Autism Education Center Staff
Amy Matthews, Ph.D., BCBA - Project Director
P: 616-331-3513 / F: 616-331-2480
Amy Matthews is a Professor of Psychology at Grand Valley State University (GVSU) and director of the GVSU Autism Education Center. She has served as the Director of the Statewide Autism Resources and Training (START) Project, funded by the Michigan Department of Education, Office of Special Education, since its inception in 2001. She supports implementation of the START project activities and presents the Early Childhood Intensive Training series modules. Amy is actively involved in various local and state projects to improve integrated opportunities and quality of life for individuals with ASD and their families, and is currently vice-chair on Michigan’s Governor’s Autism Council. Amy has been both principal investigator and project faculty for a number of grant awards over the past 15 years, and she has published and presented in the field of autism spectrum disorders.
Jana Benjamin, J.D. - Project Manager
P: 616-331-6482 / F: 616-331-6486
Jana is new to the START Project as of 2014. She earned her B.A at the University of Michigan and her J.D. at the University of Michigan Law School. She has worked in law school admissions, in private legal practice, and for the Michigan Court of Appeals as well as the Michigan Supreme Court, and the State Court Administrative Office. Most recently, she served as Executive Director of the Board of Law Examiners. Her prior professional experience includes grant administration/monitoring, the creation and provision of professional trainings, and serving as a liaison to student groups, university departments, and outside agencies. As a parent of a child with autism, she has also worked closely with school teams to implement strategies and plans for evaluating and serving children with autism spectrum disorders.
Maureen Ziegler, Ed.S. - Autism Education & Intervention Specialist
P: 616-260-2700 / F: 616-331-6486
Maureen has had extensive experience working with students with Autism Spectrum Disorder. Prior to joining the Autism Education Center staff at GVSU in 2002, Maureen was a teacher for students with Autism Spectrum Disorder at Clarkston Schools, where she developed program models to serve students with Autism at the elementary, middle school and high school levels, and developed the LINK peer support program. Maureen also worked as an ASD teacher consultant and was a supervisor of ASD programs. With extensive experience presenting at the state, national, and international level, Maureen specializes with START in topics related to educational strategies and supports, peer-to-peer support, Asperger Syndrome, and transition to adult employment, as well as other related topics.
Kelly Dunlap, Psy.S. - Autism Education & Intervention Specialist
P: 231-330-0136 / F: 616-331-6486
Kelly has been with the Autism Education Center since 2001 as a contractor, and full-time since 2003. Prior to working for START, Kelly worked as a school psychologist and behavior consultant for Delta-Schoolcraft ISD. With the START project, Kelly has extensive experience and expertise on topics related to evaluation for special education eligibility, positive behavioral interventions and supports, IEP development and implementation, and guiding principles for establishing effective programs for students on the autism spectrum. She also contributes to the development of systems of support for students with ASD as they transition to employment settings, including the utilization of tools, checklists, and resources that improve the process of transition.
Jamie Owen-DeSchryver, Ph.D. - Project Faculty
P: 616-331-8703 / F: 616-331-2480
Jamie Owen-DeSchryver has been with the START Project part-time since 2006. Jamie is currently an Associate Faculty in the psychology department at GVSU, where she conducts research in the field of ASD. She came to START with prior experience as an educational consultant for students with ASD in public schools in New York, and as a co-director for the New York Autism Network. For START she collaborates on projects and co-presents the Early Childhood Intensive Training series. She has published and presented nationally and regionally and works with several committees and groups of individuals in Michigan to improve programming for individuals with ASD.
Kellie Bolster - Project Coordinator
P: 616-331-6483 / F: 616-331-6486
Kellie joined the START Project at the end of 2014. She earned her B.A. at North Central College in Naperville, IL. She has worked with the Greater Grand Rapids Women’s History Council, the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum, and most recently, she was at the Historical Society of Michigan. She comes to START with a variety of education-based experiences including coordinating Michigan History Day, a state-wide history fair competition. Her prior professional experience includes event and project coordination, administrative support, educational outreach, and communications assistance.
Melissa Kurek - Office Coordinator
P: 616-331-6480 / F: 616-331-6486
Melissa Kurek has worked with the START project part-time since 2012, coming to the project with prior experience in data entry, data processing, report generation, and office logistics. For START, she addresses a range of administrative tasks, including reception and clerical support, data management, and coordination of financial systems. She purchases, processes invoices, and prepares expenditure reports, while contributing to the management and organization of project activities.
Margie Mayberry - Consultant
Margie Mayberry has worked with the START Project as a consultant since 2011. She came to the project with a range of school-based experiences, including classroom teacher, special education coordinator, and ASD Team leader, as well as with previous experience at the Center for Autism and Related Disabilities (CARD), University of South Florida. She has given numerous national and local presentations on ASD, and through START, regularly provides technical assistance to school-based teams across the state on topics related to the development of peer-to-peer support, implementation of Community Conversations, and other strategies that improve employment outcomes for individuals with ASD.
Page last modified December 2, 2014