Board Member Spotlight: Zachary Rossetti, Ph.D.

Image of two persons and one is on a wheelchair.
Board Member Spotlight: Zachary Rossetti, Ph.D.

Meet Zach Rossetti! Zach joined the MSSN Board in June 2017 and was named Co-President in February of 2019. As an Associate Professor of Special Education in Boston University’s Wheelock College of Education & Human Development, Zach teaches undergraduate and graduate students who will become general education teachers, special education teachers, and related service providers. He conducts research on sibling roles and relationships, family engagement in special education, and friendships between students with and without intellectual and developmental disabilities. Moreover, he contributes to BU Wheelock’s service mission of promoting equity, diversity, and inclusion.

Zach is the oldest of six in his family; his brother Todd, who has a disability, is the fourth of the six. Todd is a huge Boston sports fan (the Red Sox are his favorite), loves chocolate cake (though he can’t eat it anymore because of getting a feeding tube a couple of years ago), and is very social. That he is so outgoing is even more impressive because he does not speak, uses a wheelchair, and needs support throughout his day due to his cerebral palsy. Communicating and connecting with others without speaking is one of many lessons he has taught Zach.

5 Questions with Zach:

1. What does the work of the MSSN mean to you?

First and foremost, the work of the MSSN is incredibly important because it acknowledges the unique roles and relationships siblings may experience in their families. These experiences are often intense, and they can range from beneficial to challenging and everything in between. Raising awareness of these experiences will hopefully result in improved funding and services to better support siblings in their current roles and relationships and to better prepare siblings for their future roles and relationships as their parents age.

Additionally, the MSSN cultivates personal and professional connections among siblings themselves, as well as the organizations and agencies throughout the Commonwealth that support families of individuals with disabilities. Too often, siblings may feel isolated, and families may have needs that are not being met. The MSSN connects siblings and advocates for the support needs of siblings and families. I am proud to be part of this work with the MSSN.

2. How did you become involved with the MSSN?

A couple of years ago, I attended a SibShops training in MA conducted by Don Meyer, which was co-sponsored by the MSSN and Jewish Children’s & Family Service. At the training, Emily Rubin spoke with me about the MSSN. I excitedly joined the Board shortly after.

3. What do you think is the biggest challenge that we face?

Sustaining our efforts and effectiveness over time. This will require funding, of course. Additionally, it seems likely that we will need to grow in order to share responsibilities, especially since, as siblings, many of us may have new roles and responsibilities within our families in the future.

4. What has been the MSSN’s biggest success?

One of the biggest successes of the MSSN is the consistent participation and engagement of the all-volunteer Board. There is an effective structure in place that facilitates regular communication and involvement by Board members. Of course, this is also reflective of the commitment to MSSN held by all Board members. I have been impressed by the Board’s participation and engagement since I joined the MSSN.

5. What mantra do you live by?

Change the world, and have fun while doing it.

Learn more about getting involved with the MSSN by emailing us!


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