Get Help from a Family Connector

Our People

Everyone at DSAMn has a personal, profound commitment to the families we serve, and are here to connect, to listen, and to find answers for any question or need you have.

Sarah Curfman

President & CEO

Sarah leads program and organizational strategy; engage with families; raise funds; and manage day-to-day operations. She joined the DSAMn team in 2019. Since then, the organization has grown staff and capacity to triple the amount of programming offered and double its annual budget. Prior to joining DSAMn, Sarah was a nonprofit consultant with Bridge Interim LLC, a nonprofit consulting firm offering capacity building and interim leadership to nonprofits and associations; and CLA, one of the nation's leading professional services firms.

At a national level, she is a member of the Global Down Syndrome Foundation Member Advisory Committee, the National Down Syndrome Society Advocacy Committee, and the National Down Syndrome Congress Advocacy Coalition.

In addition to her work in the disability space, Sarah is engaged in the Twin Cities community. She is a member of the Minnesota Women's Economic Roundtable and serves on the boards of the Northside Achievement Zone, a place-based nonprofit that exists to permanently close the achievement gap and end generational poverty in North Minneapolis, and World Savvy, a national education nonprofit. She also serves as a consultant an advisor to the CLA Foundation, a national philanthropic organization she helped start while she was at CLA.

Sarah lives in Shakopee with her husband and three children. Her youngest child, Felix, was born with Down syndrome.

Ashley Azar

Director, Office Administration

Ashley manages the office and is here to assist you with donation or program registration questions. She joined DSAMn at the end of 2021. She has a background in business communications, focusing on project management and enjoys helping nonprofits meet their goals by handling the details. When she is not at DSAMn, she volunteers with a number of other groups and causes that are near to her heart. Ashley lives in St. Paul with her husband and two children.

Breanna Baker

Family Connector

Breanna joined DSAMn after graduating from Rasmussen College with a degree in health and wellness. She lives in Minneapolis with her elementary school aged son who has Down syndrome.

Carmella Doby

Family Connector

Carmella is the newest member of DSAMn's Family Connector Team. She has a degree in behavioral health science and previous experience at JA north as the equity and engagement VISTA. She enjoys obtaining and connecting people to new resources and information. She is a mother of two daughters, her youngest, Milly, has Down syndrome.

Heidi Gage

Southeastern Regional Coordinator

Heidi serves as one of DSAMn's Regional Coordinators as well as the Rochester Area Parent Group Facilitator. In addition to her role at DSAMn, Heidi is a Senior Loan Officer with Mayo's Employee Credit Union and the leader of the Rochester Area Parent Group. She and her husband live in Rochester and have two children. Their youngest, Josie, has Down syndrome.

Tracy Hafeman

Director, New Parent & Medical Outreach Programs

Tracy provides ongoing support for new and expectant parents and leads our medical outreach programs. Prior to joining DSAMn, Tracy spent 14 years teaching special education and was involved with the start-up and facilitation of the Roseville Area Parent Group. Tracy and her husband, Steve, have four children; their second child, Will, has Down syndrome.


Danyel Hinson

Family Connector, Transition to Adult Services Lead

Danyel joins DSAMn with the background and passion to serve as a Family Connector with a specialty in serving families with loved ones with Down syndrome between the ages of 16 and 22 as they transition to adulthood. She has been both a volunteer and staff member in various roles in service to multiple populations through advocacy, counseling, education and support. She is the mom to three adult children, including Tony who has Down syndrome.

Lauren Kaplan

Associate Director, Family Connector Program

Lauren comes to DSAMn with a background in education. She has a Master of Arts in Teaching and is licensed to teach Spanish and ESL. She has played a vital role in shaping the Family Connector Program at DSAMn since it began in 2020. She is passionate about helping families navigate complex systems and access supports and services. She is also focused on connecting with Spanish speaking families within the Ds community. Lauren has three children and her youngest daughter, Hollis, has Down syndrome.

Jennifer Lewis

Program Facilitator

Jennifer facilitates DSAMn's self-advocate cooking class and coordinates our iCan Bike program each summer. She hold a Bachelors of Science in Family and Consumer Sciences Education & Masters of Arts in Special Education and is the culinary instructor at Richfield High School.


Ashley Olthoff

Director, Family Connector Program

Ashley is here to provide ongoing support for individuals with Down syndrome and their families as build connections with providers and community partners as DSAMn’s Family Connector Program. Prior to joining DSAMn, Ashley was a long time volunteer as the Minneapolis/West Metro Parent Group facilitator and was the founding program manager of GiGi’s Playhouse – Twin Cities. She is a licensed early childhood and elementary school teacher. Ashley lives with her husband and two boys in Minneapolis. Her oldest, Oliver, was born with Down syndrome.

Shelby Richardson

Program Facilitator

Shelby facilitates DSAMn's Improvaneer program and supports Lizz with the Saturday Performing Arts Group program. As a facilitator Shelby listens to students' interests and passions and helps facilitate their unique voices being at full volume on stage. Shelby is a trans non-binary artist and theater maker who has been living and working in the Twin Cities for the last decade. They are the co-founder of WeAreMarried performance group; a pro-labor art business that strives to create sustainable employment and build thriving communities for and with artists in the Twin Cities.


Kassi Schimek

Associate Director, New Parent Program

Kassi provides support to our new families and manages our early intervention outreach work. Kassi also helps lead DSAMn's DEI initiatives as a member of our employee-led DEI Council. Prior to joining DSAMn, Kassi worked as an Early Childhood Special Education Birth-2 Teacher for 11 years. She has experience with home visiting, caregiver coaching, service coordination, special education paperwork, and evaluation and assessment. Kassi is an advocate for individuals with disabilities, mental health, and antiracism work.


Erin To

Director, Parent Groups

Erin helps manage and coordinate our statewide parent groups. Prior to joining DSAMn's staff, Erin was a long time volunteer as a facilitator of our South of the River Parent Group. In addition to her work with parent groups, she runs DSAMn's social media and helps lead DSAMn's DEI initiatives as a member of our employee-led DEI Council. She lives in Lakeville with her three sons. Her youngest son, Ronin, was born with Down syndrome.

Lizz Windnagel

Performing Arts Programs Coordinator

Lizz coordinates all of DSAMn's teen and adult programs including physical comedy, puppetry, movement, and devised theater. Lizz is a theater-maker, director, musician, and educator based in the Twin Cities. As a truly multi-disciplinary artist, they have experience performing and directing opera, puppetry, experimental theater and more. When working with self-advocates at DSAMn, Lizz encourages as many artist-led creation classes and performances as possible.


DSAMn Family Connector (Part-Time/Virtual)

Organization Overview

The Down Syndrome Association of Minnesota (DSAMn) is a statewide nonprofit organization with the mission to empower individuals and families, create community, and celebrate people with Down syndrome. We do this by providing support, assistance, and opportunity to individuals with Down syndrome and their families. Our vision is for all people with Down syndrome to achieve their fullest potential in an accepting and inclusive society. We are the leading source of information and support for individuals, families, and providers across the state of Minnesota. We are committed to providing support, assistance, and opportunity to all individuals with Down syndrome and their families.

Position Overview

Our team of Family Connectors provide support, assistance, and quality referrals to individuals and families as they navigate complex and bureaucratic systems like healthcare, education, housing, and county services. In addition, our Family Connectors are aware of the landscape of programs that serve individuals with Down syndrome and can help connect individuals with DSAMn programs, partner programs, and other community resources. Equally as important, Family Connectors provide feedback to DSAMn on community needs to aid with future program and service development.

Our Family Connectors serve all families. For this reason, it is our goal that our team of Family Connectors represent the rich ethnic, racial, and socioeconomic diversity of the individuals with Down syndrome living in our state.

Job Qualifications

  • Passion for the mission and vision of the Down Syndrome Association of Minnesota.

  • Positive attitude and strong work ethic.

  • Creativity and problem solving skills.

  • Strong communication skills and outstanding ability to maintain and foster relationships across a diverse set of individuals.

  • Comfort working independently as well as part of a team.

  • Must be able to manage time to handle client caseload and research project simultaneously.

  • Understanding or driven to learn about the complex systems that we help families navigate.

  • Passion for learning, attending trainings, and developing trainings for others. Comfort with public speaking is desired.

  • Prior professional experience working with individuals with intellectual or developmental disabilities is preferred.

    Minimum Requirements

    • At least 2 years of professional experience as a case manager, social worker, or in a similar role helping individuals and families gain access to and/or navigate complex systems like healthcare, public education, state and national support programs – OR – at least 10 years of personal experience navigating systems for yourself as a person with a disability or as the parent of a child with a disability.

    • At least 8 hours per week of daytime availability during the business hours of the systems you’re helping families navigate (typically Monday -Friday, between the hours of 9am – 4pm.)

    Job Details

    • Hours: Part-Time, approximately 12 hours per week. Schedule will be determined in advance. (See above for daytime availability requirements.)

    • Location: Virtual, with occasional meetings (no more than once monthly) in our headquarters in St. Paul.

    • Pay: $20.00 - $22.00 per hour depending on qualifications.

    • Job offers are contingent upon the results of a background check.

    To apply, please send a resume and cover letter to Ashley Azar at ashleyazar@dsamn.org. Your cover letter should include details on how you meet the minimum requirements of the job (i.e. case management experience and daytime availability).

    Join our team

    Not seeing a job posted that fits your skills? Please reach out. We're always looking to connect with people passionate about our work. We can put you on a mailing list for opportunities as they become available.

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