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OCALI Advisory Board

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Section 3323.33 of Ohio HB 562 states that "the superintendent of public instruction shall establish an advisory board to assist and advise the Franklin County Educational Service Center [now known as the Educational Service Center of Central Ohio] (ESCCO) in the operation of the Ohio Center for Autism and Low Incidence (OCALI)... As determined by the superintendent, the advisory board shall consist of individuals who are stakeholders in the service to persons with autism and low incidence disabilities, including, but not limited to, the following:

(A) Persons with autism and low incidence disabilities;

(B) Parents and family members;

(C) Educators and other professionals;

(D) Higher education instructors;

(E) Representatives from state agencies.

The advisory board shall be organized as determined by the superintendent."

Bylaws (2008) state that members should be geographically representative of Ohio as well.

OCALI Advisory Board - Chair

Reginald Fields


Reginald Fields is Director of Corporate Social Responsibility at NiSource. He is also the Executive Director of the NiSource Charitable Foundation. Mr. Fields, the father of an adult son with autism, joined the OCALI Advisory Board as a parent representative.

Mr. Fields earned a bachelor’s degree in Journalism from Ohio Wesleyan University and a master’s degree in Organizational Communication from the Scripps College of Communication at Ohio University.

OCALI Advisory Board - Members

Richard Cowan

Kent State University

Richard Cowan, Ph.D., is an associate professor at Kent State University. He completed his graduate training at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Cowan has been involved in multiple research projects, publications, presentations, and grants focusing on the implementation and evaluation of positive behavioral supports across settings for a variety of learners, including students with disabilities and students who are at risk for academic failure. Cowan's most recent work focuses on the prevention of disruptive behavior in the classroom within the context of building positive, inclusive environments for all students.

Abigail S. David

Bridgeway Academy

Abigail S. David, M.S. CCC/SLP is the Co-Founder/Co-Director of Bridgeway Academy, an established Autism Scholarship Provider. She has extensive experience treating children with autism in the areas of speech and language development with a focus on social / pragmatic language skills, receptive and expressive language development, and articulation. Abigail worked for the Wisconsin Early Autism program as a lead therapist from 1994 –98 while completing her Bachelor’s & Master’s degrees in Education and Speech Pathology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She worked in public schools as a speech language pathologist for students from pre-K to 5th grade who had fluency issues, voice disorders, articulation/ phonological disorders, receptive and expressive language delays, Down Syndrome, and autism spectrum disorder. Abby has also had a wide range of experience working in private practice with children from 10-months to 12 years old with a range of disabilities.

Her experience in the areas of speech and language development and working with a range of students in both public and private sectors will lend support with planning and collaborating efforts as OCALI continues to enhance its partnerships with educational stakeholders.

Michelle DePolo

KidsLink Neurobehavioral Center

Michelle DePolo, Psy.D., is a clinical child/pediatric psychologist with KidsLink Neurobehavioral Center, which provides comprehensive services to children with ASD and their families. DePolo completed her doctoral degree in clinical psychology at Wright State University and finished a postdoctoral fellowship at Cleveland Clinic Center for Autism where she was on staff for 2 1/2 years. She joined the NeuroDevelopmental Center at Akron Children's Hospital where she was clinical director of the autism program and founding member of the interdisciplinary feeding team. At KidsLink DePolo is the Director of the Behavior Stabilization and Reintegration Program at the KidsLink School, a day treatment program for children and adolescents. She is also the Executive Director of Link Up NeuroBehavioral Services, a day treatment program for adults with developmental disabilities. DePolo has specific expertise in the areas of cognitive behavioral therapy and the management of anxiety and depression. As a Board Certified Behavior Analyst, DePolo has expertise in the assessment and treatment of severe behaviors. She routinely completes Independent Education Evaluations for parents and school districts.

Carmen DiGiovine

The Ohio State University

Carmen P. DiGiovine, PhD ATP/SMS RET is a rehabilitation engineer and is a Clinical Associate Professor in the Occupational Therapy Division, School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences at The Ohio State University. He has adjunct appointment in the Departments of Biomedical Engineer and Speech and Hearing Sciences. He is the Director of Rehabilitation Science and Technology for the Assistive Technology Center at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center. He has presented at national and international conferences for the past 20 years, and regularly teaches courses that focus on assistive technology and rehabilitation technology at The Ohio State University. Dr. DiGiovine is currently on the Rehabilitation Engineering and Assistive Technology Society of North America (RESNA) Board of Directors (BOD). Dr. DiGiovine is an active member of RESNA, IEEE Engineering and Medicine and Biology (EMB) Society, and the Biomedical Engineering Society (BMES).

His expertise in the area of Assistive Technology will provide a strong bridge between the work of the OCALI Advisory Board and that of the Advisory Council supporting the efforts of The Outreach Center for Deafness and Blindness and the Assistive Technology & Accessible Educational Materials Center - two projects powered by OCALI.

Jocelyn Geib

KidsLink Neurobehavioral Center

Jocelyn Geib, Ph.D., CCC/SLP, is a licensed speech and language pathologist who provides assessment and treatment at KidsLink Neurobehavioral Center, which provides comprehensive services to children with ASD and their families. Geib also serves as the executive director at The KidsLink School Program. She completed her PhD in Education-Learning and Development from Cleveland State University. She completed her Master’s degree in Speech Pathology at Kent State University, as well as course work leading to licensure in School Administration at Cleveland State University. Her undergraduate degree is from Bowling Green State University. Geib has worked in the area of behavioral management for children with autism for the past 20 years, including positions as an independent behavioral therapist and consultant, paraprofessional, intervention specialist, and school administrator. Previous professional roles include Coordinator of Speech Pathology at the Cleveland Clinic Center for Autism and Director of the STARS program for the Geauga County Educational Service Center. Geib is active in the local community and speaks frequently on communication and autism at the local and national levels.

Aimee Gilman

Agins & Gilman LLC.

Aimee Gilman is a principal in the law firm of Agins & Gilman LLC in Cleveland. Gilman has been a practicing attorney for 34 years, and practices exclusively in the area of civil rights for people with disabilities representing families and children and adults with disabilities. She is the parent of a young adult with autism. Gilman also provides training for families and professionals all over the State on legal issues pertaining to people with disabilities and their advocates.

Monica Hueckel

Ohio State Medical Association

Monica Hueckel currently serves as Senior Director of Government Relations for the Ohio State Medical Association (OSMA). The OSMA enjoys a 168-year reputation as the voice of Ohio’s medical profession. The OSMA represents 16,000 Ohio physicians, medical residents and medical students and collaborates at the local level with county medical societies and at the national level with the American Medical Association.

Previously Ms. Hueckel worked in Washington, DC for United States Congressman Steve Stivers, who currently represents Ohio’s 15th Congressional District. Monica served as his Director of Operations and Legislative Assistant, focusing on health care policy and initiatives. Prior to that, she worked for a consulting firm in Columbus, Ohio where she lobbied the state legislature on behalf of numerous clients and focused on political fundraising.

Ms. Hueckel is a graduate of The Ohio State University and currently resides in Columbus, OH.

 John L. Moore

Customer Relations Manger, Sorenson Communications

John L. Moore is currently the Customer Relations Manager at Sorenson Communications which is responsible to ensure communication accessibility through sign language, captioning and other needs.

While at Deaf Services Center as their CEO, Mr. Moore was responsible for overseeing the agency and ensuring that fair and appropriate services are being provided through advocacy, education, human services and the provision of communication services.

Mr. Moore has filled a number of roles in various capacities to further partnerships with like-minded agencies and organizations. He has been involved in various deafness and disability organizations on a local, state and national level. His work on statewide mental health standards has been invaluable in helping to raise standards of mental health services provided to Deaf and Hard of Hearing individuals. He has utilized his skills and abilities to foster partnerships for a statewide camp for the deaf, a summer youth work experience program and to enact vital policy changes on the state and local level. Mr. Moore’s involvement in these and other organizations over the years has given him an extensive range of experience in dealing with organizations, agencies and interest groups on the state and local levels.

Mr. Moore earned a Bachelor of Science in Government and History from Gallaudet University in Washington D.C. In addition, he received his Master’s in Public Administration from Northeastern University in Boston. He and his wife, Marsha, live in Dublin and have four children.

Mary Murray

Bowling Green State University

Mary Murray, Ed.D., is an associate professor at Bowling Green State University, where she has been instrumental in developing the courses required for the autism certificate program. Murray has over 25 years' experience working with children with ASD and severe disabilities in inclusive settings. She served on the board for the Autism Society of Ohio and the State Advisory Panel for Exceptional Children. Murray has written numerous articles and implemented multiple grants, four of which are designed to train parents and professionals to serve as mentors in autism and low-incidence disabilities.

Ginger O'Connor

Washington County Board of Developmental Disabilities

Ginger O’Connor has worked for the Washington County Board of Developmental Disabilities since 1975, holding supervisory and administrative positions. She is a Speech/Language Pathologist who provides services to infants and toddlers with special expertise in working with children who have autism and their families. She also supports families as they meet and work through the feeding challenges frequently presented by children on the spectrum. She continues to serve as adjunct instructor and guest lecturer at Marietta College in teacher preparation related to special populations within the classrooms. O’Connor is a member of the Early Evaluation and Identification Team and provides ADOS testing for two counties in South East Ohio.

Jan Osborn

Putnam County ESC

Jan Osborn has worked for the Putnam County Educational Service Center for 39 years. His specialization is administration and special education.

Chloe Rothschild

Chloe Rothschild is a young adult who has PDD-NOS and a visual impairment. She enjoys using her talent and love for writing to raise awareness about autism. Rothschild is on the PSA for the Autism Society. In addition, she writes blogs and operates a public Facebook page, where she shares her story. Finally, she has spoken to various groups of people and at conferences about autism from her perspective.

 Jerod Smalley

NBC 4 Columbus

Jerod Smalley has served as Sports Director for NBC4 since 2006. Smalley was named Best Anchor (news, weather or sports) by the Ohio Associated Press in 2010 and 2011. He was named Best Sports Broadcaster by the Ohio A.P. from 2007-2009. He and the NBC4 Sports team also received awards for A.P. Best Sports Operation in 2007, 2008 and 2010. Smalley's sons, Brady and Tyler, are diagnosed with autism. He launched a campaign at the station to promote autism awareness and to raise money for research and educational programs.

Sondra Williams

Sondra Williams, an individual with ASD residing in Columbus, OH, is a published author and national speaker on autism and trauma-related topics. She was the 2013 recipient of the Courage Award from Governor Kasich in the state of Ohio. She serves on many local, state, and national boards. Williams is the founder of S.P.E.A.K.S. ART PROGRAM and loves mentoring teens and adults with autism. She is the parent of four young adults with autism, as well as four grandchildren, one of whom has ASD. Williams is the main character in the film The Leprechaun's Wife. She is currently employed by The Learning Spectrum in Worthington, OH.

Jacqueline Wynn

Nationwide Children's Center for Autism

Jacqueline W. Wynn, Ph.D., a licensed psychologist, is the director of Nationwide Children's Center for Autism Spectrum Disorders. She received her Ph.D. in psychology from UCLA, where she worked with Ivar Lovaas to research outcomes of behavioral intervention. She has taught behavioral interventions for autism at UCLA and The Ohio State University. Wynn is a clinical assistant professor of pediatrics and an assistant adjunct professor of special education at OSU. She is a member of the Ohio Autism Coalition for Applied Behavior Analysis.

Barb Yavorcik

Barb Yavorcik is the parent of an adult son with autism. She was appointed to the Advisory Board for OCALI in 2005 and served as the original board chair. Barb has been involved in autism advocacy since her son was diagnosed, serving as Executive Director, President, and board member of the Autism Society of Ohio, as well as president and secretary of the Autism Society of Northwest Ohio. Yavorcik also served as chair of the Ohio Autism Coalition. She has served on a variety of committees and taskforces at both the state and local level including the Ohio Autism Taskforce, the DODD Futures Planning Committee, and the committees creating the Ohio Parent's Guide to Autism and the Autism Service Guidelines. She is an Electrical Engineer and currently employed at Surface Combustion, Inc. in Maumee, Ohio.

OCALI Advisory Board - Ex-Officio

Melissa Bacon

Ohio Mental Health & Addiction Services

Melissa Bacon is an experienced policy professional with more than 25 years in state government, legislative and executive, working on state and federal issues. As Deputy Director for the Bureau of Behavioral Health Policy, Bacon works with the Director and Ohio MHAS leadership team to formulate the policies, strategies, procedures, and administrative rules necessary for defining agency goals and objectives, as well as develop policy papers to communicate key positions and initiatives.

Most recently, Bacon served as the director of Policy & Advocacy at Groundwork Ohio where she helped to advance research and data-driven policies to support the health and early education of Ohio’s youngest children and their families. As a member of the Groundwork Ohio team, she worked collaboratively through building and leveraging relationships in the legislative and executive branches of state government, as well as with health and human services partners also committed to improving the lives of young children. Before joining Groundwork Ohio, Bacon worked as the director of Government Affairs and Stakeholder Engagement for OCALI, a nonpartisan organization advancing policies that improve the lives of individuals with disabilities. During her tenure, she co-led the OCALI Office of Policy and the Interagency Workgroup on Autism, focusing on developing relationships with members of the General Assembly and the Administration as well as other policy advocacy organizations. While at OCALI, she advanced issues such as social emotional education, early intervention, Medicaid managed care and waiver services, state scholarship programs for the education of children with disabilities, ending custody relinquishment for families in need of crisis services for their child, and leveraging technology to advance independence for individuals with disabilities.

Prior to OCALI, Bacon worked in several health and human services state agencies as a member of leadership teams during the Kasich Administration. She served as the Chief of Policy and Communications for the Ohio Department of Health; Assistant Policy Director for Health and Human Services for Governor Kasich; and Director of Government Affairs for the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services. From this work she learned the value of cross agency systems work, strong stakeholder relations, and shared policy agenda setting. In addition, Bacon worked as the director of Policy and Stakeholder Engagement for the Ohio Children’s Hospital Association.

Tom Goodney

Educational Service Center of Central Ohio

Thomas L. Goodney, Ed.D. has served as the Superintendent of the Educational Service Center of Central Ohio since March, 2013. Prior to his appointment as Superintendent, Dr. Goodney served as the ESC’s Deputy Superintendent/Chief of Staff for seven and a half years overseeing the day to day operations of the agency and the implementation of the agency’s strategic initiatives. Prior to joining the ESC of Central Ohio, Tom served as a high school principal in both the Fairbanks and Preble Shawnee Local School Districts in Ohio, and also served as an assistant high school principal, high school English teacher and basketball coach in school districts in Ohio and Michigan. A native of Spring Lake, Michigan, Tom received his bachelor’s degree from Northern Michigan University. He has earned two graduate degrees from Miami University (M.A., 1994 and Ed.D., 2007). Outside of his professional duties with the ESC of Central Ohio, Tom serves as adjunct faculty at Ohio Dominican University and Miami University teaching various courses in educational leadership and school administration.