START Project Staff
Amy Matthews, Ph.D., LP, BCBA - Project Director
(616) 331-3513, [email protected]
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 for individuals with ASD and their families, and is currently vice-chair of the Michigan Autism Council. Amy has been both principal investigator and project faculty for a number of grant awards over the past 20+ years, and she has published and presented in the field of autism spectrum disorder.
Jana Benjamin, J.D. - Project Manager
(616) 331-6482, [email protected]
Jana joined the START Project in 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.
Lisonn Delcamp, Ed.S. - Autism Education & Intervention Specialist
(616) 331-6842, [email protected]
Lisonn has extensive experience with students with ASD, families, and professionals from early childhood through transition age programming. Prior to joining START, she served as a Director of Special Education and Student Support Services, implementing systems change and inclusive education for students with extensive support and programming needs. At START, Lisonn has expanded the content for educational supports and strategies: including differentiated output, collaborative partnerships between general and special educators, and integration of family engagement in all aspects of the training curriculum. Lisonn also provides system-level and technical assistance to ISDs and districts and is expanding secondary transition resources and training to build capacity across Michigan.
Stephanie Dyer, Ed. S., BCBA - Autism Education & Intervention Specialist
Stephanie joined the START Project full-time in the fall of 2022, after contracting with START as a state-wide presenter and content developer since 2008. Stephanie has extensive experience with Positive Behavioral Interventions & Supports (PBIS), education-based evaluations for ASD, IEP development and implementation, supporting social competency, and trainer/coach development. She has participated in state-level projects and workgroups related to autism, behavior, and early childhood and has presented at numerous state and national conferences. For the past ten years, Stephanie worked with Michigan’s MTSS Technical Assistance Center (MiMTSS), with her work primarily focused on district/school implementation of PBIS and intervention systems within an MTSS framework, including intensification of behavioral intervention and FBA/BIP, as well as trainer/coach development. During her career in public education, Stephanie has also served as a school psychologist, behavior interventionist, autism coordinator, and special education supervisor in urban and rural districts and ISDs.
Kellie Fitzgerald, MPNL - Strategic Communications, Design, and Development Specialist
(616) 331-6483, [email protected]
Kellie joined the START Project in 2014. She earned her B.A. at North Central College in Naperville, IL and her Master's in Philanthropy and Nonprofit Leadership at Grand Valley State University (GVSU). With 10 years of experience working in the nonprofit sector, Kellie has worked with the Greater Grand Rapids Women's History Council, the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum, and the Historical Society of Michigan. She has extensive experience in strategic planning, advocacy, mission advancement, communications and marketing, and educational outreach. Kellie is also an Inclusion Advocate at GVSU, a role that facilitates dialogue surrounding inclusive talent acquisition and that also ensures employment searches are conducted in an equitable manner, and the Membership Co-Chair for the Young Nonprofit Professionals Network of Grand Rapids.
Melissa Kurek - Secretary
(616) 331-6480, [email protected]
Melissa Kurek has worked with the START Project since 2012, coming to the project with prior experience in data entry, data processing, report generation, and office logistics. At 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.
Jamie Owen-DeSchryver, Ph.D. - Project Faculty
(616) 331-8703, [email protected]
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.
Stephanie Pulido, M.Ed. - Program Evaluation and Resource Development Specialist
(616) 331-6455; [email protected]
Stephanie joins the START project with 10 years of experience working with people with ASD from early childhood to young adulthood. Most recently, Stephanie worked as an Elementary ASD Teacher and has prior research project experience with the Autism Education Center and Vanderbilt University. Stephanie has worked closely with projects addressing self-management for students with ASD, Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports, employment for people with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities, transition to adulthood for youth with disabilities, and inclusive postsecondary education through online training content and resource development, research, and presentations.
Andrew West, M.Ed. - Project Coordinator for Training, Logistics, Material, and Technology Support
(616) 331-6484, [email protected]
Andrew joined the START Project in 2022. His career started in recreational/athletic facility operations with a focus on student development through on-campus employment. He received his Bachelors of Science in Business Administration from Central Michigan University and graduated from Ohio University with a Masters of Higher Education in 2010. Andrew's career shifted when he relocated to Grand Rapids and started his family. He was previously a volunteer on the Special Olympics Michigan Summer Games Committee, which led to his Events and Development Position with Special Olympics of Southwest Michigan. Over the course of his career, Andrew has coordinated over 500 events including the 2014 and 2015 MHSAA Team Wrestling Finals, conferences, concerts, and receptions.
Carrie Carr, M.A.; Curriculum & Instruction - Consultant
Carrie Carr has been with the START Project since 2016 as a contracted state-wide presenter and content developer for Peer to Peer Supports for Students with Autism. Carrie also serves as the regional Teacher Consultant for Students with Autism for the Eastern Upper Peninsula Intermediate School District. Previously, she was a general education classroom teacher and earned her Autism Endorsement and master’s degree in Curriculum and Instruction. Carrie assisted with the development of content for Michigan’s ASD State Plan in the focus area of Educational Supports and Services. She has extensive experience working with school-based teams to support meaningful engagement and inclusion in the general education setting for students with autism.
Amanda Foster, M.Ed. - Consultant
Amanda is a teacher consultant for the Montcalm Area ISD and started her career in education in 2003. Amanda previously spent 11 years teaching in categorical classrooms for students with severe emotional impairments. She has an undergraduate degree from Hope College in elementary education and special education with endorsements for Emotional Impairments and Autism Spectrum Disorders and a Master's in Education from Spring Arbor College. As a consultant for the START Project, Amanda is a trainer and specializes in Educational Supports and Strategies and Peer to Peer. Amanda is passionate about inclusion and ensuring every child feels welcome at school.
Lindsey Harr-Smith, M.A., CCC-SLP- Autism Education & Intervention Specialist - Consultant
Lindsey Harr-Smith is a speech-language pathologist and Autism Education and Intervention Specialist - Consultant for the START Project. She is a content developer and statewide presenter with START specializing in Peer to Peer Supports, Self-Management, and Universal Supports for students with ASD and complex educational needs. She also provides support to school-based teams across the state to increase the implementation of peer to peer programs and inclusive opportunities for students with ASD. In addition, Lindsey is also an Autism Consultant and Peer to Peer Consultant for Livingston Educational Service Agency (LESA). With over 15 years of experience in the school setting, Lindsey works and supports students with complex needs, provides training on evidence-based practices, and coaches teams on the development and implementation of peer to peer programs in preschool-12th grade settings.
Kimberly Miller, M.Ed. - Consultant
Kim began her career in education in 1994 as a teacher for students with ASD in Clarkston, MI. She has had the privilege of delivering instruction in a variety of settings, including center based, cross-categorical, resource, and general education classrooms in Michigan, Louisiana, and Indiana. In 2014, Kim became a teacher consultant for students with ASD for Saginaw ISD and an EPLI Trainer of START Content. She has been active in the START Peer to Peer Community of Practice as well as the ASD and Sexual Health Community of Practice. Kim began contracting with START in 2019 and thoroughly enjoys the opportunities that the work has provided in integrating her passions for ASD, teaching, teaming, & solution oriented thinking to further develop resources & systems that lead to improved outcomes for students with ASD and their families.
Kelly Rogers, Psy.S., BCBA - Consultant
Kelly is a school psychologist and Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA). Currently, she works as the Special Education Coordinator at Char-Em ISD. Prior to that, she worked with the Autism Education Center from 2001 as a contractor, and then full-time from 2003 until March 2020. Kelly has extensive experience and expertise on topics related to evaluation for special education eligibility, positive behavioral interventions and supports and ABA (Applied Behavioral Analysis), 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.
Stacie Rulison, M.S., M.Ed., BCBA - Consultant
Stacie Rulison joined the START Project in 2015 as a part-time consultant with a diverse background in ASD and business. She is also a part-time ASD consultant for the Michigan Department of Education (MDE). Stacie is the parent of a child with ASD and the parent representative and secretary for the governor-appointed Michigan Autism Council where she also chairs the Adult Services committee. She was on the development team for the Michigan ASD State Plan, and for several years she has been involved in various school, disability, and ASD-related board and committee initiatives. Previously, she served as program and operational director for the Autism Alliance of Michigan. Stacie has conducted numerous presentations statewide on ASD and has worked and consulted clinically as a behavior analyst with ASD service providers and school districts.
Gina Sanderson, M.S., BCBA - Consultant
Gina is a school psychologist and Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA). She has worked with the START Project as a contracted state-wide presenter and content developer since 2008, specializing in the areas of Positive Behavior Intervention and Supports (PBIS), Asperger Syndrome, and Self-Management. With over 20 years of experience working with school-based teams supporting students with complex educational needs, Gina currently works for the Lenawee Intermediate School District as an Autism Consultant and provider of Practical Functional Assessment and Skills Based Treatment (PFA-SBT) for students with severe problem behavior.