Heidi joined Special Needs Arts Programs, Inc in 2014. Mrs. O’Mara has her BA in English from Providence College (’95) and her MA in Gender and Cultural Studies (’98) from Simmons University. Mrs. O’Mara began her career at City Year Boston in 1998, as Event Manager for their annual Serve-A-Thon. She then became Research Coordinator for the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (MSPCC). This position included organizing the collection of research, managing staff, analyzing data and presenting findings at conferences, including the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) and the Child Welfare League of America (CWLA). Next, Ms. O’Mara then became the Regional Director of Development for the MSPCC. This position involved working with the Board of Directors and Northeast Regional Board. Responsibilities included the development and implementation of successful fundraisers to meet budget forecasts, working with community organizations to raise awareness of the mission of the MSPCC and the management of volunteers. Ms. O’Mara went on to be President of The Mother Connection (TMC), a volunteer organization based in the Merrimack Valley providing programs and opportunities for families with pre-school children. This role included editing a monthly newsletter and annual publication, TMC Places To Go, raising funds to support programs, developing engaging programming for young families and networking with community groups. Finally, prior to her role at SNAP, she became Development Director for Creative Living in Andover in 2009. Heidi is excited to lead the team at SNAP and is very inspired by the participants their programs serve.
Marisa is a multi-instrumentalist and music educator who specializes in teaching neuro-diverse students. She currently serves as a Music Educator and Autism Intervention Specialist with the Somerville Public Schools. Marisa is also a private lesson instructor at the Berklee Institute for Arts Education and Special Needs (BIAESN), where she teaches private lessons, co-facilitates the Inner Harmony Chorus, and is a staff member in the ABLE Day Sessions Summer Music Program. Marisa received her M.M.Ed. (Autism Concentration) from Boston Conservatory at Berklee and her Bachelor’s Degree in Music Education from Boston University.
As a professional musician, Harley Smith has been involved in piano and vocal music for most of his life. His range includes a variety of musical styles, including popular, musicals and classics. Harley was educated at the Eastman School, New England Conservatory and the University of Miami. Harley also has a Master’s Degree in Mediaeval History from Harvard University. When not pursing his love of music, he enjoys travel and animal photography.
Lidija has said that working in an art classroom and communicating with students through art is rewarding for me because it has allowed me to marry my two passions, teaching and fine arts. In addition to my training as an educator, I have been an active artist for the past twenty years. I have always been excited by the power that art has to communicate with people, and have searched for a long time to unite my passions in a meaningful way. Art has taught me about the subjectivity of interpretation and about the unexpected reactions and responses of my students. The art of communication comes from the ability to find a creative approach. I think that uniqueness and creativity are not reserved only for artists, they exist in everyone.
Erin began her job as SNAP Office Manager in April of 2020, just as the COVID pandemic was beginning. She is most grateful to have found SNAP when many were experiencing misfortune. Says Erin, “the community which SNAP serves is inspirational and the SNAP family is a pleasure to work with.” Erin lives in Methuen with her husband, Mike, and their three children, Luke, Faith and Ryan. They also have chickens.
Estella joined Special Needs Arts Programs in 2015. Prior to SNAP, she was a Product Manager at Ferrero Rocher in Taiwan and an office manager and bookkeeper for 12 year in Burlington. She currently lives in Andover with her husband, Timothy and a daughter Isabel with autism. When she is not keeping busy with caregiving and work, you can find her making crochet and knitting toys .
Beth has completed a variety of roles within the Snap Special Artists programs including volunteer, guest instructor, and teaching assistant. Beth is also a pediatric occupational therapist. She has been involved in photography for much of her life, first being exposed to the darkroom at 8 years old. Throughout the years, Beth has taken a variety of photography classes from darkroom to digital and alternative photographic processes. Inspiration for her photographs comes from looking at everyday objects and landscapes from varying and unexpected perspectives often leading to the creation of abstract images. The use of lines, angles, distance, light, and shadows enhances and alters the feelings the images evoke. Her favorite themes to photograph are nature, landscapes, architecture, and wildlife. Beth is also very interested in alternative photographic processes including image and emulsion transfers and pinhole photography. Her photographs have been displayed at juried and non-juried shows.