocacy/Family Supports. She has over 18 year’s experience with disability advocacy. Lori’s daughter was born in 2002 with a diagnosis of Down syndrome which caused a detour in her career choice from Food and Beverage Director to Healthcare and Advocacy. Madison is now a healthy 18-year-old and is planning on starting her own greenhouse business.

Lori is a member of the Beaver County Behavioral Health Human Rights Committee, Beaver County Intermediate Unit Task Force, and the Local Interagency Coordinating Council for Early Intervention in Beaver County. She has raised awareness and thousands of dollars for Down syndrome and Multiple Sclerosis awareness through her Facebook page: Madison Miracle Makers (https://www.facebook.com/Madison's-Miracle-Makers).

Amy Guthrie

Amy Guthrie has been an advocate with Achieva since 2006. When her son was very young, she realized she didn’t know what questions to ask to get answers to help him.  An Achieva disability advocate was knowledgeable and helpful.  Now, Amy is honored to support and assist families across the southwestern region in navigating the systems, having their concerns addressed and their questions answered.  Amy works with families addressing specific concerns, such as with Special Education and Intellectual Disability (ID) supports and services.  She also works on systemic issues, serving on the Local Task Forces for Intermediate Units #2 and #3 providing resources to families whose children receive Special Education, as well as information on legislative issues of interest to the disability community.  

Amy received her B.S. from Earlham College and her M.S. from Duquesne University.

Karen Oosterhous

Karen Oosterhous is an experienced disability rights advocate helping people and their families successfully access services and other resources that enable them to lead lives of personal significance. Karen specializes in helping students with disabilities receive the Free and Appropriate Public Education (FAPE) all children are entitled to by law. She helps students by requesting and reviewing evaluations and related disability documentation; determining classroom accommodations, and working with the school team to establish present levels of function and draft IEP (Individualized Education Plan) goals.

She is a member of the steering committee of the Pittsburgh Local Area Task Force on Special Education (Intermediate Unit 2), and also a member of the Education Law Center’s Stakeholder Group on the Education of Immigrant and Refugee students. Karen devotes her free time to serving Pittsburgh’s Latino community as an educational advocate. 

Karen received her B.A. from the Universit of Maryland, her M.A. from Georgetown University and also holds a certificate from the Institute of Special Education Advocacy at William & Mary Law School. 

Regina Sciullo

Regina Sciullo has more than 21 years experience in advocacy including educational, transition to adulthood, family supports and adult and systems advocacy.  Her career in advocacy began when son Nick, was born with Down syndrome. In addition to being a disability advocate for Achieva, Regina was instrumental in starting a Sibs Group in Westmoreland County - a support for siblings that have a brother or sister with a disability. She is involved with Family Resource Network and Supports (FRNS), a disability support group and Up with Downs, a group providing supports for families of children with Down syndrome. 

She serves on the Westmoreland County Human Rights committee; Pennsylvania Governor's Advisory Committee for People with Disabilities and Westmoreland County Transition Council and the Local Task Force Westmoreland County Intermediate Unit # 7. Regina is also a peer supporter for Parent to Parent; a member of Westmoreland County Special Olympics and a trained surrogate parent for Westmoreland County Intermediate Unit #7 which provides trainings to local school districts.  She also serves on the advisory council for St. Vincent College Bearcat B.E.S.T. transition program. Regina, along with son Nick, enjoy addressing first year students at the University of Pittsburgh Medical School through the Down Syndrome Center of Western Pennsylvania.  

Melissa Skiffen

Melissa's son Keifer was born in 2011, and changed the course of her life.  Her biggest concern was that Keifer was going to need something and she wasn't going to know how to help him.  As Keifer was aging out of the birth to three program, she asked his therapist what advice she had for going on to school age.  She said, "get an advocate", and gave me the number at Achieva. Melissa received advocacy services from that moment going forward. Now, Melissa is in a position to pay forward the support that was given to her, by supporting others.  She has a passion for disability rights and firmly believes in inclusion and equality for all. Melissa has served on the Westmoreland Casemanagment and Supports, Inc. (WCSI) Board of Directors and also on the Westmoreland County Right to Education Task Force. She has had the opportunity, on several occasions, to speak to first-year medical students at the University of Pittsburgh. In Melissa's spare time, she enjoys time with her husband and Keifer, quiet nights around a campfire, and Tae Kwon Do.  Keifer is now included with his typical peers at school and thriving. He loves swimming, horseback riding, and spending time at the park or playground. He is a valued member of the community with a bright future.