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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 (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

Ohio State Medical Association

Reginald Fields, M.A., is senior director of external and professional relations for the Ohio State Medical Association, overseeing all communications, external affairs, and project management for the state's largest physician-led organization. He previously served as an award-winning newspaper journalist in Ohio, New York, and Maryland. In addition to serving as Chair of the OCALI Advisory Board, Fields is a parent representative as the father of a son with autism. Fields earned an undergraduate degree in Journalism from Ohio Wesleyan University and a Master's Degree in Organizational Communication from 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.


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.


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.


Sharon Knotek

Geauga County ESC

Sharon Knotek, M.Ed., LSW, completed her undergraduate and graduate training at John Carroll University and School Administration licensure at Ashland University. She holds professional board licensure in the areas of School Psychology and Social Work. Knotek has over 25 years of experience focusing on high fidelity intervention practices which improve outcomes for students with autism and other low incidence disorders across educational settings. Knotek has authored and implemented grants in the areas of Autism Program development, Adaptive Technologies for students with autism, Early Literacy Methodology, and School Improvement. She is presently a Professional Development provider, an independent contractor School Psychologist, and a Social Worker. Her most recent work focuses on Trauma Informed responses to student behaviors; improving alignment between school and public agency behavioral initiatives to maximize impact for students and families; and inclusive instructional practices. She previously worked at East Cleveland, Mentor and Kenston Public Schools, as well as the Geauga Educational Service Center.


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.


Scott Short

HOPE Intervention / West Virginia Autism Training Center

Scott Short is the family coordinator liaison for the West Virginia Autism Training Center at Marshall University. He has worked in the field of ASD for the past 16 years. He spent eight years working in ASD and genetic research as a clinical studies coordinator for Duke University and University of Miami, FL. He is the father of a child with autism. Short is also the founder of a nonprofit organization, H.O.P.E. Intervention, which serves as a resource for those affected by ASD in Southeast Ohio.


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 Emeritus

Jon Peterson

As chair of the Ohio Autism Task Force, Peterson was instrumental in the creation of the Autism Scholarship Program. During his 10-year tenure as a state representative, he received the Legislative Advocacy Award from the Autism Society of Ohio along with many other accolades related to his promotion of the rights of seniors, children, and differently-abled individuals. The Autism Society recognized Peterson as "Parent of the Year" in 2004.


OCALI Advisory Board - Ex-Officio

Melissa Bacon

OCALI

Melissa Bacon, Program Director of the Office of Policy, Strategic Initiative, and Stakeholder Engagement at OCALI, oversees the Interagency Workgroup on Autism, collaborating with state agencies to promote issues impacting and involving persons with ASD. Prior, she served as policy director for the Ohio Department of Health, coordinated policy for Health and Human Services, and was director of government affairs for the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services. She also worked as director of public policy and advocacy for the Ohio Children's Hospital Association and as a policy aide for the Ohio Senate Republican Caucus.