Executive Committee

Donald Barrick – President

As a Commercial Real Estate Broker and Principal Member of the BAF Group LLC, Don has been part of the Howard County business community for almost 30 years. He first became involved with the Autism Society of Maryland with an invitation to the annual AUSOM Gala by the (then) new Executive Director, Melissa Rosenberg. While Don and his wife, Suzi Padgett, do not have any family members with Autism, Don is very committed to bringing all of his experience in Health Care Management and Marketing together to contribute for the benefit of AUSOM and the Autism community. “Because of the hard work of the AUSOM staff and the efforts and direction by the Board of Directors,” says Don, “AUSOM has grown dramatically in terms of the number of people assisted by the organization, and the scope of the assistance it offers. The impact of the pandemic has weakened many nonprofits, but AUSOM has grown and strengthened during the same period.  It appears to be poised to accept even greater responsibility and scope, within the immediate future.”

“It is my unqualified honor to serve as the first non-parent President of AUSOM, a role I do not take lightly.  I look forward to working with each and every one of you – self-advocates, parents, family members, professionals, the business and disability communities and others – to improve services and expand opportunities for everyone in the Autism and disability community.”

Andrew Stettner – Vice President

Andy lives in Fulton, MD with his wife, Jeanny, daughter Talia, and sons (Noah and Eli). He is a senior fellow at The Century Foundation, a public policy think tank in Washington, DC and specializes in economic and workforce policy.

“I agreed to serve on the Board because AUSOM has been with us every step of the way in finding resources and building a full life for our daughter. From finding a great dentist to navigating special education, AUSOM is an irreplaceable resources for the autism community.”

Pamela Stiner – Treasurer

Pam relocated with her family from Philadelphia to Howard County in 2018.  She is the Director of Finance and Treasurer of the Board of Charlestown Retirement Community in Catonsville.  She and her husband, Philip Lockwood, have one son, Henry, who is on the spectrum.  In addition to her work, she enjoys travel, live music, baking and spending time with the family.

“As a member of the AUSOM Board, I want to help build a brighter future for my son and all children. To me, that means a world full of compassion and understanding.  A world that celebrates our differences and respects our individual abilities.  A world in which we can all pursue our dreams and lead meaningful lives.”

Brad Bernstein – Secretary

Brad has worked in education for nearly twenty years as a teacher, counselor, and administrator. In addition to counseling at a Baltimore middle school, he currently is a mental health therapist in Columbia at Crossroads Psychological Associates. Brad has experience working with children who are on the autism spectrum and their families in both school and clinical settings. He lives in Columbia with his wife and daughter.

“I am honored to support AUSOM with my experience working in both clinical and school settings. I hope that my knowledge and passion provides a different perspective to the Board, and I look forward to meeting the members of the AUSOM community.”

Patrick Boxall – Past President

Originally from the United Kingdom, Patrick has lived in Howard County since 1997. With two immediate family members on the spectrum, Patrick has a small window into AUSOM members’ diverse experiences with autism. Patrick has been a board member since 2007. He  previously served as AUSOM President, Treasurer and Governance Committee Chair.  An advocate for transitioning youth, Patrick helped establish the Howard County Transition Outreach Partnership, a coalition of cross-disability agencies and organizations, and currently serves on the Howard County Commission for Transitioning Youth with Disabilities.  Patrick is VP & COO at KRA Corporation, a workforce development services firm based in Columbia.

” It truly is a blessing to serve an organization that has such an enormous impact on the autism community in Howard County and beyond.  Like any on this journey, my family has seen its share of ups and downs.   And, as an organization, we aim to build supports and resources to help members through tough times, as well as create opportunities and celebrate all that is great and extraordinary about our community”


Alex Arevalo

Originally from Lima, Peru. Alex currently lives in Columbia, MD. Alex is a board certified behavior analyst and licensed behavior analyst in the state of Maryland. He has more than 7 years of experience in the assessment and treatment of severe problem behavior. He spent those years at the Neurobehavioral Unit (NBU) at Kennedy Krieger Institute doing both clinical and research work. Currently, Alex works with individuals diagnosed with autism providing ABA services. He became involved with AUSOM through co-leading the Latino Parent Support Group to orient and increase resources to Latino families. 

Theresa Ballinger

Theresa is a longtime member of AUSOM and Past President who grew up in Howard County. Theresa and her husband reside in Ellicott City with their two sons. Her oldest is on the spectrum; he attended Howard County Public Schools and currently obtains services from the Arc of Howard County. Theresa is a CPA and MBA and brings accounting and auditing expertise to the Board’s finance committee. She chairs the AUSOM Housing Task Force and helps with AUSOM programming and advocacy.

” I believe it “takes a village” to raise a child and prepare them for life. This is especially important for children on the autism spectrum. What better place to garner that support than at the Autism Society of Maryland where you can benefit from its collective past experiences and expertise; and, help others that may also be traveling on this journey.”

Rose Baltazar

Originally raised in Maryland, Rose moved to Howard County in 2000 after starting her employee benefit sales career in NYC.  She currently lives in Ellicott City with her husband and two sons, the youngest of which is on the spectrum and attends Howard County Public School. Since her son’s diagnosis in 2011, AUSOM has been a vital resource to her family, offering seminars, events, and a diverse network of professionals to better understand what it is to raise a child with autism.  With her personal, professional, and non-profit experience, Rose brings her collaborative spirit to the AUSOM. 

“AUSOM has been a comforting source of support for my family.  I want to give back to this wonderful community in providing understanding, compassion, and acceptance to all families navigating through the ever-changing world of autism.”

Eric Cha, CFA

Eric and his wife Kate have three sons, the oldest of whom is on the spectrum. Eric previously served as AUSOM Board Member and Treasurer from January 2016 – January 2019. Eric Cha is an equity analyst who holds the Chartered Financial Analyst designation. He is a Partner at Brown Advisory, a Baltimore-based investment management firm. He holds an MBA degree with concentrations in Finance and Accounting from the New York University Stern School of Business. He earned a bachelor’s degree in Economics from the University of Virginia.

I am impressed with how AUSOM has grown since I served as Treasurer in spite of the challenges of COVID.  In my return, I hope to contribute to the Society’s continued success and growth, which I believe is critical to expanding our reach to those families that are unaware of the support and resources available to them.”

Jacqueline Robinson-Cooper

Originally from Liberia, West Africa, Jackie Robinson-Cooper resides in North Laurel, Maryland with her husband and 3 children, youngest daughter, who has Autism and is non verbal. Jackie is a Team Lead at Capital One Bank Call Center for 15 years, while also serving as a Membership committee member for Saints-Friskies Alumni Association. Fluent in French, Jackie appreciates diversity. Since joining the Autism Society of Maryland, Jackie realized she has found her “comfort place,” where families from all backgrounds can come together and help each other navigate through the Autism world.

“Being a member of the Howard County Autism Society has been a huge part of my life. I decided to join the AUSOM Board because I found a passion in supporting and empowering families who live with Autism, while educating our community.”

Brianna Gaddy

Born in Florida and raised in North Carolina, Brianna has lived in the DMV since 2017 where she attended law school at American University Washington College of Law. She currently lives in Maryland and works as a Labor and Employment attorney. For fun Brianna enjoys taking walks with her dog, Charlie, and trying out new recipes. Brianna looks forward to being part of the Board of Directors for AUSOM.


Suzanne Jenkins

Suzanne is a software engineering manager for T. Rowe Price and lives in Ellicott City, MD with her husband, Patrick and three children. Her daughter, Morgan, has anxiety and depression, while her two sons, Simon and Cameron, are both autistic. All three kids have been through the Howard County Public School system – Simon currently attends Kennedy Krieger and Cameron is in his public school. AUSOM has been a much needed source of knowledge and support for Suzanne and her family as they have navigated their autism journey. Her kids have enjoyed activities put on by AUSOM and other organizations and Suzanne has made many wonderful friends and connections.

“I look forward to contributing my passion, empathy, and dedication toward fostering understanding, inclusion, and support for individuals and families affected by autism. Together, we can make a meaningful impact, building a more compassionate and connected community where every individual’s unique abilities are recognized and celebrated.” 

Robin Kittleman

Robin is a retired speech pathologist and worked for 30+ years in the Montgomery County Public Schools’ Deaf and Hard of Hearing Program.  She has served on the Howard County Commission for Disabilities as well as a member of the Board of Trustees for the Maryland School for the Deaf.  Robin has volunteered with Young Life and the Arc.  She lives in West Friendship with her husband, Allan. Together they have four children and two granddaughters.


Jimara Kocik

Jimara is a long-time AUSOM member who participates on the Education Committee.  She joined the board in 2023.  Jimara is a volunteer for the AUSOM Latino Parent Support Group to support the Hispanic Community. Her family enjoys participating in AUSOM events. Jimara was born in Panama and studied Publicity and Marketing  at the University of Panama. She lives in Columbia, Maryland and is married and has three boys. Her son, Christopher, has Autism. Her three boys attend Howard County Public Schools. She is bilingual and fluent in Spanish.

Nichelle Paisant, M .Ed.

Nichelle is originally from New Orleans, moved to the Maryland area in 2005,lives in Columbia MD, and started her career in Education as a Special Educator in 2006. From there until the birth of her beautiful daughter Special Education has been at the forefront of her
career and family. Graduated from Bowie State University in 2009 with her master’s degree in Special Education. In 2011 have received the diagnosis of Autism for her daughter. In addition to being a parent her career in Special Education supported her understanding of disabilities by being an educator to now being an IEP Facilitator, as the Department Coordinator for Special Education. She received her Post Master’s Certification in Administration and Leadership from Loyola University of Maryland in 2022, which has helped her advocate for Autism Awareness. Her Motto is “ If not you then who”!

” In joining the AUSOM board, I’m ecstatic to be able to work with similar minds to help elevate our autism communities with advocacy, resources, and support. The Autism Society has been a great resource for families in the Maryland area and helped me with an outlet for outreach for my daughter. They have a great community of people who are like family.”

Matthew Plantz

Matthew was the first self-advocate to serve on the AUSOM Board and joined us in 2017 He has been an active participant on several committees and important voice for individuals with Autism. His contribution to our organization has been significant. Matthew currently co-chairs our Advocacy & Resources Committee and is a member of  the Development Committee and Housing Task Force. Matthew has joined AUSOM staff on “Autism 101” presentations to local schools and community organizations, adding his perspective as a person with disabilities. He has helped park train rangers, speech language pathologists, students, teachers, faith leaders, and naturalists about the intricacies of Autism. Matthew possesses a wealth of knowledge regarding disability issues, legislation and struggles faced by the disability community. He follows the news, knows the numbers and the key players. In addition to his service to AUSOM, has served on multiple disability-related committees and boards including Community Advisory Committee/Kennedy Krieger, Commission for Disability Issues of Howard County (Chair), and currently chairs the Board of Directors for People on the Go.

“Hey, my name is Matthew Plantz. I’ve lived with autism for 40+ years. I am currently living in a home supported by The Arc of Howard County. I have had the pleasure of serving on the Community Advisory Committee for Kennedy Krieger, the Commission for Disability Issus of Howard County (serving as chair for two years), and currently serve on the Board of Directors for People on the Go. I am honored to be on this board look forward to working with you the other members.”

Sabina Sambat

Sabina lives in West Friendship with her husband and 2 boys, the older of which is on the spectrum. Trained at Johns Hopkins where she received her masters degree as a nurse practitioner, Sabina has taken a break from practice to advocate for her son and volunteer at his elementary school on a regular basis. She looks forward to continuing to work with the gala planning committee and further promoting AUSOM.

“The society is important to me as it provides a connection between parents (and families) in the same boat as I. It’s not just an emotional support, but it’s the sharing of information and the interest in helping each other. I so appreciate other parents who tell me what helped and what didn’t, what to pursue and what to push aside. I know I am that person too, and love that we can be a resource to one another.”

Benjamin Smith  

Ben is an Autistic Self-Advocate who was diagnosed with autism at age 2. He  struggled but improved through reading and writing, figuring out the words, phrases, and cues that best described his understanding. During school, he attended classes with one or more special education teachers. Ben worked tirelessly to get through every tough assignment, including his tough classes in college. He received his Associate’s and Bachelor’s Degrees in Math. Ben was introduced to our organization through the AUSOM Adult Social Group. He met with the group’s coordinator who asked Ben to volunteer on a film project. It’s through that project that Ben met his girlfriend, Victoria.  Ben joined the AUSOM Board of Directors in 2018 and has worked alongside his fellow members to support the organization. Ben currently works at the Department of Defense. He began his new career in Information Technology (IT) after spending five years as a a program analyst at Aberdeen Proving Ground.  His hard work, honesty, and character, help him to support and inspire other autistic advocates. Ben has no problem speaking up about his journey. He can enhance others’ emotional intelligence and encourages them to know their rights and ask for accommodations, whether at work or home.


Jorge Tirigall

I was born in Towson, Maryland on October 24th 1997 to my Argentine parents Roxana Caruso and Luis Tirigall. I am the descendant of Jose Marzano, a loyal best buddy of Jose De San Martin, the Liberator of Argentina, Peru, and Chile. I was the on camera talent for my father’s home videos.  In middle school years and my freshman year or high school, I was bullied because of my achievements and because of my autism. This was a period of depression and sadness where I was suffering from constant bullying. These years were not nice for me. In high school, my life was changed when I joined Best Buddies. In August 2013, I joined the Reservoir High School chapter of Best Buddies to enrich my social skills. I graduated from Reservoir High School in 2016 and the rise of my leadership in the Best Buddies organization was born. In November 2016, I became the first and only member with autism of the Best Buddies Maryland Friendship Walk Committee. On March 7th 2018, I was compelled to speak alongside my mother, Dianne Nagel of Project Access, Kathy McSweeney, Director of HCC Disability Support Services and Melissa Rosenberg, Executive Director of AUSOM discussing Autism in Howard County. I shared my inspiring journey to adulthood as a person with autism that was not always easy but continues to be flavored with humility and kindness. In July 2017, I traveled to Indiana for the Best Buddies Leadership Conference and talked briefly to Anthony K. Shriver, the Founder of Best Buddies International and the nephew of John F. Kennedy, the 35th President of the United States. In December 2017, I became a Best Buddies Ambassador where I was trained by Amber Yates and Vince. 2018 was the year that I joined e-Buddies, the Best Buddies Jobs program, and the Best Buddies Alumni program. In 2019, I  created the Best Buddies Maryland Ambassador Committee of which I am the Co-Chair. In addition, I received the 2019 Young Trailblazer Award from the Howard County NAACP and the Partners In Policymaking award from The Arc Maryland, the Maryland Developmental Disabilities Council, and People On The Go.

“We must promote the inclusion of people with autism no matter what kind of race and ethnicity they identify themselves.”

Lisa Wiederlight

Lisa lives with her 23 year-old son Joshua in Annapolis, Md. Originally from Connecticut, she attended the University of Maryland College Park for her B.A. in government and politics, and her Master of Public Policy degrees.  For five years, Lisa served as the executive director of a national autism nonprofit which co-founded the Autism Safety Coalition, and advocated for passage of the federal “Kevin and Avonte’s Law.” This law provides funding to prevent and address wandering in children with developmental disabilities, and adults with dementia. She currently serves as the chair of Maryland’s Autism Stakeholder Group on Autism-Related Needs’ Housing and Community Integration Subcommittee. Lisa is also the board president and founder of My Heart’s Home, a nonprofit organization that is working to create integrated, mixed-use communities featuring supportive amenities that meet the needs of adults with developmental disabilities, wounded veterans, and older adults.

“Addressing autism-related needs across the lifespan is a marathon, and AUSOM, as one of the strongest and most well-respected autism-related organizations in Maryland, is uniquely positioned to help each segment of the autism community improve the quality of life for Marylanders on the autism spectrum, their family members, and other caregivers. I joined the board to help families facing autism after so many others have helped mine.”


Mia Williams

Mia Williams is the mother of two sons, the oldest of whom is on the spectrum and is in high school. She has served on the Parent Panel of Towson University’s Autism Education Series, as the Parent Liaison for Special Needs students at her son’s school, and is a strong advocate for her son. She became involved with AUSOM through its Yoga Classes and Transition Symposium, then served as a volunteer on the Walk/5K Run Committee in 2017. Mia resides in Howard County and is very excited to serve on the board.

“I look forward to improving the opportunities, rights and futures of individuals on the spectrum. I also look forward to connecting with other parents in the autism community to work with them in achieving the ever changing goals for our children.”

Pamela Williams

Pam is originally from Georgia, and has lived in Howard County since 2001. Pam has two children and her son, Jonathan, is on the spectrum.  Pam has worked with AUSOM for years to get additional support and guidance as needed, and this has been helpful for Jonathan upon his diagnosis in elementary school.  Over the past few years, Pam has been participating in the Education Committee. Pam is interested in youth transitions from high school. Pamela is the Director for the Cancer & Chronic Disease Bureau at Maryland Department of Health.