Doreen Caruso: President and Co-Founder
Wendi Taylor: Treasurer
Melissa DeMartin: Creative Director
About the Members:
President and Co-Founder
Doreen is Co-Founder and President of The Pilot House. She has extensive leadership experience in a variety of organizations serving the special needs community. Prior to the birth of her twins in 1999, she worked for the Bridgeport Board of Education in the Federal and State grant department as an accounting specialist. From 2003 – 2005 she was President of the Early Childhood Center Parent Support Group, spearheading fundraising efforts and selecting parent speakers. During that time she also organized a Walk for Autism in Fairfield, CT for the Autism Spectrum Resource Center, and served as a Board Member of that organization.
After serving as Vice President of Fundraising for the Fairfield, CT SEPTA (Special Education Parent-Teacher Association) in 2004, Doreen became President, a post she held from 2005 – 2007. With a board of 20 people, she organized programs, engaged speakers and created the model for and development of the first SEPTA summer camp. For her summer camp experience, she was invited to deliver the Inspirational Address to the 2007 CT State SEPTA Council. At that time, she was also on the Honorary Committee for the Kennedy Center “Autism Project Benefit” from 2006 – 2007.
Doreen and her husband Nicholas live in Fairfield, CT, and have a teenage son named Michael, and twins, Allison and Christopher. Christopher was diagnosed at 2 with autism. The Pilot House was a dream of Doreen’s not only for her son, but for the countless families searching for a place for their children to have fun and just be kids.
Wendi has over 24 years of banking and finance experience. She worked at People’s United Bank for 21 years and Bank of America for 4 years she was involved in many different aspects, from being a teller to becoming the Operations Manager for the Greater Fairfield County branches. She maintained the budgets and all financial operations.
Wendi has since been the Operations Manager for The House Designers, an architectural design company, which is web based and has published magazines that are sold nationally. Her position there was to maintain the budget and all incoming and outgoing finances for the entire company. Now Wendi is working at The Pilot House.
In addition, Wendi was the treasurer for her Condominium Association; she is a notary and has been involved with many events that pertain to Special Needs Children. She lives in Fairfield, CT with her husband Brian and her dog’s Emmett, Smitty and Charlie.
In 1999, Melissa and her husband Michael founded Designsite, a design and marketing communications firm, specializing in branding, website and print design. Prior to Designsite, Melissa worked for DMCD, one of America’s leading exhibit design firms, for eight years as a Senior Exhibit Designer. Melissa earned a Bachelor of Science Degree from Rochester Institute of Technology in 1987.
As the Creative Director for The Pilot House Special Needs Resource Center, Melissa designed an idenity, website, thepilothouse.org, signage, brochures and other print materials. Melissa is also co-owner of The Painted Bird, an art, design and craft business that runs after school programs in elementary schools in Fairfield, CT.
Melissa served on the Executive Board of the Jennings School PTA from 2007- 2009 as the VP of Communications as well as the Executive Board of the Fairfield SEPTA (Special Education Parent-Teacher Association) from 2003 – 2007. She designed, developed and maintained the SEPTA website, fairfieldsepta.org, for two years then served on the Executive board as Director of Resources for another two. Melissa headed several committees for Jennings school including: Interior Beautification, Art in the Classroom, The Jennings Times, Holiday Boutique and 5th Grade Moving Up. Melissa received a National PTA Volunteer Recognition Award in 2010.
Other community positions include Parent Support Group co-chair at the Early Childhood Center in 2003, Craft Coordinator for Mothers of Preschoolers in 2002 and coordinator for Children’s Events with the Welcome Club of Fairfield and Easton, CT in 2001. Melissa and her husband Michael reside in Fairfield, CT with their twins, Madeline and Michael John (MJ).