About Us

We are a support network for individuals with Down syndrome and their families. Augusta, Georgia is our home and we proudly serve neighboring communities as well. Throughout the year, we host social gatherings for parents, engaging playgroups for younger children, group activities for young adults, opportunities for self-advocates, World Down Syndrome Day celebrations, holiday parties and our unforgettable Buddy Walk.

Meet our Board Members

Natalie Thigpen, President

Natalie and her husband, Thomas, have 3 children, Tucker, Max, and Mabel. Thomas works as a contractor with the government and Natalie teaches 2nd grade at Parkway Elementary. Their son, Max, was born in 2019 with Down syndrome. Natalie quickly realized how vital it was to create a support system within the Down syndrome community. She felt lost as a new parent to a child with Down syndrome and found herself craving connections with other families similar to hers. That is where her drive to further the mission of The Upside of Downs began. She truly hopes to better this source of support for people with Down syndrome and their families in our community. As an educator, she has a strong background in community-building, organization, event planning, scheduling and task execution. She is passionate about advocating for people with Down syndrome and promoting tolerance and inclusion of all.

Stevie Rodriguez, Vice President

Stevie Rodriguez is a funeral director and her boyfriend is a Nuclear Engineer at SRNL. She has 2 dogs and hockey is her family's favorite sport! Stevie is mom to Remington Speed. They moved to Augusta from Washington, DC and before that they lived in Raleigh, NC, Houston, TX and Colorado Springs, CO. Stevie and Speed have been able to utilize many amazing resources like GiGi’s Playhouse, Down syndrome clinics and local DS organizations in previous places they have lived. She comes to the Upside of Downs board excited to advocate and encourage for more resources in our community. Stevie also has a passion for welcoming new families as she also volunteers for the Down Syndrome Diagnosis Network (DSDN) - this organization was pivotal in her early days of this journey.

Jenna Elling, Secretary

Jenna and her husband, Jesse, have two children, Eli and Annabelle. Their spunky, feisty and sweet Annabelle has Down syndrome. They relocated from Wisconsin for Jesse's job at Augusta National in Horticulture. Jenna was previously a dental hygienist, she now substitute teaches and spends a lot of her time volunteering. She organizes the Upside of Downs Playgroup, volunteers at Cooper Ridge Farm, school PTO Board and Jack's Basket. Jack's Basket is a non-profit based in Minneapolis that celebrates babies with Down syndrome. Jenna works with hospitals and providers in Augusta to ensure that new and expecting parents are provided resources and an avenue of support. She aims to bridge welcoming new families with Jack's Basket and then offer the resource and community of Upside of Downs.

Wanda Miller, Treasurer

Wanda has been with Upside of Downs since the beginning! She has contributed an amazing amount of time to the Upside of Downs over the years. She and her husband, Allen, have two children. Her son, Jim, has Down syndrome. Wanda works as an accountant and we are so grateful for her expertise as treasurer.

Bobby and Heather Bozeman, Board Members

Bobby and Heather are selfless people with big hearts. They have three girls and their whole family can usually be seen helping at our events. They created and lead our World Down Syndrome Day Kickball Party, host karate events and are a huge part of our Buddy Walk.

We can't wait to see you! Keep up with our events by checking the Events tab and following us on Facebook.