The Carrie’s Heart board of directors includes educators, healthcare professionals and parents of children with disabilities. The board draws on a consulting network of educators, parents, community professionals and volunteers both locally and internationally to assure the mission is met.
Board of Directors President
Carrie’s Heart Founder and President, Carolina “Carrie” Conn began working with children with special needs as a day camp counselor in her teens. She began her professional career teaching at the Brookwood Community, a community for adults with developmental disabilities. Since 1999, Carrie has served as a special education teacher, working with students with multiple disabilities at Cinco Ranch High School in Katy ISD. Because of her dedication to her students and her passion for working with children she was honored with the Crystal Apple Award in 2002 and was named a finalist for the HEB Excellence in Education Award in 2005.
In 2007, Carrie received the honor of being named the Gulf Coast Region and State of Texas Special Educator of the Year by the Texas Council of Administrators of Special Education. Carrie has served on the Houston Chronicle Education Advisory Board, secured Innovative Practices and Fund for Teachers grants for her program and been a presenter at educational conferences and staff development trainings across the state. In an effort to further her work and touch additional lives beyond the walls of her own classroom, Carrie listened to her own heart in founding the nonprofit Carrie’s Heart in June 2005.
Carrie’s heart allows her to use her fantastic sense of humor to bring joy to all of those who come across her path. She lives a "carpe diem" kind of life when it comes to her kids because she realizes that for many of them their moments on this earth are fewer than most and she wants to make the most of each and every one. Whether Carrie is in her classroom, at a Carrie’s Heart event or entering a Mayan hut in the Yucatan, children with disabilities look forward to her infectious laugh and kind words. She has the ability to look past the disabilities and see the soul of the person, bringing comfort and joy to so many who without her might feel hopeless.
Paige began her teaching career in 1995 and found her passion for helping young people develop their leadership skills through the PALS (Peer Assistance Leadership) and Teen Leadership programs. Her belief in “leadership through service” has become a part of the mission of Carrie’s Heart and has led to teen volunteers being involved in events and community service projects locally and in the Yucatan. Paige’s first child, the beautiful Anna Kate, was born with cerebral palsy in 2002. A new path was presented in Paige’s life. As the parent of a child with a disability, Paige has a first hand understanding of the trials and triumphs of our Carrie’s Heart families. Paige now serves as the voice of all parents of children with disabilities in guiding the decision making of Carrie’s Heart.
Through her experiences as a Life Skills teacher at Cinco Ranch High School in Katy ISD since 2000, Nora has learned that the ability to truly understand her students and to build relationships with their families is the key to their success and growth as individuals. The importance of building personal relationships with our children and their families has also become integral to Carrie’s Heart both locally and in the Yucatan. Having lived in Egypt for fifteen years, Nora has seen first hand the negative impact of poverty, inadequate social services and lack of healthcare on children with disabilities world wide. Nora’s global perspective and cultural awareness have been influential in the development of our international projects.
Wendy Dicken, BSN, RN
Wendy Dicken, BSN, RN has over 25 years of experience in home health care. She has dedicated her career to assuring the quality of care for all patients. She brings to Carrie’s Heart her experience in working in home based care and teaching families how to care for their loved ones in the home. She is also very knowledgeable regarding medical care for children with multiple disabilities. Wendy is compassionate and committed to the quality of life of all whom she serves. As the mother of two young children, Wendy values the importance of teaching awareness and acceptance to children and youth through our inclusive community events.
Carrie’s Heart was incorporated as a nonprofit in the state of Texas in June 2005. Carrie’s Heart was granted its charitable nonprofit 501(c)(3) status in December 2005.