Providing guidance and support
Maleita Olson, President (Delaware County)
Maureen E. Reilly, Esq., Secretary (Delaware County)
Elena Perri, Treasurer (Delaware County)
Keith Bartley (Chester County)
Terri Corbin-Hutchinson (Delaware County)
Michael Fogel, MA, ATR-BC, LPC (Philadelphia County)
Joseph Gousie (Delaware County)
Adam Klein (Montgomery County)
Amanda Klein (Montgomery County)
Bradley C. Norford, Ph.D. (Chester County)
Cindy Schneider (Chester County)
Kia Staples (Delaware County)
Susan Stathakes (Chester County)
Carol Weinman, Esq. (Montgomery County)
Deirdre Cummins Wright, Founder and Emeritus
ASCEND’s board is comprised of family members, individuals with ASD, and professionals who work in the field of autism. See bios below.
Keith Bartley is a young man in his 20s with Asperger Syndrome who recently moved to the Philadelphia area. He works as a research assistant at the Center for Autism Research at CHOP, where he processes and analyzes MRI images and otherwise assists with research projects. Keith’s previous experience includes conducting trainings for individuals with ASDs and other disabilities on dating and self-advocacy. He was instrumental in setting up groups for college students with ASD and other disabilities at the University of Tennessee. Keith graduated from the University of Tennessee with a MS in Plant Sciences. He lives with his wife in Malvern, PA.
Terri Corbin-Hutchinson has twenty years experience working in public and academic libraries. The first fourteen years of her career were nurtured at the New York Public Library (NYPL) where she worked in progressively responsible positions. Currently, Terri works on Sundays for the Lower Merion Township Library System. Terri is the mother of a fall 2014 Ithan Elementary School kindergartener diagnosed with high functioning autism. She lives in Bryn Mawr, Pa, with her husband and son.
Michael Fogel, MA, ATR-BC, LPC, is a licensed, board-certified art therapist with nearly 20 years of clinical experience. In 2006, he was honored by the Delaware Valley Art Therapy Association with the “Innovative Application of Art Therapy” award. This prompted him to found the Child and Family Art Therapy Center which houses the Art of Friendship program and offers unique individual child therapy services for a wide range of childhood behavioral and emotional challenges. Recently, Michael introduced a social skills/anti-bully program, the Team for Fun Community, for implementation in neurotypical school communities, which focuses on using the creative arts to help children grow in healthy ways. Michael is an adjunct professor at the graduate art therapy program at Drexel University and a frequent presenter at workshops and conferences. Michael resides in the Philadelphia area with his wife and two children.
Joseph Gousie, Sr., currently serves as ASCEND’s Vice President. Joe has worked in the field of intellectual and developmental disabilities for nearly 40 years. He currently serves as the director of non-traditional services for Elwyn, a nonprofit human services organization, at its Work Services office in Aston, PA. Previously, Joe was the executive director of Community Services for Autistic Adults and Children (CSAAC), the largest nonprofit in the country serving exclusively individuals with autism. Joe also spent 35 years as the executive director of agencies serving individuals with developmental disabilities in RI and PA. He has extensive experience as a workshop presenter on both the national and local level. Joe is inspired to serve on ASCEND’s board by his personal experience of having a son and grandson diagnosed with Asperger Syndrome.
Adam M. Klein is the proud father of his four-year old daughter, who has the diagnosis of high-function autism and his youngest daughter, age of 2. Adam is very fortunate to be the husband Amanda. Adam graduated from Hofstra University with a degree in Filmmaking. In addition, he holds a degree for A+ Networking from CHI Institute. Adam’s other passion is being part of and co-founding, with his wife, Exceptional Families of Exceptional Children, in October of 2012. E.F.E.C. is a local parent connection group that strives to give family and community members a place to connect, exchange ideas, and share in the joys and challenges of raising an Exceptional child. Adam’s mission is helping fathers express their concerns and feelings. The Klein family resides out of the Plymouth Meeting Area.
Amanda Klein is the mother of a four-year old girl with high functioning autism, and a two-year old daughter. In addition, Amanda is an educator in the area for nearly a decade. She holds a masters degree in Special Education from Rider University and a bachelors from Bloomsburg University. Amanda and her husband started Exceptional Families of Exceptional Children in October of 2012. E.F.E.C. is a local parent connection group which strives to give family and community members a place to connect, exchange ideas, and share in the joys and challenges of raising an exceptional child. Amanda is looking forward to sharing her passion for connecting all members of an exceptional family and educating the community through ASCEND. Adam, Amanda, and the little ladies reside in Plymouth Meeting.
Brad Norford, Ph.D., is the director of Bryn Mawr Psychological Associates in Bryn Mawr, PA, a private practice specializing in therapy and consultation for children, adolescents and parents. Brad earned his degree in clinical psychology at the University of South Carolina. He has a considerable background in treating children on the autism spectrum as well as those with the full-range of other psychological issues. Brad previously worked as a psychologist in community mental health settings, in residential treatment with the Devereux Foundation, and in large outpatient practices. For the past decade, he has been active in advocating with state legislators for healthcare reform and other mental health causes. Brad grew up in Bucks County and now resides in Chester County with his wife and three children.
Maleita Olson, LCSW, is the proud parent of four children ages 2- teen, the oldest of which has Asperger Syndrome. She co-founded Spectra Support Services, LLC, an agency founded to serve children and adults with disabilities in an integrated, family-centered community atmosphere. Maleita received her master of social work degree from Boston College and is about to complete a master’s certificate in Autism Spectrum Disorders at Drexel University. During Maleita’s twenty-plus year career, she has presented at numerous local, state, and national conferences and consulted with state and private non-profit agencies advocating for and providing supports to persons with disabilities. In addition, she has an adult brother with ASD which fuels her passion for supporting siblings across the lifespan.
Elena Perri is a public relations specialist who has a communications degree from Temple University and also received training in journalism and photography while serving in the U.S. Army Reserve. She has extensive journalism, public relations, editing and public speaking experience. Elena has been a board member of the Philadelphia chapter of the International Association of Business Communicators for more than 15 years and served in many capacities on its executive board. She is also a member of the Catholic Press Association. Elena’s personal experience with autism comes from raising a young son with Asperger Syndrome, which has given her a great understanding of the needs and challenges faced by families in our region. She and her family live in Havertown, PA.
Maureen (“Mo”) Reilly is the mother of a ten-year old boy with high functioning autism, and an eight-year old daughter who does not have autism. In the eight years since her son was first diagnosed, Mo has been an active member of a variety of organizations that serve the autism community both locally and nationally. Currently, she serves on the parent advisory board for the Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare’s Bureau of Autism Services. Mo is employed as senior employment counsel for SunGard Data Systems. She earned her law degree from the University of Virginia School of Law and also has a Ph.D. in industrial/organizational psychology from George Mason University. Mo lives in Media, PA, with her husband and two children.
Cindy Schneider founded Acting Antics Art Center, based in Chester County, in 2007 to provide music and theater programming for youngsters of all ages and ability levels. Cindy’s book, Acting Antics: A Theatrical Approach to Teaching Social Understanding to Kids and Teens with Asperger Syndrome, is published by Jessica Kingsley. Cindy has trained professionals throughout North America in the Acting Antics techniques and serves on the board of the International Association of Theatre and Autism. Cindy was a special educator and consultant for Chester County IU for 27 years, specializing in autism spectrum disorders. As a thespian and children’s community theater director, she began to develop acting workshops for students diagnosed with social deficits in 2002. Cindy earned her bachelor of science degree from West Chester University and her master’s degree from Immaculata University. In addition, she was awarded autism certification by Penn State and communication specialist certification by Temple University.
Kia Staples is a realtor based primarily in Delaware County. Prior to making a career change to real estate, she worked for more than eight years in the mental health field with children with behavioral health issues. This career change allows her to focus on supporting her young son, who is diagnosed on the autism spectrum, as well as other children who are affected by disabilities. As a realtor with Weichert Realtors in Media, Kia enjoys being able to reach a wide variety of people who have housing needs.
Susan Stathakes has over 25 years experience in television and corporate communications in the Philadelphia area. She holds a Master’s in Education and is currently enrolled in Arcadia University’s certificate program for Autism and Behavioral Analysis. Her interest in the study of children with Autism has been enriched by her daughter, who was recently diagnosed with a Spectrum Disorder. Her goals are to improve and further communication and advocacy for families facing similar challenges. She is an active volunteer, and has served on the boards of both the Children’s Literacy Initiative and Cable Positive. Susan and her family live in Berwyn, PA.
Carol S. Weinman, Esq., has spent 20 years as a domestic relations lawyer and trial attorney. She has advocated for clients in juvenile, adult, family and dependency courts. Recently, Carol shifted her focus to being a life coach and mediator for parents of children with Asperger Syndrome (AS) and women going through divorce. Carol has authored and edited educational reference books on special education law, employment law, and higher education law, and is well versed on the law in the area of special needs and available accommodations. She has instructed classes at Temple University and served as a Philadelphia prosecutor. Carol earned her law degree and a bachelor’s degree in communications from Temple University. She became an authority on Asperger Syndrome after conducting extensive research in her effort to successfully diagnose a family member and from months of teaching applied behavioral analysis techniques to a child with Aspergers. She grew up in Philadelphia and lives in Fort Washington, PA, with her twin boys.
Deirdre Cummins Wright (Founder and Emeritus) launched ASCEND in 2001 with the help of many parents of children with Asperger Syndrome. She recognized a need for support for family members during a time when Asperger Syndrome was a little known disorder. ASCEND was her passion for more than 10 years. Deirdre retired from the board in 2012 knowing that the organization was in good hands and proud of all that ASCEND has accomplished in terms of providing resources, raising awareness, and building a community. Deirdre is now the Quality Manager for PA’s Adult Autism Waiver, a program that serves 300+ participants across the state.