Gina Mennett Lee, M.Ed.
Founder of Food Allergy Education Network
Gina Mennett Lee, M.Ed. is a nationally recognized food allergy educator, advocate, and consultant who specializes in the management of food allergies in the school setting. She is widely known for her common sense, fact-based approach to food allergy management and education. She holds a Master’s degree in Educational Leadership and B.S. degrees in both Elementary and Special Education. She is an experienced special education, elementary, and middle school teacher. She is the Founder of Food Allergy Education Network, and the Co-Founder and Director of the National Allergy & Anaphylaxis Council. Through her consulting firm, Mennett Lee, LLC, she helps families, schools, businesses, and organizations create safe and inclusive environments for those with food allergies. She shares news, information, and resources through her website, blog, facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter.
Gina has provided education, workshops, and/or consulting services to the food service industry, PTA leaders, school principals and administrators, BOE members, nurses, teachers, paraprofessionals, preschool providers, daycare and home care providers, parents, and caretakers. She works extensively as an advocate for families seeking 504 plans in the public school system and is an expert contributor for the well-respected AllergyHome website. She recently served as an expert witness in the landmark Iowa food allergy case, Knudsen v. Tiger Tots Community Child Care Center Corporation and has appeared in or contributed to numerous television, online and print media sources regarding the topic of food allergy management.
Erin Spaulding, MS, CCLS
Vice President of Food Allergy Education Network
Erin has been working as a child life specialist for 18 years, helping children and families cope with and understand the emotional impact of chronic and life-threatening illness and injury. Erin has held positions at Yale-New Haven Children’s Hospital, at Franciscan Children’s Hospital and Children’s Hospital Boston. She was on the graduate faculty at Wheelock College in Boston. She received her BA in Early Childhood Education and Human Development from Boston College, and her MS in Child Life and Family Centered Care from Wheelock College. Erin and her husband are the proud parents of three children, two of whom have severe, life-threatening food allergies. Erin brings her professional and personal experiences to the topics of food allergy awareness and anaphylaxis prevention, with an emphasis on supporting children and families.
Robin Comey, B.A. Corporate Communications
Secretary of Food Allergy Education Network
Robin Comey has a background in corporate and public communication and is founding partner of Starprompt, a teleprompting company for public speaking events and television. She is an active member of her community, serving on youth organizations, boards, arts and education committees, as well as community service organizations. She is currently serving as Chairman of Branford Early Childhood Collaborative. She graduated with a bachelor’s degree from Southern Connecticut State University in Corporate Communications and enjoys grant writing and policy. An early board member of the Food Allergy Education Network she believes that education and communication can drive public understanding of food allergies. Robin is married and has two elementary age children, one who has a life threatening nut allergies, and lives in the Short Beach section of Branford.
Gean Carlo Rubio, MBA
Treasurer of Food Allergy Education Network
Gean Carlo was born and grew up in Ecuador, South America. He moved to the US in 2002 to finish his education. He earned a B.A. in Business Administration and Management at University in New Orleans. He then moved to Connecticut in 2004. Gean Carlo completed his MBA at Fairfield University in 2012. He has been working in pension administration since 2005.
Gean Carlo and his wife are blessed with two children. Both of his sons have severe, life-threatening food allergies. Food allergies have become a huge part of their lives and it is their passion to raise awareness while keeping all children safe. Gean Carlo joined FAEN in 2013 to support the organization while increasing food allergies awareness in our community.”
Dr. Gary Wanerka, MD (Diplomate, American Board of Pediatrics, Diplomate, American Board of Allergy & Immunology)
Branford Pediatrics & Allergy, 784 E Main St, Branford, CT
Dr. Wanerka was born and grew up in Long Island, NY. He attended college at Wesleyan University and completed Medical School at Case-Western Reserve. He received his Pediatric and Allergy Training at Yale University in New Haven, CT. He is Board Certified in Allergy & Immunology and Pediatrics.
Dr. Wanerka served as a Lt. Colonel in the United States Air Force for 4 years. He has been a pediatrician/allergist in the New Haven area since 1974 and founded Branford Pediatrics and Allergy in 1982. His colleague Joan Alfiero has been with him for 7 years.
Dr. Wanerka and his wife Christine have been married for 49 years. Together they have 2 children, Laura and John, and 2 grandchildren, Trey and Reese. “They light up my life, “ says Dr. Wanerka.
Jamie L Perillo, LPC, RYT (Social Work, Counseling)
2553 Whitney Ave, Hamden, CT 06518
Jamie Perillo is a licensed child, adolescent, and family psychotherapist, speaker, parent and wellness educator, and founder of Inspired Families. She serves on the board of Food Allergy Education Network as a Resource Clinician and as the Behavioral Specialist for Little Ivy Nursery School.
Jamie works with families in her private practice in Connecticut. She is dedicated to supporting and empowering families through her practice, Inspired Families, and workshops. She founded Inspired Families in order to inspire healthy, positive lifestyles and reach more families in providing behavioral strategies, parenting techniques, and creative, fun engaging family activities.
As a Certified Yoga Instructor specializing in holistic yoga therapy Jamie uses her training to compliment traditional treatment modalities, provide stress management and overall empowerment.
Attorney Lawrence W. Berliner
1720 Post Road East, Suite 214 E, Westport, CT
26 Long Hill Road, Guilford, CT
Lawrence W. Berliner is the founder of the Law Office of Lawrence W. Berliner, LLC, a statewide Connecticut law firm with a concentration on special education and disability law. His law practice is located in Westport, CT and Guilford, CT. He was an attorney with the law firm of Klebanoff & Alfano, P.C., from 2000-2008, and became a Principal with the law firm from 2008-2011. He is a member of the Connecticut Bar Association and most recently, the Fairfield County Bar Association. He holds the distinction of being a James W. Cooper Fellow of the Connecticut Bar Foundation as well. For over 25 years, he has dedicated his law career to the representation of children and adults with disabilities. Attorney Berliner practices law in the areas of special education law, disability law, and handles cases before various administrative law tribunals, and practices in the state and federal courts.
Prior to joining Klebanoff & Alfano P.C., he was the General Counsel with the State of Connecticut Office of Protection and Advocacy for Persons with Disabilities from 1983 to 2000 where he represented to the rights of people with disabilities in special education, fair housing, and state and federal law civil rights cases. He was involved in landmark State Supreme Court cases including Daly v. Delponte, and involving the rights people with disabilities to be free from discrimination and receive Equal Protection under the Connecticut Constitution and Oller v. Oller-Chiang establishing the rights of individuals with mental retardation to have their opinions respected in the selection of a legal guardian by the Probate Court. He had worked with the staff at Senator Weicker’s office in the 1980’s on the Handicapped Children’s Protection Act of 1986 and legislation that eventually became the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990. He served on the Department of Education’s Task Force to implement the 1997 amendments to the IDEA. He was a member of the Connecticut Law Revision Commission. He has submitted comments on numerous proposed state and federal regulations and has periodically submitted testimony on proposed legislation to the Connecticut General Assembly.
The Connecticut Law Tribune recognized him as one of Connecticut’s outstanding attorneys for his legal advocacy on behalf of individuals with disabilities. He is the recipient of the Quinnipiac University School of Law’s Alumni of the Year for Public Service Award for his work on behalf of Individuals with disabilities and in particular, he was recognized for his work on the case of Daly v. Delponte, Commissioner, Department of Motor Vehicles, a landmark Connecticut Supreme Court decision which established strict constitutional scrutiny for state action affecting people with disabilities under Connecticut’s Constitution.
He has served on the Connecticut Law Revision Commission Task Force on Probate Courts and the State Department of Education Task Force to implement the 1997 amendments to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (I.D.E.A.), and recently presented testimony to the 2010 General Assembly’s Task Force on IEP Development. On September 22nd, 2010, he submitted extensive written comments on the Department of Education’s proposed revisions to the state special education regulations.
He has lectured extensively to special education schools, parent groups and special needs organizations on issues affecting families with children with disabilities, taught at Quinnipiac University School of Law, and has published numerous articles on special education matters and the Americans with Disabilities Act.
He is a graduate of the Quinnipiac University School of Law where he received his Juris Doctor degree.