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 Outreach at the Hussman Institute. 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 is a certified special education advocate and member of the Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates (COPAA)  Beth is mom to a 25-year-old son with Autism.

Madison Brown, Social Media & Communications Intern

Madison is a  24–year–old Autistic woman who was diagnosed when she was 18 months old. She graduated in 2019 from Howard Community College, an Associate’s Degree in Classical Piano. A year later, she was one of the first groups of people to get hit with long Covid which left her with neuropathy. Today, she’s  back on her feet, and active on social media where she has created her own page called marvelouslymadison. Through her page, she discusses her life as an Autistic woman living with neuropathy, and showing her followers that, no matter what disability you have, nothing can stop you from greatness. She is excited to be working as a Social Media/Communication Intern for the Howard County Autism Society.



Jessica Deadwyler, Resource Coordinator – Anne Arundel County

Jessica is a former special educator and a parent of a child with Autism.  She spends much of her time researching resources and networking with other Autism families. Her son is in secondary school and knows that much has changed since he was diagnosed. Her experience as a parent and educator have given her the ability to provide resources to her network. She’s learned that no individual’s abilities are the same, and each family should be nurtured according to their needs. “As a parent, I empathize with families who are new to the journey. Though initially tendinous and intimidating, the pathway through navigating Autism as a family is rewarding.” Jessica resides with her husband, four kids, and their fur baby. She looks forward to connecting with the Autism community in Anne Arundel!



Mark Dunham, Housing Consultant / Patuxent Commons (Bio & Photo Coming Soon!)

Linda Hoyt, Program Manager & Employment Specialist, Autism Hiring Program

Linda came to Maryland from the Midwest.  Having lived here for 25+ years, she now calls Maryland home and loves Old Bay and Berger cookies like any native! She worked as an Occupational Therapist in acute and rehabilitative settings but, in recent years, her focus has been on finding mutual workplace successes for neurodiverse individuals and businesses.  She has partnered with Project SEARCH in Howard and Montgomery Counties along with local businesses to match non-traditional talent to fill their workplace needs. She is excited be part of the workplace success for many neurodiverse individuals in a variety of work environments. Each individual’s story is unique, yet through the use of assessment, instruction, adaptation, modification and coaching support, the successes have multiplied for individuals and businesses. Being a part of Howard County Autism Society’s Autism Hiring Program has enabled Linda to reach more individuals and businesses, providing them with the tools and support to succeed.


Liza Kibler, Administrative Assistant (Photo Coming Soon!)

Liza hails from Malaysia and earned her degree in Political Science and with a minor in Business Management.  She is a former military spouse  for 13 years who loved to volunteer during her husband’s service in the military. Networking and supporting military spouse were part of her life at that time and the experience taught her to be resilient with changes during their Permanent Change of Station (PCS) and while her husband was deployed. She has vast experience with sales and marketing, focusing on CRM, lead sales, campaign and event management, as well as managing international roaming partner during her work in the IT and Telecommunication industry. Liza and her family decided to make Ellicott City their home when her husband retired from the military. Liza is an advocate for her son who is Autistic, and she is passionate about helping individuals and families who have the same challenges. Liza loves to DIY old furniture and enjoys gardening. Liza lives with her husband, Wes, and their children, Noah and Sophia.


Kelly Kryspin, Family Navigator & Autism Hiring Program Curriculum Coordinator

Kelly recently joined our HCAS staff, but has been working in partnership with the agency since 2020 facilitating the curriculum and peer group meetings for the Autism Hiring Program. She has 10 plus years’ experience in the disability field, ranging from direct support, case management and facilitating support groups. Additionally, Kelly has an older brother with Autism who has been a large influence in the compassion and kindness she brings to each of these roles. Kelly is originally from New Jersey and moved down to Maryland in 2019. She received both her undergraduate and graduate degree in Social Work from Marywood University.  Prior to joining HCAS, Kelly had the opportunity to work at two different Centers for Independent Living (CIL’s) over the past 8 years where she learned a great deal about the Independent Living philosophy. She values a strengths-based approach in assisting others and feels it is important for individuals to be viewed as the expert when it comes to informed decision making and navigating their own lives. Kelly enjoys spending her free time with family, her boyfriend and their two springer spaniels named Olive and Opal.

Nicole LeBlanc, Coordinator, Vaccine Education Initiative

Nicole is an Autistic self-advocate who has a keen ability for and interest in public policy.  She excels at communicating the needs of people with developmental disabilities to public officials. Ever since Nicole first stepped foot in Washington, D.C., she knew she wanted to live in the political universe. Nicole has presented or facilitated webinars and video blogs on the topics of healthcare, Autism, presuming competence, self-managed services, voter access, COVID-19, the dignity of risk, and employment of people with disabilities. She has worked with organizations including Green Mountain Self-Advocates, Self-Advocates Becoming Empowered, the Autistic Self-Advocacy Network, and the Administration on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities. Nicole received the David Joyce Advocate of the Year award for outstanding policy advocacy on Capitol Hill from the Autism Society of America. She was a Public Policy Fellow at RespectAbility, and was the first recipient of RespectAbility’s Steve Bartlett Award, which recognizes an individual who demonstrates a strong commitment to advancing public policy in support of people with disabilities. She has worked since 2020 as a Self Advocate Advisor with TASH on the AOD Disability Employment TA Center. Nicole is one who is not willing to shy away from taking on big challenges and new adventures. Her motto is “control your own destiny or someone else will.” She is a die-hard RED SOX and Patriots fan!

Kristen Letnick, Resource Coordinator – Montgomery County

Kristen hails from Northern Virginia and looks forward to applying her professional experience, knowledge of Autism and mental health to further support the Autism community. Kristen previously worked for the Autism Society of Northern Virginia, where she coordinated and directed a variety of programs and social events for Autistic adults and families. Prior to joining the nonprofit world, Kristen worked in clinical mental health. She obtained her Bachelor’s degree in psychology with a minor in Anthropology from James Madison University, then completed her Master’s degree in Clinical Mental Health Counseling at Marymount University. Kristen went on to provide therapy, case management, and crisis intervention for adults in a variety of settings. Her own experience of being diagnosed as an Autistic adult in 2016 ultimately led Kristen to pursue work with Autism-based organizations. She appreciates having the opportunity to work in this area of personal significance to her while supporting others on their journey. In her spare time, Kristen spends quiet nights watching her favorite stim shows with her cats. Her special interests include animals, writing, word puzzles, online reality games, thrift shopping, local fairs and festivals, and conducting online research for fun.

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.

Catalina Ramos, Spanish Language Resource Coordinator

Catalina was born in Bogota, Colombia and came to the United States in 1996. She loves spending time with family, taking walks in nature, reading educational books and watching suspense and thriller movies. “Life has shown me how important it is to find a support system in order to navigate through the many surprises that life may bring. Therefore, that is why one of my biggest desires has been helping those who are experiencing a new challenge or are in need of some guidance. I have been fortunate to be the mother of two young girls and a 9-year-old boy who was diagnosed with Autism in 2016. Thankfully, my family and I have received so much help for our son using the local resources. I am excited to work with Howard County Autism Society and become part of this supportive community.”



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.


Melissa Rosenberg – Executive Director

Melissa joined the HCAS staff in December 2016, a nonprofit specialist with over 25 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.

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.”

Melissa Scales-Hamilton, Employment Specialist, Autism Hiring Program

Melissa is a true champion of inclusion, empowerment, and transformative change. She is also a customized employment consultant, dedicating herself to creating pathways and opportunities for individuals with unique needs. She holds a significant position in Helen Sanderson Associates, a global company that uses Person-Centered Approaches and Self-Management Practices to facilitate training and coach individuals across four countries (United Kingdom, Canada, New Zealand, and United States). And as an advocate of Person-Centered Thinking, she inspires and empowers individuals and communities to embrace this approach that promotes respect, dignity, and inclusivity. Through her tireless efforts, she is instrumental in breaking down barriers and enabling individuals to reach their full potential. She also serves as a Commissioner for individuals with disabilities in Prince George’s County. She advocates tirelessly for the rights and well-being of individuals with disabilities, ensuring that their voices can be heard, their needs can be addressed and their rights are recognized.


Sara Sommerville, Resource Coordinator – Howard County

Sara has been part of the HCAS team for several years and recently transitioned to the position of Resource Coordinator for Howard County.  She strives to provide meaningful, inclusive programming that recognizes the diversity of the Autism community and serves individuals with Autism and their families throughout the lifespan.  Sara provides information and referral, resources, support, and oversees general programming delivery in Howard County. Sara lives in Howard County and is the parent of a teenage son with Autism.