FAU CARD Staff
Cathy Allore, B.A. Clinical Support Specialist
Cathy graduated from Florida Atlantic University with a Bachelor's of Arts Degree in Exceptional Student Education. She is certified to teach special education for children in grades K-12 and general education grades 1-6.
Cathy has worked in both Martin and St. Lucie County Public Schools in a Varying Exceptionalities classroom setting. She previously ran a summer camp program in Martin County for children with developmental disabilities. She is also trained in the use and implementation of PECS with individuals with Autism.
As a parent of a young adult with autism, Cathy brings a vast amount of personal knowledge to CARD. Cathy is currently working toward her Master's Degree in Exceptional Student Education at Florida Atlantic University.
Noelle Balsamo, M.Ed, BCBA Assistant Director
Noelle is a native Floridian who earned a Master's in Education from Lesley University in Cambridge, MA. Noelle practiced for many years as a licensed educator in the areas of elementary education, exceptional student education, and applied behavioral analysis in the public school setting. Noelle is a Board Certified Behavior Analyst from Endicott College and has years of professional experience utilizing a variety of behavioral strategies to increase the skill acquisition and overall quality of life of individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorders and related disabilities. Noelle has provided ongoing consultation and support for families, school staff, and community agencies and has worked collaboratively with these groups to ensure successful participation of individuals with disabilities in social and academic programs across the community.
Wanda Baldwin, MSW, LCSW Early Intervention Specalist
Wanda Baldwin is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker with a strong commitment to supporting families of young children and the professionals that work with them. She received her M.S.W. from Florida State University and her BSW from the University of West Florida. As the very first Coordinator of the Early Steps Program of Palm Beach County, she worked for over 20 years with infants and toddlers with disabilities and their families. Most recently she was the Director of Child Development at the Children’s Home Society- BRIDGES, a place-based initiative located in neighborhoods associated with poor child outcomes. She acted as the project subject matter expert on child development and family dynamics. Currently she is member of the Touchpoints™, Infant Mental Health and Triple P seminar Training Cadre with the Children’s Services Council of Palm Beach County. She has training and experience in using reflective practice in community settings to increase staff engagement with young families. As a mother, she understands the critical role families play in the development of children and works tirelessly to help families improve outcomes for their children.
Kelley Bastien, MSW Clinical Support Specialist
Kelley Bastien is a native Floridian. She has a Bachelor‘s of Arts in Psychology from Loyola University in New Orleans, Louisiana and a Master’s in Social Work from Barry University in North Miami Beach, Florida. Kelley has worked in the field of Early Intervention in Palm Beach County for the past 20 years. She has served as a trainer, training coordinator, case manager and champion for families of children with special needs. Kelley is passionate about parents, children and the professionals who serve them.
Prior to joining FAU CARD, Kelley served as the Training Coordinator for Easter Seals Treasure Coast Early Steps Program. In her capacity as Training Coordinator, Kelley monitored the local Early Steps training process, facilitated staff development opportunities, conducted outreach and community awareness activities and organized meetings with community partners. While serving as a Family Service Coordinator, Kelley provided case management services for developmentally delayed and disabled children ages birth to three, with particular interest in Autism Spectrum Disorders.
For the past 10 years, Kelley has been a member of the Touchpoints™ Training Cadre with the Children’s Services Counsel of Palm Beach County.
She has collaborated with team mem bers to provide Individual Level Trainings for front-line practitioners serving children and families in Palm Beach County. Kelley has also facilitated reflective practice and Integrating Training Through Reflection sessions at the Children’s Services Council office and local community agencies.
Alison Bourdeau, M.S.Ed. Clinical Support Specialist
Alison received her Bachelor's Degree from The University of Miami in Elementary Education and Psychology. She then followed her interests in Special Education and received a Master's degree in Early Childhood Special Education. After working for several years in the field as a special educator, Alison returned to the University of Miami to pursue a Master's Degree in Marriage & Family Therapy. Alison has worked with children and their families for the past 11 years in the capacity of special educator, counselor, case manager, researcher, and advocate. Alison is currently working towards her licensure as a Marriage and Family therapist, with particular interest in the family systems dynamic of individuals on the Autism Spectrum.
Elisa Cruz-Torres, Ed.D., BCBA-D Consultant
Part-time Visiting Assistant Professor, Department of Exceptional Student Education
Dr. Elisa Cruz-Torres is a Board Certified Behavior Analyst- Doctoral (BCBA-D) and the Assistant Director of FAU CARD. She received her Doctor of Education degree from Florida Atlantic University and holds a Florida's Professional Educator's Teaching License in ESE (K-12), Middle Integrated Curriculum (5-9) and Autism Endorsement. Her experience includes educating students with Emotional/Behavioral Disabilities and Autism Spectrum Disorder. Dr. Cruz-Torres utilizes her educational and clinical knowledge and experience to consult and coach families and professionals in using scientifically-validated academic and behavioral practices in the home, community, and school settings. Her recent research focuses on the use evidence-based interventions that have proven to be successful in the promotion academic, behavior, and adaptive skills for students with autism and related disabilities.
Susanna Launder, M.Ed. Clinical Support Specialist
Susanna is a native Floridian who earned both her Bachelor's and Master's in Exceptional Student Education with an emphasis on Emotional Disturbances and Varying Exceptionalities from Florida State University in Tallahassee, Florida. Susanna worked as a Special Education Teacher in a variety of settings including inclusive general education classrooms, self-contained special education classrooms and a public school day program for students with Autism for over a decade. During her time in the classroom, Susanna, worked collaboratively with parents, fellow educators, paraprofessionals and administrators to enhance learning environments to meet the needs of students with Autism Spectrum Disorder. Susanna maintains licensure in both Exceptional Student Education, kindergarten through 12th grade, and General Education, kindergarten through sixth grade.
Don Lawless Coker, M.Ed. Grants Coordinator
Don has a Bachelor's of Arts and a Master's of Education degree from the University of Florida and is currently working on a Master's in Mental Health Counseling at FAU. Don has worked at FAU for 17 year. He started in the Human Resources Department and has spent the last 8 years as the Grants/Business Services Coordinator for FAU CARD.
Patricia Mathis Administrative Assistant
Patricia Mathis has over twenty years of Administrative Assistant experience. Patricia has recently relocated from Vassar College in Poughkeepsie, New York to Florida Atlantic University. She has worked with Faculty and the Administrative side of higher education. Patricia is dedicated to her work as an Administrative Assistant and passionate for education.
Alexzandria May, M.Ed. iRISE2 Assistant Program Coordinator
Alexzandria May is a native Floridian who earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology and Minors in Education and Communication Studies from the University of Florida in Gainesville, Florida. She returned home to Boca Raton to pursue a Master’s Degree in Experimental Psychology specializing in Developmental and Social Psychology from Florida Atlantic University. While completing her Master’s Degree, Alexzandria was a Graduate Assistant in Florida Atlantic University’s Weppner Center for LEAD & Service-Learning. She assisted with the planning and marketing of student volunteer opportunities locally as well as aiding in the recruitment and maintenance of student volunteers. Alexzandria’s most recent position was working with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Palm Beach and Martin Counties where she was an Enrollment and Match Support Specialist in both Community-Based and School-Based Mentoring Programs. She interviewed and assessed mentors and children and families for their suitability to the program and conducted monthly match support to ensure quality and safety within each of her matches. Alexzandria is excited to continue sharing her passion and dedication for children and families with FAU CARD.
Darius Murray, B.A. iRISE2 Mentoring Program Coordinator
Darius Murray received his Bachelor's Degree from The University of South Florida in Interdisciplinary Social Sciences with concentrations in Multidisciplinary Behavioral Science and Communication. After graduating from USF, Darius served as an AmeriCorps Vista with The Homeless Coalition of Palm Beach County, educating and advocating for individuals and families while linking them to resources throughout the community. Upon the completions of his national service term Darius joined Big Brothers and Big Sisters, as a match support specialist, implementing evidence-based practices and trainings for mentors aimed at developing stronger supportive relationships with youth, their families and peers. Darius brings with him knowledge and experience working with children and families with emphasis in mentoring and building strong healthy relationships with youth. Darius is currently working on his Masters in Rehabilitation Counseling at FAU.
Mercedes Scott Pagano, B.A. Coordinator Information & Publication Services
Mercedes Scott Pagano has over 6-year track record in graphics design, marketing and online brand development. She has helped connect people and products through various media to increase the bottom line. Mercedes has a vision to impact audience with fresh, innovative concepts, “If you can visualize, you can create." Her passion is to inspire, provoke and increase brand awareness through different channels in different markets.
She was born in Colombia but grew up in Miami, Florida and graduated from the University of Florida with a degree in Marketing. Before working at FAU she spent 4 years working as the Marketing Director for a leading provider of telecommunications services connecting residents and corporate clients around the world. As the marketing director of RingVoz, she developed and implement global marketing initiatives for North America and South America. Mercedes is eager to share her talents and strengthen the awareness of FAU’s Center for Autism and Related Disabilities (CARD).
Jennifer Pollack Percival, M.Ed., CRC Clinical Support Specialist for Transition
Jennifer Percival has her Master’s Degree in Counselor Education with a dual-track focus in Rehabilitation and Mental Health Counseling from FAU, and she is a Nationally Certified Rehabilitation Counselor. She is currently a doctoral student in FAU’s College of Education’s Department of Educational Leadership and Research Methodology. Jennifer serves on the Royal Caribbean International Autism Advisory Board, the South Florida Business Leadership Network Advisory Board, the CareerSource Palm Beach County Youth Employment Board, the City of Boynton Beach ADA Board, the Palm Beach Council for In Transition Youth, and the Treasure Coast Transition Council. She coordinates the FAU CARD Autism Friendly Business program and the Developmental Disability Small Business Network. Prior to working at FAU, Jennifer divided her career between the Florida Department of Education’s Division of Vocational Rehabilitation and the Florida Department of Children and Families. Jennifer enjoys working with families who are navigating the transition process, and she is a community leader who develops interagency collaborations and regional programming.
Rosemary Portera, M.S., CCC-SLP Clinical Support Specialist
Rosie has her Master's Degree in Speech Language Pathology from Florida State University. She worked at The Arc of Palm Beach County for over 20 years where she specialized in program development and implementation for children with a wide range of disabilities. During that time she founded and served as Principal of Palm Beach County's first Charter School and later established a second school on FAU's Research and Development Park. She completed her career at The Arc as Director of Children and Family Services. In that capacity, she created an innovative early intervention/prevention program; expanded community based recreational opportunities for children with developmental disabilities and increased Palm Beach County's Family to Family support network assisting over 3,000 families annually.
Rosie has also served as a Speech Language Pathologist for the Martin County School District. There she worked side-by-side with teachers and therapists providing interventions for children with Autism and significant communication deficits. She enjoys working with families and community partners to create new possibilities for children with disabilities.
Maryellen Quinn-Lunny, Ed.S. Director
Maryellen Quinn-Lunny, has a Bachelor's of Science in Elementary Education, a Master's Degree in Moderate Special Needs and an Educational Specialist Degree in Learning Disabilities with post specialist courses in Educational Leadership. Maryellen has worked as a special educator in Massachusetts, overseas and for both Palm Beach and Martin School districts. She has worked in the field of special education for 34 years, as an exceptional student education teacher at the elementary, middle and high school levels, as well as for the past 25 years as an administrator in special education. Maryellen has served as an Exceptional Student Education Program Planner, Exceptional Student Educator Coordinator and Director of Exceptional Student Education. She has taught several courses in special education at the university level and has served on two state advisory committees.
Prior to joining FAU CARD, Maryellen served as the Executive Director of Exceptional Student Education/Student Services for the Martin County School District. In her capacity as Executive Director, Maryellen was directly responsible for and supervised the research, development, and implementation of programming for students with Autism Spectrum Disorders. Under Maryellen's 17 years of leadership, Martin County School District, Exceptional Student Education Department was well recognized for its excellent research- and evidenced-based programming for students with disabilities. Maryellen will continue to develop her skills as she pursues her doctoral degree at FAU.
Jack Scott, Ph.D., BCBA-D Executive Director
Jack Scott is the Executive Director of the FAU CARD center. He is an associate professor in the Department of Exceptional Student Education. He teaches courses on autism, inclusion and behavior analysis. Dr. Scott received his doctoral degree from the University of Florida. He has written a textbook on autism, Students with Autism: Characteristics and Instructional Programming, (2000), and has written a number of chapters and articles on autism and individualized instruction and is just finishing a new book for Woodbine House about safety for children with autism.
Dr. Scott has research interests in safety for children and youth on the spectrum. As a behavior analyst, he is active in linking behavioral analysts with emerging issues in safety and autism. In addition, he serves on the boards of several charter schools and as a board member for Reaching Potentials, a non-profit that serves children with autism and their families and Lost and Found of Palm Beach County, a non-profit that provides subsidized locator tracking devices for low-income families. He has recently been appointed to the Professional Advisory Board of the Autism Society of America.
Kerry Wittel, M.S., Ed. Clinical Support Specialist
Kerry Wittel earned her Master’s Degree in Special Education from Florida International University.
For over a decade Kerry has taught students with Autism Spectrum Disorders and related disabilities throughout Palm Beach County. During her time teaching Kerry co-authored the Palm Beach County School Districts English Language Arts Adaptive Curriculum, mentored undergraduate and graduate students from local universities, as well as new teachers in the school district. Prior to moving to Florida from Connecticut, Kerry taught at a private special education hospital-based facility for students in grades K–12. Kerry maintains licensure in Exceptional Student Education (K-12), Prekindergarten/Primary Education (age 3 through grade 3), Elementary Education (K-6), as well as endorsements in Autism and English as a Second Language.
Having an adult child on the Autism spectrum gives Kerry a unique professional and personal perspective. She is dedicated to supporting children, families, teachers and the community.
Jacqueline Wood, M.S., Ed. Clinical Support Specialist
Jacqueline Wood received a Bachelor’s Degree in Childhood and Special Education (K–12) from SUNY Geneseo in New York. She received a Master’s Degree in Teaching English as a Second Language from Nazareth College in Rochester, New York. For a decade, Jacqueline taught students with Autism Spectrum Disorder and related disabilities in both inclusion and self-contained classrooms at the elementary and high school level. As an educator, Jacqueline collaborated with school staff, families and community members to advocate for students and promote success in all aspects of their lives. She maintains accreditation in Childhood Education, Exceptional Student Education (K-12) and English as a Second Language. Jacqueline also served as a Behavior Technician implementing behavior analysis strategies in home and community settings to foster functional, productive skills and improve the quality of life for individuals with autism and their families.