CONFERENCE SPEAKERS

Mary C. Kelly, Ph.D., CSP, U.S. Navy (Ret.)

Mary Kelly, PhD, CSP, CDR, US Navy (ret) is an internationally known economist and leadership expert, specializing in succession planning and profit growth. 

After graduating from the United States Naval Academy, Mary served as an intelligence and logistics officer, specializing in running military bases. Author of 11 books on leadership, business, and succession planning, Mary is quoted annually in hundreds of periodicals including Forbes, Money Magazine, Entrepreneur, Yahoo Finance, Success, and the Wall Street Journal. 

A MENSA member, Mary has received several accolades speaking accolades. She holds the Certified Speaking Professional designation. Her PhD is in Economics. 

John C. Littleford

John C. Littleford served as teacher, trustee and head of school for over 25 years. For the past 20 years he has been a consultant to over 6000 independent, international schools, partially-state funded schools. His clients also include corporations, foundations, universities and a range of other non-profit organizations. 

Mr. Littleford's areas of expertise include: board governance, strategic planning, executive and staff compensation and evaluation; executive searches; marketing strategies; fund raising; managing change; organizational climate; institutional and financial audits; and team building. He speaks and leads workshops on these topics worldwide. 

Littleford & Associates’ Newsletter is published four times a year and is widely read by 25,000 trustees and school and not for profit leaders. 

Maureen Gormley, RN, MPH, Ph.D.

Dr. Gormley is the Executive Officer of the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. She oversees administrative management, including execution of the Institute’s $1.9B budget, information technology, ethics, management and policy analysis, and technology transfer. Prior to joining NINDS, Dr. Gormley had served as COO of the NIH Clinical Center since 1999. Over the past 8 years, she has led a school-to-work transition program at NIH, known as Project SEARCH, which has successfully trained and hired youth with intellectual disabilities into the mainstream workforce. Dr. Gormley holds a doctorate in Human and Organizational Systems, an MPH from Yale University, and a BS from Boston College.  

David B. Rubin, Esq.

David B. Rubin, Esq. is a sole practitioner in Metuchen, New Jersey.  A graduate of Duke University and Rutgers Law School, Mr. Rubin represents public school districts and private schools throughout New Jersey, including numerous members of NAPSEC’s New Jersey affiliate, ASAH. He has argued numerous precedent-setting cases at all levels of the state and federal court system generating over 50 published opinions.   He has served as President of the New Jersey Association of School Attorneys, Chair of the National School Boards Association’s Council of School Attorneys, Chair of the New Jersey State Bar Association’s Professional Responsibility and Unlawful Practice Committee, and is a frequent lecturer and author in the field of education law.  Mr. Rubin is listed in SuperLawyers Magazine and Best Lawyers in America, holds the AV rating from the Martindale Hubbell Legal Directory, and is the recipient of Distinguished Service Awards from both the NSBA Council of School Attorneys and the New Jersey Association of School Attorneys. 

Kristine E. Larson, Ed.D.

 Kristine E. Larson, Ed.D., is a visiting Assistant Professor of Special Education in the School of Education at St. Louis University. Her research focuses on factors related to teachers’ ability to manage student behaviors, including the use of culturally responsive strategies, and more broadly on improving school climate. In her former role as postdoctoral research fellow at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, she assisted principals in using data to improve school climate as part of the Maryland Safe and Supportive Schools (MDS3) research grant, facilitated School-Wide Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (SW-PBIS) implementation, and used the Classroom Check-Up (CCU) coaching model to improve teacher practice. 

Julie Tracy, MA, SLP-CCC

Julie founded Urban Autism Solutions in 2012 with her husband Michael after recognizing a need to provide young adults with autism residential, social and vocational programs.

A Speech-Language Pathologist for more than 35 years, Julie owned Pediatric Speech, Language and Literacy Services, a pediatric evaluation and therapy practice. Julie has provided speech and language evaluation and treatment at major hospitals and organizations including, Northwestern Memorial Hospital, Chicago Institute for Neurosurgery and Neuro-Research and the Cove School.

Julie attended Northwestern University and received her undergraduate and graduate degrees in Speech and Language Pathology from the School of Speech-Communication Sciences and Disorders.

Charles J. Durgin, MS, MSEd

Charles J. Durgin works at the Kennedy Krieger Institute (KKI) High School program developing school and community-based services for transitioning youth with complex health, learning, and/or developmental challenges. He is also an adjunct professor at the Graduate School of Education and Human Development at George Washington University. Prior to joining KKI he worked at the State University of New York at Albany Graduate Division of Special Education and later directed three comprehensive neurorehabilitation centers serving children and adults with acquired brain injury (Massachusetts/Maryland)

Harry Schaeffer

Harry Schaeffer is currently semi - retired and does some consulting work. Prior to that he spent 35 years as Chief Operating Officer for St. Vincent’s Special Needs. The organization, located in Connecticut, provides services to individuals with significant developmental disabilities and medically complex. Programs offered include Early Intervention, School, Adult Day, and Group Homes for children and adults. Harry’s responsibilities included operational oversight of all programs and services, budget development, strategic planning, quality assurance and quality improvement. He is an NCASES site reviewer and has participated in numerous reviews over the past few years.

Tanya Kim-Guild

Tanya Guild, cofounder and principal of Virtual Connections Academy, has spent her career in the private sector within therapeutic day school settings.  She has participated in NCASES accreditations where she focused on IEP procedures and curricular sections and has learned so much about safety and security of buildings and how the guidelines and laws vary between states.  Most recently, Dr. Guild maintained and updated emergency procedures and policies in collaboration with local police and fire personnel to ensure the safety of therapeutic day school settings and is excited to share with the NAPSEC community.

Jonathan Evans, MA, M.Ed.

Jonathan Evans has been teaching and working with students with developmental disabilities including autism since 2001. Jonathan holds a Bachelor of Science degree from Miami University and a Master’s degree in Educational Leadership and Supervision from Arizona State University. Jonathan has been a Special Education administrator since 2011. Special Education is a passion of Jonathan’s and there is nothing more exciting for him than seeing his students succeed. His educational philosophy is to make sure that all of his students achieve a life of dignity and self worth. Jonathan enjoys spending time with his wife and four children when he is not at ACCEL. 

Zosia Zaks, M.Ed., C.R.C.

Zosia Zaks is the Manager of Programs and Education at Towson University's Hussman Center for Adults with Autism. In addition to managing the Center, Zosia directs a work readiness program and teaches autism courses in the College of Health Professions. Zosia has worked with teens and young adults on the autism spectrum, and with other developmental disabilities, for over 15 years and has extensive experience helping the whole family successfully transition to adulthood. This provides Zosia a keen sense of the roadblocks and what families find so challenging. As a self-advocate, Zosia bring a unique perspective to this panel and professional work.  

Bruce Ettinger, Ed.D.

Bruce Ettinger has been a professional in the area of special education for the past 49 years.  Bruce has served as the Executive Director and Superintendent of Spectrum360, formerly The Children’s Institute, for the past 37 years serving children and adults on the autism spectrum and with related disabilities.  Prior Bruce was the Director of the United Cerebral Palsy League of Union County and a special education teacher at Blythedale Children’s Hospital. Bruce has been responsible for the development and administration of schools for students ranging in age from 3-21.  Over the past six years Bruce has been involved in expanding his program to include habilitation and vocational programs for adults over 21 years of age facing critical needs for programs and service 

Shawn Kurrelmeier Lee

Shawn’s career bridges multiple fields of expertise in organizational leadership, program development, special education, early childhood education, elementary education, and literacy. Shawn owns and operators SKL Consulting, a contractual consulting business. Shawn’s consulting work includes a successful track record of coalition building, strategic planning, board development, leadership training, policy development, community collaboration, program design, facilitation, training, and grant writing with organizations in the field of early childhood education, elementary education, and special education. Shawn authored the TDIDD Chapter 0940-05-53, named Day Services for Adults with Developmental Disabilities which became authorized in September, 2016 for the state of Tennessee.    

Caroline Hubbard, M.A.

Carrie Hubbard is the Director of Future Growth and Outreach at Itineris. Carrie has worked with the autistic population since 2004. Carrie began her career at the Ivymount School as a Teaching Assistant eventually earning the Post of High School Coordinator for the Autism Program. Carrie started as the Director of Clinical Services at Itineris in May 2011 serving a single client. Today Itineris serves 84 clients. Itineris’ mission is to help provide opportunities for individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder to participate meaningfully in all aspects of adult life. Carrie has a Master’s degree in Grief Counseling and is completing a Master Degree in Social Work. In 2014 and 2016 The Maryland Daily Record Newspaper named Ms. Hubbard one of Maryland’s Top 40 Women under 40 for contributions to the community and Carrie’s commitment to see positive change in this world.


Christopher J. Manente, Ph.D., BCBA

Christopher Manente is the Founding Executive Director of the Rutgers Center for Adult Autism Services (RCAAS) and is an Assistant Professor of Clinical Practice at the Rutgers Graduate School of Education. Christopher earned a PhD in Educational Psychology from Rutgers University in 2014. Prior to accepting the role of Executive Director at the RCAAS Christopher served as an Assistant Professor of Education at Caldwell University and a consultant working with students with ASD in schools throughout NJ.  Previously, Christopher served as the Senior Program Coordinator of Adult Services at the Douglass Developmental Disabilities Center (DDDC) at Rutgers University. Christopher is currently the Chair of the Adult Services Workgroup for the NJ Association for Behavior Analysis and is a strong advocate for the advancement of community-based educational, vocational, and residential opportunities for older learners with autism. Christopher has authored articles in peer-reviewed journals, co-authored book chapters, and has presented at numerous local and national conferences on a variety of topics related to supporting individuals with Autism. 

Paige Pape

Paige is the past president of the Baltimore Chesapeake Chapter of the Autism Society of America and a Founding member of the Adult Autism Resource Group-BCC-ASA. Page is also a dedicated advocate for her son and other individuals with autism.

Tina M. Schmitt, SHRM-SCP, CHCR, PHR

Tina Schmitt is the Talent Acquisition and Retention Manager for the Kennedy Krieger Institute.  She has a Bachelor’s degree in Social Science and Education and a Master’s degree in Business Management and Human Resources.  Tina is a certified as a Senior HR Professional by the Society for Human Resources Management, a certified Healthcare Recruiter and Professional in Human Resources by HRCI.  With 21 years of experience Tina leads and directs talent strategies for Kennedy Krieger Institute, including the Neurodiversity at Work program and serves as a Business Liaison for a Project SEARCH.  Tina is very passionate about talent acquisition, organizational culture, workforce development and training and especially inclusion.  Tina’s efforts have been dedicated to exploring and implementing human capital strategies to include and retain more individuals with Autism and all abilities into Kennedy Krieger’s workforce. 

Michael D. Myers

Michael Myers is the owner of Sam’s Canterbury Café in Baltimore, MD which he and his wife founded to ensure that their son Sam, an adult on the Autistic Spectrum, would have a great work environment. Despite having no prior restaurant experience they were crazy enough to open their doors in February 2016 and currently have five employees on the spectrum. Mr. Myers also serves on the board of Itineris, a Baltimore based Adult Service Provider. Less importantly, Mr. Myers runs a family investment office and holds an MBA and JD in addition to the CFA designation. 

Ami Stappler Taubenfeld

Ami started her career in the Hospitality industry, working in her family owned catering business as the Director of Sales and Marketing for 13 years. After Ami’s daughter was diagnosed with autism at age 5, Ami became co-owner of a startup mail order catalog which allowed Ami the flexibility in her schedule to focus on her family.  Ami returned to Hospitality in 2001 as the Director of Sales for Baltimore Spirit Cruises. In 2011, Ami joined Itineris as  Executive Director where she continues in that role today. Ami is responsible for overseeing this model agency’s administrative and financial functions, implementing strategic plan goals and managing the agency’s growth. Ami has been named to the Maryland Daily Record’s Top 100 women in 2014 and again in 2016. 

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