Founding Board


Sandra Fornes is a Co-Founder and Director of the Hidden Angel Foundation (HAF), a nonprofit organization whose primary goal is to promote the use of multi-sensory environments (MSE) in an educational and therapeutic recreational setting to enrich the lives of individuals with cognitive, emotional, and/or physical disabilities.

Sandra’s work with individuals with disabilities has ranged from designing and developing multi sensory environments to the development of accelerated workforce programs for individuals with MR including the development of a Job Retention Model for individuals with cognitive disabilities. Sandra has developed and managed the Industrial / Organizational Psychology and human resource development programs for the Jotralair Group as well as their Philanthropic activities. Sandra has published numerous articles in conference proceedings around the topic of workforce development and workplace issues for individuals with mental retardation and disabilities.

Sandra holds a BSc and a MSc in Psychology as well as an MBA. Sandra is a doctoral candidate in Adult Education and Human Resource Development. She is a member of the American Psychological Association (APA), The National Rehabilitation Association (NRA); the Society of Industrial and Organizational Psychology (SIOP), a division of the American Psychological Associations, and the Academy of Human Resource Development (AHRD).

Sue Gallagher, EdD, has provided organizational leadership for non-profits in the field of developmental disabilities for almost 20 years. She has a background in pastoral ministry and a doctorate in adult education and human resource development. Her research interests include learning theory, spirituality, complexity, and identity. Dr. Gallagher is currently the Associate Director at Miami Cerebral Palsy Residential Services in Miami, Fl, and has seen tremendous growth in individuals with severe and profound developmental disabilities who are medically fragile through the use of the facility’s multi sensory environment.

Dr. Gallagher teaches Research Methods in the PhD Program in Practical Theology at St. Thomas University, Miami, FL. She is studying how learning occurs when different epistemological ways of knowing are integrated.

Linda Messbauer graduated from New York University with a Master’s Degree in Occupational Therapy. She has extensive experience working in the field of Developmental Disabilities. Linda has worked in early childhood to adult services and has been a private consultant to both public service agencies and private corporations. She started her career in the field of Geriatrics some thirty years ago. In 1992, she established the first Multi-Sensory Environment in the United States at Lifespire, Inc. in New York and, since that time, has participated in research on the efficacy of the MSE approach to recreation, therapy, and education. A great believer in lifelong learning, she is currently pursuing an advanced diploma in Applied Behavior Management through the New York Institute for Applied Behavioral Management, Long Island, N.Y. Linda is a pioneer, an international speaker and trainer on the subject of Multi Sensory Environments.

Dr. Gillian Hotz is the Co-Director of Pediatric Neurotrauma Program UM/JMMC. Assistant Professor Daughtry Family Department of Surgery and the Director of the Snoezelen® Program, Miami. Dr. Hotz has been involved in clinical and research activities for adults and children with brain injury for over 15 years. She has authored many articles, developed neurocognitive assessments for traumatic brain injury and presented at many international and national conferences. She is currently studying Snoezelen® therapy for children with severe brain injury.

Dr. Hotz holds a BSc in Psychology, MSc in Speech Pathology and a Ph.d in behavioral Neuroscience from Boston University School of Medicine. Dr. Hotz is a member of the Florida Injury Prevention Advisory Committee, the Brain and Spinal Cord Injury Program: Research/Outcomes Committee, the Florida Committee on Trauma, American Society of Neurorehabilitation, International Neurotrauma Society, The American Psychological Association, The American Speech Language Hearing Association, The Brain Injury Association, and the Aspen Neurobehavioral Group:Pediatric TBI Group

Jason A. Staal, Psy.D., is a assistant professor of Psychiatry of the University Hospital and Manhattan Campus for the Albert Einstein College of Medicine and Supervising Psychologist. Dr. Staal conducts multi sensory environment clinical trials based on the integration of the theory and practice of behaviorism and multi sensory environments. His inpatient research focuses has been the use of multi sensory environments with geriatrics and the nursing staff who provide care for the people with dementia and late life depression and anxiety. Dr. Staal has published articles in peer reviewed journals, lectured in the United States, The Netherlands, England and Canada and he has appeared on numerous television and radio shows and in the Science Times of the New York Times. He writes, teaches behavioral psychotherapy and is in private practice in New York.

Dr. Rick Rader is the Director of the Morton J. Kent Habilitation Center at Orange Grove in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Dr. Rader functions as a medical futurist in trying to predict the future medical problems of individuals with neurodevelopmental disabilities as they age. He is crossed trained in both internal medicine and medical anthropology.

He is the Editor in chief of Exceptional Parent Magazine, the world's most highly respected magazine devoted to parents and professionals raising and supporting individuals with significant and complex disabilities. Under his tutelage the magazine has won innumerable prestigious awards for editorial excellence. Dr. Rader is the President elect of the American Academy of Developmental Medicine and Dentistry and a Fellow of the American Association on Mental Retardation. He was the first appointed Special Liaison for Family Healthcare Concerns at the Presidents Committee for People with Intellectual Disabilities. Dr. Rader is a past recipient of the Exceptional Physician of the Year Award granted by parents of children with special needs.

He has authored over 50 articles on neurodevelopmental disabilities and has lectured extensively all over the world on the dynamics of the special needs community. Dr. Rader was a member of the Surgeon General's Task Force on Healthcare Disparities for People with Mental Retardation as well as serving as a consultant to the NIH's Office on Rare Diseases. He serves as a medical consultant to Special Olympics. He is an adjunct professor of Human Development at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga as well as serving on the Genetics Advisory Board for the State of Tennessee. He serves on the board of the American Association on Health and Disabilities. He was the first physician elected as an honorary member of the Developmental Disabilities Nurses Association. He is a member of the New York Academy of Science.

Susan Berry has been a principal since 1996 at Escambia Westgate School in Pensacola, FL, she graduated from Troy State University in 1973 with a B.S. in Special Education K-12 and Elementary Education. She received her masters in Administration and Supervision from the University of West Florida in 1983. Mrs. Berry taught Special Education for 23 years before becoming a principal at Escambia Westgate School. Mrs. Berry will be the first principal in the state and nation to have a state of the art sensory complex on her campus which will help all students at Westgate increase student performance. She has ten years experience as a principal and 33 years of experience in education.