Patrick Boxall – 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 HCAS members’ diverse experiences with autism. Patrick has been a board member since 2007. He currently serves as Board President and previously served as 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”
Donald Barrick – Vice President
Having done business in and around Howard County for more than 20 years, Don is well aware of the resources available in the area for the HCAS constituency. He has been involved in Commercial Real Estate and Business Brokerage throughout that time, but his previous experience was in Health Care Management and Marketing. Don is attempting to bring all of that experience together in an effort to contribute in an aggressive manner, for the benefit of HCAS.
“My reason for becoming active with HCAS can be summed up by the words of American Philosopher, William James: ‘Act as if what you do makes a difference. It does.“
Katie Gandy – Secretary
Originally from Virginia, and having lived overseas in Germany for 2 years, Katie has been a resident of Howard County, Maryland since March 2016 and a member of HCAS since her family moved here, and board member since 2018.
Katie was a Political Science major at Armstrong State University in Savannah but has worked in the fitness industry for the past 10 years as a Personal Trainer and Group Fitness Instructor as well as in Event Planning, both skills she hopes will be of use as she serves on the HCAS Board of Directors.
Katie is married to Christian, a geologist for the US Army Corps of Engineers. They have a son, 8, who is on the autism spectrum and a daughter, 6, who attends Waverly Elementary. Outside of work and home life, Katie is an avid activist for educational equity and for those with developmental disabilities, a voracious reader and someone who loves to travel.
James Curran, III – Treasurer
Jim is a Certified Financial Planner who, with his partner, Monty Knittle, has a focus on Special Needs Financial Planning. While he does not have a child with autism, he served as a trustee for a close friend’s Special Needs Trust. He is also currently a board member of Make Studio, an art studio for adults and individuals in transition with autism. Jim lives in Lutherville with his wife, Andi. They have three grown children and two grandsons.
” Having worked with families impacted by autism for over seven years, I’ve come to have a great admiration for them given the unique challenges they face. My hope is with my background and experience, I can contribute to the wonderful work Howard County Autism Society is doing to enrich the individual families of our community.”
Theresa Ballinger – Immediate Past President
Theresa is a longtime member of HCAS and 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 also helps with HCAS 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 Howard County Autism Society where you can benefit from its collective past experiences and expertise; and, help others that may also be traveling on this journey.”
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 HCAS 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 HCAS community.”
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 Howard County Autism Society, 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 HCAS Board because I found a passion in supporting and empowering families who live with Autism, while educating our community.”
Nora is the mother of a son named Danny who has autism. As a member of the Howard County Autism Society, Nora has become familiar with the organization’s mission and her family has enjoyed participating in HCAS events. Her work experience is as a fundraising and development professional for non-profit organizations. During her career, she worked at a teaching hospital, a think tank, and a historic home. Nora grew up in Montclair, New Jersey.
“From my first monthly support group meeting, HCAS has provided support, education and understanding for not only me but my entire family. As a parent of a child with Autism, HCAS has helped me to advocate more effectively for my son. Serving on the HCAS board has empowered me to help not only my son but also other people with Autism.”
Robin is a speech pathologist and has 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 one granddaughter.
Marianne is a long-time member of HCAS and previously served on the Board. Her daughter, Meaghan, is 20 and is on the spectrum. Meaghan is currently a super senior at Marriotts Ridge High School. Marianne is a veterinary epidemiologist. She serves as a Captain in the U.S. Public Health Service and is stationed at the FDA. She is dedicated to helping families and individuals find a sense of community and independence. Working with HCAS, Marianne championed the Sensory Friendly Films at AMC Theatres across the country. Marianne lives with her husband Rick, Meaghan, son Gavin, and her Dad Jim, in Sykesville.
“HCAS has truly changed my life. From the very first HCAS event that my children and I attended, I found a place where I belonged and was accepted. I am forever indebted to the generosity, support, friendship and guidance that HCAS has provided to me over the past 15+ years. Because of this organization, I have been empowered to enact change and challenge myself to advance the awareness and understanding of the Autism Spectrum Disorder.”
Erik Kristopher Myers
Erik Kristopher Myers is a filmmaker based out of Baltimore, MD, and an accomplished writer and film theorist. His first feature film, ROULETTE, is an award-winning thriller that was released in 2013. His follow-up, the faux-documentary horror film, BUTTERFLY KISSES, is currently touring the festival circuit, and is due to be released in the fall of 2018. In addition, Myers has been a popular online writer on the subjects of film and genre theory for over a decade.
Following his son’s diagnosis in 2014, Myers became actively involved in the autism community. He has mentored filmmakers on the spectrum, guiding them toward realizing their vision for receptive and inspired audiences. He has also been a volunteer for HCAS since 2015, MC-ing the 2017 One Step Closer Walk & 5K, and directing the 25th anniversary video retrospective.
Matthew’s bio coming soon.
“Hey, my name is Matthew Plantz. I’ve lived with autism for 36 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.”
Catherine Pakulla, member of the Howard County Economic Development Authority since 2013, works hard every day to support the businesses in Howard County as the organizations Director of Business Retention and Expansion. She actively serves on the ECP board of directors, was a Leadership Howard County 2018 Graduate, is a member of the BGE Community Advisory Committee, and volunteers in support of Howard County Library’s Choose Civility campaign. In 2016, Catherine was nominated by the community for distinguished recognition from Governor Hogan and Howard County Executive Allan Kittleman for her involvement in the response to the 2016 Ellicott City flood. Since then, Catherine continues to work with the businesses in Ellicott City to assist in their recovery.
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 HCAS.
“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.”
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 HCAS 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, HCAS is an irreplaceable resources for the autism community.”
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 HCAS 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.”
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 HCAS 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.”
Mia Williams is the mother of two sons, the oldest of whom is on the spectrum and is in high school. Mia works as an administrator in the Budget office of Howard County Government. 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 HCAS through its Yoga Classes and Transition Symposium, then served as a volunteer on the Walk/5K Run Committee in 2017. Mia resides in Baltimore 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.”
Lisa Wilson, RDH, MS Clinical Dental Hygienist originally hails from just outside the Boston area. She and her husband Stephen live in Fulton, Maryland and have two children. Their youngest son who is on the spectrum. Lisa is an avid runner and enjoys her career as a clinical dental hygienist at the University of Maryland. Lisa looks forward to increasing the community presence for the organization and creating meaningful opportunities for the youngest of our members. ”
“Autism is my marathon; long and challenging. It allows you to reach deep inside and find the spaces that are uncomfortable and unfamiliar. It provides the opportunity of overcome and achieve. As with any race…. you plan, prepare, and pray for the best. Knowing all the while that it’s all about the journey.”