OUR TEAM

 
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JONATHAN ARTAL

Founder & President

Hi, my name is Jonathan Artal! I’m a junior at Stanford, where I study Neurobiology to better understand what it means to live with a developmental disability. My younger brother, Ethan, has been my kindest supporter and greatest teacher; his life with Down syndrome has taught me the beauty in embracing our differences and the meaning in building a world that supports and empowers people who feel alone. My experiences growing up by Ethan’s side inspired me to create this organization I’m so proud of—one that facilitates inclusion for students with special needs and helps those without special needs develop understanding across differences. I feel humbled to be a part of a team that’s championing people like my brother, and I’m thrilled that By Your Side will help countless more students for years to come.

MADISON HELLER

Senior Vice President

My name is Madison Heller and I'm a rising first-year at The University of Chicago. I joined BYS as a freshman in high school, where I became inspired by the program's ability to share the mutual benefits, love, and sheer joy of engaging with diverse peers. I quickly joined the program's leadership and am excited to be guiding BYS through our research and expansion efforts. Separately, I've served as a teacher’s assistant in my high school's special education class for the past three years, developing a profound respect for the students and a deep understanding of the obstacles they face. I've also created a program at my high school that develops on-ramps for students interested in special education to pursue similar experiences as I did. I hope to forge a career in which I can advocate for the special needs community. I am involved with my family’s citrus business, enjoy being a member of Beverly’s Dance Company, and have a twin brother named John.

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JACKSON STEWART

Co-Founder & Media Director

My name is Jackson Stewart, I am a junior at Babson College, and I am from Beverly Hills, California. I am a member of the Men’s Varsity Tennis Team, an acapella singing group, Greek life, and a health organization on campus. I have been Interested in special education from a very young age, and I will continue to be passionate about special education for the foreseeable future.

BRITNEY SHIRIAN

Secretary & Expansion Coordinator

Hi, I’m Britney Shirian, a student at Santa Monica College! Joining By Your Side was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. I am proud of the supportive and safe community BYS has created, promoting friendships rooted in kindness and leaving a positive impact on all members. I previously served as co-president of Beverly Hills High School’s BYS, and am an older sister to Israel and Sienna.

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JAMIE KIM

Outreach Ambassador for the Northeast

My name is Jamie Kim and I’m a junior at Princeton University. While pursuing a degree in Anthropology on the premedical track, I am a member of the women’s varsity water polo team, a peer tutor, and a mentor for first generation, low income high school seniors. I am excited to help expand the scope of BYS in more schools across the nation and witness the power this program has to steer the conversation about mental health and disability awareness among today’s adolescents.

GABRIEL KAPLAN

Outreach Ambassador for the Midwest

Hi, my name is Gabe Kaplan and I’m a senior at St. Louis Park High School in Minnesota—right next door to Minneapolis. I can’t wait to get started on By Your Side at my school; I first learned about it through my brother and I know it’s going to be an incredible experience for all those involved. Outside of By Your Side, I like spending time with friends, playing with my dog, and working on various political campaigns in my state.

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SAMANTHA LIN

Outreach Ambassador for Northern California

My name is Sammy Lin, and I’m a rising freshman at The University of Chicago. At The College Preparatory School, I have served as Co-President of the Women in STEM club, Co-Captain of the Varsity Coed Golf Team, peer tutor, and an ambassador for BYS! I’m thrilled to help expand a program so dedicated to facilitating loving relationships for those with and without special needs. As I’ve always had a soft spot for special education, I’m excited to initiate more meaningful conversations surrounding mental health.

ARIEL DARDASHTI

Outreach Ambassador for Southern California

Hey guys, my name is Ariel Dardashti and I am starting my second year as a By Your Side ambassador. I started By Your Side at my high school, PALI, because the cause was dear to my heart as I have been battling my own medical condition known as ectodermal dysplasia my whole life. Even though I juggle a lot, I always make time for By Your Side because the feeling you get from interacting with our students is unmatched. By Your Side has opened my eyes to how diverse our school system truly is and has made me realize how we as a whole can better serve this population. I want to continue to serve this group for long after high school as I look forward toward a bright future for this community. 

  

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SOPHIE COHANIM

Ambassador for Frostig School

My name is Sophie Cohanim and I am 18 years old. I am currently a senior at  Frostig school in Pasadena. I love caring and playing with ALL animals especially my puppy Leo. One of my favorite hobbies is horseback riding. Also, I love listening to music, going to plays, playing tennis and hanging out with my friends. 
I really enjoy this opportunity to connect with new friends through By Your Side.