Ruben speaking at ADA Event on June 5th.

CharlestonCAN is a network of self-advocates, families, service providers, and community stakeholders working collaboratively to take actions that will strengthen our community and make it a better place to live for individuals with special needs and disabilities.

Our strength comes from individuals and organizations working together to create strong communities.
CharlestonCAN is not a formal organization; instead, it is a network of partners working together as a coalition with common goals.

We believe the best way to increase services, programs, access, opportunities, and resources in our community for individuals with special needs and disabilities are through collaboration and partnership.

Instead of creating new organizations to fill gaps in our community, we address community needs by linking organizations together, leveraging available resources to expand capacity, and advocating for system and policy change.

CHARLESTON CAN Leadership Team

Our leadership team consists of team leaders for each work group plus other community stakeholders. Work groups include: Education, Housing, Recreation, Employment and Community Access.


  • Lead Facilitator: Nick Gavalas
Education: John Bracy
Employment: Jeff Stottler
  • Housing: Cate Cusick
  • Recreation: Joe Moore
  • Community Access: Alex Jackson
Greenville CAN members posing in front of the ADA tour bus.
Nick Gavalas

Lead Facilitator / Director – Nick Gavalas

After graduating from the Citadel in 1972 Nick began his career by joining MassMutual life insurance company as an agent. He went on to lead the local organization in 1985 where he became a recognized leader in the financial services industry. He was selected in 2008 as the College of Charleston’s entrepreneur representative to attend the Price-Babson Symposium for Entrepreneur Educators and was a finalist for the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the year award. He retired from MassMutual in 2009 and now manages Nicholas B. Gavalas and Associates which offers financial services products and strategies for businesses and families in the Charleston area.
Mr. Gavalas is also an accomplished social entrepreneur, linking his life’s mission and business goals with devotion to service. In 1999 he cofounded the Gavalas Kolanko Foundation, a public charity, with a mission to provide college scholarships to students with physical disabilities. The foundation has raised over $800,000 and granted 135 scholarships to local colleges and universities. He is also an active donor to the MUSC Children’s Hospital, the No Kid Hungry campaign and other charities in the Lowcountry. He is part of the mentor program at the College of Charleston and a frequent guest speaker.
He also is cofounder of CharlestonCAN, a collaborative network of service providers. It’s mission is to improve the lives of people with all disabilities.