Virtual Return to School Forum

The New York Foundling Strong Families and Communities Training Center will be hosting a 2021 Return to School Forum.  Last school year was a roller-coaster ride of changing policies and school mandates.  The SFC would like to provide a space for NYC advocates, mental health professionals, social workers, and social service providers to dialogue, discuss and prepare for the upcoming return to school of 2021.    

Training Description: 

During this 1 day- 2-hour Forum you will have the opportunity to connect with NYC’s leading child welfare professionals.  This Forum will consist of panelists each presenting on their expertise on various topics as it pertains to Return to School 2021. The topics covered will be the following:  general child rights, legal advocacy, parent advocacy, mental health, and a focus on the needs of children in the special education system.   You will be given the opportunity to ask questions to our panelist during the forum.  You will also gain helpful resources that will assist children and families who will be part of the of the upcoming school year.   

Panelist will include representatives from The New York Foundling, Include NYC, Being Special NYC, and Advocates for Children.

If you have any questions please email [email protected] .   


Title: Return to School Forum 

Date and Time: August 31, 2021:  1-3pm 

Location: Zoom

Registration:  Click Here



Diana Aragundi, Staff Attorney 
Advocates for Children of NY

Diana Aragundi is a staff attorney at Advocates for Children of New York (“AFC”) on the Immigrant Students’ Rights Project. She represents immigrant students and parents in school administrative hearings, helps parents enroll their children in effective English Language Learner (ELL) programs, and assists older immigrant youth in finding appropriate school placements. Diana graduated from CUNY School of Law and has a B.A. in English from New York University. Prior to working at AFC, she represented children in Kings County Family Court in contested custody, guardianship, family offense, and neglect proceedings. She is fluent in Spanish.


Elizabeth Golini, Director 

Elizabeth Golini is INCLUDEnyc’s Director of Parent and Family Engagement. For the past ten years, she has worked with children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and other disabilities and their families in non-public settings, charter schools, and public schools. She has a Master’s degree in Special Education from Simmons College and is a Doctoral Student at Hunter College. Additionally, she brings her knowledge as a Licensed Behavior Analyst and Board-Certified Behavior Analyst to INCLUDEnyc. Elizabeth is passionate about working with families and communities to better serve people with disabilities. She is committed to working for educational equity and access for all children and their families. 


Hazel Adams Shango, Founder and CEO of Choice

Hazel Adams-Shango is the Founder and CEO of Advocate of Choice/, a fee-for service New York City-based Independent Parent Advisory and Advocacy (non-attorney) service. Advocate of Choice/ provides customized and confidential general and special education referral and resource advisement to parents and other educational professionals. Over the last two decades, Hazel has served on the NYC District 11 Community Education Council and in several positions within the NYC Department of Education, including Regional Parent Engagement Officer, Student Enrollment Officer, and Education Analyst. She also raised three children, now ages 35, 29, and 23—all of whom graduated from NYC public high schools and were identified as “Twice Exceptional (2E)” students. Presently, Hazel is semi-retired and enjoys mentoring and educating parents on how to become more effective advocates on behalf of their children. She is currently working on a series of e-books on the Art of Parent Advocacy


Nandini Ahuja
NYF School-Based Mental Health

Nandini Ahuja received her MSW from Hunter College in 2019. She has been doing school-based mental health for two years, and enjoys learning how different therapy modalities can come together to form a customized treatment plan for her clients. Right now, she is interested in learning more about spirituality and how it can heal the mind, and DBT. She is looking forward to the start of the school year!


Bradlee Vasquez-Valdez
NYF School-Based Mental Health

Bradlee Vasquez- Valdez has been with FDA II since Fall 2019.  Mr. Valdez graduated from Binghamton University with a Bachelors in Human Development in 2017 and attended Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio to earn his Masters in Social Science Administration in 2019.  He enjoys eating all types of different foods. Some of his favorite dishes include oxtails, mac & cheese, potato salad & plantains with eggs and fried white cheese. He enjoys dancing, laughing, and binge watching reality television. He is also proud to be Dominican, and hopes to visit the country again soon! 

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