Company: Advocacy and Consulting for Education, Inc
Company Description: Advocacy and Consulting for Education is a small advocacy firm that assists families with children needing special education and gifted education services. Our primary goal is to help children receive and access an appropriate education that is individualized to give them meaningful benefit. The firm is led by Melissa Bilash one of only 100 advocates to complete federal training by COPAA
Nomination Category: Company/Organization Categories
Nomination Sub Category: Best Overall Company of the Year – Service Businesses – up to 100 Employees
Nomination Title: ACFEinc
Describe for the judges the activities and accomplishments of the nominated company during the eligibility period (up to 500 words):
Not only is Advocacy and Consulting for Education owned by a woman, but all five of the advocates at this small firm are women, which has resulted in a uniquely empowering environment. Since June 2010, advocates from ACFE have attended over 400 meetings with parents to help them better understand the special education and gifted education process--from identification and evaluation, to drafting the IEP and determining placement. This past year, we have negotiated over 20 private placements for children whose needs could not be met in the public school system, and who needed more intensive interventions, in addition to helping over 300 families remain in their home school with a stronger educational placement.
Melissa Bilash, as owner and educational advocate, has received multiple awards recognizing the work that ACFE has accomplished. In October 2010, she received the Stevie Award for Best Entrepreneur, Service Businesses, up to 100 employees. In the same month, she received a Congressional Citation from Congressman Joe Sestak for her leadership through ACFE "as she creates a better nation through her tireless and compassionate advocacy." As a past delegate representing Pennsylvania at Parenting Magazine's Mom Congress on Education and Learning Conference, Melissa was asked to attend again in April 2011 as the Special and Gifted Education Mentor to incoming delegates. In June 2011 she also represented ACFE at NBC's Education Nation tour in Philadelphia dedicated to bringing students, educators, parents, district administrators, and elected officials together to discuss how to improve public education.
ACFE has also led multiple trainings for parents, educators, and the public, from broad topics such as children's and parents' rights under the IDEA to more specialized topics such as making sure children with genetic disorders such as 49XXXXY have their specific needs addressed. We have clients from all levels of income because we believe that parents should not have to wade through the special education process alone, and watch their children's needs not be met, simply because they do not have the money to pursue help. We as an office work tirelessly on behalf of children who might otherwise struggle through years of school without having their needs met, who might drop out before they graduate because they feel that they are stupid or not challenged, who could, if appropriately placed, grow into successful and productive members of society. We advocate alongside parents, but this is not all that we provide our clients. We also educate them on their rights and provide encouragement that what they are seeking, an appropriate educational placement for their child, is not too much to ask. Our goal is that they would leave not only satisfied with their child's educational placement but better educated and a more capable advocate for their own child.
List the URLs (web addresses) of any online news stories, press releases, or other documents that you would like the judges to see that support your entry. IMPORTANT: List each URL on a separate line, begin each URL with http://, and enclose each URL in square brackets. For example, [http://www.yourcompany.com/pressrelease.html]:
Provide a brief biography of the person or persons who lead the nominated company (up to 100 words):
Melissa Bilash lives in Havertown, Pennsylvania with her husband, Kevin and her two young children, Sebastian and Harper. In 2008, Melissa completed a Federal Training through the Office of Special Education Programs and has since started her business, Advocacy and Consulting for Education. Melissa is extremely passionate about education and gives back to her community by giving presentations to various audiences, guest teaching to local universities and mentoring students who have an interest in Advocating for the educational rights of children.
Choose one (even if both apply):
The CEO (or other principal manager) of this company is a woman, and at least 40% of the management team is comprised of women.