TECA Provides Parents of 2e Children with Resources, Community and
Tools for Empowerment 

Mission Statement

Twice Exceptional Children’s Advocacy, Inc. (TECA) was founded in 2003 by a group of parents seeking to identify, support and unite twice exceptional (2e) students and their families. Twice exceptional students are those who are gifted with some form of disability or learning challenge.

TECA’s mission is to help parents understand what twice exceptionality is and help them identify whether their children are 2e. TECA assists parents in finding and advocating for the education and resources their children require. TECA provides a strong, vibrant, accepting community for 2e children and their families.

TECA seeks to provide parents, educators and professional care providers with research-based information to help them understand and provide appropriate interventions for the social, emotional and academic support of twice exceptional students.

At TECA, we believe that 2e students and their families deserve to have a community that understands and supports them. We believe that every 2e child deserves a rich academic experience AND the educational, social and emotional supports they need to flourish. We believe that parents of 2e children should be able to work collaboratively with their child’s school to develop an appropriate education plan for their child.



TECA is the primary online destination for parents of 2e children looking for a community of peers, resources, information and support.

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2e Services Directory

Raising a 2e child presents a unique set of challenges that many parents don’t expect and many schools and professionals are not trained to recognize or support.

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Although many issues can be addressed and resolved between parents and school personnel, sometimes outside intervention is necessary.

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About Us

Maratea Cantarella

          Maratea Cantarella
          Executive Director 

Since joining TECA in 2014, Mara has worked to expand the grassroots organization into a vibrant online resource and community for parents of twice exceptional (2e) children. As the mother of a 2e child, she experienced first-hand both the scarcity of resources and information available to help parents raise these uniquely challenging children and the sense of isolation that comes from having a differently wired child. After years of struggling to put together a team of knowledgeable educators, related service providers and mental health professionals to help her son thrive, she became determined to help other families by providing them with empathy, validation and information.

Realizing that 2e children come from disparate communities across the country and socio-economic spectrum, Mara has worked to create numerous web-based programs and resources that are easily accessible to families, including online parent support groups and workshops, a nationwide database of professionals experienced with twice exceptionality and a weekly newsletter aggregating articles relevant to the 2e community. TECA also holds an annual Building 2e Awareness & Community conference, which brings together parents, educators, medical and mental health professionals, advocates and other experts to provide families with a full day of workshops and tools they can put to use immediately.

Before joining TECA, Mara spent her most of professional life as a development consultant working for numerous local, national and international organizations addressing such issues as human rights, education, mental health, social justice, medical research, leadership development and the arts. Mara received her BA in philosophy from Bryn Mawr College. She lives in Brooklyn, NY with her husband and amazing teenaged daughter and son.

               Melissa Sornik
          Founder & President

Melissa Sornik is the co-founder and president of Twice Exceptional Children’s Advocacy, Inc. and has been working with gifted and twice exceptional (2e) children and their families since 2003.

A licensed clinician, Melissa earned her Master of Social Work degree from Fordham University with a specialization in children and families. She has developed programs for 2e children and adolescents, facilitated professional development sessions for the Achilles Project for 2e college students at Nassau Community College, has authored several articles on the subject of twice exceptionality, and has conducted lectures and parent workshops at local school districts and national conferences including the first online course on 2e for NASW (National Association of Social Workers) NY Chapter.

Melissa has served on district and county Special Education Parent Teacher Association (SEPTA) boards on Long Island and is a 2e consultant for school districts and private schools throughout the greater NY area. She has been a workshop facilitator for Ramapo Training, with a focus on behavior management, social skills and relationship building for children with ASD and other special needs.

Melissa is a SENG-certified parent support group facilitator. She is an adjunct professor at Molloy College in Rockville Centre, NY where she teaches undergraduate social work students. Melissa is also the former director for admissions and outreach at a private school for gifted and 2e learners in NYC.  Melissa resides in Sea Cliff NY where she maintains a family-centered practice for uniquely gifted children and their families.

Our Board of Directors

Jenn Choi
Jenn ChoiBoard Member
Jenn Choi is a parent advocate and an assistive tech coach. She is also the founder of Toys As Tools, a website reviewing educational toys. Jenn is a parent of two twice exceptional kids and the founder of 2eNYC, a listserv for parents of 2e kids in New York City.
Kimberly Pine Dougharty
Kimberly Pine DoughartyBoard Member
Kim is the mom of two 2e kids. An art major at the University of Puget Sound, Kim also worked toward her Masters degree in teaching. Taking time off to raise her children, Kim is currently pursuing an MA in Creative Arts Therapy.
Bryan Gaffin
Bryan GaffinBoard Member
Bryan Gaffin is an Advertising Creative Director. He and his wife live in Manhattan and are raising a 2e son and a neurotypical daughter. Together they’ve navigated the land-mine filled world of NYC Special Education, fiercely advocating for their son. Fun fact: Bryan and his kids have successfully funded 2 Kickstarter projects together.
Laurie Model
Laurie ModelBoard Member
Laurie has a professional background in the corporate finance and technology world. She lives in Manhattan with her 2e son. Laurie joined TECA to pay it forward; she became a lead volunteer and helps to manage the organization’s operations. She is also the Co-Owner of 2eNYC, a listserv for parents of 2e kids in New York City.
Barry Stelboum
Barry StelboumBoard Member
Barry Stelboum is Deputy General Counsel at J. Walter Thompson, a leading global advertising agency. Barry is the father of two wonderful children, one of whom is 2e. He has been active in the 2e community for many years. In his spare time, he is a photographer and musician.