Featured Speakers

Keynote Speaker - Dr. Catherine Rice

Cathy Rice

Cathy Rice

Presentation Title
Adult Systems of Care: Invisible to Visible

Catherine (Cathy) Rice, PhD, is the Branch Chief in the Disability and Health Promotion Branch (DHPB) at the US CDC. DHPB reports data and supports programs to describe and promote the health and wellness of people with disabilities across the lifespan. This work includes the Early Hearing Detection and Intervention (EDHI) Program; the Disability and Health Data System (DHDS); and collaborations with partners such as Special Olympics, the National Center on Health, Physical Activity and Disability (NCHPAD), and many state and local programs to support the health and wellness of people with disabilities. cdc.gov/ncbddd/disabilityandhealth

Dr. Rice previously served as Director of the Emory Autism Center (EAC) and Professor, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Emory University. She was honored to lead a team of faculty and staff supporting meaningful improvements in quality of life with people on the spectrum across the lifespan. Central to these services is the Early Emory Center for Child Development and Enrichment (formerly the “Walden” preschool) and the myLIFE Social Engagement Groups, both models for inclusive behavior support programs. In addition, she oversaw a range of clinical, training, and research programs around assessment and behavioral supports, working closely with partners across the State of Georgia. Dr. Rice established the first undergraduate seminar on Neurodiversity at Emory, and remains Adjunct Faculty.

Prior work at CDC as a Behavioral Scientist and Epidemiologist included the establishment of the Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring (ADDM) Network to estimate autism prevalence and describe the population of children with autism in multiple areas of the United States. Dr. Rice represented CDC on national and international committees and was the Autism Society of America Professional of the Year in 2008. She also worked with the Learn the Signs. Act Early. team to improve early identification and led the effort to collect data on the important safety issue of wandering among people with autism and other developmental disabilities. Dr. Rice is a licensed psychologist in the state of Georgia, conducts specialized training on the assessment of autism, and has served on multiple Advisory Boards. She has served on Advisory Boards for Autism Speaks, New Jersey Governor’s Council for Autism Science, the HANDS in Autism Program, and the Atlanta Autism Consortium. She is grateful for the continued education she receives from the many people she meets in this work

Lifetime Achievement Award - Daniel Crimmins PhD

Daniel Crimmons

Daniel Crimmons

Presentation Title
It's a Bumpy Road to Collective Impact: Working Together to Improve Autism Supports in GA

Daniel Crimmins, PhD, is a Georgia State University Clinical Professor Emeritus and founding partner of Crimminz & Associates, LLC. He is the founding Director of the Center for Leadership in Disability – the Georgia State University Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities – where he served from its inception in 2008 until his retirement in May 2021. Dr. Crimmins was a Robert Wood Johnson Health Policy Fellow in Washington DC, where he worked with Senator Jim Jeffords on health and education policies (2002-2003). He also founded the GA Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental Disabilities an interdisciplinary training program for future professionals, disability advocates and family members; developed the Motivation Assessment Scale, the Autism Program Quality Indicators, and the Brief Behavior Questionnaire and Intervention Plan System; and founded the Autism Plan for Georgia and GA Autism Conference and Exposition. Across his career, Dr. Crimmins has worked with great dedication to ensure that children and adults with disabilities, families, schools, and organizations can have equal access to effective supports, interventions, and services.

Science & Research Day Presenters/Panelists (May 18th)

Transition Research Panel

Teal Benevides
Teal Benevides, PhD, MS, OTR/L

Health Outcomes of Transition Age Youth

Teal Benevides, PhD, MS, OTR/L is an occupational therapist and researcher. Currently, she serves as an Associate Professor in the Department of Occupational Therapy at Augusta University (AU), and maintains a joint appointment in the Institute of Public and Preventive Health, also at AU. Dr. Benevides serves as a Deputy Editor for the journal Autism in Adulthood and as an Associate Editor for the American Journal of Occupational Therapy. Dr. Benevides has received funding from agencies including the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) and the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI).

Roles: Transition Research Panel Moderator; Panel Presenter; 2021 ACE Award Recipient

Angela Mixon
Angela Mixon, MBA, BBA

Georgia Employers Working with Adults with Autism

Angela has over 25 years of experience in the healthcare industry driving the success of complex programs, including the integration of cutting-edge evidence-based practices for a 24Kperson healthcare organization, flawlessly managing a $190M fixed/flex hospital operating budget, and earning a Doctorate in Public Health while meeting rigorous professional demands as a Senior Financial Analyst. She changed careers from health care to public health was influenced by her role as mother of a 19-year-old son with autism for whom she has become a passionate advocate. She is dedicated to improving the lives of autistic and special needs children and adults through community resources and increased public awareness of the challenges that this population faces.

Role: Transition Research Panel Presenter

Robin Swett Newberg
Robin Swett Newberg MSN, RN, NCSN

Healthcare Transitioning Beyond High School for Adolescents and Young Adults with Autism

Robin Swett Newberg MSN, RN, NCSN is a doctoral student in the School of Nursing at Georgia State University. She completed an interdisciplinary fellowship at The Georgia Leadership & Education in Neurodevelopmental and related Disabilities (GaLEND) at Georgia State in 2021. Mrs. Newberg’s research interests are in youth and young adults with autism spectrum disorder as they transition from secondary school health care resources to adult health services in the community. Mrs. Newberg is a School Nurse in Atlanta, Georgia. She protects and promotes optimal student health to further academic success for all students and acts as a resource and advocate for families in the community. She is a National Certified School Nurse working with students in Pre-Kindergarten to High School.

Role: Transition Research Panel Presenter

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Susan Brasher PhD, RN, CPNP, FAAN

Transition Challenges and Patient Centered Approaches

Dr. Susan Brasher is an Assistant Professor of Nursing at Emory University. She has several years of experience in teaching Pediatric Nursing to both undergraduate and graduate nursing students. She received her PhD in Nursing from the University of Florida with an emphasis on pediatric neurodevelopmental disorders, specifically autism spectrum disorder. She has served as a Principal Investigator (PI) and Co-Investigator (Co-I) of numerous funded grants focusing on Autism Spectrum Disorder. She has several years of experience as PI, Co-I, and project coordinator of multiple funded patient-centered outcomes research institute (PCORI) grants working with community members and research teams to address health disparities of children and young adults diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder. Recently, she was appointed to be a patient-centered outcomes research institute (PCORI) ambassador to expand knowledge and participation in patient-centered outcomes research (PCOR) across the country.

Role: Transition Research Panel Presenter

Social Justice and Diversity Research Panel

Jennifer Singh
Jennifer Singh, PhD

Overview of Break the Cycle of Systemic Racism in Autism Workgroup

Jennifer S. Singh, PhD, is an associate professor in the School of History and Sociology. She has a Ph.D. in sociology from the University of California, San Francisco and specializes in medical sociology and science and technology studies. Her research investigates the intersections of genetics, health and society, and she has written a book (Multiple Autisms: Spectrums of Advocacy and Genomic Science) exploring interdisciplinary perspective on the rise and implementation of autism genetics research. Singh is also conducting research on the structural inequities to autism diagnosis and services based on race, class and gender. She is also co-founder of the Break the Cycle of Autism Disparities Working Group that brings together different areas of expertise across academic and private institutes in Atlanta, GA who are dedicated to investigating and addressing autism service disparities across the lifespan.

Role: Social Justice and Diversity Research Panel Moderator

Ashley Salmon
Ashley Salmon, MPH

Sources of Inequity in Autism Research and Services

Ashley Salmon, MPH (Biostatistics) is a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Research Associate at the Center for Leadership in Disability at Georgia State University. She has expertise in database design and management within Excel, SAS, and R Studio; non-parametric, psychometric and quality control analyses; and the development and dissemination of statistical graphics and accessible data visualizations. Recently she has worked on early autism identification work funded by the Maternal and Child Health Bureau, and has a number of independently funded projects related to the intersectional identities, disability, and service access.

Role: Social Justice and Diversity Research Panel Presenter

Asha Rudrabhatla
Asha Rudrabhatla, BA

Social Justice Values Moderate the Link Between Teacher Attention-related Concerns and Inclusion Attitudes in Parents of Typically-Developing Children

Asha Rudrabhatla (she/her) currently works as a predoctoral research fellow in Education, Neuroscience, and Implementation Science within the Education Sciences Research Core at the Marcus Autism Center (affiliated with Emory University, Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta). Asha graduated with distinction from Colorado College in 2020 with a B.A. in Psychology and a minor in Spanish. Previously, she has worked with various community-based and grassroots organizations to advance racial/ethnic equity and combat structural inequities, and has applied her passion for social justice advocacy to her research endeavors and interests in clinical and implementation science. As an Education Sciences Research Fellow, Asha hopes to use research as a tool for positive social change through promoting access to inclusive and equitable interventions for individuals with ASD in educational settings, in particular for underserved communities. Her interests in clinical and implementation science have inspired her to continue addressing health disparities by pursuing a doctoral degree in Clinical Psychology.

Role: Social Justice and Diversity Research Panel Presenter

Michelle Washington
Michelle Washington, PhD

Influence of Racial/Ethnic Match Between School Psychologists and Students Referred for Psychoeducational Evaluations

Michelle Washington, Ph.D. is a recent graduate of Georgia State University's School Psychology doctoral program. Dr. Washington's research interests center around diversity related issues in school psychology, social justice, racial disproportionality, and improving the research-topractice gap. She currently practices as a school psychologist in metro Atlanta, and she previously worked as a school social worker in the Chicagoland area before relocating to Georgia.

Role: Social Justice and Diversity Research Panel Presenter

Early Identification to Intervention Research Panel

Brian Barger
Brian Barger, PhD

Unpacking Interdisciplinary Insights to Facilitate Early Identification Research

Dr. Brian Barger is a Research Assistant Professor of Epidemiology and Biostatistics at Georgia State University. Dr. Barger's research program focuses on understanding how young children with autism and developmental disabilities are identified in their communities for the purpose of receive early intervention and community-based treatments. His work is unique in blending psychometric, epidemiology, and health system perspectives to understand challenges in early identification of children with autism and developmental disabilities.

Role: Early Identification to Intervention Panel Moderator

Katherine Pickard
Katherine Pickard, PhD

Project ImPACT and the Autism Navigator for Early Intervention

Katherine Pickard, PhD, researches the translation of evidence-based practices into community systems that are naturally positioned to serve children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and developmental delays. Her research is grounded in community-engaged models and guided by dissemination and implementation science. At Marcus Autism Center, Dr. Pickard leads and collaborates on research examining mechanisms that foster the adoption, implementation and sustainment of evidencebased practices within a variety of community systems, including early intervention and public school systems.

Role: Early Identification to Intervention Panel Presenter

Allison Schwartz
Allison Schwartz, PhD

Early Identification Research at Emory Autism Center

Allison Schwartz, PhD, is an Assistant Professor at Emory University School of Medicine where she works at the Emory Autism Center as the Director of the Assessment Core. Allison Schwartz earned her PhD in School Psychology from Georgia State University in 2017. Dr. Schwartz completed her predoctoral internship at NorthStar Educational and Therapeutic Services/Pickens County School District and her postdoctoral fellowship at the Emory Autism Center at Emory University School of Medicine. She works with the Department of Public Health to help increase the capacity for early autism diagnosis in the state through community psychologists in the Georgia Autism Assessment Collaborative (GAAC) and the five GAAC Specialty Clinics as well as on a research study looking at remote autism assessment tool, NODA (Naturalistic Observational Diagnostic Assessment). Dr. Schwartz’s research and clinical interests include working with individuals and families impacted by neurodevelopmental disorders, including diagnostic assessment, parent coaching, capacity building in the community, and supervision and training.

Role: Early Identification to Intervention Panel Presenter

Oral & Poster Presentations

Jiwon Lee
Jiwon Lee, PhD, MPH, RN

Georgia Employers Working with Adults with Autism

Dr. Jiwon Lee is an Assistant Professor in the School of Nursing at Georgia State University. Dr. Lee is originally from South Korea and is a Registered Nurse with clinical expertise in women’s health. She obtained a Master’s in Public Health (MPH) from the University of Alabama at Birmingham with a concentration in maternal and child health. Dr. Lee received her PhD from Georgia State University and is a GaLEND fellow.

Role: Oral Presenter

Sonia Sanchez Alvarez
Sonia Sanchez-Alvarez, MPH, ACSM

The Conjoint Impact of Preterm Birth and Low Birth Weight on Identified Autism Spectrum Disorder

Sonia Sanchez-Alvarez is a Research Coordinator at the Center for Leadership in Disability (CLD) in the School of Public Health at Georgia State University. She brings a high level of data management and evaluation report writing skills to the CLD. Sonia previously worked at the CLD as a graduate research assistant (GRA), in which she helped enter, analyze, and manage data for several projects.Sonia is a Certified Exercise Physiologist from the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM). Her research interests include epidemiology, data management and analytical support.

Role: Poster Presenter

Jon Starnes
Jon Starnes, BA

Using Population Estimates to Identify Weak Autism Screening Tools

Jon Starnes, BA, is a Senior Data Analyst working as a data analytics and visualization subcontractor for the CDC. He is broadly experienced in data science and machine learning approaches to data analysis; is interested in merging mixed methods approaches from the social sciences to public health epidemiology and biostatistics; and is skilled in using a number of languages including R, SQL, SAS, Qlik Sense, and Python. He is currently completing his MPH (Biostatistics) thesis at Georgia State University which merges insights from epidemiology and psychometrics to help the field identify screening tools whose reported diagnostic accuracy is likely inflated.

Role: PosterPresenter

Practice & Implementation Day Presenters/Panelists (May 19th)

Transitioning into Adulting Panel

Raynell Washington
Raynell Washington, BA, MSW

Medical Transition

Raynell has a bachelor’s degree in Sociology at Southeastern Louisiana University and MSW from Tulane University. She is a Licensed Master Social Worker and a Research Coordinator II at the Center for Leadership in Disability (CLD).

In this role serves as the Social Worker on the Adult Disability Medical Healthcare (ADMH) interdisciplinary team, in partnership with the CLD, providing comprehensive, person-centered healthcare and social service supports for teens and adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Raynell’s work focuses on strengthening and increasing the capacity of underserved communities and supporting the inclusion of individuals with disabilities and their families in all aspects of life.

Role: Transitioning into Adulting Panel Presenter and Co-Moderator

Spenser Norris
Spenser Norris, BS, MS

Educational Transition

Spenser Norris holds a Master’s in Clinical Rehabilitation Counseling from Georgia State University. She is a Community Supports Specialist at the Center for Leadership in Disability, Spenser where she directs the IDEAL program, Georgia State University’s inclusive college program for students with mild intellectual disabilities as well as other inclusive post-secondary education projects and initiatives. Spenser’s professional interests include Autism, Advocacy, and Adler. Spenser’s personal interests include nature, cats, and cooking.

Role: Transitioning into Adulting Panel Presenter and Co-Moderator

Behavioral Supports in GA Panel

Gereen Francis
Gereen R. Francis, MS, BCBA

Considerations for the Future of Behavioral Supports in GA

Gereen R. Francis, MS, BCBA provides consultation, training, and writes behavior intervention plans for students who need individualized behavior supports in Atlanta Public Schools. She is also the founder of and lead consultant for Tangerine Behavioral Consulting LLC. She received her Master of Science degree in Applied Behavior Analysis and her Bachelor of Arts degrees in Psychology and Sociology from Georgia State University.

Role: Behavioral Supports in GA Panel Presenter

Tina Guidry
Tina Guidry, BCBA

Telehealth for Behavioral Health Care in GA

Tina Guidry is a Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) with over 25 years of experience working to improve behavior change practices in education, clinical and community programs. She has guided public and private organizations and government agencies in the US and UK with the implementation of research-based behavior change programs to improve daily practices and performance outcomes for individuals with various disabilities. In addition, she has participated in and published several research studies and provided workshops at national and international conferences surrounding topics related to the science of learning and behavior.

Role: Behavioral Supports in GA Panel Presenter

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Tammy Kaiser, MEd, BCBA

Values in Applied Behavior Analysis from a Trauma-Informed Perspective

Tammy Kaiser is a Board Certified Behavior Analyst. She holds an undergraduate degree in Health Services and a Masters in Jewish Education. Her current Doctoral research is in Values-Based ABA. Kaiser has a background in neuroscience, health care ethics, and trauma informed care. Kaiser draws on her personal experience as a mass shooting survivor to inform her practice and is especially interested in the intersection of values, ethics, and morals in health services.

Role: Behavioral Supports in GA Panel Presenter

Forward Together Panel

Nicole Hendrix
Nicole Hendrix, PhD

Forward Together within a Community Advisory Board for Early Intervention in Georgia

Dr. Henrix is an Assistant Professor at the Emory University School of Medicine, in the Department of Pediatrics. Her research is guided by expertise in neurodevelopmental disabilities and developmental and behavioral intervention approaches alongside targeted training in single case research design and mixed effects modeling. She aims to better understand the early nonverbal communicative strategies that impact learning to refine the implementation of effective early interventions, which is evident in existing publications and works in progress. Furthermore, she seeks to increase accessibility of these interventions, which has been driven by experiences as a clinical psychologist who predominantly serves young children with autism spectrum disorders and co-occurring psychological and genetic disorders. She is particularly passionate about issues of service inequities experienced by minority populations. As a clinician, she is also directing a clinic that provides parent-mediated intervention through an evidence-based naturalistic developmental behavioral intervention to families with toddlers diagnosed with or at risk for a diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder.

Role: Forward Together Panel Moderator

Dionna Douglas
Dionna Douglas, MD, MBA

Forward Together within a Community Advisory Board for Early Intervention in Georgia

Dionna Douglas, M.D., M.B.A., is a certified poison specialist and mom of two au-some boys, ages five and two. She and her husband Milton share a passion for autism awareness and early detection. They aim to help families in their communities and abroad become better connected to the resources and tools available to their children.

Role: Forward Together Panelist

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Erin Maurer, BS

Forward Together within a Community Advisory Board for Early Intervention in Georgia

Erin Maurer, B.S., is an autistic adult who was diagnosed in kindergarten and engaged with occupational therapy and other services as a child. Erin has an undergraduate degree in sociology with a minor in gender studies from Georgia Southern University. Erin is a senior registered behavior technician who has worked with people with autism in this role for the past two years.

Role: Forward Together Panelist

Susan Perdue
Susan Perdue, MAT

Forward Together within a Community Advisory Board for Early Intervention in Georgia

Susan Perdue, M.A.T, has an undergraduate degree in psychology and a Master of Arts in Teaching from the University of South Carolina. She obtained her preschool special education certification from Georgia State University. Ms. Perdue’s teaching career has spanned 29 years, with 19 years spent in special needs preschool settings and the last nine years teaching autistic preschool-aged children. She currently works in the Gwinnett County School District.

Role: Forward Together Panelist

Patrick Thorbourne
Patrick Thorbourne, MEd, BCBA

Forward Together within a Community Advisory Board for Early Intervention in Georgia

Patrick Thorbourne, M.Ed., BCBA, manages ABA Direct LLC, a private in-home practice that provides ABA services on the south side of Atlanta. Originally from New York City, Mr. Thorbourne spent many years working in behavioral mental health services in Michigan before moving to Georgia. His clinical expertise ranges across ages with a focus on early intervention and school readiness.

Role: Forward Together Panelist

Oral Presentations

Alicia Hart
Alicia Hart, MEd

How to Support Preschoolers with Autism in the Classroom

Alicia Hart, MEd, has a Master's Degree in Early Childhood Education, is the mother of a seven year old with Autism, and has taught preschoolers in Head Start for 20 years.

Role: Oral Presenter

Jill Barton
Jill Barton, M.S., CCC-SLP

Repetitive Language in Autism: Strategies for Better Communication

Jill Barton has been an SLP for 22 years. She has lived and successfully practiced in 6 different states while working with a variety of caseloads including public and private schools, early intervention, and as a clinical supervisor within several University inpatient clinics. She is currently a direct-hire employee of Atlanta Public Schools and owns Tlaking To You Too, Inc. a private practice in Fayetteville, GA.

Role: Oral Presenter

Bridget Ratajczak
Bridget Ratajczak, MA

Building and Expanding the Georgia Act Early Team

Bridget Ratajczak is the Child and Family Development Supervisor, Georgia Department of Early Care and Learning: Bright from the Start and the CDC’s Act Early Ambassador for Georgia. Mrs. Ratajczak provides support for early childhood professionals and families on the topics of developmental monitoring, child development and family engagement. She has a M.A. in early childhood special education from the University of Georgia. Her extensive experience in early childhood education and special education includes an instructor at the University of Georgia’s Birth through Kindergarten teacher preparation program, early intervention specialist with the Babies Can’t Wait early intervention program and a preschool special-education teacher in Athens, Georgia. Her areas of expertise include early identification of developmental delays, family engagement in early care and learning settings, and positive behavior supports and interventions for young children.

Role: Oral Presenter

Andre Sam
Andre Sam, CRPC®, APMA®

Disability & Special Needs Planning Made Easy

Andre Sam, CRPC®, APMA®, is a Comprehensive Disability/Special Needs Planner with the Disability & Special Needs Project. Upon earning a Bachelors Degree in Economics from the University of Arizona, Andre began a career in Comprehensive Disability and Special Needs Planning. Andre has been in the industry for 10 years now working with individuals and families with disabilities and special needs across 46 of 50 states. Through this organization, Andre gives back by donating his time mostly during evenings and weekends sharing his knowledge by providing complimentary educational presentations on Comprehensive Disability/Special Needs Planning to organizations and groups who have loved ones that are part of the special needs and disability community.

Role: Oral Presenter

Lisa Sims
Lisa Sims, BA, MS

Partnering with Police and Schools for Autism Success

Lisa Sims is a graduate of Georgia State University with a Bachelor of Business Administration in Computer Information Systems and a graduate of The University of Phoenix with a Master of Science in Computer Information Systems. She has been teaching web development and mobile app development courses online for over fifteen years at various universities. Lisa is a published author and has published two books, Effective Digital Learning and Building Your Online Store With WordPress and WooCommerce, with Apress Media and self-published six books. She is also the creator of the Stretching a Dollar for Entrepreneurs podcast. When Lisa is not teaching, writing, and podcasting, she is a wife and mother to two sons ages nine and five. She is a special needs mother to her oldest son who is on the autism spectrum and has sensory processing disorder. Due to education deficiencies for special needs students in her county’s public schools and the expensive price tag of special needs private schools, Lisa stepped out on faith and started homeschooling her oldest son from kindergarten and her youngest son from the age of two. To help other mothers homeschool their neurodiverse or special needs children, Lisa created the company, Lisa Teach Me, LLC (www.lisateachme.com) in July 2021, which originally started as a Facebook Page in July 2020.

Role: Oral Presenter

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Miyah Sundermayer, BA

Learning Social skills through Professional and Natural Supports

Miyah Sundermeyer is a Clerk for the Center for Leadership in Disability at the School of Public Health at Georgia State University. She received her associate in science degree at Georgia Perimeter College and a bachelors in Psychology from Georgia State University. She has worked with the Center for Leadership in Disability as a temporary staff member where she assists on projects like The Autism Plan for Georgia. Outside of work, Sundermeyer has a series of blogs and vlogs called “Hello World with Miyah Sundermeyer.”

Role: Oral Presenter

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Brandi Tanner, PhD, NCSP

Path to an Autism Diagnosis: School and Private Evaluations

Dr. Brandi Tanner is both a Nationally Certified School Psychologist (NCSP) and a Licensed Psychologist in the state of Georgia. Dr. Tanner has over twenty years of experience working with children and adolescents with learning and behavioral problems. She is both a Nationally Certified School Psychologist (NCSP) and a Licensed Psychologist in the state of Georgia. Dr. Tanner provides conducts comprehensive psychological and psychoeducational evaluations in her private practice, Lightway Psychological Services. She provides special education advocacy services through Your IEP Source.

Role: Oral Presenter

Demetres Thomas
Demetres Thomas, BA, MA, EdS

Where Are the Gaps? Identifying Gaps in Family-Centered, Equitable, and Culturally Responsive Programming and Student Supports.

Demetres Thomas is a special educator, community and family advocate, and founder of LEAD Inc., a non-profit 501c3 that supports students with disabilities and their families. Her experience in the field of special education spans over 15 years with a focus on Early Childhood. She received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Sociology (Georgia State University), an M.A. (University of Phoenix) and an Ed.S. in Educational Leadership (Liberty University). Demetres is certified in both Special Education (K-12) and Leadership. Demetres began teaching in 2006 in an Emotional Disability class supporting middle school students. After being in the classroom for 4 years, she moved into leadership roles such as Preschool District Lead, Special Education Program Specialist, Special Education Assistant Principal, and Student Services Coordinator. She is a member of both the Council for Exceptional Children and Division of Early Childhood (Family Committee) organizations. Her most notable accomplishment is that of wife and mother to 3 beautiful daughters, the youngest having developmental delays. Her life’s motto is “Pay It Forward” with a goal of bringing others along this journey of improving outcomes for children with varying learning abilities.

Role: Oral Presenter

Spanish Track Team

Mariana Ortiz-Padilla
Mariana Ortiz-Padilla, BA

Mariana Ortiz-Padilla works at the Center for Leadership in Disability as a Diversity Fellow. As part of CLD’s Latino Community of Practice, focused on Spanish speaking Georgians, Mariana provides resources in Spanish for families of children with autism. She has also supports the Spanish track of the annual Autism Conference & Expo, as well as the Spanish Positive Behavior Support Group. Born and raised in Marietta, GA, Mariana has two younger sisters. Her favorite hobby is reading and putting together puzzles and is noted by her CLD colleagues as persistent, passionate, and empathetic co-worker.

Role: Spanish Track Team

Michelle Quintero
Michelle Quintero, MA, BA

Michelle Quintero is a Bilingual Community Services Associate at the Center for Leadership in Disability in the School of Public Health at Georgia State University where she supports Spanish speaking families and underrepresented communities in finding the best resources for their children especially those with intellectual or developmental disabilities. She holds a Master’s in Early Childhood Education and is a former Elementary school teacher where she taught in Las Vegas, Nevada where she provided behavioral, emotional, and academic support for students and parents, especially providing support for Spanish speaking families. Michelle was also a Teacher for America 2018 Corps member focusing on diversity, equity, and inclusion in teaching practices. She is passionate about education ranging from building strong foundational skills in early years to higher education advocacy for underrepresented communities.

Role: Spanish Track Team