MEET OUR BOARD OF DIRECTORS
Sammi first became involved with the National Alliance for Autism Research (now Autism Speaks) in 2001 shortly after her son, Bailey, was diagnosed with autism.
As a volunteer, she has raised awareness about autism throughout Southern New England; and in 2003, 4 & 5; she chaired the Southern New England Walks for Autism Research held in Providence, RI. She was also a member of the New England Chapter Board of Directors for Autism Speaks from November, 2006 until January, 2008.
As the captain of “Bailey’s Team”, Sammi along with her family and friends, have raised over one half million dollars for autism research, education and programming in support of individuals living with autism spectrum disorders and their families through an annual campaign, a charity golf tournament and many other fundraising events.
She is involved with numerous committees and projects throughout the special needs community and recently served as the Co-Chairperson of the Rhode Island Autism Coalition. In addition, she served alongside leading professionals in the field of autism on a statewide committee charged with writing a guide for parents on the subject of autism. This project was spearheaded by the Rhode Island’s State Department of Health and the first draft was released in 2006.
Sammi has co-written and helped to implement a new program for the Hockomock Area YMCA called the Integration Initiative. The overall mission of this initiative is to provide an opportunity for children with special needs to participate in an included recreational setting with typically developing peers.
Her last formal employment in the nonprofit sector was with Community Care Services where she served as the Director of Professional Development setting up trainings on a number of topics including autism.
Sammi lives with her husband Doug and their three children – Rachel, Bailey and Spencer; and she is stepmom to Lindsay. She also recently became a “step-grandmother” to Georgie.
Sammi and Doug’s plans to create their own 501(c)3 non profit organization finally came to fruition in the summer of 2008 and to date continues to raise money in an effort to fund numerous programs and organizations each year.
Sammi serves as President and Chairman of the Board of Baileys Team.
Doug Robertson is a managing partner at Visual Creations, Inc.; a Rhode Island based manufacturing company specializing in in-house design, engineering and project management of custom designed store fixtures and point of purchase displays.
Prior to starting Visual Creations, Doug served the store fixture manufacturing industry as longtime employee of Packaging Concepts, Ltd., another Rhode Island based manufacturing company also specializing in the design and development of point of purchase displays.
Doug has four children – Lindsay, Rachel, Bailey and Spencer; and recently became a grandfather to Georgie.
Bailey was diagnosed with autism at 20 months of age and shortly thereafter Doug and his wife, Sammi, became involved with the National Alliance for Autism Research, now Autism Speaks.
Since 2001, Doug, along with Sammi and their family and friends, have raised over one half million dollars for autism research, education and programming in support of individuals living with autism spectrum disorders and their families through an annual campaign, a charity golf tournament and many other fundraising events.
In 2008, Bailey's Team was incorporated as a 501(c)3 non-profit organization and to date continues to raise money in an effort to fund numerous programs and organizations each year.
Doug serves as Vice President of Bailey’s Team.
A graduate of Boston Latin School, Dan received a Bachelor of Arts degree, cum laude, from Assumption College. His major course of study was Social and Rehabilitation Services. Dan also earned a Master in Business Administration from Rutgers University and is licensed as a certified public accountant in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.
Early in his career, Dan worked as an auditor and management consultant for Deloitte & Touche in both the New York and Boston offices.
Dan’s post public accounting experience extends across a broad spectrum of the healthcare sector including academic medical centers, specialty hospitals, physician group practices and community health centers within venture capital, acute and municipal settings. In addition to a consulting role, Dan has served as a controller and director of financial planning.
In June 2005, Dan joined Bright Horizons Family Solutions. As Vice President of Compliance & Internal Control, he has been responsible for compliance with the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 as well as more traditional internal audit functions.
Dan has been active in community organizations including the American Cancer Society, the Mansfield Challenger Sports Program, the Qualters Middle School PAC, the Little North Attleboro League-Challenger Division, the Hockomock Area YMCA Integration Initiative, and Autism Speaks.
Dan and his wife, Jane, live in Mansfield. Their son, Kevin, a graduate of Merrimack College, is enjoying post-college life in Boston. Their daughter, Emily, who has autism, is in the Twelve-Plus Program at Mansfield High School where she is included as a Team Manager for several sports teams.
Amy Tonkonogy is an Executive Producer at WGBH Educational Foundation. Over the past 22 years, Amy has been responsible for the planning, development, and implementation of dozens of major initiatives conducted through WGBH's Education Department.
She pioneered and refined WGBH’s unique approach to capturing effective teaching and learning in K-12 classrooms, resulting in numerous industry awards and practitioner commendations.
In the past decade, she has focused on projects that integrate video within online environments, producing resources that target teacher professional development, K-12 curriculum, medical education, and lifelong learning. Amy has also used various media to translate research findings to practice. Her current work is focused on effective classroom implementation of Common Core State Standards.
Amy holds a B.S. in Communications from Northeastern University and a M.Ed. in Curriculum and Instruction from Lesley University; and resides in Newton with her husband, Doug and their children, Graham, Zachary & Jonathan.
Amy serves as Clerk and Funding Coordinator for Bailey's Team.
Thomas Buckley is a Captain with the Foxborough Fire Department and has been a firefighter for over 22 years. Tom is also a part time engineer at Bay Colony Group, Inc. of Foxborough. In this position he is responsible for the design of commercial sites and residential subdivisions. He holds an AS in Civil Engineering from Northeastern University and a BS in Fire Science from Providence College.
He and his family became involved in the autism community in 2001 shortly after his nephew, Louis, was diagnosed with autism. Tom and his wife, Linda, founded “Long Strides for Louis” their fundraising team which has raised over $100,000 for autism research (first for the National Alliance for Autism Research and then Autism Speaks) by manning a concession stand at Gillette Stadium, participating in walks with national autism groups and at an annual golf tournament. In 2008 they decided to donate proceeds raised to benefit the Boston Higashi School in Randolph, MA where Louis is a student.
Tom is affiliated with the Autism Law Enforcement Coalition (ALEC) as an instructor where he trains firefighters how to interact with children and adults with Autism. He is also the Chairman of the Foxborough Board of Assessors, a member of the Foxborough Lions Club and a 25 year member of the Foxborough/Sharon Knights of Columbus.
Tom and Linda reside in Foxborough with their two children - Danielle and Thomas Junior - "TJ".
Sheila Burgess is the Principal of the Early Learning Center, a pre-school in the North Attleboro Public School System that provides both typically developing children and children with special needs the opportunity to thrive in an integrated setting.
Sheila’s background in general and special education has enabled her to intuitively meet the needs of all her students and their families. She has helped to develop her most experienced staff – a number of education professionals that have come to provide a caring and respectful environment for all students. Sheila’s interest in and commitment to these very special children and their families begin as they enter her program at age three following their participation in “Early Intervention.”
She volunteers in the community alongside parents of children from her student body in an effort to contribute to numerous causes including the Southern New England Walk for Autism and the Hockomock Area YMCA’s Integration Initiative whose mission is to provide children with special needs the opportunity to participate in extra-curricular activities in a recreational setting where they may learning from typically-developing peers; a model of her very own school program.
Sheila and her husband, Joe, live in Cumberland, Rhode Island and have two grown children both whom are educators. In addition to Sheila’s work in the special needs community, she enjoys serving on the Board of the State Ballet of Rhode Island and as costume designer and head seamstress for their biannual performances.
Tony Calcia is the Vice President of Child Protection and Social Responsibility at the Hockomock Area YMCA where he has served since January of 2002. Prior to working at the Y, he was the Director of Park & Recreation for the Town of North Attleboro for fourteen years.
Tony served on the North Attleboro School Committee for 12 years and was a member of the Board of Directors for The Arc of Northern Bristol County. He has served on the North Attleboro Scholarship Foundation for 25 years and is very involved in the community and enjoys working in human services.
Among his numerous accomplishments at the YMCA, Tony co-developed and helped to implement a new program for the local YMCA called the Integration Initiative. The overall mission of this initiative is to provide an opportunity for children with special needs to participate in an included recreational setting with typically developing peers. In addition, The Legends Ball, which supports this initiative, has become a very special event in the Hockomock YMCA’s numerous communities attracting over 400 patrons honoring past and present local athletes representing both the New England Patriots and Boston Red Sox. This event has netted $272,863 since its inception in 2006.
Tony lives in North Attleboro and has been actively involved in the community since his childhood. He is passionate about providing opportunities for children with special needs and their families. Tony’s nephew with multiple needs and disabilities passed away in May of 2008. His nephew, along with his sister’s and brother-in-law’s strength, inspired him to take extra steps to help families living with challenges in order to live their lives to the fullest so that they may truly participate in their community.
A. Jerskey, Ph.D., is May Institute’s Vice President of Professional
Training and Research and Director of Clinical Training for its APA-accredited
doctoral internship program in Clinical Psychology. At the May her responsibilities
include overseeing clinical training, professional education programming, and
organization-wide research efforts. Previous to this position, Beth was the coordinator
for the Rhode Island Consortium for Autism Research and Treatment (RI-CART).
as a neuropsychologist, Beth graduated from Boston University with a doctorate
in Clinical Psychology. She completed her clinical internship at Massachusetts
General Hospital, and a postdoctoral fellowship through the Alpert Medical
School of Brown University’s Department of Psychiatry and Human Behavior
Clinical Psychology Training Consortium; she continues to maintain a faculty
position in research within the medical school.
the last decade, Beth has been exploring subtle neuronal and genetic
differences as possible biomarkers in the etiology of a variety of disorders,
including autism. Her professional interests also include policy and ethical
considerations pertaining to the inclusion of individuals with developmental
disabilities in clinical research.
is a licensed psychologist in Massachusetts and Rhode Island. She sits on several
ethics committees and is a member of the American Psychological Association,
American Psychological Association Division 40 (Neuropsychology), The
International Neuropsychological Society, and Public Responsibility in Medicine
lives in Westwood, Massachusetts with her husband, Eric and their two sons and
she loves cooking and spending time with friends and family.
Amy Laurent, Ed.M, OTR/L is a pediatric
occupational therapist who holds a Master’s degree in Special Education.
Currently in private practice, Amy specializes in the education of children
with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) and related developmental disabilities.
The majority of Amy’s work involves collaborating with and supporting school
teams and families.
Her consultative services focus on the creation of
educational programs and environments that facilitate children’s active
engagement and learning at home, in schools, and throughout their communities.
The SCERTS Model, of which she is a co-author, along with differentiated
instruction and developmental theory guide her practice. She works with
educational teams in K-12 schools, pre-schools, and early intervention
In addition to her role as a consultant, Amy serves as an
adjunct faculty member for the Department of Communicative Disorders at the
University of Rhode Island where she is also a doctoral student in psychology,
and for the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders at Emerson
College in Boston, MA. At these institutions, she teaches undergraduate
and graduate courses focused on preparing graduating clinicians to meet the
needs of children with ASD and the needs of their families. (see training
page for information) Additionally, she is a co-developer of the SKIP
(Super Kids Interactive Play) Program at the University of Rhode Island.
Her publications, including a chapter in the Handbook of
Autism and Pervasive Developmental Disorders (3 edition) have
focused on emotional regulation in children and adolescents with ASD and its
impact on later social competence. She frequently lectures and provides
training throughout the United States and internationally on the SCERTS Model
and other topics related to therapeutic and educational intervention for
children with ASD.
Her private practice is affiliated with Communication
Crossroads, Childhood Communication Services, and Childhood Communication
lives in Rhode Island with her husband, John, her son and Chocolate Lab. She
enjoys playing, writing stories, yoga and laughing :)
Julie O’Brien, M.Ed., LMHC graduated from Boston College with a B.A in psychology in 1990 and received a Masters of Education in Counseling and Psychological Services from Springfield College in 1996. She works at the Massachusetts General Hospital for Children's Lurie Center.
She has worked at (then SNCARC) the Arc of South Norfolk County as the Assistant Director of Family Support and then became Director of the Family Autism Center. As Director of the Family Autism Center for 3 years, she helped to develop specialized programs for children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) and organized many successful fundraisers.
Originally hired to work at then LADDERS, as Autism Resource Specialist with the Autism Consortium in 2007, Julie has provided support, information and referral, and resources to newly diagnosed patients families, as well as providing assistance to countless families while at Lurie Center.
Over the past 5 years, Julie has been coordinating the Lurie Center’s annual parent speaker series, and has been an active member on the following statewide committees: Advocates for Autism Massachusetts (AFAM), ARICA and Adult Services.
Currently, her primary role is to support and provide information, resources and education to families of adolescents who are transitioning to adulthood, and adults with ASD and their families. She is a constant and avid advocate in this field, and the step mom of three children, including two teenagers who have ASD.
Honorary Board Members:
Irwin & Roberta Chafetz