Board Member Bios

 


Kara Ayers, President; Chair, Executive Committee; Chair, Advocacy Committee; Member, Development, and Education Committees

Kara Ayers is a co-founder of the Disabled Parenting Project and Associate Director of the University of Cincinnati Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities. She works on numerous disability policy issues, including protecting the rights of parents with disabilities, improving adoption access for parents with disabilities, and increasing peer support for women with disabilities during pregnancy and throughout parenthood.


Maggie Butler, PhD, Vice President; Member, Executive and Advocacy Committees

Maggie Butler, PhD, has over 10 years’ experience working with individuals who identify with a wide range of disability identities. She has worked as a certified rehabilitation counselor in the state of Virginia, counseling students and adults with disabilities. In addition, she served as director of disability resources/chief Americans with Disabilities Act compliance officer for Longwood University, Farmville, Virginia. She received her doctorate in counselor education & supervision with an emphasis on is rehabilitation counselor education from the University of Iowa.

Butler is interested in expanding disability discourse across socioeconomic strata, to improve access to mental health services among individuals with disabilities; improving human and social capital development at the intersection of race, gender and disability identity, to improve postsecondary outcomes and; advocating for the inclusion of diverse narratives among disability identities.  She has authored and co-authored peer reviewed journals articles and book chapters related to homelessness, school-family- community collaboration, clinical case management and ethics in counseling.


Lindsay Brillhart, Secretary; Member, Executive, Advocacy and Education Committees

Lindsay is a mom of 2 girls. She is a strong self-advocate for her kids and others. She has (formally) worked with the ARC of Hamilton County and Hamilton County Developmental Disability Services. She currently resides in Cincinnati with her 2 kids Julianna 16, and Sara 4 and her partner Phil. She was once on the People First of Ohio board. She is a Partners in Policy graduate. She is also a graduate of PATHS (Providing Alternative Thinking Strategies).  In her spare time, she loves to travel and to meet new people.


Cathy Haarstad, Treasurer; Chair, Development Committee; Member, Finance and Executive Committees

Cathy is a Research Associate at the ND Center for Persons with Disabilities. She has over 30 years of experiences in supporting adults with developmental disabilities, some of whom, choose to parent. Cathy is also the parent of an adult with developmental disabilities. She has extensive experience in family support, behavior intervention, special education and community services for persons who have significant support needs related to intellectual disabilities. She has served on the TASP board for approximately one year.


Sue Jones, Senior Director; Member, Executive and Education Committees

Sue is a  Program Director at The Arc United, Turners Falls,, MA and former Co-President of TASP. For the past 32 years, Sue has specialized in supporting parents with intellectual disabilities. She has also worked with individuals with disabilities as a recreational therapist, employment specialist, case manager, family advocate and administrator. She holds a BS in rehabilitation from Springfield College and a master’s level certificate in parenting education from Wheelock College. Sue founded the New England Coalition for Supporting Parents with Cognitive Challenges and is a principal founder and former co-president of The Association for Supported Parenting. She is currently the Program Director of Family and Youth Services Department at The United Arc. Under that department, there are two programs. The Family Support program provides services to families with a family member living with a disability by providing service navigation, in home supports, family lead services, intensive case management, caregiver groups and parent training, financial assistance and social and recreational opportunities. The other program Positive Parenting provides a variety of comprehensive parenting education, support programs and services to parents with learning differences. This program also provides Youth supports for youth receiving services from The Department of Children and Families and provides volunteer opportunities as well as kinship supports. She has conducted training throughout country. For the last several years she has been contracted through The Children’s Trust Fund of Massachusetts and The Department of Children and Families to present training across the state focusing on working with parents with intellectual disabilities.


Nicole BrissonDirector: Chair, Education Committee

Dr. Nicole Brisson is the owner and director of Sage Haven Associates, a private practice that provides consultation, training, and assessment services to meet the needs of parents and children with disabilities involved in the child welfare system. Dr. Brisson is a licensed mental health counselor and holds a Ph.D. in interdisciplinary studies with a concentration in psychology and specialization in intellectual and developmental disabilities. She developed and taught a course at the University of Vermont on child welfare and parental disability and holds a consulting and assessment contract with the Vermont Department for Children and Families.  Dr. Brisson testifies in court and conducts competence-based parenting evaluations for parents with disabilities throughout the country.  She was named as a nationally recognized expert in assessing parents with disabilities by the Departments of Justice and Health and Human Services.  Her work was cited in their joint letter regarding the investigation of the Massachusetts Department of Children and Families, which in turn resulted in the release of a technical assistance report to child welfare agencies nationwide regarding the rights of parents with disabilities under the Americans with Disabilities Act and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act.


Susan Yuan

Susan Yuan, Ph.D  Senior Board Member; Member, Executive Committee, Education and Advocacy Committees

Susan has worked in the field of developmental disabilities since the birth of her son, Andreas, 44 years ago. She was the Associate Director of the Center on Disability and Community Inclusion, Vermont’s UCEDD, until 2008, when she retired from the University, and established her consulting firm, Yuan & Associates. Dr. Yuan conducts training on culture and disability, inclusion, family support, and parents with disabilities. She assists in grant-writing, conducts program evaluations, and carries out competence-based parenting skills assessments in collaboration with the Vermont Parent Assessment Team at Sage Haven Associates, LLC.


Virginia Cruz

Virginia Cruz, MSW, DSW, Director; Member, Education Committees

Ginny is semi-retired from the Metropolitan State University of Denver.  She has worked in the area of developmental disabilities for over 30 years. At UCLA Center for the Health Sciences, the Neuropsychiatric Hospital, she was a therapist and had the privilege of evaluating and treating children, adolescents, parents and their families with developmental disabilities as a LCSW. She is grateful to these families who were the best teachers about the ways to support individuals with intellectual disabilities. She was Chair of the Department of Social Work at the Metropolitan State University of Denver from 1992 to 2011 and added course content on developmental disabilities to the BSW and MSW programs. She was the Director of the MSW Program from 2009 to 2012 and continues teaching, training and researching the intersectionality of child welfare and developmental disabilities.


 Ellen Gilmartin,Director; Member, Advocacy and Finance Committees

Ellen is retired from the Connecticut Office for Protection and Advocacy for Persons with Disabilities, she was employed as an advocate with them for more than 25 years. She remains active in both paid and volunteer work with people with disabilities.


Tom Robinson, Director; Member, Education Committee

Tom is the Director of Thomas Robinson Consulting, Ltd., founded in 1994, which provides individualized services in home communities through a family-centered team approach that promotes inclusion for individuals with developmental delays or disabilities in Northwest British Columbia, Canada.  He has worked with services for people who have developmental disabilities for over 30 years, including work in residential services, vocational programs, family support and respite, recreational/ leisure services, college instruction and regional health promotion. He brings skills in training and presentation, behavior, consultation, parent advocacy, and community development, and has joined the Education Committee.


Auguste Elliott, Director

Auguste holds a PhD in Psychology, and currently serves as the Senior Director, Clinical, Training & Evaluation Services, at Easter Seals Vermont.   In that position, Auguste is responsible for statewide training of all contracted providers of family-centered practices for Department for Children and Families Vermont, supervision of psychologists and clinicians providing clinical consultation to staff, supervision of child-parent psychotherapists, and program evaluation projects.  In addition, she continues her work as a therapist with families, in their homes, while training coaches around the country.  She is particularly interested in “how we can better capture the technologies which can be so intrusive and even dangerous, to serve parents with challenges.”  Auguste brings several skills to TASP, including outreach and advocacy, community services, program evaluation, education and instruction, grant writing, medical/health, and parent education.


Molly Burgdorf, Director; Member, Advocacy Committee

Molly is a committed disability rights and human rights advocate, who has served in both the nonprofit and federal government worlds.  She’s currently with the Center for Public Representation in Washington, DC, leading public policy advocacy for a national organization to promote inclusion of people with disabilities in all aspects of life.  Molly previously worked in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Office for Civil Rights (OCR), was a Senior Advisor for the HHS, Administration on Community Living (ACL), Center for Policy and Evaluation, and a Senior Advisor for HHS with the Administration on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (AIDD) in Washington, DC.


Pat Grosz, Director; Member,

Pat Grosz, RN, Ph.D. is Executive Director for a non-profit, Positive Family Partners, Inc. that was incorporated with her business partner, Dr. Diane Koch in 2014 to integrate infant/early childhood mental health into early intervention and family support services.  Past experience includes 14 years as Executive Director of Infants & Young Children of West Central Florida, Inc. (IYC) and service as the Early Steps Director at the University of South Florida from 1993-2001. Dr. Grosz has worked as an Adjunct Professor for the Department of Special Education in the College of Education and the College of Public Health. She coordinated the Birth to Five Project for the Department of Special Education at USF from 2002-2005.  She coordinated the Positive Development project from 2012-2014 with funding from the Children’s Board which paired developmental specialists with primary care physicians.

Dr. Grosz’s primary research activities/interests concern issues of family-centered and evidence-based practices in early intervention and the impact of cognitive/intellectual issues of the parent on children’s developmental outcomes.   


Frank Gilliand, Director; Member, Education Committee

Frank is a self-advocate and father of a 22-year-old son.  He has many life experiences as a father with an intellectual disability.   Frank brings many skills to TASP, including membership growth, outreach and advocacy, leadership development, education and instruction, and parent education.


Julie Clockston, Director; Member, Education Committee

Julie has a Master of Science in Social Work and is currently a Doctor of Social Work candidate, working on her dissertation, which is specific to the population of parents who have a developmental disability and/or intellectual disability.  The purpose of her study is to give parents and professionals who work with them a voice, and to bring awareness, enhance what is working, and create positive interventions specifically in the education of professionals. Julie has years of direct experience working with individuals with developmental/intellectual disabilities, and currently Julie provides individual and group psychotherapy in her private practice, and is also the Co-Founder of SOAR Colorado, which provides developmental and intellectual disability services to support individuals and enable social access to the community.


 


John Susa Director, Emeritus


Alexander Tymchuk Director, Emeritus

ENHANCING THE LIVES OF FAMILIES WHEN PARENTS HAVE LEARNING DIFFICULTIES

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