Melissa Rosenberg – Executive Director

Melissa joined the HCAS staff in December 2016, a nonprofit specialist with over 20 years of experience in grant writing, fundraising, community outreach and arts management.  She works with the HCAS Board of Directors, volunteers and community partners to move the organization forward and offer additional opportunities for meaningful employment, independent living, friendships, arts experiences, social interactions, respect, inclusion and acceptance for individuals on the spectrum.

Melissa received an undergraduate degree in Journalism from the University of Maryland and a master’s degree in Nonprofit Management from the University of Maryland University College. She is a 2013 graduate of Leadership Howard County and serves on the Board of Directors for the Association of Community Services Howard County, Columbia Center for Theatrical Arts, and Howard County Local Children’s Board.  Melissa and husband, Jim, live in Silver Spring.  They have two grown children and a nephew with autism.

“It is an honor and a privilege to work each day within the autism community to support and uplift these amazing individuals, family members and professionals who reside in our community.”

Susanne Mason – Deputy Director

Susanne joined the HCAS staff in June 2019 and served as its Resource Manager and Event Coordinator until being appointed Deputy Director in October 2022.  In new her role, Susanne is responsible for overseeing and developing Information & Referral services for the organization and providing support in the areas of Programming, Development, and Volunteers in partnership with the Executive Director and Board of Directors.

Susanne continues her volunteer service with organizations affiliated with the Oakland Mills Interfaith Center. Since 2017, she has provided administrative and marketing leadership for the OMI Marketing Committee of The Meeting House and the OMI Art Committee of The Meeting House Gallery. From 2007 to 2018, she served in various capacities to develop the education program at Columbia United Christian Church. Prior to her non-profit endeavors, Susanne had the privilege of conducting neurophysiology research at the University of Maryland Baltimore School of Medicine and served as adjunct faculty in the Health Sciences Division at Howard Community College. Susanne has been a Columbia resident for almost 30 years by way of Australia and Michigan. She lives with her husband, her young adult son with Autism, and a precocious golden doodle.

 

Beth Benevides, Special Education Consultant

Beth is a longtime policy and educational advocate for individuals and families affected by autism and related disabilities.  She serves as a consultant for HCAS, providing 1:1 special education consultation to parents of children with any disability in Howard County as part of our annual Community Service Partnership (CSP) Grant through the Howard County Department of Community Resources and Services.  She is a Past President of HCAS and is Associate Director of Autism Programs at the Hussman Foundation.  Beth serves on a number of statewide workgroups devoted to programs, education, civil rights and policy affecting those with autism.  She is an advisory member of the Maryland Center for Developmental Disabilities at Kennedy Krieger Institute, an appointed member of the Maryland Department of Disabilities Ethan Saylor Alliance for Self-Advocates steering committee; and co-chair of the commission for Transitioning Students with Disabilities in Howard county.  She is a certified special education advocate and member of the Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates (COPAA)  Beth is mom to a 21-year-old son with autism.

 

Lydia Romero-Johnson, Family Navigator

Lydia has been connected to the Howard County Autism Society since the diagnosis of her oldest son in 2011. She has 15 plus years of experience in the healthcare field. She is a Registered Nurse with 10 years’ experience in mental health, stress-management is a critical component of the care she provides. She is a 2014 graduate of the Institute for Integrative Nutrition, where she became certified as a health coach. Lydia serves on the Board of the Autoimmune Community Institute and as well as on a committee of the Lupus Foundation of America.  She values a pro-active, preventative, holistic approach to health, wellness and life. She enjoys time in nature, creative vibes, and adventures with her husband, 2 sons, and their most awesome dog, Zilly.

 

Dana Riley, Bookkeeper

Dana provides general bookkeeping services for HCAS that include everything from payroll, financial reports and budget preparation, to coordinating the tax preparation and financial reviews.

 

Sara Sommerville, Information & Referral and Special Education News

Sara manages and oversees the HCAS Special Education News Center Website as part of our annual Community Service Partnership (CSP) Grant through the Howard County Department of Community Resources and Services.  She coordinates and posts articles on the site in partnership with HCAS and HCPSS Department of Special Education.  Sara lives in Howard County and is the parent of a teenage son with ASD.

 

Ben McAuliffe, Database Assistant

Ben is a smart, diligent, hardworking resident of Howard County who is on the spectrum. He is a graduate of Howard Community College and has an AA Degree in General Studies and Information Systems Assurance. Ben was part of the first cohort of the HCAS Autism Hiring Program! He has been working with HCAS since mid-June 2021 and has been helping record how long people have volunteered at various events and enters new volunteers into the system. Ben also helps with other tasks at the office when he is needed.