National Center for START Services Team

Leadership


Pam Flaherty, M.Eda smiling woman with brown hair wearing a white turtleneck
Executive Director, National Center for START Services

M.Ed., Higher Education Administration, University of Massachusetts Lowell
B.S., Communications, Specialization in Psychology, Fitchburg State University

For the past 26 years, Flaherty served in various roles at Middlesex Community College in Massachusetts, most recently as the associate vice president for student affairs since 2012. She has experience overseeing support services and transition programs for students with disabilities.

Her early professional roots were with the Charles River Center, Cape Organization for Rights of the Disabled (CORD), and the University of Massachusetts Boston’s Institute for Community Inclusion. Flaherty holds a master’s degree in educational administration from the University of Massachusetts Lowell and a bachelor’s degree in communications with a specialization in psychology from Fitchburg State College.

 


 

Karen Weigle, PhDPicture of Karen Weigle
Associate Director, National Center for START Services
Director of Program Services

Ph.D., Child Clinical Psychology, West Virginia University
M.A., Child Clinical Psychology, West Virginia University
Licensed Psychologist , Tennessee

Dr. Karen Weigle is a clinical psychologist with over 25 years of experience working with people with Autism and other Developmental Disabilities and their families. As the Associate Director of the National Center for START Services, she facilitates program implementation, provides expert training and consultation services, and conducts research. Dr. Weigle is also a founder of and clinician at the Chattanooga Autism Center in Chattanooga, Tennessee. She has extensive experience working as part of an interdisciplinary team and in several medical specialty clinics and wards, and has provided assessment and intervention services in a variety of contexts including in-home, school-based, clinic-based, agency-based, hospital-based, and community crisis response. She has previously directed or co-directed programs that provide services spanning East Tennessee and oversight of a large number of service providers. Dr. Weigle has experience in training family practice and medical specialty residents, special educators, community-based services providers, families, Early Intervention Specialists, and laypersons. Her teaching experience varies from undergraduate psychology courses to special education graduate-level seminars.

Top Signature Strengths: Love and Leadership


Jillaine Baker, LCSW
Associate Director of Quality Assurance

MSW, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
Master of Theological Studies, Duke University
B.S., Political Science, Calvin College

Jillaine Baker is a licensed clinical social worker with over 12 years of experience working with individuals with intellectual/developmental disabilities in various capacities. Prior to joining the National Center for START Services, she was the Director of NC START Central and prior to that, a coordinator with the North Carolina team. Jillaine has experience practicing and training within the field of Mental Health and IDD, with emphasis on crisis response, systemic collaboration, positive psychology and program development. She also holds a Master of Theological Studies, where she focused her research on theology and disability. In her spare time Jillaine is trying to begin a L’Arche community in North Carolina. This is a worldwide organization that provides intentional community living for individuals with and without I/DD.

Top VIA Strengths: Honesty, Love, Leadership


Joan B. Beasley, PhDPicture of Joan Beasley
Research Professor, University of New Hampshire
Lead Researcher, Developer, and Founder of the START Model
Director, National Research Consortium on Mental Health in IDD

Ph.D., Social Policy, The Heller School for Social Policy and Management, Brandeis University
M.Ed., Community Mental Health Counseling, Northeastern University
Licensed Mental Health Counselor, Massachusetts

Joan B. Beasley, PhD, is a Research Professor and Director of the National Research Consortium in IDD-MH at the National Center for START Services, Institute on Disability at the University of New Hampshire. Dr. Beasley is a licensed mental health counselor and holds a Ph.D. from the Heller School at Brandeis University. She is the author and co-founder of the START model, first implemented in 1988, a service linkage crisis prevention and intervention program to improve capacity for effective services and supports for children and adults with intellectual/developmental disabilities and mental health needs. START is an evidence-informed model and a nationally recognized best practice for children and adults with IDD and mental health needs implemented across the U.S. In addition to the START model, The National Center for START Services provides professional development courses, research, and community service system evaluations, along with a host of resources and national partnerships. All projects of NCSS include contributions of people with disabilities and family members.

Top Signature Strengths: Creativity, Hope, and Fairness


 

Andrea Caoili

Andrea Caoili, LCSW
Director of Quality Assurance & Research, National Center for START Services
Director of Operations, National Research Consortium on Mental Health in IDD
Adjunct Professor, University of New Hampshire

M.S.W., University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
B.A., Social Work, Edinboro University of Pennsylvania
Licensed Clinical Social Worker, North Carolina

Andrea Caoili is a licensed clinical social worker with more than 15 years of experience in field of mental health. She is the Director of Research and Quality Assurance at the National Center for START Services and is also an adjunct professor in the Department of Social Work at UNH. In her work with CSS, Andrea oversees and supports START programs with meeting model fidelity and program certification, and in collaboration with Dr. Beasley, oversees the research and evaluation activities of the Center.  Andrea has experience in practicing and training other clinicians in wellness-based, positive interventions for persons with IDD. She is also interested in applied and participatory research in IDD/MH and measurement development. 

Top Signature Strengths: Love, Judgement, and Perspective


 

Picture of Beth Grosso

Beth Grosso, MSW
Director of Training & Professional Development

M.S.W., University of New Hampshire
B.A., University of New Hampshire

Beth joined the Institute on Disability in 2015 as the Training Coordinator for the National Center for START Services having previously served as a NH START Clinical Team Leader at a local developmental services Area Agency. Beth has experience in service coordination, outpatient mental health therapy, training development and delivery, program evaluation, and leadership. In her current role as the Director of Training & Professional Development, Beth oversees the NCSS Training and Professional Development department, ensuring the quality and rigor of training and professional development offerings by the National Center for START Services.

Top Signature Strengths: Humor and Kindness

 


 

Jill Hinton

Jill Hinton, PhD
Clinical Director

PhD, Psychology, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
Licensed Psychologist, HSP

Jill Hinton, Ph.D. is a Clinical Psychologist with over 30 years of experience working with people with intellectual disabilities, autism spectrum disorders, and mental illness. Her experience with The Arc of NC, Autism Society of NC,  EastersealsUCP and the NC Council on Developmental Disabilities includes direct clinical work, organizational leadership, clinical consultation, and policy work.

As the Clinical Director of The National Center for START Services, Dr. Hinton  provides consultation and training to START teams across the country and facilitates a monthly practice group for START Clinical Directors. She currently serves as Project Manager for New York START and California START where she supports development and implementation.  Through the Clinical Director Practice Group, she leads discussion on emerging and best practices and how they relate to the START model. She is co-chair of the AUCD MHIDD SIG which seeks to enhance understanding of mental health in IDD and promote best practice. Areas of particular interest include Autism Spectrum Disorder and trauma in IDD.

Top Signature Strengths: Perspective, Fairness


 

Ann Klein

Ann Klein, MA
Director of Evaluation and Outcomes

M.A., Human Services Administration, Rider University
B.A., Political Science and German, University of Michigan

Ann joined the National Center for START Services in 2013 after working as the Director of Outcomes and Evaluations for a System of Care network in Cincinnati, OH. Ann has over 12 years of experience in the mental health and developmental disabilities service systems in both Ohio and New Jersey, including work on a government advisory council on disability issues and work on a New Jersey Governor’s Initiative program to help prevent the institutionalization of children with multiple disabilities. Her experience is mainly in the area of program outcomes and evaluation, but also includes work in program development, licensure compliance and quality assurance activities.

Top Signature Strengths: Love and Judgement


 

Anne LaForce

Anne LaForce, MA
Director of Therapeutic Coaching

M.A., Clinical Psychology, North Carolina Central University
B.A., Psychology, Kent State University

Anne La Force is a Licensed Psychological Associate with a Master’s degree in clinical psychology.  Anne has over 20 years of experience working with adults, adolescents and children with developmental disabilities and mental health need.  As a Senior Project Manager and Director of Therapeutic Coaching, Anne provides consultation and training to START teams across the country and facilitates monthly practice groups for Therapeutic Team Leaders and Clinical Directors. Anne has experience in practicing and training other clinicians in crisis prevention and intervention, implementation of positive psychology approaches, assessment of biopsychosocial factors and trauma informed care practices.

Top Character Strengths:  Love, Fairness, Leadership


 

Janee Lewis-Walker
Jenee' Lewis-Walker, PsyD, LCP
Director of Child Mental Health Services

PsyD, Child and Adolescent Clinical Psychology, Regent University
MA, Clinical Psychology, Regent University
MA, Community and Clinical Psychology, Norfolk State University
BA, Special Education and Psychology, Elizabeth City State University

Dr. Walker’s clinical experience includes working with children, adolescents, and adults from a variety of ethnic, genders, ages, and socioeconomic backgrounds, providing services such as psychological assessment, psychotherapy, and research design. She has worked in a variety of clinical settings such as mental health clinics, residential treatment facilities, detention centers, and outpatient private practice. Dr. Walker has also worked closely and consulted with local and other state agencies on improving the quality of care of mental health services as well as providing trainings on a variety of subject matters such as behavioral management, trauma-informed care in the juvenile justice system, and systemic consultation with children and adolescents with intellectual and developmental disabilities. With a cognitive-behavioral therapeutic approach, Dr. Walker has practiced in the private setting for the past 8 years as a clinical psychologist in Hanover, VA.


Jennifer McLaren, MDJennifer McLaren, MD
Chief Medical Advisor, National Center for START Services
Assistant Professor of Psychiatry, Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth
Medical Director, New Hampshire Bureau of Developmental Services

MD, University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey: Robert Wood Johnson Medical School

Jennifer McLaren, MD, is an Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at the Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth.  She received her undergraduate degree from the University of Notre Dame, her medical degree from the University of Medicine and Dentistry at Robert Wood Johnson Medical School and completed a residency in adult psychiatry and child and adolescent psychiatry at Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center. Dr. McLaren’s clinical practice focuses on caring for children, adolescents and adults with autism and neurodevelopmental disabilities. She serves as the director of the Autism Program and the director of the Developmental Disabilities Clinics at Dartmouth and provides educational opportunities for medical students, residents, and continuing medical education focused on caring for people with developmental disabilities.

 


 

Lauren QuannLauren Quann, MS
Director of Operations

M.S., Community Mental Health and Mental Health Counseling, Southern New Hampshire University, 2011

Lauren joined the Institute on Disability in 2021 as the Director of Operations. Lauren’s previous experience includes State of NH service in which developed and oversaw the implementation of a program supporting low income families who were victims of domestic violence, the creation of multi-faceted program tracking and improvements, and oversaw a multitude of mental health based programs from a high level operational view point. Lauren has experience in outpatient mental health therapy, program evaluation, program operations, program design, and leadership. In her current role as the Director of Operations, Lauren oversees the NCSS Operations Department which includes oversight of the NCSS finances and budgets, developing and tracking the NCSS contracts, providing support regarding hiring and onboarding of staff, and ensuring operations are in place to support the clinical field teams.


Picture of Bob Scholz

Bob Scholz, MS
Director of Resource Center Services

M.S., Mental Health Counseling, Salem State College
Licensed Mental Heath Counselor in the State of Massachusetts

Bob joined the Institute on Disability in 2011 after working as the Director of Residential Services for a large human services company in Massachusetts. Bob has worked to develop cutting-edge residential services to individuals with significant medical and mental health disabilities as well as developing unique services focused on end of life care for individuals with Downs Syndrome and dementia. Working closely with Dr. Joan Beasley in Massachusetts, Bob was instrumental in the development and operation of the first START Services model in Massachusetts, and would later help to operate the Sovner Center a community mental health clinic specializing in progressive treatment for individuals with intellectual disabilities and mental health issues. Bob brings over 25 years of human services, clinical, and supervisory experience to the Institute on Disability.

Top Signature Strengths: Kindness and Leadership

 


 

Staff


Lindsay Allsop

Lindsay Allsop
Communications Coordinator

MBA, Paul College, University of New Hampshire
BS, Bates College

Lindsay joined the National Center for START Services in 2016 as a communications & information coordinator. She earned a Bachelor of Science from Bates College and an MBA from the University of New Hampshire Paul College of Business & Economics. Prior to joining the IOD, Lindsay worked at Wayfair.com in marketing and IT departments.

 

 

 

 

 


 

picture of Dan Baker

Dan Baker, PhD
Associate Project Facilitator & Trainer

PhD, Educational Psychology, University of Minnesota

Dr. Dan Baker serves as a Project Facilitator & Trainer at the National Center for START Services and as the Positive Supports Compliance Specialist with Quality Assurance and Disability Compliance Services at the Minnesota Department of Human Services. At MDHS, Dr. Baker is involved with the design, development, and monitoring of treatment programs to align with the Positive Supports and a person-centered culture. Dr. Baker's clinical focus is on positive behavior support, models of community and educational support, transition services, and mental health services for people with disabilities.

 

 


Picture of Jarrett Barnhill

Jarrett Barnhill, MD, DFAPA, FAACAP
Medical Advisor

M.D., Wake Forest University School of Medicine
Distinguished Fellow of the American Psychiatric Association
Fellow of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry

L. Jarrett Barnhill, MD, DFAPA, FAACAP, is Professor Emeritus of Psychiatry at UNC School of Medicine and founding director of the UNC Program on Neurodevelopmental Psychiatry. Dr Barnhill was the 2008 recipient of the Frank J Melanoscino Award from NADD and the 2012 Melanoscino award from the American Psychiatric Association. He played a major role in the development of the Diagnostic Manual for Intellectual Disability (DMID), serving on the International Advisory Board and section coordinator for the section on Childhood and Adolescence. He is a co-editor of the Diagnostic Manual-Intellectual Disability-2. Dr. Barnhill served on the Autism and Developmental Disabilities Committee of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry.

 


 

Felicia Bates

Felicia Bates, MPH
Project Manager

MPH, University of New England
BA, Biology, University of Northern Iowa

Felicia Bates joined the National Center for START Services as a Project Manager in April 2022. Prior she worked as the I-START Program Director for 6 years, where she led her team to National START Program Certification in June 2021. She has been a Certified START Coordinator since 2016 and was the proud recipient of the 2017 National START Clinical Team Leader of the Year award. Felicia has a master’s degree in Public Health. 

Felicia has worked with individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities and mental health needs for over 15 years. She began her work as a Direct Support Professional, where she found her passion for supporting and advocating for those with IDD. Felicia has successfully worked with client’s and their support systems to improve health and quality of life measures. She prides herself in being relatable to those she serves and works with.

In her spare time, Felicia enjoys spending time with her husband, baby boy, stepson, and their two dogs. She is passionate about health and fitness and is a Certified STAGES indoor cycling instructor. She coaches spin classes on the weekends.
 


Picture of Alyce Benson

Alyce Benson, LCSW
Associate Project Facilitator

MSW, BSW, University of Tennessee, Knoxville
Licensed Clinical Social Worker in the state of Tennessee

Alyce Benson is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker with over 18 years experience working with adults, adolescents, and children with developmental disabilities and mental health needs.  She received both her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in social work from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville.  Ms. Benson specializes in working with individuals who present complex behavioral, medical, and psychological issues, and has extensive experience working in numerous community-based settings and with numerous interdisciplinary teams. She has provided seminars at both national and international conferences for NADD and AAMR.  She is a member of the National Association of Social Workers and National Association for the Dually Diagnosed. 

Top Signature Strengths: Hope and Fairness


 

Picture of Mila Bohlin

Mila Bohlin
Business Manager

B.S., Business Administration, SNHU, Manchester, NH
B.A., Elementary Education, Yaroslav Halan College, Ukraine

Mila was born in Ukraine and moved to the United States in 2002. Having worked in the non-profit sector (New Hampshire Health Care Association), as well as in both large and small companies and corporations (Fidelity and U-Haul), Mila brings a vast array of skills to the IOD in the areas of finance, customer service, office administration, vendor management, reporting, analysis, contract management, event planning, and many others. Mila is married, and lives in Hillsborough, NH with her husband and daughter—a future Environmental Science graduate at UNH. Mila's top signature strengths are humor, honesty, and perseverance.

 


Jen BoisvertJen Boisvert
Senior Program Support Assistant

Jennifer served nine years in the NH Army National Guard with a specialty in Human Resources and has always been passionate about helping others. With over 13 years of experience in administrative positions she is also currently working on her Yoga Teacher Training certificate. Jennifer joined the National Center for START Services in Spring 2022 as a Senior Program Support Assistant and looks forward to being part of such a wonderful program.

 

 

 


 

Jackie Drake, MAA smiling woman with long blond hair wearing a striped button shirt
Marketing and Promotions Manager

MA, Health Communication, East Carolina University, 2020
BA, English, University of Nebraska, 2007

 

Jackie joined the National Center for START Services in August 2022 as a remote employee based in North Carolina. As the Marketing and Promotions Manager, she is responsible for overseeing and implementing a coordinated and thorough communications and marketing plan for the NCSS. Jackie brings 14 years of experience in journalism, university communication, and academic health care. She is skilled at developing consistent and effective messaging across multiple platforms to inspire action in support of an institution’s mission. She is passionate about writing and sharing stories that improve the health and lives of the people around us. Jackie lives in Greenville, NC with her husband Zac and their two rescued lab/hound mixes, Mavis and Mabel. In her spare time, she enjoys traveling, reading, horseback riding, and going to the beach.


 

Lacey Eaton, LPCWoman smiling with dark rimmed glasses and curly dark brown hair
PCORI Stakeholder Engagement Coordinator

Master's of Professional Counseling, Texas Wesleyan University
B.A., Psychology, Texas Wesleyan University

Lacey Eaton is a Licensed Professional Counselor with a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology and a Master’s in Professional Counseling from Texas Wesleyan University. Lacey has over 20 years of experience working with adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities and older adults needing support and care in their later years including those with dementia and multiple mental and physical health needs. Lacey has worked in a variety of settings including community centers, private care facilities, personal home care, and private practice. Lacey’s experience includes that of training and development, leadership, consultation, and work with local and state agencies in Texas. Lacey continues to run a private practice primarily working with adults with IDD as well as consultation and training for direct support professionals, clinicians and other professional organizations.


 

Morgan Futrell, MSWMorgan Futrell
Quality Assurance Project Coordinator

MSW, Florida State University
M.S. in Criminology, Florida State University
B.S. in Criminology Florida State University

Morgan Futrell is a licensed clinical social worker with more than six years of experience working with individuals with IDD/MH. She is the Quality Assurance Project Coordinator at the National Center for START Services. Morgan earned a Masters Degree in Criminology and Social Work from Florida State University. Since completing graduate school, Morgan has worked within the START model in various capacities including START Coordinator, Clinical Team Leader and Associate Clinical Director on two North Carolina START teams.

Top Signature Strengths: Bravery, Appreciation of Beauty and Excellence, and Love

 


Kristal Garcia

Kristal Garcia, LMSW
Program Development Lead

MA, New Mexico State University
Licensed Master Social Worker, Texas and New Mexico

Kristal Garcia is a Licensed Master Social Worker in the state of Texas and New Mexico. She received her master’s degree from New Mexico State University in 2013. For over a decade, Kristal has worked to promote quality mental health services for people with IDD/MH and their families. In 2018, Kristal received the START Clinical Team Leader Award for excellence in clinical leadership on a START team. 

 

 

 


 

A smiling woman with dark hair wearing a red turtleneck sweaterShweta Goel
IOD Accounts Receivables Coordinator

MBA, Simmons School of Management, Massachusetts
Bachelor and Master of Commerce, India

Shweta Goel spent her life shuttling back and forth between India and the US. In both countries, she gained an extensive work experience in not only accounting and finance, but also office administration. Her experiences in the US include volunteering at Boston Medical Center in the billing and payroll department as well as working as a student coordinator while studying at Simmons. In India, she worked as an office administrator, in addition to assisting with the accounting tasks at a software company. Having worked in these two countries, she has experience of collaborating with diverse people and blends comfortably in new environments. Outside of work, she loves music and dance and enjoys going to the concerts. She lives with her husband and has two college-going children.

Top Signature Strengths: Gratitude, Kindness, Hard work


 

picture of demetral grigley

Demetra Grigley
Associate Project Facilitator

BS, Social Work, Appalachian State University

Demetra Grigley is the Assistant Director of NC START West who supports all team members in any way possible while also building the capacity of the system by providing trainings and linkages. Demetra is an original NC START West team member who has had the opportunity to grow as a professional in multiple roles throughout the years with the START team. Demetra had many opportunities to be a part of many firsts with NC START. North Carolina was the first state to implement START services state wide. The first coordinator to be certified and the opportunity to be a part of the first endeavors as a job coach for newly hired START coordinators. Before joining the START team, Demetra spent five years providing direct care and leadership roles in residential settings with adults who had an Intellectual Developmental Disability and mental health needs, identifying and obtaining PERMA in individuals lives unknowingly at the time.

 

 


picture of Maya Hu-Morabito

Maya Hu-Morabito, MA
Program Development Lead

Master's Degree, University at Buffalo, Humanities - Interdisciplinary with concentration of Disability Studies, 2014
Bachelor's Degree, University at Buffalo, Psychology and Sociology, 2009

Maya joined the National Center for START Services in 2021. Prior to joining the National team, Maya directed the Region I START Program in New York State and was inspired by the innovative supports and network surrounding people with disabilities through the START model. Her experience in Developmental Disabilities, Mental Health, direct care, case management, community education/outreach and leadership has contributed towards her continued dedication in the field.

Top Signature Strengths: Love, Honesty, Fairness


Picture of Luke Kalb

Luke Kalb, PhD
Chair, START Research Committee
Chair, National Research Consortium on Mental Health in IDD

Ph.D., Department of Mental Health, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health
M.H.S., Department of Mental Health, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health
B.A., Psychology, University of Baltimore

Luke is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Neuropsychology and the Center for Autism and Related Disorders at the Kennedy Krieger Institute. He also serves as Co-Chair of the START research committee.  Dr. Kalb’s research focuses on improving mental health outcomes among vulnerable populations, with a particular focus on youth and individuals with a developmental disability. His primary research interests involve understanding the phenomenology, epidemiology, and treatment of mental health crises. His research portfolio also extends to assessing the effectiveness of community-based mental health programs, psychometrics and measure development, developing methods to address selection bias, and use of health information systems and emerging technologies to improve clinical care and research methodologies. 


 

Michelle KluttzMichelle Kluttz
Associate Project Facilitator

BA, Psychology, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, NC

Michelle has been working in the field of IDD and Mental Health in different capacities since graduating from UNC. She has worked for the LME/MCO in NC and a private provider in different leadership roles. For the past 13 years she has been working with NC START as the Regional Director and also serves as her agency's state director for START to provide leadership and consistency to both teams.

 

 

 

 


 

Picture of David O'Neal

David O'Neal, MS, LMHC, MHP
Project Facilitator

M.S., Psychology, Western Washington University
B.A., Psychology, University of Washington

As a Department Manager of Specialized Services at Sound mental health in Seattle, WA, I manage all IDD services and agency wide Vocational Services. Our Community Networks Program consists of a 30 person, interdisciplinary staff team involved in the provision of mental health, vocational, chemical dependency, solution based systemic problem solving, and case management for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Monitor, facilitate and fulfill contracts with county and state divisions of mental health, substance abuse, and developmental disabilities. Our Vocational Team, SoundWorks, is integrated into all mental health clinical teams and those 10 individuals oversee Supported employment for all SMH clients.

Top Signature Strengths: Zest and Social Intelligence


 

Nicole Peace
Sr Program Support Assistant

Nicole joined the NY R1 START team in 2019 as an administrative assistant, and in 2022 is now serving the National Center for START services as a Sr Program Support Assistant. She has worked in a range of settings scaling from large corporate offices to small business. She has handled responsibilities such as customer service, insurance, claims processing, scheduling, data entry, office management and stage production management. Nicole lives in Tampa, FL with her wife, her corgi and 2 cats where they run their small crafting business together.

Top Signature Strengths: honesty; gratitude; fairness

 

 


Micah Peace Urquilla

Micah Peace Urquilla
Research and Training Assistant

B.A. Integrative Studies, Northern Kentucky University

Micah Peace Urquilla holds a B.A. in Integrative Studies with concentrations in Organizational Leadership, Social Justice, and Psychology from Northern Kentucky University (NKU). Micah is a community organizer trained in the tradition of the Midwest Academy, and a founding member of the Kentuckiana Autistic Spectrum Alliance (KASA), a peer support and social group by and for Neurodivergent Adults serving Central Kentucky and Southern Indiana. Micah is nearing a decade of service in the Disability community, and has experienced working with other Disabled folks across the lifespan and in a wide variety of roles and settings. They began their career as a Youth Independent Living Specialist at Louisville's Center for Accessible Living (CAL), where they developed expertise in peer-to-peer service delivery, curriculum design and universal design for learning (UDL), and systems advocacy. Micah's professional interests include participatory research; peer mentoring and other forms of popular education; and the intersections between I/DD, systemic experiences of oppression or marginalization, and trauma. Micah dreams of being part of a team to establish a START Program in their home state of Kentucky.

Top Signature Strengths: Leadership, Honesty, and Perspective

 


Janie Poncelet, LCSW-A
Research Assistant

MSW, East Carolina University
BSW, East Carolina University
Licensed Clinical Social Worker Associate in the state of North Carolina

Janie is a social worker who has experience with case management and providing therapy and crisis services to children and adults in community and residential settings. As an undergraduate in college Janie worked with children with autism which helped to cultivate a strong passion for supporting individuals with IDD. Janie initially joined the START network as an intern for NC START East in 2018. After graduating with her MSW from East Carolina University in 2019 Janie moved to Charlotte, NC to be a START Coordinator for NC START West. As a member of the national team, Janie will collaborate with the PCORI research team to evaluate the effectiveness of START telehealth services for individuals with IDD. Janie lives in Charlotte, NC with her husband, their two pet rabbits, and her large collection of houseplants. In her free time, Janie enjoys doing yoga, reading, traveling, and going to concerts.

Top Signature Strengths: Honesty, Humor, and Appreciation of Beauty and Excellence


 

picture of Christy Prophete

Christy L. Prophete, MFT
Associate Project Facilitator

M.S., Marriage & Family Therapist, NOVA Southeastern University
B.S., Family, Youth & Community Sciences (F.Y.C.S), University of Florida

Christy is a Marriage & Family Therapist with over 10 years of experience working in the mental health field. She is informed in evidenced based practices including Cognitive-Behavioral therapy, Narrative Therapy, and Solution Focused Brief Therapy. She is also trained to practice in several therapy approaches including individual, family & group therapy and is versed in in-depth biopsychosocial assessments. Christy joined the START network in February of 2017 as the START Therapeutic Coaching Team Leader for NC START west team. She has worked passionately to develop the START therapeutic Coaching branch in the North Carolina western region. To ensure a successful collaboration during the program growth, Christy has and continue to train and educate team members, coaches, and families on fundamentals of the STC program. Christy uses her unique and creative leadership techniques based on positive psychology practices to effectively serve families and team in the mental health and IDD community.

Top Signature Strength: Leadership, Creativity, Gratitude


Picture of Ginny Reding

Ginny Reding, LPC, LMFT
Quality Assurance/SIRS Specialist

MS, Community Counseling and Marriage & Family Therapy, John Brown University
BA, Arkansas Tech University

Ginny Reding is a Licensed Professional Counselor and a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist in Arkansas with over 10 years experience working with individuals, families, and groups in the mental health field with an emphasis on family systems models. Ginny worked as a Team Leader with the Arkansas START program from 2014 to 2019 and joined the New Hampshire START program as a consultant in 2019. With the NH START program, she provides Quality Assurance, case Coordination, and Coordinator Coaching. Ginny is the President Elect for the Arkansas Counseling Association and served as their secretary from 2018 to 2020.

Top VIA Character Strengths: Appreciation of Beauty & Excellence, Gratitude, and Judgment

 


Maggie Robbins, MA, LCAT, RDTMaggie Robbins
Associate Training Facilitator

MA, Drama Therapy, New York University
BFA, Theatre Performance, Family Studies and Human Development, The University of Arizona
Licensed Creative Arts Therapist, Registered Drama Therapist

Maggie Robbins is the Clinical Director for NC START Central where she has loved working since 2017. She is a Registered Drama Therapist and loves infusing creative arts therapy with the core principles of START, especially positive psychology and PERMA. As the Clinical Director at NC START, Maggie provides training and consultation on topics related to supporting individuals from a Trauma Informed and Positive Psychology lens. 

Top Signature Strengths: Perspective, Fairness, Kindness, Love and Humor.

 


 

Alyse ScuraAlyse M. Scura, MEd
Project Development Lead

NYS Licensed Mental Health Counseling, 2014
Master’s in Education, Mental Health Counseling, Columbia University, 2012
Master’s in Arts, Counseling Psychology, Columbia University, 2011
Bachelors in Science, Human Development and Family Relations; Psychology, SUNY Plattsburgh, 2007

During her 19+ years in the field working with both youth and adults, Alyse has provided a comprehensive array of services to many different populations in many environments including schools, group homes, residential treatment centers, day programs and community based services. Alyse is  a Licensed Mental Health Counselor in New York, a certified Trauma Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapist and certified to complete juvenile sexual offender risk assessments. Following completion of her master’s degrees, Alyse worked in the residential field with adolescents in upstate NY in direct support and administrative roles and later served as an Assistant Director of Clinical Services in Massachusetts. In 2017, she became the Clinical Director for NYSTART Long Island serving individuals with intellectually disabilities and co-existing mental health concerns and their systems and in 2022 joined the National Center for START Services team as a Project Manager.


 

Picture of Sara Stanton

Sara Stanton, MA, NCC
Training Content Coordinator

MA, Clinical Mental Health Counseling, Indiana University of Pennsylvania
BS, Psychology, University of Pittsburgh

Sara brings over a decade of experience supporting individuals through behavioral health crises in a variety of environments. Her passion for collaboration is evidenced by her experience both coordinating and presenting community trainings over the years. Sara has experience both with the direct implementation of START practices as well as in leadership. Sara joined the START network in 2014 working as a START Coordinator in the NC START East program. Sara transitioned to the Clinical Director position for the NC START East program in August 2020 and joined the National Center for START Services as a Training Associate in July of 2021. She began her current role as CSS Project Facilitator/Training Content Specialist in December 2021. In this role, Sara supports model fidelity through direct engagement with programs and facilitates the delivery of trainings to the START network.

Top Strengths: Love, Kindness, Social Intelligence


 

Caitlyn VeenstraCaitlyn Veenstra
Training Coordinator

Ed.D., Learning, Leadership, and Community, Plymouth State University, anticipated December 2023
CAGS, Educational Leadership, Plymouth State University, May 2021
Graduate Certificate, Historic Preservation, Plymouth State University, May 2019
M.Ed., Educational Studies, University of New Hampshire, December 2016
B.A., Psychology, Keene State College, May 2010

Caitlyn Veenstra holds a graduate degree in education from the University of New Hampshire and Plymouth State University. In addition, she is a doctoral candidate in the Doctor of Education program in Learning, Leadership, and Community at Plymouth State University. As an educator, Caitlyn has supported the building of an interdisciplinary seminar course and co-presented data-informed learning outcomes at the American Association of Colleges and Universities (AAC&U) annual conference. Caitlyn’s background in project management, course development, and training have contributed to understanding the needs of adult, online learners. As a Training Coordinator, Caitlyn is a member of the Training & Professional Development team; supporting the delivery of high-quality training and professional development opportunities on the mental health aspects of IDD to a national audience. Caitlyn is wholly interested in the pursuit of learning spaces that are diverse, equitable, inclusive, and foster a sense of belonging for every person. Additional professional interests include assessing effectiveness, centering lived experience, and promoting transformational change.


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Shannon Wedge
START Online Events & Website Coordinator

B.A. English Education, University of New Hampshire

Shannon joined the Institute on Disability in 2011 after working in educational assessment for a decade. Prior to the IOD, she served as a coordinator at an early childhood literacy program for NH Reads through Americorps*VISTA and was a paraprofessional & co-teacher for a special needs preschool/kindergarten in Wakefield, NH. She earned a BA in English and Teaching from the University of New Hampshire.

Top Signature Strengths: Creativity & Judgment

 

 


 

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Sofia Whitehead
Training Senior Program Support Assistant

Bachelor of Business Administration, Texas State University

Sofia Whitehead holds a Bachelor of Business Administration with a Concentration in Entrepreneurial Studies from Texas State University. Her experience as a Business Development Operational Specialist is diverse, from small businesses, tech startups, indie designers, to Fortune 500 companies. As the Senior Program Support Assistant for the Training Department Sofia focuses on supporting the development and implementation of our training programs through various operational supports. Sofia is always striving to streamline operations, create efficient and cohesive processes, and connect interdepartmental communications. Before joining the team, Sofia has been involved in children and women advocacy, is a LGBTQI+ ally, volunteers at public schools and holds an annual holiday giving drive. Sofia currently lives in Florida with her husband and a growing collection of plants. In her free time she enjoys starting too many books at once, looking for unusual music records, finding the best restaurants in town, creating resin artwork, and playing videos games with her husband.