With great excitement and gratitude, we are thrilled to announce the appointment of Dr. Mary Van Haneghan as the Williams Syndrome Association’s next Executive Director, effective July 18, 2022. After a comprehensive national search, the search committee unanimously and enthusiastically recommended Mary to the Board of Trustees. Mary’s long track record of commitment to the disability community and executive experience with The Arc, as well as her sincere and engaging style, make her an excellent fit for our WSA community.

Throughout her 20-year career, Mary has demonstrated the skills necessary to lead across a variety of areas crucial to the WSA’s continued progress. Mary began her career as a direct service professional working in residential programming; during her tenure she worked in various capacities including day habilitation, residential habilitation, post-secondary education, transitional services, case management, supported employment, behavioral health, nursing, and early intervention. Since 2013 she has served as the Chief Executive Officer for chapters of The Arc in both Alaska and Texas. Prior to these roles, she worked for one of Western New York’s largest nonprofit health and human service agencies and assisted in creating systematic change across the state.

Dr. Van Haneghan earned a bachelor’s degree in business management from the University of Buffalo, a master’s degree in adult education and literacy from Buffalo State College, and a doctorate in education from Walden University. Her academic research has focused on individuals who experience intellectual or developmental disabilities and ranges from historical institutional models to the benefits of post-secondary education.

Mary was drawn to this opportunity with the WSA in order to lead a national organization that aligns with her life’s work of creating transformational opportunities for equity and inclusion for individuals with developmental disabilities. “Being selected as the new Executive Director for the WSA is such a great honor and privilege. My goal is to uphold and fulfill our mission while building on the solid foundation of this well-established and loved organization. Terry Monkaba’s dedication over the past 30 years has been nothing short of extraordinary. It is a very exciting time for the WSA, filled with endless possibilities for the people and families we support. I am confident that together we will continue to expand WSA’s reach and impact.”

Mary has been recognized for her accomplishments and contributions on behalf of people who experience developmental disabilities and their families at a national level. In 2015 she was the National Conference of Executives of The Arc of the United States “Rising Star Award” recipient and in 2017 received the award for Program Innovation. She is currently serving on the National Conference of Executives of The Arc of the United States Steering Committee and as a mentor for the National Leadership Consortium on Developmental Disabilities through the Center on Council on Quality and Leadership. Mary currently lives outside of Austin, TX with her family.

The Search Committee’s recommendation was informed by a thorough search process, including multiple layers of review of candidates from across the country. Search Committee chair Ellen Hoch, a professional recruiter, parent, and Board member, noted that “the Search Committee was immediately impressed with Mary’s outstanding record of leadership, and our admiration for her only grew after a months-long process that included the opportunity for the entire search committee to spend time with finalists in-person.”

Similarly, board member Clancey Hopper shared that, “I am elated that Dr. Van Haneghan is going to be the new Executive Director for the WSA. She is well-versed in the disability community and is eager to learn more than she already knows about Williams syndrome. With Dr. Van Haneghan at the helm, the WSA has a very bright future ahead.” Clancey and Mary were able to spend time together recently at the Penn Medicine Symposium: thank you to them both for creating this nice introduction video!

A transition committee has been convened, consisting of four prior Board of Trustees Presidents: Dr. Jocelyn Krebs, Melissa Murphy, Esq., Bill Palmer, and Áine Smalley. The committee has begun meeting with staff, board, and Mary and Terry to ensure a seamless transition. Transition committee Member Melissa Murphy said, “in Mary, we believe we have found a visionary leader who embodies the WSA’s mission, vision, and values and who will continue the work of outgoing Executive Director Terry Monkaba. Mary’s experience with organizations like The Arc and her obvious enthusiasm for our mission will enable her to effectively lead the WSA through its next successful chapters.”

The Board of Trustees would like to express our deepest appreciation to Ellen Hoch and the members of the search committee. Their diligence and devotion to the task of finding our next executive director will benefit the entire WSA community for years to come. We would also like to thank Terry Monkaba for her tremendous service to our community and leaving the organization well positioned for this next chapter. Please stay tuned for opportunities to bid a fond farewell to our long-serving, outstanding Executive Director Terry Monkaba, as well as to welcome Mary to our remarkable Williams syndrome community.

Search Committee Members:
Ellen Hoch, Chair
Cyndra Cole
Dr. Marty Levinson
Tara Momplaisir
Susannah Morgan
Melissa Murphy, Esq.
Kelly Wei, Ph.D