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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 is the director of communications and external affairs at the Ohio State Medical Association. He is also co-chair of the OCALI Advisory Board. Fields has over 20 years of experience as an award-winning major daily newspaper reporter and manager with assignments ranging from presidential and gubernatorial elections, state General Assembly, Ohio Supreme Court and education and state budgeting. He previously worked at The Plain Dealer, The Baltimore Sun and The Akron Beacon Journal.

Email: fields818@aol.com

OCALI Advisory Board - Members

Richard Cowan

Kent State University

Richard Cowan, Ph.D., associate professor at Kent State University, completed his graduate training at 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.

Email: rcowan1@kent.edu

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.

Email: michelledepolo@gmail.com

Jocelyn Geib

KidsLink Neurobehavioral Center

Jocelyn Geib, M.A., CCC/SLP, is a speech-language pathologist and educational consultant with KidsLink Neurobehavioral Center. Geib is the former director of S.T.A.R.S., with the Geauga County ESC and currently and serves a consultant for them. She was recently appointed to the OCALI advisory board. Geib has worked with individuals with ASD and related developmental disabilities for the past 15 years. She has presented at several local and national conferences in the area of autism and is in the final stages of completing her Ph.D. in education from Cleveland State University.

Email: gc_mills@lgca.org

Aimee Gilman

Siegel, Agins Gilman

Email: agilman@idealaw.org

Sharon Knotek

Geauga County ESC

Sharon Knotek is the Director of Special Education and Related Operations for the Geauga County ESC. Ms. Knotek's professional background includes roles as a secondary science teacher, school psychologist, and Special Education supervisor for the Kenston School District. During her tenure at the Geauga County ESC she has served as a member of Geauga County's Multi-Disciplinary and Family Stability committees. She currently supervises the implementation of low incidence consortium programs for students K-22 which are imbedded in public school settings.

Email: knotek.profess@gmail.com

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 serves on the board for the Autism Society of Ohio and the State Advisory Panel for Exceptional Children. She 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.

Email: mmurray@bgsu.edu

Ginger O'Connor

Washington County Board of Developmental Disabilities

Ginger O'Connor MA CCC/SLP received her undergraduate degree from Marietta College and her graduate degree from The Ohio State University. She is currently the Director of Early Childhood and Therapy for the Washington County Board of Developmental Disabilities in Marietta, OH. O'Connor also serves as speech/language pathologist for children enrolled in the Early Intervention program.

Email: goconnor@wcbdd.org

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.

Email: josborn@pm.noacsc.org

Chloe Rothschild

Chloe Rothschild is a young adult who has PDD-NOS. She enjoys using her talent and love for writing to raise awareness about autism. Rothschild is on the PSA for the Autism Society and on OCALI's advisory board. 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.

Email: chloerothschildasd@gmail.com

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 15 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. He 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. He serves on the OCALI advisory board.

Email: shortw@marshall.edu

Jerod Smalley

NBC 4 Columbus

Jerod Smalley has served as Sports Director for NBC4 since 2006. Jerod 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.

Email: jsmalley@wcmh.com

Sarah Walker

Region 2 SST

Email: walker@esclc.org

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. She 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 in the main character in the film The Leprechaun's Wife.

Email: hfa2@yahoo.com

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 and serves on the OCALI Advisory Board.

Email: jacquie.wynn@nationwidechildrens.org

Barb Yavorcik

Barb Yavorcik is the former Executive Director. She has also served as president and secretary of the Autism Society of Northwest Ohio. Appointed as the chair of the Advisory Board for the OCALI in 2005, Yavorcik also served as chair of the Ohio Autism Coalition. She was active in public policy for the ASO. She served on a committee of the legislatively created Ohio Autism Task Force and the steering committee creating the Autism Service Guidelines. Barb is the parent of an adult son with autism.

Email: byavorcik@gmail.com

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 Jon as "Parent of the Year" in 2004.

Email: delawarepete@columbus.rr.com

OCALI Advisory Board - Ex-Officio

Melissa Bacon


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.

Email: melissa_bacon@ocali.org