Meet Our Team


Caroline Long

Executive Director

Caroline’s life was drastically changed with the births of her two children, and then again a few years later when they were both diagnosed with autism. Since then, Caroline has devoted herself to navigating the trials and triumphs of their day-to-day lives in a world where the recognition and treatment of autism are still in the very early stages. Grounded in her faith in God, Caroline’s drive to learn about every facet of autism spectrum disorder has proven invaluable in helping her two children live and thrive in a typical environment amongst their peers. Through this first-hand experience with her own children, Caroline decided to share her knowledge with other individuals and families who were facing the same challenges. St. Gerard House was formed as a resource center for families with autism to provide services and also to give hope and stability. Now 8 years later, Caroline’s dream to build a place where the weary and despairing could come and feel encouraged about autism treatment possibilities has come to life. Because of St. Gerard House’s impact in the community, Caroline was the recipient of the 2014 Athena Award for Henderson County. When she is not busy at St. Gerard House, Caroline enjoys spending time with family and friends and taking advantage of the great outdoors in Western North Carolina.


Rachael Cushing Cook MA, LPA, BCBA

Clinical Director

Rachael first learned about autism spectrum disorders (ASD) in the early 1990’s when her younger sister Catherine was diagnosed with moderate-to-severe autism. Catherine’s poor prognosis changed once the science of applied behavior analysis (ABA) was introduced to her educational and life skills curricula.  From that point on, Rachael’s course of study and future life goals focused on helping other children with ASD and their families. Rachael received her undergraduate degree in psychology from the University of North Carolina Asheville. While completing her bachelor’s degree and upon graduation, Rachael served as a lead behavior therapist for many years, working with several local individuals with autism using ABA. During this time, she received direct training from consultants out of UCLA’s Young Autism Project. In 2009, Rachael received her master’s degree in clinical psychology (clinical concentration in ABA) from the University of North Carolina Wilmington.  Shortly thereafter, she became a Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) and acquired her North Carolina license to practice psychology (LPA). Rachael is excited to be working again in Western NC where so much of her initial training in the field of autism and ABA originated. It is her goal to enhance the local autism community by sharing all that she has learned since beginning this journey over 20 years ago.


Sophia Greco BCBA

Program Coordinator

A West Virginia native, Sophia graduated from West Virginia University in 2013 with her Masters in Special Education and General Education K-12. After graduation, Sophia spent three years in Charleston, South Carolina working as a Registered Behavior Technician for a company providing in-home applied behavior analysis (ABA) therapy. Sophia moved to Asheville, NC in 2015 and began working as an RBT for St. Gerard House. In 2016, Sophia became a Board Certified Behavior Analyst and took on the role as program coordinator for the Grotto Therapeutic Center in January 2017. Sophia is excited to call Western North Carolina her home and to have found St. Gerard House.


Becca Lapeyre

Clinical Assistant

Becca grew up in New Orleans, Louisiana. She attended the University of South Carolina to earn a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology with a minor in Business Administration and Spanish. She was looking for an exciting challenge after college, so she moved to Asheville and began working at the St. Gerard House. In her spare time, she enjoys yoga, hiking, traveling, and spending time with friends. She is thrilled to have this opportunity to be a part of a strong team and work with amazing kids.


Julia Matthews BCaBA

Program Coordinator

Julia is a Board Certified Assistant Behavior Analyst from New Jersey with a degree in Psychology and American Sign Language. She has been working with children and adults with disabilities for over ten years. Julia’s passion lies in teaching individuals independent living skills through functional experiences.   When Julia found St. Gerard House she had the pleasure of working in the Grotto for her first year.  Now, Julia is the program coordinator for the Feed the Need program which she says has been one the best experiences of her life.  Julia appreciates every opportunity she gets to work with adolescents and teens in the community.


Bertha Medina

Assistant Director

Bertha joined the St. Gerard House team in August 2013 as the Office Administrator and has been involved with all aspects of fundraising and development throughout the years. She currently serves as the Assistant Director. Her goal is to raise autism awareness as well as to help those who are challenged by the complex diagnosis of autism. Bertha's greatest joy is watching the daily miracles that take place at St. Gerard House. She is grateful to be a part of this mission that makes a difference in many lives. In her free time, she enjoys running, hiking, cooking, reading, spending time with family and helping with Youth Ministry at Immaculate Conception Church. 


Ashley Smith

ABA Supervisor

Ashley is very excited to be back on the SGH team! She graduated from Kent State University with a B.A. in Psychology and completed her M.Ed. in Foundations in Behavior Analysis from the University of Cincinnati. She found her passion for working with individuals on the autism spectrum in high school when she baby sat for a neighbor with autism and worked in group homes. She has worked in the field of ABA for 10 years in home, school, and center settings. Ashley has lived in Asheville since 2013, and is so happy to call this beautiful area home.


Rachel Smith, BCBA

Program Coordinator

A Pennsylvania native, Rachel graduated from Milligan College in East Tennessee in 2009 with a degree and teaching license in elementary education. After graduating, Rachel spent time working in a child care center where she discovered a passion for helping students with special needs and was inspired to go back to school. In 2012, she graduated from East Tennessee State University with a Masters degree and teaching license in Early Childhood Special Education. She spent two years teaching special education for the Tennessee public school system before moving to North Carolina and joining the Grotto team. Rachel is excited to continue her journey into ABA at The Grotto.


Karen Sigmon


Karen was born and raised in Wolverhampton, England. Working in 1993 for the Ministry of Defense, she became an Orderly Room Manager for a United States Airforce reconnaissance squadron based at RAF Mildenhall, where she met and married her husband Tom. Following him through assignments in Florida, Germany and Washington State, Karen earned an Associates Degree in Business and Management from Northwest Florida State College (NFSC). She also gained diverse expertise in account and program management as Senior Staff Assistant for NDSC, Office Supervisor at the NATEX, an international grocery supporting NATO in Geilenkirchen, Germany and as the Staff Bookkeeper at Washington's Gig Harbor Golf Club, a non-profit, members-only organization. In 2009, Karen proudly became a United States citizen and moved to the North Carolina mountains when Tom retired in 2015. Her passions are gardening, hiking, reading and helping raise the bar in support of SGH's operational success.


Sharon Stokes

Program Coordinator

Sharon is happy to be a part of the St. Gerard House staff. After a 25 year career in the performing arts (performance, education, production, marketing), Sharon transitioned into Education for Exceptional Children. Before coming to work for St. Gerard House full-time, she worked for Flat Rock Playhouse for many years. She was also an Assistant Teacher at Flat Rock Middle School as well as a teacher and lesson plan writer for our Connect program. Sharon is a graduate of Mississippi University for Women with a Bachelors in both Microbiology and Theatre.


Cecilia Tovar

Operations Manager

Cecilia was born in Mexico and raised in Arden, NC. She is a graduate of T. C Roberson High School and holds an Associate's degree as Spanish Interpreter. Cecilia first joined St. Gerard House in the summer of 2014, where she discovered her passion for helping families who are facing autism. Cecilia is excited to be back on the SGH team after a brief departure following the birth of her second son. In her free time, Cecilia enjoys spending time with family and friends and exploring the outdoors.


Brad Ward

Director of Finance

Brad is a native North Carolinian with ties all over the state. He came to us via Arthur Morgan School, a farm-based school near Burnsville, NC, where he lived and worked with his partner Kristen and their two children for five years.Brad served as the school's Finance Director. He graduated from the University of North Carolina - Greensboro with a BA in History and a NC teaching license and has worked in education, management, and finance. Brad brings an array of skills to the St Gerard House admin team.


Lupita Aguillon RBT


A graduate from North Henderson High School, Lupita holds a cosmetology license, as well as an Associates degree in Early Childhood Education. In addition to working at St. Gerard House, Lupita volunteers her time working with the Hispanic community for the diocese of Charlotte and is very passionate about her work with the youth at Immaculate Conception Church. She began volunteering with the Grotto school in 2010 and became a St. Gerard House staff member in the spring of 2012. St. Gerard House is extremely grateful to have Lupita’s dedication and passion at the Grotto school.


Faith Alexander RBT

Grotto II Administrator

Faith originally came to Asheville from San Diego, CA to work at a summer camp for kids on the spectrum. It was such a great experience and she loved the area so much she decided to stay and make it her new home! In the past 7 years she has done volunteer work doing swim lessons, a P.E. class and helping with therapy on horseback all for children with special needs. Since graduating with her degree in Kinesiology she has worked in different settings with individuals on the spectrum ranging in age from 3-22.  When she is not at work she enjoys running, hiking, mountain biking or just about any other outdoor activity.


Alexandra Bacon RBT

Therapy Team Lead

Alexandra was born in Florida and moved to New Hampshire when she was 12. She attended Plymouth State University for her bachelors in Criminal Justice. Alex was introduced to the autism community when she started working at a residential treatment facility in Northfield, NH. Shortly after her introduction, she knew that she wanted to continue to work with this population and further her knowledge in this field. She moved to North Carolina in 2015 and started working on her masters in Applied Behavior Analysis. Alex is also currently working towards obtaining her BCBA certification. In her free time, Alex enjoys hiking and kayaking.


Jenny Baker RBT

Grotto I Administrator

Jenny was raised in Hendersonville, NC and graduated from West Henderson High School.  After high school Jenny moved to Charlotte, where she earned a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology from UNC Charlotte.  In Jenny's past she danced on many dance teams, including UNC Charlotte Gold Dusters, Charlotte Checkers, and Carolina Panthers.  Her love of working with children on social, emotional, cognitive, and physical growth lead her to be an instructor and Manager at The Little Gyms of Charlotte for 3 years. She moved back to Hendersonville in Summer 2015 as a Lead Teacher in the Grotto Integration Summer Camp.  During integration, she was introduced to ABA and fell in love.  Jenny feels blessed to be back in the mountains, where she feels most at home.  In her spare time, Jenny likes to do yoga, go on hikes, visit the White Water Center in Charlotte, and go to the beach!


Danielle Coronado


Danielle was born and raised in West Monroe, Louisiana. She earned her Bachelors of Arts in Psychology at the University of Monroe Louisiana. Danielle started her journey with special needs working at a summer camp in 2009. There she learned how ABA changes not only the lives of children but the lives of their families. She moved to the beautiful mountains of Asheville in January 2017. In her spare time Danielle enjoys playing the piano, cooking, and exploring the city with her husband. She is so thankful she has found a place at SGH with great leadership and guidance in bettering herself as an ABA therapist.


Zane Duncan


Zane was born and raised in the Piedmont of North Carolina but has always had an attachment to WNC. He graduated with a bachelors in psychology from Appalachian State University in 2014. After spending a year seeing the country, he decided to settle in Asheville. Zane worked alongside individuals with autism as a one on one for ASNC. He fell in love with what he was doing and wanted to help in a more technical way. He learned about SGH through the Feed the Need program and became part of our team soon after. When he's not working Zane enjoys music, the outdoors, and traveling with his dog Mavis.


Brandi Hansen


Brandi recently moved from Wisconsin with her husband and five children where she was working as a certified nursing assistant. She learned about St. Gerard house and ABA when looking for services for her oldest son who is on the spectrum and for her daughter who is hemiplegic. Brandi volunteered in the Grotto and her children began participating in the after-school programs offered. The life changing work being done and the amazing people motivated her to become an Registered Behavior Technician and do her field experience at St. Gerard house. Brandi will be obtaining her Bachelor's in Human Services in the fall of 2017. Brandi feels blessed to have found the St. Gerard house for her children and grateful that she can be part of such amazing work.


Lainey Harrison RBT


Lainey grew up in Charleston, SC. She majored in visual arts at Charleston County School of the Arts for both middle and high school. She earned a Bachelors in Studio Art at the College of Charleston with a concentration in painting. Lainey first began working in this field in 2012 with The Enola Group in Morganton, NC doing art therapy with participants at Signature Day Program. She joined The Grotto in 2016 and currently works in the Garden, Art, and Culinary programs for Feed the Need.