Susan Callahan

  • Executive Director
Susan; LAF Executive Director

Undergraduate Education:
BA, Psychology from University of South Carolina
Masters Education:
MSW from University of South Carolina

During her undergraduate career Susan worked as a research assistant for a grant funded research study which focused on the dissemination of media and its effects on parenting, specifically the development and sustainment of positive parenting skills. She later became a qualified provider of the Triple-P: Positive Parenting Program.

Susan's graduate studies focused on behavior issues in early childhood, family dynamics, and autism spectrum disorder. During this time she was employed by the Psychology department as a clinical interviewer for a grant funded research study focusing on mood disorders in adolescents. During her graduate studies, Susan held internships at various disability related agencies in Columbia, SC. She gained valuable experience as a service coordination assistant at the South Carolina Autism Society. From here she joined the team at the Center for Disability Resources (CDR), a University Center for Excellence. While at CDR she was a part of the Supported Community Living Initiative, which helped individuals with disabilities move into their own homes and obtain employment. She worked with the Team for Early Childhood Solutions and researched involvement of social workers in early intervention services in the state.

After her time at CDR Susan developed an internship opportunity at the USC School of Medicine's Developmental Pediatric Clinic. She worked collaboratively with physicians to develop behavior management plans, provided informational sessions on autism and counseling to families with newly diagnosed children.

Prior to joining the Lowcountry Autism Foundation, Susan was a consultant with the Department of Disabilities and Special Needs-Autism Division where she was the lead evaluator and provided consultation and training services to families and educators. In addition to her role as Executive Director of the Lowcountry Autism Foundation, Susan will also serve as director of Family Support Services for the Center for Neuro-Developmental Medicine at MUSC Children's Hospital.

Julia Corey

  • Program Coordinator
Julia; LAF Board Member

Julia just moved to the Lowcountry from northern Virginia and is a recent graduate from Radford University with a Bachelor of Science in Psychology. She has a background in care taking for individuals with autism and a military Veteran. Julia has a warm personality and wants nothing more than to do her best and help those in need. 

Emily Zimmerman, PhD

  • President
Emily; LAF Board Member

Emily Zimmerman is a sociologist and Associate Professor at Virginia Commonwealth University. She is a senior researcher at the Center on Society and Health and her work focuses on social determinants of health and stakeholder engagement in research. Emily received her doctorate from the Graduate Center of the City University of New York, and M.S. and B.A. degrees from Hunter College.

Emily moved to Hilton Headwith her familyin 2009 from Virginia. She joined LAF in order to advocate for services for children and their families. She hopes to bring her personal and professional experiences together to help move forward the opportunities to help families facing special challenges.

Susan M. Dixson, CFP

  • Vice President
LAF Board Member

At the heart of her philosophy is a passion to build enduring relationships with individuals, families and businesses through her commitment to providing outstanding service. Susan is well versed in issues surrounding elder care and planning, including retirement community options and long-term care planning.

Susan has extensive board experience with non-profits that support "at risk" children in Charlotte, NC. Susan is exceptionally service-oriented and values each relationship deeply. She is strongly committed to her community as an active volunteer with Troop 355 of the Boy Scouts of America as well as the Children's Ministries at her church. Susan is married with two children. Susan earned her degree in History and a minor in English at The University of Virginia in Charlottesville, Virginia.

Susan M. Dixson has been in the financial services industry since 1993 and joined Merrill Lynch in 2013.

Cheryl Shookman, PhD

  • Secretary
Cheryl; LAF Board Member

SC Licensed Psychologist #992

Cheryl was born in the Midwest, double majored at Texas Christian University, and after teaching for two years at a school in Texas for children with learning difficulties, she continued her education at Tulane University where she received an MS and PhD in School Psychology.

From there she designed a program for behaviorally and emotionally challenged students in the Broward County Florida school system, worked at South Florida State mental hospital designing behavioral programs for adolescents and adults, and after relocating to Europe, established a consulting firm in The Netherlands to provide psycho-educational assessments for children at The British School of The Netherlands and The American School of The Hague. Upon returning to the US after 6 years in Europe, Cheryl began teaching with the psychology department at USCB, and established her private practice on Hilton Head Island.

Cheryl currently specializes in comprehensive psycho-educational evaluations for students, and is an active evaluator with the LowCountry Autism Foundation.

Jon Wilson

  • Treasurer
Jon; LAF Board Member

Jon is from the west coast of Florida and attended the University of Central Florida and graduated cum laude with my bachelor’s in accounting in 2007. Following college Jon has had a varied and impressive career in accounting as a Compliance Auditor for the Department of Defense, a Tax Auditor for the State of Florida Department of Revenue and as a Senior Accountant for Nesseralla & Company. Jon is currently pursuing his CPA license which should be completed by the end of 2014.

Kimberly Batts

Kimberly; LAF Board Member

Kimberly is an education professional with more than 20 years experience in a variety of educational programs, ability to serve students (preschool through school aged) with mild to severe disabilities across the continuum of services in many different educational environments. She is an expert in analysis of educational needs of students in the classroom and provides support and training to their families. Additionally, Kimberly supervises early childhood teachers and assistants in order to provide staff support and training in special education. She also is very active in community agencies and a lifelong advocate for all children.

Kimberly’s education includes: East Carolina University, Greenville, NCM. Ed., Special Education– Mental Disabilities, December 1993; B.A. Special Education-Mental Disabilities, Cum Laude, May 1990, National Board Certification: Exceptional Needs Specialist– Early Childhood through Young Adult, November 2011

Elizabeth L. Boineau

Elizabeth; LAF Board Member

Elizabeth L. Boineau, founder and owner of E. Boineau & Company, based in Charleston, S.C., is a 34 year veteran of the marketing communications and public relations industry. She offers extensive senior management experience in the marketing communications field, with an emphasis on public relations, media strategy and crisis communications for professional service firms, tourism/hospitality and destination entities. Clients include companies, cities, towns, chambers of commerce and non–profits. Over the years, Elizabeth has served in leadership positions on many boards and committees and has been recognized for excellence by industry peers. She was awarded the American Advertising Federation’s Annual Silver Medal Award in February 2010 for industry leadership and community involvement.

For many years, she authored a monthly marketing column for the Charleston and Columbia Regional Business Journals.She is past president of the Advertising Federation of Charleston, and Charleston Stage Company.She previously served as a trustee member of the Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce and as board member of Charleston Trident Chamber of Commerce. She has served for several years on board and now on the Ambassador’s Council of the BB&T Wine & Food Festival, and on the marketing advisory committee of the Coastal Community Foundation.Elizabeth graduated from Randolph–Macon Woman’s College in Lynchburg, Va., with a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology.

Paula Dean

Paula; LAF Board Member

  • Native of Syracuse, NY
  • Graduated from the State University of New York (Oswego campus) with a bachelor’s of arts degree in elementary education.
  • Received her Masters of Arts in Reading from Western Michigan University.
  • Certified to teach elementary and reading in New York, Maryland, Michigan and Tennessee. She is an experienced teacher in those states.
  • Over the past few recent years she has worked closely with our autistic youngest grandson as well our oldest Asperger’s grandson.
  • She is also active in our church and enjoys international travel.

Richard J. Dean

Rick; LAF Board Member

Rick Dean is Managing Director & Principal of WAVERLY PARTNERS in Atlanta. WAVERLY PARTNERS is a national retained executive search firm with offices in Atlanta GA, Charleston SC, Charlotte NC, Cleveland OH, Kansas City KS, Louisville, KY and Toledo OH.

Rick has successfully completed mid–, senior– and ”C”–level search assignments across all corporate and professional functions. Prior to co-founding WAVERLY PARTNERS, Rick was a Vice President & Practice Leader with Stratford Group, a ”top 20” executive search firm. He began his executive search career with DHR International in Atlanta and was subsequently appointed Managing Director of DHR&rsquol;s Charlotte, North Carolina office. He served as a commissioned US Naval Officer with duty in the Pentagon and White House.

Rick is also on the Advisory Board of the Jack & Jill Late stage Cancer Foundation in Atlanta. Rick earned a BS degree from Syracuse University and an MBA degree from Michigan State University. He is a member of the American Marketing Association.

Nan Herron

Nan; LAF Board Member

Nan has 27 years of executive search consulting experience. She has completed search assignments in most executive functions including general management, marketing, sales and business development, human resources, engineering, manufacturing operations, finance and information technology. Her clients have ranged from Fortune 200 service and manufacturing firms to entrepreneurial growth companies, from nonprofit organizations to family–owned businesses. She has served diverse clients including Elster Group, McKesson, Solvay Pharmaceuticals, Eaton Corporation, PolyOne, Limited Brands, Invacare, The Oatey Company,AMETEK, the Charleston Metro Chamber of Commerce, the Cleveland Metroparks, Reynolds Plantation and the South Carolina Aquarium, and more.

Nan earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Business Administration from Hillsdale College. She has been an active community volunteer throughout her career.

Katy A. Kuder

Katy; LAF Board Member

As a parent with a child with autism, Katy seeks to advocate for children with Autism Spectrum Disorder, and feels this is what she will do forever! Additionally, Katy is the PTA president for her daughter’s Middle school. She still makes the time to make a difference for children with ASD.

Katy admits she is somewhat of a bulldog. She feels that almost anything is possible so being told "no" isn’t a deterrent for Katy. She may just ask again in a different way. As the Manager of the Office of Volunteer and Guest Services, and Patient and Family Centered Care, at MUSC Medical Center, Katy is well known for getting things done!

Nicole McLain, M.A., LMLP, Autism Specialist

Nicole; LAF Board Member

Nicole received her M.A. in Clinical Psychology and is finishing her M.S. in School Psychology as well as her Ed.S. Nicole’s first job after college was as an independent private educator for a young child with autism. For forty hours each week, Nicole provided discrete trial training practices in the child’s home.

While earning her master’s degree, Nicole provided intensive therapy in an educational setting for at–risk youth in the inner city of Chicago. Directly after obtaining her graduate degree, Nicole worked as a behavior consultant for Parsons State Hospital and Training Center. Here, she worked in more than 100 schools and family homes throughout the state of Kansas where she trained educators, parents, and other team members on the use of positive behavior supports. Nicole also has experience as a Licensed Master's Level Psychologist, adjunct faculty for two different colleges, is an autism blogger for, has published in various magazines and journals as well as is well-versed in Applied Behavioral Analysis.

Prior to joining Trident Academy as Program Director where she currently spends her days, Nicole served as the Director of Family Services at Talisman Programs in Asheville, NC. There, she provided transitional services to families, to educate parents and caregivers through seminars and workshops, and was the lead staff in charge of accreditation.

Sarah Murray

Sarah; LAF Board Member

Sarah has over 13 years of career experience in marketing, business development, sales, event planning and project management. Since 2011 she has managed the marketing strategies and client development activities for Womble Carlyle's Charleston and Columbia offices, as well as the firm's Corporate and Securities Practice Group.

Prior to joining Womble Carlyle Sarah was in the real estate industry and as served in a Marketing Directing role in the healthcare and advertising industries. Sarah is a member of the Board of Advisors for the Halsey Institute of Contemporary Art and Membership Chair of Charleston's Legal Marketing Association chapter.

Sarah has a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from the University of South Carolina with an emphasis in Marketing, Advertising and Finance.

Christian Sudduth

Christian; LAF Board Member

Born and raised in Maryland, Christian moved to the lowcountry in 2009. Christian is the founder and owner of Sno Cones By Chris, a desert business located on Hilton Head Island. Prior to starting Sno Cones By Chris, Christian worked for several years in the apparel industry with a focus on international business. Currently Christian holds a Bachelor of Science Degree from Towson University and also a Master of Science Degree from Penn State University and recently became a Board Member for the Lowcountry Autism Foundation.

Janet Williams

Janet; LAF Board Member

Janet Williams has worked in the financial services industry since 1997 and joined Merrill Lynch in January 2011. Her focus is on helping individuals and families navigate important financial decisions. She uses her knowledge and experience to help clients pursue their goals, by creating individualized investment solutions.

Janet graduated Magna Cum Laude from Hiram College in Hiram, Ohio in 1993. Following graduation, Janet moved to Hilton Head Island where she has been involved in various community roles, including past Chairperson for the Board of Regents to the Hilton Head/ Bluffton Chamber of Commerce Leadership Program, current President to the Alumni Association, member of Coastal/Georgia Phi Beta Kappa Chapter. She and her husband, Mark, have two children. Her hobbies include tennis, golf and running.

Non–Voting Board Members

Tripp Ritchie

  • LAF Co–Founder, President Emeritus
Tripp; LAF Board Member

Tripp served 25 years as an officer in the United States Marine Corps, 10 years in leadership positions as a volunteer with the American Cancer Society and 21 years as a volunteer with Special Olympics. In 1995, Tripp received the "Jefferson Award" from the American Institute for Public Service, at the United States Supreme Court for his work with low income, minority citizens with intellectual disabilities. Tripp earned his BA in Psychology from Eastern Washington University and MS in Logistics Management from Florida Tech.

“The energy and generosity of a single human being can move hundreds to reach out and touch the hearts of thousands.”

Tami Lawrence Buck, Ph.D., OTR/L

  • Clinical Director, LAF Co–Founder
Tami; LAF Board Member

Undergraduate Education:
Humanistic Studies from McGill University
Masters Education:
M.S.O.T. from Virginia Commonwealth University
Ph.D. from Nova Southeastern University.

Dr. Lawrence is an occupational therapist with nearly 20 years of experience working with children in various settings with diverse diagnoses. She has worked as adjunct faculty in the Department of Occupational Therapy at the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston, and is currently the Director of Hilton Head Pediatric Therapy Center.

“Every day we are learning more about ASD. All children have untapped potential, and I want to help them discover that.”

Ravi Srivastava, MD, FAPA, FASAM

  • Medical Director
Ravi; LAF Board Member

Dr. Ravi Srivastava received his M.B.B.S. and M.D. from King George’s Medical College, Lucknow, India and did his residency in psychiatry from Albany Medical College, New York.

Dr. Srivastava is a practicing psychiatrist in Hilton Head Island, who specializes in adolescent psychiatry and addiction medicine. He has been honored as a fellow of American Psychiatric Association and American Society of Addiction Medicine. He is a diplomat of American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology, American Society of Addiction Medicine and American Board of Adolescent Psychiatry.

Dr. Srivastava has worked with families with emotional problems and behavioral difficulties, both in public and private sector, and is privileged to be given the opportunity to volunteer his clinical expertise to the Lowcountry Autism Foundation.

Ravi hosts and contributes to our popular “Autism In The News” section that contains a wealth of news articles relating to autism. For your convenience, we have provided a link here.

Michael Girardi

Micky; LAF Board Member

Despite being one of the few non–medical personnel on the LAF board, Michael has been with LAF since the beginning. Having created the trademark, smiling, logo for the organization, he continued his efforts constructing the website and helping build brand recognition, for which he was honored with a LAF Founders Award in 2010.

Michael joined the LAF Board in 2011. After spending two years in the advertising world on Hilton Head, he has spent the last seven years in property management. Michael is an emerging fine art photographer in the Lowcountry as well, with pieces appearing in galleries and private collections across the country. Michael is part of the 2014 Hilton Head Bluffton Leadership Class as well.

Michael holds a BA in Art from Mercyhurst University, and resides on Hilton Head with his wife and two children.