Presenter Bios

Stacy Abrams, MA

Stacy Abrams is the Project Manager of Early Intervention at the Laurent Clerc National Deaf Education Center on the campus of Gallaudet University in Washington, D.C. She grew up in Arkansas with a deaf sister and hearing parents. She earned her bachelor’s degree from Gallaudet University and her master’s degree from the University of California, Santa Barbara, with the intention of working with hearing families with deaf and hard of hearing children. For five years, she taught deaf and hard of hearing students in both mainstreamed and deaf schools. She served as Deaf Mentor Program coordinator at the New Mexico School for the Deaf and the Arizona State Schools for the Deaf and the Blind for 10 years. She currently serves on the Joint Committee on Infant Hearing. Her passion for connecting families with the community on their signing journey led to her developing a social awareness campaign, #whyisign. The aim is for families to become inspired by seeing individuals share their reasons for signing. She and her husband are the proud parents of two bilingual deaf teens who attend Model Secondary School for the Deaf.

Deborah Aldridge

Deborah (Deb) is the Director of Early Intervention Services at TriCounty AID. She received a Home Economics/Food and Nutrition degree from the University of Alabama. She worked as a dietician for nursing homes and as the Child Nutrition Director for Winfield City Schools for 27 years. Upon retirement Deb worked as a Service Coordinator for TriCounty Agency for Intellectual Disabilities/Early Intervention. She was responsible for overseeing all data entry/compliance for the agency as well as working as a full-time Service Coordinator. In 2012 she became the director of Early Intervention services for TriCounty AID.  Deb’s hobbies include gardening, reading and cooking. She enjoys spending time with her granddaughter and grandson.

April Baker, MS

April Baker is the lead Speech-Language Pathologist for Autauga County Schools. She has been in the preschool world since starting with Autauga County in 2005. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Communication Disorders and a master’s degree in Early Childhood Special Education both from Auburn University Montgomery.

Natalie Baldwin, MCD, CCC-SLP/LSLS Cert. AVT

Natalie Orona Baldwin is a Speech-Language Pathologist and Listening and Spoken Language Certified Auditory-Verbal Therapist. She received her undergraduate and graduate degrees in the field of Communication Disorders from Auburn University. Throughout her career, Natalie has helped hundreds of children and their families achieve spoken language. She has worked in a variety of settings including a multidisciplinary cochlear implant team, outpatient clinics, spoken language preschool, GA public schools and the private school setting. She has extensive knowledge in treatment of children with Hearing Loss/Cochlear Implants, Autism, Cerebral Palsy, Down Syndrome, as well as a variety of other developmental delays. Natalie has served as an Auditory-Verbal Therapy mentor to graduate student interns, teachers of the deaf, and Speech-Language Pathologists who serve hearing impaired students with cochlear implants in the school setting. She has presented at many professional conferences and enjoys advocating for families to access listening and spoken language services for their children. While working at the Children’s of Alabama Hospital, Natalie was one of the founding members of the WISE school in Birmingham, AL. Natalie works with WISE in the development and leadership of the parent advocacy group, The WISE family NEST.

Virginia Bjorklund

Virginia Bjorklund was a special education teacher working with students with significant behavior difficulties before becoming a Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) for Mobile County Schools in 2022. While she taught in various elementary settings, preschool was where she spent most of her time and where her passion lies. When she is not working, you can find her spending time with her three dogs, reading, or baking.

Shelia Bolling, MS

Sheila Bolling is an Education Specialist with the Alabama State Department of Education (ALSDE), Division of Instruction, Special Education Services. She holds a bachelor’s degree of education Speech Communications Disorders and a master’s degree in Collaborative Special Education from Auburn University at Montgomery. She has worked as a school-based Speech-Language Pathologist for 25 years with ten years of experience in the field of assistive technology. She is the special education contact for Indicator 12 Early Intervention to Preschool Transition.

Amy Brakenhoff

Amy Brakenhoff works with the Alabama Department of Early Childhood Education. She is a mentor coach who serves as the Conscious Discipline State Lead, serving children birth to eight years old, and the adults who support them. Amy also specializes in working with children with challenging behaviors. She is a member of the Alabama Department of Early Childhood Education CONNECT Team. Seeing the best in others and supporting their strengths is Amy’s passion and expertise. Linking brain research with strategies that support executive function, while helping others understand the why behind it all is the goal of her work.

Emily Burkhalter, MS, CCC-SLP

Emily Burkhalter is a Speech-Language Pathologist in Auburn, Alabama. She graduated with her bachelor’s degree from Auburn University Montgomery and with her master’s degree from The University of Montevallo. She currently works at RehabWorks Opelika serving the pediatric population from ages one to sixteen. Her areas of interest are early language, augmentative and alternative communication (AAC), and speech sound disorders.

Kameron Carden, Ph.D., CCC/SLP, LSLS Cert. AVEd.

Dr. Kameron Carden has over 15 years of experience working with children who are deaf/hard of hearing as a speech-language pathologist and listening and spoken language specialist. She has taught in oral preschool programs, served children and their families through early intervention, and provided outreach services to students and their teachers in public school settings throughout the state of Alabama. Kameron is currently serving as a research associate in the Department of Psychology at the University of Alabama. Additionally, she is an adjunct instructor at Samford University in the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders, where she teaches rehabilitative audiology. Kameron is a board member of the Division for Communication, Language, and Deaf/Hard of Hearing (DCD) of the Council for Exceptional Children (CEC) and the National Joint Committee on Learning Disabilities (NJCLD). She also serves on Alabama’s Special Education Advisory Panel (SEAP) as a parent of a child with hearing loss. Her research interests include oral language development and ecologically valid language assessment practices for preschoolers who are deaf/hard of hearing using listening and spoken language.

Felicia Carswell, MS

Felicia Carswell started in Early Intervention as a District Early Intervention Coordinator in 2011. She was promoted to a state monitor in 2015 and is currently the Assistant Director of Alabama’s Early Intervention System, which she has held the position since 2020. She is originally from Georgia and has worked with various populations, such as delinquent youths, inpatient mental health services with adults, special education services, advocacy services for Head Start, and abuse and neglect through human resources. She earned her Bachelor of Science in Psychology and a Master of Education in Special Education. She enjoys reading and spending her time with her husband and children.

Candy Chatman

Candy Chatman currently serves as the Center Director for Head Start in Limestone County for (CAPNA). She has worked in the Early Childhood field for many years. She has served as a teacher, mother, and mentor. She is the proud parent of children with disabilities.

Linda Check

Linda Check is a special education preschool teacher at Kate Shepard Elementary School in Mobile, Alabama. She received her Bachelor’s degree in K-6 Elementary Education and Special Education. She has volunteered at Dance Without Limits (a dance company inclusively for children and adults with varying special needs) for the past seven years and Camp SMILE (residential summer camp for individuals with disabilities and their siblings) for the last 12 years. These experiences have had a profound impact on both her personal life and philosophies of teaching. She is passionate about every aspect of inclusion and hopes to inspire her students to want to become life-long learners and kind, compassionate, and accepting human beings.

Sandee Coker, OTD, OT/L

Sandee Owen Coker OTD, OT/L has been providing services to infants and toddlers and their families through the Alabama Early intervention System for over 30 years. She received a Bachelor of Science degree in Occupational Therapy from the University of Alabama in Birmingham in 1980 and her Post Professional Doctorate in Occupational Therapy from Rocky Mountain University of Health Professions in 2018. Dr. Coker is employed as an Occupational Therapist with the Arc of Shelby County.

Barbara Connolly PT, DPT, EdD, FAPTA

Barbara Connolly received her BS degree in Physical Therapy from the University of Florida; a Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) degree from the University of Tennessee; a MEd degree in special education and EdD in curriculum and instruction from the University of Memphis. She is a Professor Emeritus at the University of Tennessee Health Sciences Center having served as Chair of the PT Department and Dean of the College of Allied Health Sciences. She was President of the International Organization of Physical Therapists in Pediatrics (2007-2015) and currently is Secretary. She served as President and Trustee of the Foundation for Physical Therapy (APTA). She also has served on the APTA Board of Directors and was President of the APTA Section on Pediatrics for 2 terms. She has received honors for service, leadership, research, and mentorship from the APTA and the Section on Pediatrics. She is a Catherine Worthingham Fellow of the APTA. She is the first author of more than 32 peer reviewed publications, has written 21 book chapters and has coauthored or edited eight textbooks for physical therapists. Her latest book “Therapeutic Exercise in the Development Disabilities 4th Ed” was published in 2020.

Michelle Creekmore

Michelle has worked in Early Intervention (EI) for over 23 years. She has held many positions within EI including Developmental Specialist, Vendor, Service Coordinator, and is now the Program Director of Early Childhood Services with The Arc of Madison County. She also continues to provide Service Coordination to EI families.

Kierstin Cusumano

Kierstin received her master’s degree in special education from Samford University. She has a bachelor’s in kinesiology and is passionate about blending her knowledge of kinesiology and teaching in her classroom. At the Bell Center she serves as an Early Childhood Special Education Teacher to children ages 0-3. Prior to her work at The Bell Center, Kierstin worked in Homewood City Schools as a special education teacher for two years. She is passionate about helping families play and learn together in early intervention.

Stacey Daugherty, LICSW, IMH-E

Stacey Daugherty is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and endorsed as an Infant Mental Health specialist. She worked in the field of child welfare over 16 years, with much of that time being in a therapeutic foster care treatment setting. She has worked as an Infant/Early Childhood Mental Health Consultant since 2017. Stacey has provided consultation and reflective support to providers and caregivers working with young children in a variety of settings, including First Class Pre-K, Head Start, Early Intervention, home visiting, and primary medical care. Stacey joined the Alabama Department of Mental Health as a consultant in January 2020. Stacey also serves as a hub team member for the Pediatric Access to Telemental Health Services (PATHS) program, providing behavioral health consultation and professional development to primary care practices throughout the state.

Samantha Davidson, LBSW

Samantha is the Regional Project Coordinator with United Cerebral Palsy of Mobile’s Childcare Enhancement with a Purpose program. She received her Bachelor’s degree in Social Work from the University of Alabama at Birmingham. Through the mission of Childcare Enhancement with a Purpose, Samantha is able to teach early educators inclusive strategies and methods to improve classrooms for all children. She firmly believes that early childhood inclusion lays the foundation to build a more accepting society for children and adults with disabilities.

Mary Drayton

Mary provides administrative support to the Early Head Start Program. Mary is a native of Dothan, Al and has worked with children and families for over 16 years. Mary received her BS degree in Early Childhood Interdisciplinary Studies from Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia. Mary developed a strong sense of love for community and family relations after she had to raise four sons as a single mom. Mary’s life experiences gave her a deep appreciation for family and community service. Mary’s ultimate goal is to help children develop and grow and also to help families improve their quality of life by offering them opportunities to improve their outcomes. Mary also serves as President of the Houston Henry County Association of Service Agency a non-profit agency that partner with all non-profits in Houston and Henry Counties to share information about upcoming events.

Kathryn Duncan

Kathryn Duncan serves as Outreach Provider for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (D/HH).  She holds a Bachelor of Arts in both Deaf Education and Elementary Education from Lenoir- Rhyne University.  She has also earned a Master of Arts in Rehabilitation Counseling from the University of Alabama and an Education Specialist degree in School Psychology from the University of Alabama at Birmingham.  Kathryn served at the Alabama School for the Deaf as middle/high school counselor and School Psychologist for 22 years prior to moving to the D/HH Outreach department. 

Kelli Ellis, MS, CCC-SLP, LSLS Cert AVT

Kelli Ellis is a Speech-Language Pathologist and Listening and Spoken Language Specialist / Certified Auditory-Verbal Therapist. She attended Auburn University, where she earned an undergraduate degree in Communication Disorders and graduate degree in Speech/Language Pathology. She started her journey toward Auditory-Verbal Therapy as a teacher for children with hearing loss in an oral resource classroom. Kelli has continued to serve in Early Intervention, schools, and outpatient clinic settings in Alabama and Tennessee. She worked with the Early Hearing Detection and Intervention (EHDI) regional task force and served with the Tennessee Department of Health Advisory Council for the Newborn Screening Follow-up Program in 2020. Kelli has over 20 years of experience in the evaluation and treatment of children with hearing loss and other developmental needs. Kelli joined the WISE team in 2020 and is passionate about access to listening and spoken language services for children with hearing concerns.

David M Finn, EdD

Dr. Finn is a long-time early interventionist and professor of special education and has been actively engaged in building effective programs for children who have special needs for decades. He is a frequent presenter and Keynote speaker at home and abroad, particularly across the Pacific Basin and in the Middle East. His publications cover a variety of topics including family issues, assessment tools and autism.

Debra Florea

Debra is the Early Intervention Coordinator for the Alabama Department of Mental Health. She has worked in the Early Intervention field for 14 years and started as a service coordinator. Debra has extensive experience in outcomes training using the Routines-Based Interview model. She graduated from the University of South Alabama with a BA in psychology.

Cindy Florence, MA

Cindy graduated from Auburn University with a Bachelor of Science degree in Early Childhood Special Education. She then acquired a master’s degree in Specific Learning Disabilities with an interest in student behaviors from UAB. Cindy taught special education at the elementary school level with Jefferson County Schools from 1994 to 2015, prior to joining The Bell Center in 2015. When you ask Cindy why she became a special education teacher, she credits a little boy named Patrick, who showed her how to bring happiness into the lives of others. When not teaching at The Bell Center, Cindy enjoys spending time rescuing and transporting animals with her husband of 25 years. She has a heart for helping any soul in need of love and attention. If Cindy were to describe her perfect evening, it would include eating pizza while watching a Hallmark movie with her college age daughter, husband, and personal collection of cats and dogs.

Stephanie Frucci Bear, EdS, CCC-SLP

Stephanie is a Speech-Language Pathologist employed as an Education Specialist for the Alabama State Department of Education (ALSDE) in Special Education Services, focusing on preschool special education, speech-language impairment, English Learners with special needs, and technical assistance. She is the special education contact for Region 10, southwest Alabama. Prior to joining ALSDE in 2014, she served as a Speech-Language Pathologist in schools in Alabama and Georgia for fifteen years, with the last thirteen primarily with preschool-aged children.

Nancy Gardner, OTR/L

Nancy Gardner, OTR/L is the Director of United Ability’s Early Intervention Program and Related Therapies. She is a pediatric Occupational Therapist with over 40 years of experience in Early Intervention (EI) with a strong emphasis on family/caregiver engagement and relationships. During her tenure at United Ability, the EI program has grown from serving 70 families to 430 families a month encompassing a five county area. She has served in many capacities in EI – “case manager,” provider, supervisor, director, advocate, and cheerleader.

Holly Glasgow

Holly Glasgow has been teaching at Shelton State Community College since 2012. Holly has a Bachelor’s Degree in Child Development/Early Childhood Education and a Master’s Degree in Early Childhood Special Education. She has been involved in a variety of early education as a teacher or director in state- or locally-funded pre-k, privately-owned childcare centers, HeadStart, faith-based school-age programs for at-risk students, inclusion classrooms, and the local school system. This variety of experience is one of the things that led Holly to Shelton. She is a firm believer that quality teachers have quality education and quality experience.

Wendi Glass, MS

Wendi Glass is the Coordinator of RISE Autism at the Alabama Institute for Deaf and Blind. Wendi has a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from the University of Alabama at Birmingham and a Master’s degree in Public Service Management from Cumberland University in Tennessee. For the past nine years, Wendi has been working with students with multiple disabilities, autism, and/or deaf-blindness, using an individual approach to provide interventions and strategies to support students, their families, and school personnel. Her background also includes working with children and families to preserve child home placement, support family reunification, and provide rehabilitation services to juvenile offenders.

Kristie Hamby, IMH-E

Kristie Hamby provides and oversees the disability services for Community Action Partnership of North Alabama in the Children Services department. She has a BS-Psychology/Social Psychology, AS- Social Work, and AS- Mental Health. Kristie has 25 years’ experience providing services to children and families in crisis as director of a domestic violence shelter, facilitator of children’s abuse group meetings, Court Referral Officer, a DHR contracted child/family case manager and manager of group home for hard to place children. Her training includes preschool inclusion, early intervention and inclusion, autism, LEA special education requirements and behavior management. She is an ASQ trainer, has a certificate in Special Education Advocacy from PELE Institute from William and Mary Law School, and has an Infant Mental Health Family Associate Endorsement from First5 Alabama (Alliance for the advancement of Infant Mental Health).

Kendall Hampton

Kendall Hampton is a Certified Pediatric Sleep Consultant and Founder of Rested Families, LLC which offers pediatric sleep support to families in the Huntsville, Alabama area, but virtually anywhere. She coaches parents to implement healthy sleep habits and teach their children independent sleep skills, so families achieve the quality sleep they need to thrive. Kendall earned her bachelor’s from the College of Human Environmental Sciences at The University of Alabama in 2003 with a major in Human Development and Family Studies and a concentration in Child Life. She enjoyed her experience working as a Child Life Specialist, Parent Educator, and Developmental Specialist, but decided to turn her focus to sleep because she witnessed how crucial it is to child development and the entire family’s health and well-being. She specializes in providing sleep coaching to caregivers of children with challenging temperaments and developmental disabilities, especially autism. She also serves as an Autism Mentor for Alabama’s Early Intervention Autism Initiative.

Kristin B. Helms, OTD, OTR/L 

Kristin Helms is a pediatric Occupational Therapist at Foundations Pediatric Therapy. She received her bachelor’s degree in Exercise Science in 2009 from Auburn University and continued her academics at Belmont University, receiving a Doctorate in Occupational Therapy. She has been a pediatric occupational therapist in Dothan, AL since graduating from Occupational Therapy school in 2012. Kristin and her husband, Jake, are the proud owners of Foundations Pediatric Therapy, with outpatient locations in Dothan and Enterprise, AL. Foundations also serve the Wiregrass area through Early Intervention and local school contracts. Jake and Kristin have two children, Brandt (7) and Hallie Kate (4), who keep them busy. They are active members at Dothan First United Methodist Church, and Kristin is a member of the Junior League of the Wiregrass and Dothan Area Young Professionals.

Amy Hess

Amy is currently a Teacher of the Visually Impaired and Orientation and Mobility Specialist at the Callahan School for the Deaf and Blind. Amy has been working with sensory impaired students for over twenty-three years and still loves the challenge of figuring out best practice for students with diverse needs.

Kimberly Hile, PhD

Dr. Kimberly Hile is an assistant professor in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction at the University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH). She coordinates the Early Childhood Education/Early childhood Special Education undergraduate degree program. She has over 20 years of experience supporting young children, with and without disabilities, as well as their families in a variety of capacities including early care and education teacher, Part C Early Intervention Service Coordinator, and Part C developmental therapist. Her research interests focus on personnel preparation, implementing family-centered practices to support effective collaborations between families caring for young children with disabilities and early childhood special education professionals, and the inclusion of young children with disabilities.

Jennifer Hill

Jennifer is an Inclusion Consultant with United Cerebral Palsy’s Childcare Enhancement with a Purpose (CCEP) program. She is a graduate of the University of Alabama, and holds Elementary Education K-6 teacher certifications in Florida and Alabama. Before joining the CCEP program, she was an early elementary teacher for almost ten years, having taught both general education and special education inclusion classes during that time. Jennifer is passionate about inclusion and ensuring that all children receive equal opportunities in the classroom and beyond.

Jamie Hill, NCC, LPC, ECMH-E

Jamie Hill is an Alabama native and Licensed Professional Counselor specializing in child mental health and child trauma. For the past 25 years, she has worked with children and adolescents in a variety of settings, including public schools, community mental health, child advocacy centers and inpatient psychiatric care. She is a nationally certified counselor and endorsed as an Early Childhood Family Specialist through First 5 Alabama. In 2020, Jamie began working as an Infant/Early Childhood Mental Health Consultant with the Alabama Department of Mental Health. She provides consultation in various settings across central Alabama, including preschools, Early Intervention programs, and the Lovelady Center.

Vanessa Hinton, PhD

Dr. Vanessa Hinton is a clinical professor at Auburn University in the Department of Special Education, Rehabilitation, and Counseling. She collaborates with the Alabama Department of Rehabilitation Services and the Department of Early Childhood Education. Her research interests include evidence-based tele-practice methodology and mathematics instructional research for children with mathematics disabilities.

Stephanie Holderby

Stephanie Holderby currently serves as the Chief Program Officer for United Ability in Birmingham Alabama. She has 25 years of management experience in the service industry, retail, and healthcare. She feels privileged to have served as manager for a single program of five people to multiple departments and businesses of 550+. She has had responsibility for more than $25M in revenues annually and over $100M in project development and partnerships. She is an ongoing learner and participates in leadership development, employee engagement, mentorship, and consumer engagement training programs. She is locally and nationally recognized.

Liz Huntley

Elizabeth “Liz” Huntley is an accomplished litigation attorney, dedicated child advocate, author and lecturer. Liz is the President and Co-Founder of the Hope Institute which is an organization in Alabama that helps schools build a culture of character for their students. She practices law at Lightfoot, Franklin & White, LLC in Birmingham, Alabama. Liz earned her law degree from the University Of Alabama School of Law where she now serves on the Law School Foundation Board of Governors. She received her undergraduate degree from Auburn University, where she is now a member of the Auburn University Board of Trustees. Liz serves on multiple civic boards, commissions, and tasks forces throughout Alabama and the country. She regularly speaks to groups throughout the U.S., often referencing her own journey as described in her published memoir titled “More Than a Bird.” Liz and her husband Tony live in Alabama and have three children.

Mandy Irby, LMSW

Mandy Irby is a therapist for Joy Works counseling. Mandy is passionate about helping families navigate the needs that we all have, particularly those who have fostered or adopted. She has counseling families to help with behaviors, attachment needs, and other mental health challenges. Her focus is trauma-informed and strengths-based. Through trauma-informed care and strengths-based approaches, she has helped strengthened relationships. Mandy is a foster/adoptive parent and offers real-life experience in parenting special needs children. Mandy has received specialized training in TraumaPlay, a play therapy approach developed for children who have experienced extreme stress related to maltreatment, trauma experiences, or other abrupt changes.

Ashley Isbell

Ashley is a highly trained preschool special educator and life-long learner. She is currently completing her training as an Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) interventionist while managing a very busy inclusive preschool class in Leeds. One of her most impressive skills is how she has carefully built an interactive team where role-release practices are evident.

Ukawia Johnson, LMSW

Ukawia currently works as a Family Education Trainer with the Regional Early Acquisition of Language Project (REAL) at the Alabama Institute of Deaf and Blind. Ukawia provides support and consultation to multiple states in the South. She is a licensed Master Level Social Worker who specializes in children, adolescents, and families. Most recently, Ukawia received a Collaboration and Leadership Interdisciplinary Graduate Certificate in Deaf and Hard of Hearing Infants, Toddlers, and their Families from Gallaudet University in Washington, D.C. For many years Ukawia has worked with families to help identify strengths and areas of need as well as providing activities and strategies to help them reach their goals. Ukawia is a volunteer and community board member with Youth for Christ/Deaf Teen Quest and a member of the Alabama State Board of Social Work Examiners (Governor Appointed position). Additionally, Ukawia is an active participant in her state’s quarterly Early Hearing Detection and Intervention (EHDI) advisory meetings. Ukawia has two sons. Her oldest is hearing and her youngest is “Deaf plus”. Ukawia believes families should have continued guidance and support to ensure the family’s overall success.

Hannah Kennedy, PhD

Dr. Hannah Kennedy has 10 years of experience serving children and families in the fields of Early Childhood Education and Early Childhood Special Education. She has served as General Education and Special Education teacher for students in a variety of inclusive early childhood settings. In her current role as Assistant Professor in Teacher Education, she has the opportunity to share her passion for child development theory, developmentally appropriate practices, and inclusive education in the Early Childhood setting. Dr. Kennedy holds a PhD in Early Childhood Education, MEd in Early Childhood Special Education, and a BA in Communicative Disorders & Early Childhood Education.

Frankie Kietzman, EdS

Frankie Kietzman is a Manager of Educational Relationships for STAGES® Learning with experience teaching as a general and special education teacher and as an autism specialist. Frankie also serves as one of her brother’s legal guardians, who is deaf and autistic. Frankie has a Bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education and Master’s degrees in High and Low Incidence Disabilities and Advanced Leadership in Special Education. She has spoken at SXSW EDU and across the country.

Jennifer L. Kilgo, PhD

Dr. Jennifer L. Kilgo is a University Professor and Coordinator of the Graduate Program in Early Intervention/Early Childhood Special Education (EI/ECSE) at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB). Jennifer’s focus at UAB is on interdisciplinary preparation of professionals representing multiple disciplines. She has published widely in EI/ECSE and has presented at national conferences, as well as has served in national leadership positions through the Division of Early Childhood (DEC). She has worked with young children with delays and disabilities, families, and other community stakeholders throughout her career as an early interventionist, special educator, and professor at the University of Hawaii, Virginia Commonwealth University, and UAB.

Carol Koch, EdD, CCC-SLP, ASHA Fellow, BCS-CL

Carol Koch, EdD, CCC-SLP is a Professor at Samford University. Much of her clinical work has been in early intervention, with a focus on children with autism spectrum disorder and children with severe speech sound disorders, including childhood apraxia of speech. Her research and teaching interests have also encompassed early phonological development, speech sound disorders, and CAS. She has been honored as an ASHA Fellow and is a Board Certified Specialist in Child Language. Recently, Dr. Koch published a textbook, Clinical Management of Speech Sound Disorders: A Case-Based Approach. She is also a co-author of the Contrast Cues for Speech and Literacy and the “Box of” set of cues for articulation therapy and the Box of /ɹ/ Screener and Facilitating Contexts through Bjorem Speech Publications.

Jane Lamb

Jane Lamb received her master’s degree in speech-language pathology from the University of Montevallo in 1994. Prior to her work at The Bell Center (TBC), Jane worked in adult rehab, private practice and a school system. Jane was introduced to The Bell Center in 2005 when Graham, her youngest of three boys was born with Down syndrome. She joined the staff of TBC in 2009 as one of the Speech-Language Pathologists. During her time at TBC she has presented at the state early intervention conference on literacy. Jane has been trained as an SOS (Sequential Oral Sensory) therapist. In 2021 Jane assumed the position of Program Director at The Bell Center. It has been an honor to serve as primary and often first contact for families who attend TBC.

Sara MIzerany Lemons

Sara Lemons is an Early Childhood Special Education Teacher at The Bell Center (TBC) for Early Intervention. This will be Sara’s fifth year teaching at TBC. Prior to teaching at TBC, Sara has experience as a paraprofessional in the public school system and experience teaching at a nonprofit for children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Sara received her undergraduate degree in Exercise Science from The University of Alabama and her Master’s Degree in Early Childhood Special Education from The University of Alabama at Birmingham. Her professional interests include using visuals and positive reinforcements to decrease behavior, sign language to increase communication, and manipulatives (concrete objects that children can explore) to make books come alive.

Jessica Letson

Jessica Letson is the Assistant Director of Early Intervention, United Ability. She has served in multiple positions with United Ability including intake coordinator for Early Intervention, intake and billing for outpatient therapy, and Early Intervention Service Coordinator. Jessica assists with daily operations for the Early Intervention program serving over 430 families each month. She supervises 12 Service Coordinators and support staff.

Rachel Lunsford, MS, CCC-SLP

Rachel Lunsford received her Master’s Degree from the University of South Alabama in 1999 and began working in the Mobile County Public School System the same year. Her primary focus for the past 19 years has been with the preschool population. She is a licensed Speech-Language Pathologist in the state of Alabama and has her Certificate of Clinical Competence from ASHA. Rachel has been married for 26 years and has one son and two daughters.

Katie Malone, MCD, CCC-SLP

Katie Malone is a Speech-Language Pathologist with the Fort Payne City School system. She was a former LEND trainee at the UAB Sparks Clinics in 2013-2014, a speaker at the Simpson-Ramsey Symposium in 2022, and received the Fred J. Biasini Outstanding Former Trainee award in 2022. She is happily married and a mom to three beautiful children, with her oldest being diagnosed with a rare genetic syndrome called Trisomy 13. Her name is Nora. Since Nora tested positive for Trisomy 13 at 20 weeks gestation, she has fought an uphill battle for her to receive the care she deserves. Katie hopes that by being both a professional and a mom to a severe developmentally delayed child, she can help prove if a professional assesses before they assume and has a positive outlook during evaluations and treatments, it can save and/or change a child’s life.

Mallory Manning, MS, CCC-SLP

Mallory has been a licensed Speech-Language Pathologist for over a decade. She graduated from The University of Alabama with Bachelor and Master degrees in Communication Disorders. She is the owner of Discovery Speech Therapy LLC, a private speech therapy clinic, in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, which specializes in the evaluation and treatment of pediatric feeding and communication disorders. She also serves Early Intervention families under Community Service Programs of West Alabama. Mallory is an approved vendor for the Disability Determination Service for communication evaluations. In addition, Mallory is an autism mentor through the Part C: Autism Initiative Project and conducts and speaks at learning collaboratives across the state. When she isn’t “getting paid to play,” you’ll find her cruising around T-town (Tuscaloosa) in her mommy mobile with husband Mitch, and their two kiddos Sammie Jo (3) and Trace (1).

Amie Martin, LMSW, MEd

Amie serves as the Program Manager for Every Step, the Maternal, Infant, and Child Wellness Project with VitAL Alabama and is a therapist at Joy Works Counseling. She received her master’s in social work from the University of Alabama, master’s in special education from National University, California, and a bachelor’s in social work from Kansas State University. She has 20 years of experience working with families and children in the areas of mental health, the juvenile court system, and domestic violence as well as investigations, reunification, and extended foster care for the child welfare system in San Diego, CA. She previously worked as a therapist with Baldwin County Child Advocacy Center, as a case manager for a residential facility serving individuals who had traumatic brain injuries, and as a parent educator for a dual diagnosis residential treatment facility. She has a passion for working with children as well as families (pre-conception through the early parenting years) supporting parent-child bonding, mental health, and child development. For fun, she has taught Zumbini early childhood music and movement classes and Groovaroo Babywearing Line Dancing. Amie resides in Fairhope, Alabama and enjoys hiking and traveling with her family.

Tracy Martin, MS, CCC-SLP

Tracy Martin received her Master of Science degree from the University of South Alabama and has been a Speech-Language Pathologist for 23 years. She has spent the majority of her career working with the birth-five population in Early Intervention and in the public schools. She currently works with the Special Education Preschool Department of the Mobile County Public School System. Tracy has been married for 26 years and has a son and two daughters.

Anna Ruth McCalley, OT

Anna Ruth graduated from UAB in 2006 with a Masters in Occupational Therapy. She worked at The Bell Center for 6 years before taking on a role in the care of cardiac infants at Children’s of Alabama both the ICU and step down units. She has been treating infants and toddlers with congenital heart disease for 10 years in the inpatient setting. She is primarily an Early Intervention provider, with part time work still dedicated to work with infants at Children’s of Alabama. Anna Ruth has specialty training in neonatal and infant feeding and is certified in neonatal touch/massage.

Ragan McLeod, PhD

Ragan McLeod began her career teaching general and special education classes in a public PreK – fifth grade school in Arlington, Virginia. After teaching for six years, she returned to Vanderbilt University to obtain her PhD in special education with an early childhood focus. Ragan has coached pre-service and in-service teachers to implement effective practices in early childhood classrooms and currently develops materials and provides training and technical assistance related to Practice-Based Coaching for the Head Start National Center on Early Childhood Development, Teaching and Learning (NCEDTL). She is an Associate Professor and coordinator of the early childhood special education program at the University of Alabama in the Special Education and Multiple Abilities department. Her research foci are language and literacy interventions for young children at risk and professional development to support teachers to implement evidence-based practices.

Candi Milcznski

Candi Milcznski hails from Decatur, AL. She attended and graduated from Illinois School for the Deaf). She studied in Elementary Education and Educational Leadership. She has more than ten years in deaf education field (three years classroom teacher and eight years as a school administrator). She worked at New Mexico School for the Deaf, Louisiana School for the Deaf, and St. Joseph’s School for the Deaf. She is currently working as the Gallaudet University Regional Center Director for the South Region. She also does a lot of community work related to Deaf Education and Childhood Development with professionals, families, and children.

Kimberly Moon, MS

Kimberly Moon holds both a BA degree from Lenoir-Rhyne University and MS in Deaf Education from Lamar University. She is certified in Alabama to teach Deaf Education K-12, and additionally holds a certification as a School Library-Media Specialist. Kimberly has worked at Alabama Institute for Deaf and Blind (AIDB) since August 1996 and has served as an elementary, middle school, high school, and Career Technical Education teacher. Since 2007, she worked at Alabama School for the Deaf as the K-12 Library Media Specialist, later transitioning to AIDB’s Health and Clinical Services Department to serve as Outreach Provider for Deaf and Hard of Hearing.

Mary Beth Moses, PT, MS, PCS, NTMTC

Mary Beth Moses is a Physical Therapist who has been practicing in the area of pediatrics and Early Intervention for 34 years. She received her Master’s of Science Degree in Physical Therapy from The University of Alabama Birmingham and is a Specialist Certified in Pediatric Physical Therapy by the American Board of Physical Therapy Specialists since 1994. She is Neonatal Touch & Massage Therapist Certified and is certified in Dynamic Movement Intervention. Mary Beth has worked in school systems, Early Intervention programs, outpatient physical therapy and gait analysis. She has worked with programs such as the ARC of Shelby County, Children’s of Alabama, and is currently employed full time by The Bell Center for Early Intervention Programs. Mary Beth was Adjunct Faculty at UAB teaching classes on walking, gait analysis, and pediatric treatment from 1995-2003, and taught as Adjunct Faculty teaching pediatric content at Samford University from 2016-2021. She has participated in research projects related to Identifying abnormal movement patterns in Very Low Birth Weight Infants, and Gait Analysis and Treatment of Children with Cerebral Palsy. She has also presented on a variety of topics related to Pediatric Physical Therapy at Alabama Physical Therapy Conferences and Alabama Early Intervention Conferences.

Susanne Napp

Susanne Napp is a special education teacher. She received her undergraduate degree from Auburn University in the field of Early Childhood Special Education and completed her Masters at the University of South Alabama in the same field. She has been teaching for 15 years. She has worked in Early Intervention as a Service Coordinator, evaluator, and Special Instructor. She has taught self-contained, resource, and full inclusion. This is her eighth year teaching Pre-K and she currently teaches Preschool Special Ed at Griggs Elementary in Mobile. She finds it rewarding to see children come to her class at three years of age with very few skills, and leave a few years later ready for Kindergarten. Susanne believes that all children, regardless of their needs, have the ability to learn. It may look different than everyone else, but should still be celebrated!

Courtney O’Grady PhD

Dr. Courtney O’Grady is an Assistant Professor in Early Childhood Special Education (ECSE) at the University of Alabama in the Special Education and Multiple Abilities department. Dr. O’Grady earned her PhD in Special Education from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. Her research promotes anti-racist and anti-ableist practices in ECSE. She taught in inclusive, diverse preschool settings for 10 years, and was recognized for her teaching with the Joliet Area Great Teacher’s Award. After receiving her master’s degree in ECSE, Dr. O’Grady completed additional graduate work in English as a New Language. She currently serves as a co-chair of the Inclusion, Equity, and Social Justice (IESJ) Committee of the Division of Early Childhood (DEC) of the Council for Exceptional Children (CEC).

Jennifer Oldenburg, MA, TVI

Jennifer Oldenburg serves as the Deafblind Trainer for the Center for Assistive Technology Training (CATT) and Regional Early Acquisition of Language (REAL) programs at Alabama Institute for Deaf and Blind (AIDB). Jennifer began her career at AIDB in 1996, she taught at Helen Keller School until 2017 when she was named Lead Outreach Provider for Deafblind Services for AIDB as well as Coordinator of the Alabama Initiative for Children and Youth who are Deafblind. During her time serving in this role, she traveled the state of Alabama providing technical assistance, observations, and resources to families, teachers, and students who are deafblind. In the fall of 2022, Jennifer accepted her current position as Deafblind Trainer for CATT and the REAL Program in Special Projects. Jennifer’s Educational background included Bachelors of Education with SLP Endorsement from Auburn University. Her Master’s Degree in Education from UAB with her certification in Visual Impairments.

Paula Peacock

Paula Peacock received her Degrees in Exceptional Education from the University of Alabama and taught 25 years in Tuscaloosa County before becoming a part of the Statewide (CCEP) Team. She and her “side kick” Renelda Windham serve nine counties in the West Alabama area as they provide training and technical assistance to enhance the inclusion of all children in early child care environments.

Dianna Havard Penn, MS, CCC-SLP

Dianna Havard Penn, MS, CCC-SLP serves as a Speech-Language Pathologist for Children’s Rehabilitation Service, a division of Alabama Department of Rehabilitation Service. She coordinates the Augmentative Communication Technology Clinics for the Montgomery and Opelika offices. She received her Bachelor of Science in Education (Speech Pathology) from Auburn University and her Master of Science in Communicative Sciences and Disorders from Alabama A&M. She holds the Certificate of Clinical Competence from ASHA and Alabama Licensure from ABESPA. She has over 25 years of experience working with individuals with Complex Communication Needs, including three years in Bulgaria, where she provided consultative services for local SLPs, established an AAC Resource Center and AAC Loaner Library. She enjoys investing in student clinicians and frequently presents at local universities on the use of AAC.

Tabitha Perry, MS

Tabitha Perry obtained her Bachelor of Social Work from the University of Montevallo. She began her working in Early Intervention (EI) in 2013 at as a Service Coordinator and Developmental Specialist at EIEIO in Prattville, AL. In 2015, she became a District EI Coordinator in Birmingham and obtained her Master of Education from American InterContinental University. In 2020, she began her work as an Early Intervention Program Monitor, a position that enables her to continue providing training and support to early interventionists across the state. Early Intervention is not just a profession, it’s ministry!

Danielle Peters, MS, OT/R

Danielle Peters is the owner of Bluebird Pediatric Therapy in Mobile, AL. She has a passion for helping children live full confident lives which is why she has dedicated her career to pediatric occupational therapy for the past 15 years. Through this career, she saw a great need for feeding therapists, which is why she decided to pursue further knowledge and training in this area and now specializes in feeding therapy. She is the Board President of UCP of Mobile and in her little bit of spare time enjoys time with her husband and children on their family farm.

Anna Peters, CTVI, NBCT

Anna Peters has over 25 years of teaching experience. She holds degrees in Elementary Education and Special Education – Visual Impairments. Anna is also a certified Psychometrist and a National Board Certified Teacher. She currently works in AIDB’s Outreach Program.

Valerie Pieraccini MS, OTR

Valerie Pieraccini MS, OTR is the Executive Director of Therapy and Early Learning and has practiced as a pediatric occupational therapist for over 30 years, working with children at United Cerebral Palsy of Central Arizona for 29 years. Valerie received her Bachelors and Masters in occupational therapy at Western Michigan University and A.T Still University respectively. She is a fellow of the American Academy for Cerebral Palsy and Developmental Medicine. Valerie is a co-chair for the UCP Nationals Research Committee, heading both UCP

Nationals Professional Learning Series committee and the UCP/ Cerebral Palsy Foundation Early Detection and Intervention Collaborative. She is the lead author of Handprints: Home Programs for Hand Skills and has lectured on children’s hand skills.

Wendy Pittard

Wendy has worked in the field of Early Intervention (EI) for over 15 years. She has held many positions within EI including Developmental Specialist, Service Coordinator, and District EI Coordinator. Wendy is currently the Autism Services Coordinator with The Arc of Madison County. She also continues to provide Service Coordination to EI families.

Melissa Pouncey, MS, CCC-SLP

Melissa Pouncey is an ASHA certified Speech-Language Pathologist with years of experience working with individuals with complex communication needs. She has served as an SLP at United Ability both in the Ability Care Clinic and in Early Intervention. Melissa trains family members as well as other professionals to incorporate both methods and activities to enhance the use of Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) in the life of individuals with complex communication. She currently serves the state of Alabama as the Consultant for PRC-Saltillo.

Kelley S. Prendergast, MS, CCC-SLP

Kelley S. Prendergast, MS, CCC-SLP, has more than 16 years of experience working in elementary schools, skilled nursing facilities, outpatient therapeutic settings, evaluation clinics, and Early Intervention systems. A graduate of Auburn University (B.S. Communication Disorders) and the University of South Alabama (M.S. Speech-Language Pathology), she is licensed by the Alabama Board of Examiners for Speech Pathology and Audiology in addition to holding the Certificate of Clinical Competence from the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association. For the past six years, she has worked as a Speech-Language Pathologist at Fort Novosel (formally Fort Rucker) with the Educational and Developmental Intervention Services (EDIS), where she serves as both a Service Coordinator and Speech-Language Pathologist. Additionally, she is Comprehensive System of Personnel Development (CSPD) certified as an EDIS Early Intervention Specialist within the Defense Health Agency and is trained using the Sequential Oral Sensory (SOS) feeding approach. She has advanced training, expertise, and interest focus in the fields of pediatric language development, pediatric feeding, and feeding disorders, and pediatric assessment and treatment using augmentative and alternative communication (AAC).

Tashia Purnell, M Ed

Tashia is an Inclusion Consultant with United Cerebral Palsy of Mobile’s Childcare Enhancement with a Purpose program. She is a native of Mobile, Alabama (Roll Tide) and she holds a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice from Faulkner University, Montgomery. She also has a Masters of Education in Elementary Education in which she obtained from Grand Canyon University in Arizona. Tashia has over 21 years in education, stretching from teaching in the Mobile County Public School System for over ten years to mentor, coaching and training daycare providers and other early childhood staff. Her motto is “Education is the foundation that builds great self- esteem and character no matter what the age.”

Nancy Raia

Nancy serves as the Community Outreach Director for the Eastern Shore Art Center, and works with students aged 3-103, all ages and abilities for 23 years. She is a teaching artist and award winning artist and has loved working in collaboration with Amy Hess for over twenty years! Nancy believes everyone is an artist, and their visual work can tell their story beautifully. It’s all about, letting your creativity out.

Pam Ramsey, MCD, CCC-SLP

Pamela is a Speech-Language Pathologist with over 35 years of experience. She graduated from Auburn University with a Bachelor of Education in Speech Language Pathology and a Master of Communications Disorders. She served as a speech pathologist in the public school setting for 25 years. The focus of those years was identifying, evaluating, and serving children ages 3 to 6 years of age following the Alabama Administrative Code. She assisted in establishing the HAPIE Program (Helping Auburn Preschoolers – Intervening Early) for Auburn City Schools. While in that role, she was the liaison between the Auburn Autism Center, the Little Tree and the HAPIE Program. During her tenure with Auburn City Schools, she served as the technology coordinator for the Auburn Early Education Center. Currently, she serves as a Speech-Language Pathologist in a variety of counties for Alabama’s Early Intervention System. She recently became an Autism Mentor through the Part C: Autism Initiative Project and organizes, conducts, and speaks at learning collaboratives statewide.

Sabrina Robinson, MA

Sabrina Robinson has been in the early childhood field for over 40+ years, in various positions and roles. She has served as a Toddler and Preschool teacher, Center Director, Family Child Care Owner and various other positions. She has worked in private, non-profit and military settings. She is currently the Professional Development Director for Child Care Central a division of TCR Child Care Corporation. Sabrina has a Masters of Art degree in Education with a minor in Child Development. She is also currently an Adjunct teacher for Gadsden State Community College in the Child Development Department. She is a PD Specialist for the CDA Council and a NAFCCC Observer. She truly believes it takes a big heart to shape a little mind.

Stacie Rolf

Stacie Rolf has worked for Early Intervention for almost 30 years. She spent the last 28 years as a District Early Intervention Coordinator in the Dothan office. She has experience as a direct service provider, evaluator, and Service Coordinator. She really enjoys working with families and helping empower them to be the best advocates for their child.

Billy Ronilo, MS, PT

Billy is a pediatric Physical Therapist with 21 years of experience with the last 18 working for Children’s Rehabilitation Service (CRS) in the Alabama Department of Rehabilitation. He participates in CRS clinics and wrap-around care and community visits for families. He worked as a contract provider for Early Intervention services in both Georgia and Alabama. He is the current Physical Therapy faculty advisor for the TransTeam grant program at the University of Alabama at Birmingham that includes Early Childhood Special Education, Occupational Therapy, and Physical Therapy students training to provide services in Part B and Part C.

Shanae Rouse

Shanae Rouse is a project manager for early intervention at the Laurent Clerc National Deaf Education Center on the campus of Gallaudet University in Washington, D.C. She holds a bachelor’s degree in family and child studies from Gallaudet University as well as master’s degrees in deaf education from Lamar University and in educational leadership and policy studies from the University of Texas at San Antonio. For more than nine years, Rouse taught deaf and hard of hearing students in the program for the deaf in a mainstream setting and in deaf schools from pre-kindergarten to fifth grade. She then served as a high school director at the Alabama School for the Deaf for three years before moving to Washington, D.C., to assume her current role. Rouse is the mother of two children–a daughter and a son.

Sarritha Scales

Sarritha Scales has over 20 years of experience in the Early Childhood Education Field. Since 2016, she has worked in the role as an Early Childhood Specialist with Child Care Central, a division of TCR Child Care Corporation. She previously taught at a Head Start program as a preschool teacher for 15 years. She has a Masters of Education degree from Faulkner University. Sarritha is currently an Adjunct teacher for the Child Development Department at Gadsden State Community College. She is also a PD Specialist with the CDA Council. Sarritha has obtained her AELG train-the-trainer Credential.

Kate Scarborough, PhD

Dr. Kate Scarborough brings nearly 20 years of early childhood experience as a classroom teacher, preschool administrator, and university faculty. She is an advocate for developmentally appropriate early literacy learning and works tirelessly to share ways to develop literacy skills using engaging, joyful strategies! Dr. Scarborough holds a PhD in Early Childhood Education, MEd in Administration and Supervision, and BS in Elementary Education.

Sydney Scarpulla

Sydney Scarpulla is a senior psychology major with educational emphasis on Developmental Disabilities and Distinction in Poverty Studies at Birmingham-Southern College. She has worked with families of special needs since she was 14 years old, starting out as a baby sitter, volunteering with the GIG program at United Ability from age 15 to working with the Children’s Learning Center at United Ability. As a front line worker in the field of inclusive learning in a special population, Sydney brings a fresh perspective to the growing field of Early Intervention and Early Childhood Development skills to a new generation of professionals in this field.

Nanci Scarpulla, M Ed, LPC, NCC

Nanci Scarpulla is the owner and lead clinician of Potentia Counseling, LLC and creator of Potentia Birmingham, a networking social media presence assisting families with special needs to share programs, events and activities in the Birmingham Area. Nanci’s field of interest includes using positive psychology with a solution focused narrative approach to attaining healthy emotional well being and empowering one’s potential in life.

Susan Sellers

Susan Sellers joined United Ability as Chief Executive Officer in April 2021. Prior to coming to United Ability, she was President of the St. Vincent’s Foundation of Alabama. Along the way, she was instrumental in the formation and success of Forge Cancer Survivorship Center, on whose board she still serves. She has a bachelor’s degree in Political Science and English Composition, from Texas Christian University and a Juris Doctor degree from Baylor University. After law school, she began her career in the public policy division of the National Center for Victims of Crime in Washington, DC. Returning to Texas, she served two nonprofits before becoming Executive Director of Communities in Schools Central Texas. Following her husband’s transfer to New Orleans in 2000, she spent the next 14 years focused on nonprofit infrastructure and effectiveness as a consultant, coach and volunteer resource. Of special note, after Hurricane Katrina in 2005, she managed a forty million-dollar federal initiative to place 8,000 families back in their homes. She was then hired by New Orleans’ Metropolitan Human Services District to restructure mental health, addictive disorder, and developmental disability services in New Orleans and other Louisiana parishes.

Tiffany Simon, MA

Tiffany Simon is an early childhood specialist from Birmingham, AL. Over the past 17 years, Tiffany has taught every age group from birth to 14 years of age and every ability level from typically developing to severe and profound disabilities. During this time, Tiffany fell in love with the early childhood field and learning about how crucial early intervention was for early brain development. This motivating and ever-growing interest pushed her to obtain a Master’s degree at the University of Arizona in Special Education. After a decade teaching, Tiffany left the classroom to broaden her knowledge on infant and toddler development and procured a job as a professional development facilitator for the state of Arizona. This position ultimately gave her the opportunity to get fully certified in the Program for Infant Toddler Care as well as the Pyramid Model and Preventing Child Abuse and Neglect (PCAN). Now a resident of Madison, AL, Tiffany is currently working as an Inclusion Consultant with Child Care Enhancement with a Purpose at UCP of Huntsville.

Christine Spratling

Christine Spratling has been working with babies and students with sensory loss(es) for over 30 years as an early intervention specialist, special education teacher, education specialist for the Georgia Deaf-Blind Project, and most recently as the INSITE/VIISA coordinator for Georgia PINES, the Georgia early intervention program for babies with sensory loss(es). Christine took part in a two-year Georgia / South Carolina Cortical Visual Impairment (CVI) mentorship cohort with Dr. Roman Lantzy and completed the Perkins CVI endorsement process. Following the mentorship, she continued to learn about CVI by participating in the Georgia CVI study group as well as by taking more classes through Perkins.

Michala Steele, MS

Michala Steele is an Inclusion Consultant for UCP Huntsville’s Childcare Enhancement with a Purpose (CCEP). She has her Master’s degree in Clinical Psychology from Alabama A&M University, and a Bachelor’s degree in International Community Development and Biochemistry from ORU. Her teaching experience includes teaching toddlers, first graders, and middle school students in special education. CCEP provides classroom technical assistance, adaptive learning materials, and trainings aimed toward teachers who strive to best include their atypical students in the classroom. Michala states that “the most rewarding aspect of this profession is being able to identify the needs of overwhelmed students and teachers within a classroom, and having the means to supply classroom materials free of charge.” The population CCEP advocates for include children with Cerebral Palsy, Autism, ADHD, language processing disorder, sensory processing disorder, challenging behaviors, Down Syndrome, and more.

Margaret Summersell MS, RD

Margaret Summersell MS, RD completed her undergraduate studies at Auburn University followed by internship at Mass General Hospital and traineeship with UAB /Sparks Center. She earned her Master’s in Dietetics from UAB. She has worked as a consultant in multiple settings serving infants and children including the Sparks Center, CRS, Easter Seals, AIDB, Mobile Infirmary Hospital, UAB’s New Born Follow Up Program and the Arc of Shelby County.

Susie Thomas, EDD, CTVI, COMS, NBCT

Dr. Susie Thomas has over 25 years of teaching experience. She began her career as a Secondary Science and English teacher. Dr. Thomas has spent the last 15 years as a Certified Teacher of Students with Visual Impairments and an Orientation and Mobility Specialist. She holds degrees in Secondary Biology and English, Special Education – Visual Impairments, and Instructional Leadership. She is also a National Board Certified teacher. Dr. Thomas currently works as a trainer in the Center for Assistive Technology Training (CATT). CATT is a partnership between AIDB and The American Printing House for the Blind.

Nikki Thompson

Nikki is the Early Intervention Director and a Service Coordinator for Building Blocks UCP Early Intervention in Huntsville, Alabama. She manages a contract of 170+ kids each month and oversees the staff coordinating and providing services. Nikki has a BS in Behavioral Science. She has worked as a Service Coordinator in Early Intervention for 13 years. She has previous work experience in the legal and psychology fields and is a newly published author.

Dorothy Kristen “Kristie” Tullis, MA, BCBA, LBA

Kristie Tullis is a Board Certified and Licensed Behavior Analyst. Before becoming a Behavior Analyst with the Mobile County Public School System, she taught for nine years at both a nonprofit organization that provides services to individuals with autism and other developmental disabilities, as well as in the public school system in a unit designed for students who exhibit challenging behaviors. She lives in Satsuma, Alabama with her husband and nine-year-old daughter. She enjoys listening to podcasts, warm weather and spending time with friends and family.

Mary Beth Vick, MA

Mary Beth has worked in the field of Early Intervention for over 25 years. She has held many positions within EI including Service Coordinator, Program Director, Rehab Specialist, and Field Supervisor. Mary Beth currently provides planning and oversight to the Part C Autism Initiative.

Kathleen M Weden, MS, OTR/L

Kathleen Weden, MS, OTR/L, is a PhD candidate in the Rehabilitation Science program within the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) School of Health Professionals, and a pre-doctoral fellow with the UAB Center for Outcomes and Effectiveness Research and Education (COERE). Within the UAB Center for Low Vision Rehabilitation Kathleen is working to develop novel assessment methods for quantifying functional vision in children with Cerebral Visual Impairment. Kathleen has worked as an Occupational Therapist in inpatient rehabilitation, inpatient behavioral health, pediatric inpatient rehabilitation, pediatric inpatient behavioral health, and early intervention. She holds a certificate in Low Vision Rehabilitation. She received her MS in Occupational Therapy from Columbia University and completed her dual BA at the University of Washington.

Jenna Weglarz-Ward, PhD

Dr. Jenna Weglarz-Ward is an associate professor in early childhood/special education at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas and research coordinator at the Lynn Bennett Early Childhood Education Center. Her research focuses on the inclusion of young children with disabilities in community settings through family-centered practices. She serves as the principal investigator for several projects centered around supporting professionals’ skills in family partnership. She serves on Nevada early childhood-related councils including the Nevada Pyramid Partnership, Nevada Part C Interagency Coordinating Council, and the Nevada Early Childhood Advocacy Council and national organizations including the Division for Early Childhood of the Council for Exceptional Children (serving as President) and the National Association for the Education of Young Children. She was formerly a UNLV College of Education Dean’s Policy Fellow and National Center on Pyramid Model Innovations fellow.

Anna Grace Whaley

Anna Grace Whaley graduated with her Bachelor of Science in Human Development and Family Sciences with a concentration in Child Development from Mississippi State University. She started working with Childcare Enhancement with a Purpose in June of 2023. She is an Inclusion Consultant that specializes in ensuring children of all ability levels are included in their early childhood classroom. 

Kathy Wilkins

Kathy Wilkins is with the Alabama State Department of Education in Special Education Services. She is the regional specialist for Region 6, and focuses on preschool special education, monitoring, and instructional support. She assists with the Temporary Special Education Certificate and is the contact person for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing. Prior to joining the State Department in June 2020, she served as a preschool special education teacher in the Elmore County Schools for fifteen years, and before that she taught special education in Montgomery County.

Joy Winchester

Joy Winchester is the Director of the Office of Early Childhood Development and Professional Support within the Alabama Department of Early Childhood Education. Her position involves supporting the work of 60 coaches statewide with challenging behaviors and coaching teachers through tough situations. Her background in educational neuroscience allows for a unique perspective when working with challenging behaviors. Joy Winchester has completed neuroscience coursework with Johns Hopkins and now is working with an international cohort to build skills in applying educational neuroscience in a multitude of areas. Joy has worked with families, teachers, state and community leaders, juvenile probation officers, inmates, and recovering addicts to understand their brains to better understand behaviors.

Renelda Windham

Renelda Windham has been a part of the Statewide Childcare Enhancement with a Purpose (CCEP) team for 17 years where she serves as Inclusion Specialist. She received degrees from the University of West Alabama in Business, and holds a Masters in Counseling and Psychology.

Scroll to Top