Meet Our Team


Juliette Jacov, RBT

Garden Therapist

Juliette Jacov is originally from New York, where she received a bachelor’s degree in English with a concentration in Global Studies from Binghamton University in 2016. She moved to Asheville in 2017 and began working in the mental health field as a residential counselor at a psychiatric treatment facility. Juliette found St. Gerard House in her search for a smaller organization that celebrates creativity and allows its employees to intertwine their interests and skills with their work. She has found gardening to be an amazing platform for communication and growth, and she is grateful to have the opportunity to explore this field through that framework. In addition to her work at St. Gerard House Juliette runs the sustainable candle production business Sage and Sunflowers.


Ainsley Jorgensen, RBT

Therapy Team Lead

Ainsley is a North Carolina native. She grew up in a small, southeastern beach town, and she's now loving her life in a small, southwestern NC mountain town. She was introduced to autism in 2009 while volunteering with a company that provided equine therapy. Ainsley started her career with a bachelor’s degree in family and child development from Southern Virginia University. In 2012, Ainsley became an AmeriCorps VISTA for a company in Utah that provided ABA to children on the autism spectrum and has been working with kids on the spectrum or with similar delays ever since. She has worked in clinic, in home, and in an integrative school setting. She is now pursuing a Master of Arts in Special Education (Applied Behavior Analysis). Ainsley is so excited to have found St. Gerard House and enjoys learning from and getting to know the kids and staff. In her free time, Ainsley enjoys communing with nature, visiting friends and family, singing her heart out, and checking out the local farmer’s market.


Mary Laughter, RBT


Mary is the mother of three boys 8, 3, and 6 months old, her oldest son at 8 has severe autism, sensory processing disorder and other disabilities. Personally connected to the special needs community, and seeking a way to both support her son and give back to the community that embraced her so willingly she began school at Blue Ridge Community College. All along the way St Gerard House was a helping hand to her with parent group nights, and supportive educational talks. With an Associates degree in School Age Education, 8 years of history within the special needs community, and three years of an educational work history she is honored and excited to be a part of the Gerard House Family and pursue her Registered Behavioral Technician Certification.


Hanna Ledford, RBT


Hanna earned her bachelor’s degree in Psychology from UNC - Asheville. She previously worked for two years as direct support staff for adults with autism, and is enthusiastic about bringing her experience to work with children and young adults at the Grotto and GII. Hanna lives in Edneyville with her dog Tank, a lab pitbull mix. For fun, she enjoys hiking, reading, and camping.


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.


Diane Maxwell

Child Care Administrator

Diane is a native NC resident and the proud Mom of a daughter and two sons. She has been working with children and families with disabilities for over twenty years. Being a part of the St. Gerard Team is an honor and dedication Diane feels Heaven sent and blessed to receive. She earned an Associate of Science degree in Early Childhood Education from Blue Ridge Community College. She then went on to earn a Bachelor of Science degree in Birth through Kindergarten Education and is a licensed teacher for kindergarten through second grade. Diane truly believes parents are first and foremost their children’s primary and most important teachers. Every child is capable of learning and deserves the chance to show all he/she has inside them to give to this world.


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. 


Heidi Nash

Academic Program Coordinator

Heidi grew up in Florida but attended summer camp in Tuxedo. She loved the mountains so much she attended Western Carolina University where she earned a BSED with a concentration in special education. She actually did her student teaching in Henderson County Schools! Her first teaching job was in Key West, Florida where she ended up meeting her husband of 30+ years. She taught special education for 25 years until they decided to move to Florida to be closer to family. They are now happy to call NC home again! Heidi previously volunteered at the Grotto during the summers she wasn’t in Florida and is excited to be the Academic Coordinator! She and her husband have two grown children and are active at Immaculaute Conception Catholic Church!


Andrea Petticrew, RBT


Andrea was born in Venezuela and moved to the States in 2007. She lived in Florida for eight years and moved to Hendersonville four years ago with her husband. Andrea went to the Art Institute of Tampa to get a Bachelor in Culinary Arts. She worked in the Hospitality industry for 10 years. Andrea was first introduced to SGH when she volunteered at Feed the Need as guest chef and she really enjoyed working with the kids, and the staff. Andrea decided to take a career change when she had her daughter. In her free time Andrea likes to spend time with her family and friends, and cook.


Jesenia Rios Rivera, RBT


Jesenia was born in Puerto Rico, and now calls Hendersonville home. She was awarded a BS in Biology, and worked as a math teacher and private tutor, as well as an Administrative Assistant in the financial aid office of the Universidad Interamericana de Puerto Rico. Her favorites include Colombian food, sushi, and Puerto Rican food. Jesenia loves spending her time in nature, hiking and taking walks, singing, drawing, and watching movies or Netflix with family.


Pati Rodriguez, CTRS, RBT


Patricia has been a resident of Hendersonville since she was five years old, but she is originally from a small town in Guanajuato, Mexico. Throughout college, she volunteered with individuals with disabilities at various centers. In August 2018, Pati graduated from the University of North Carolina – Greensboro with a bachelor of science in Recreation Therapy. As an intern at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center, she grew more interested working with children, and went on to work as a pre-school teacher, where she quickly realized her desire to work one-on-one with children with special needs. She earned her CTRS (certified therapeutic recreation specialist) credentials in March of 2019, and is currently working on a license in recreation therapy. Pati lives with her feisty cat, Luna, who does not get along with her dog, Coco. She enjoys reading, hiking, traveling, exploring other cultures, and one day hopes to hike a mountain in every state.


Tanya Selius, RBT


Tanya is from Green Bay, WI where she spent most of her life, but she was born in Kirov, Russia and adopted by her family. She also lived in Ohio for over seven years. She moved to Hendersonville in June 2019. Tanya earned her associate’s degree in counseling and human services from Northeast Wisconsin Technical College and previously worked at the Fox Valley Autism Treatment Program in Appleton, WI. Her hobbies include photography, cooking, hiking, and camping. She enjoys being outside, fall nights, watching the stars, swimming, and being with friends and family. Tanya has two cats, Beans and Bailey. She loves watching football... Go Pack, GO!


Kaitlyn Sitton, RBT

Therapy Team Lead

Kaitlyn is a Henderson County Native, and graduated from East Henderson High School. After High school she moved to Pembroke North Carolina to recieve her Bachelors of Science in Exercise Sports Science with a concentration in Health Promotion at the University of North Carolina at Pembroke. She has always had a love for children with special needs, and her senior year of college she concentrated on special education classes. Kaitlyn was looking to start a career centered around children with autism, so she did some research on the St Gerard House and fell in love. In her spare time she likes to spend time with her family and go on long drives and walks with her fur baby Bailey. She feels blessed and grateful to be a part of an organization that makes her feel right at home.


Faith Smathers, RBT


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 seven years, she has done volunteer work including 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.


Rachel Smith, BCBA

Senior ABA Supervisor

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.


Monika Soares, RBT

Insurance Specialist

Monika was born and raised in Poland. In 2005 she earned a Master’s of Art in Law from Nicolaus Copernicus University. The following summer, Monika came to the United States through student exchange program where she met her husband. Since then, they welcomed two energetic and creative boys. As time progressed many things in her life have changed. Monika discovered that her real interest lies not in law but in working with children with special needs. For the past couple of years, she has worked at a nonprofit preschool where children with all abilities and levels learn and play together. Monika believes that all children carry special gifts inside of them and that working with special needs children includes the responsibility to identify those gifts since they often go unnoticed. In her free time Monika enjoys spending time with family and friends, working out at local Y, traveling to new places, and reading.


Sharon Stokes

Connect 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

Billing and Authorization Specialist

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.


Maria Vera, RBT


Maria is from a small town in Guanajuato, Mexico, and has been living in Hendersonville since 2008. A shopping fanatic, Maria also enjoys chicken tacos, the color yellow, and autumn – when the leaves change colors and the air feels crisp. Maria is in the process of obtaining her associate’s degree in science. She hopes to attend UNCA for her Bachelor of Business Administration. On a mission trip to Haiti in 2019, Maria visited an orphanage where she met three special needs children. “Although these kids were suffering, you could see a gleam of peace and happiness that God had placed in their hearts. I knew after this that I wanted to work with kids, simply because I wanted to continue seeing that gleam.” This is part of why she was drawn to St. Gerard House.


Tony Wing, RBT

Therapy Team Lead

Tony is a local from Asheville and attended Haw Creek, Reynolds, and later graduated from UNCA with a BA in Psychology. After high school, he decided not to pursue college right away and spent years traveling the world, meeting individuals and gaining perspective on the world around as well as within him. Tony taught English throughout Asia and has done missions work in indigenous villages in the Amazon Rain Forest. At the age of 25, he moved back to Asheville to pursue a K-6 teaching license at UNCA. During college, Tony started working with an individual with Autism and discovered ABA as well as his passion for this therapy. He immediately changed his major to Psychology and began intensively studying ABA literature. He has provided ABA services in South Carolina, Vermont, and western North Carolina including services in the home, job coaching, clinics, community outreach programs, and private schools. His desire to give back to western North Carolina is why he chose to join the St. Gerard team. When Tony is not working he loves to travel, work in his garden, and go on hikes with his dog, Sadie. A fun fact about Tony is that he is an identical twin.

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