Rachael Cushing Cook MA, LPA, BCBA
Chief Clinical Officer
Rachael first learned about autism spectrum disorders (ASD) in the early 1990s 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.
Board Certified Behavior Analysts
Courtney Alston, MA, BCBA
Courtney grew up in San Diego, CA and received her BS in Psychology from The University of California, San Diego in 2011. Her job history includes a Georgia teaching license, and experience as the Director of Alumni and School Partnerships. She recently graduated from UNCW with an MA in Psychology, concentration in ABA and became a BCBA in 2021. Courtney feels incredibly blessed to work with the students, families, and staff at St. Gerard House.
Cliff Cowan, MA BCBA
Senior ABA Supervisor
Cliff grew up in New Orleans, Louisiana and received his BS in psychology from The University of the South (Sewanee) and a MA in ABA from the Florida Institute of Technology.
Sophia Greco, MA, BCBA
Senior ABA Supervisor
A West Virginia native, Sophia moved to Asheville in 2015 to work as an RBT in The Grotto. In 2016, Sophia became a BCBA and transitioned to the Senior ABA Supervisor position overseeing clients and staff in the Grotto, Grotto 1.5, and SGH’s integration day programs.
Jade Henke, BCBA
Jade is from Perth, Australia and grew up in London. She came to the States to play college tennis at Mars Hill University and graduated in 2017 with a BS in health and physical education and a K-12 teaching license. She has completed MA coursework and BCBA while here at SGH. In her free time, she and her wife like to explore the mountains with their four dogs.
Erica Hill, MA, BCBA
Senior ABA Supervisor
Erica is a BCBA in the Grotto 1/1.5 program. She graduated from the College of Charleston in 2012 with a BS in Psychology and received her MA in ABA from Florida Institute of Technology in 2017. She is passionate about providing every child with a functional form of communication, celebrating achievements big and small, and making learning fun.
Victoria Rogers BCaBA
Victoria is originally from St. Louis, MO and holds a BS in Psychology with a minor in Special Education from the University of Northern Colorado. She received her BCaBA in 2018 through Florida Institute of Technology and began working toward her MA in 2020. She truly enjoys the environment at St. Gerard House and loves seeing clients work on social skills with peers and witnessing the collaboration and growth of the RBTs.
Rachel Smith, M.Ed, BCBA
Senior ABA Supervisor
Rachel joined the SGH team in 2014. During her first year in the Grotto she fell in love with the science of ABA. She completed her coursework and became a BCBA in 2017. Rachel loves working with clients of all ages but is most passionate about early intervention.
Jenny Baker, BCaBA
Grotto 1 & 1.5
I was born in Atlanta, GA and raised here in Hendersonville, NC. I’ve been a part of The St. Gerard House family since 2015. In my spare time I enjoy seeing live music, mountain biking, spending time with my family and friends, and being outdoors, especially at the beach.
Brandi Hansen, MSW, LCSWA
Brandi 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 own children. Her experience with SGH motivated her to become an RBT. Brandi holds a BA in Human Services and feels blessed to have found the St. Gerard House for her children and grateful that she can be part of such amazing work.
Heidi graduated from Western Carolina University with a BS in Education. She has taught Special Education for 25 years. Heidi is married and has two children and one rescue pit bull.
Julia Matthews, BCaBA
Feed The Need
Julia is a Board Certified Assistant Behavior Analyst from New Jersey with a degree in Psychology and American Sign Language. Working with children and adults with disabilities has been her passion for over ten years. Julia started out working with the Grotto and Connect programs in 2014 and she is now the program coordinator for our Feed the Need program.
Connect Drama Camp
Sharon is happy to be a part of the St. Gerard House staff. After a career in the performing arts (performance, education, production, marketing), Sharon transitioned into Education for Exceptional Children, before coming to work for St. Gerard House. Sharon is a graduate of Mississippi University for Women with a BS in both Microbiology and Theatre.
Amy Green Herman
Amy lives in Asheville with her husband Jason, their 3 kids, and cat Pepper. She came to SGH from Eliada Child Development Center where she worked as an Assistant Directors. Amy has an AA in Early Childhood Education and has worked in this field for 15 years. Working with children and youth has always been her passion and she is excited to be a part of the SGH family.
Registered Behavior Technicians
Kaitlyn Beard graduated from East Henderson High School and received her BS in Exercise Sports Science with a concentration in Health Promotion at the University of North Carolina at Pembroke. 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 husband and go on hikes with her fur babies.
Anna grew up near Atlanta, GA and received her BA in Art Marketing from the University of North Georgia in 2013. After several years of teaching in preschools Anna discovered ABA in 2019. Her passion for ABA grew and she is currently enrolled in Clemson’s Center for Behavior Analysis program. In her downtime, Anna loves to spend her weekends hiking or running with her dogs.
Marlene has been a part of the SGH family through our Connect Program after school and during the summer. Marlene was hired on as an RBT for the Grotto 2 program and is currently attending Blue Ridge Community College.
Brian is from Jacksonville, NC and moved to WNC in 2019. Brian holds a BS in Psychology from Western Carolina University. Brian is married to his best friend Jackie and a member of the Army National Guard. He hopes to make a wonderful impact at St. Gerard House and help others as a RBT. During his spare time, Brian likes to relax with his wife and dog, go for walks at the park, read, or be active in the gym.
Anna is from Atlanta, GA. She earned a BA in Mass Communication from Georgia College & State University in 2016 then moved to Asheville. Anna has always loved working with children. She’s excited to learn from all the wonderful people at SGH and expand her knowledge in this field of autism therapy. When she’s not working, Anna enjoys exploring the outdoors, cooking, and traveling.
Michelle recently moved to the Hendersonville area. She is attending Montreat College and will graduate with her BS in Psychology and human services next spring. She has a passion for working with children. In her free time she enjoys hiking, doing puzzles, playing games and spending time with family.
Amy came to WNC from FL with her husband in 2020. She has four daughters and one fur-child named Muffin. Amy has a BS in Psychology and has a background in homeschooling with her own children as well as other homeschoolers. She has volunteered with children through her church.
I graduated from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro in 2018 with a BS in Recreation Therapy. While in college, I volunteered in different locations serving individuals with Autism and since then remained in the field. In my free time, I enjoy hiking, reading, and hanging out with friends.
Mary is the mother of three boys. Her oldest son has severe autism and disabilities. She has been connected to the disabilities community for years and to St. Gerard House in some way since 2012. She wanted to give back to the community and began her work as an RBT in 2018 after earning her associates degree in School Age Education. She is happy to have the chance to give her time and help bring joy and hope to families like hers.
Madison is a Lenior, NC native. She graduated with a BS in Psychology from the University of North Carolina Asheville after studying abroad in Spain where she hiked over two hundred miles on the Camino de Santiago. Madison is eager to explore holistic methods of therapy that could potentially involve yoga integration, being in nature, and connecting with animals.
Hannah grew up in Charlotte, NC before moving to Asheville. She worked at Eliada Childcare as an assistant preschool teacher where she discovered a passion for working with children on the spectrum. She is slightly obsessed with plants, having over 130 in her home. She is also learning wire wrapping in her free time.
Andrea was born in Venezuela, and now calls Hendersonville home. She got her degree in Culinary Arts in Tampa, Florida. She was first introduced at SGH when she volunteered with Feed the need as a guest chef. In her free time, she enjoys cooking, and spending time with friends and family.
Jesenia Rios Rivera
Jesenia is from Puerto Rico and now calls Hendersonville, NC home. She has a BS in Biology and experience in special education and as a private tutor. Her passions are helping people, outdoor adventures, and practicing poetry.
Evan Sullivan, MA
Evan grew up in North Alabama. He received a BS at Auburn University and a MA in Education from the University of Massachusetts Boston. Evan is married to Amanda and has two children, Eli and Beckett. Evan enjoys his work at St. Gerard House immensely.
Maria Vera Yepez
Born in Mexico, Maria has been living in WNC for 12 years. Maria was introduced to SGH by volunteering at their annual luncheon and later became very interested in ABA. She recently graduated with her Associates in Science with a concentration in Business Administration and will continue her studies.
Taylor Ward, MA
Taylor has been working with children with Autism since 2015. He holds a MA in Special Education. In 2020, he moved from his hometown of Brooklyn, NY to NC where he had the opportunity to join St. Gerard House as an RBT. Taylor spends most of his free time either outdoors hiking, biking and running or at home with his wife and dog.
Sarah is a Hendersonville native who has worked with St. Gerard House through the summer Connect program and is excited to continue her involvement as a behavior technician. She has an Associates in Fine Arts Theatre from Blue Ridge Community College and enjoys drawing, music and spending time with loved ones.
Natasha is from Asheville and found her passion working with children when she became a preschool teacher. She is currently pursuing a AS at AB Tech. She has a 6 year old daughter, who has Type 1 diabetes, and a 2 year old son. In her free time, Natasha enjoys exploring new areas, swimming, and music events.
Jasmine is devoted to serving the children at SGH with the best individual care they deserve. Jasmine came from PA and has lived here for 6 years. She has previous education in child development and has worked with children closely of all age ranges.
Feed The Need
Originally from Maine, Donna came to WNC from FL with her husband in 2021. She formerly ran a children’s program at Ocean Reef Club in Key Largo, FL and worked one on one with a child with Asperger’s Syndrome for many years. Donna is thrilled to be part of FTN’s team and to enjoy all of the beauty that WNC has to offer. In her free time, she enjoys hiking, yoga and spending time with her fur children and family.
Dawn grew up in Indiana where she earned her BS in Psychology at Ball State University. She later moved to Austin, TX and worked as the Assistant Director for a non-profit rehab that served traumatic brain injury survivors. She recently moved to live closer to family and because she loves the WNC area. Along with gardening, you may find her busy creating artwork and enjoying nature.
Erika was born in Mexico and arrived in the U.S when she was 9. She worked as a certified nurse assistant for 5 years before coming to SGH. She loves working with young adults in the FTN program and finds it very rewarding. She is most happy when able to help others learn or accomplish their goals. Erika enjoys going on hikes with her furbabies and family as well as driving around with music playing and windows down.
Chief Financial Officer
Brad is a NC native who came to SGH 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. He graduated from the University of North Carolina Greensboro with a BA in History and a NC teaching license. Brad has worked in education, management, and finance.
Chief Operating Officer
Mary Beth Herman, SHRM-SCP, SPHR
Director of Human Resources
Mary Beth graduated from Virginia Commonwealth University. She has 18+ years of experience and two national certifications: Society of Human Resource Management Senior Certified Professional and Senior Professional in Human Resources. In her spare time, she loves to sew, scrapbook, camp, hike, and hang out with her darling husband, Eli and her 7 grandchildren.
Director of Development & Community Engagement
Julia graduated with a BS in Healthcare Management from Indiana University. In 2012, she relocated to WNC where she has worked in social science, non-profit management and administration. In 2022 she will obtain her MBA. She is trained in Lean/ Six Sigma, a healthcare performance improvement method.
Director of Client & Family Services
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. Her greatest joy is watching the daily miracles that take place at St. Gerard House.
Marley Stepp, MS
CAA Specialist & Administrative Assistant
Marley Stepp graduated from the University of Tennessee with a BS in Human Ecology and from Western Carolina University with a MS of Public Science. She has over 30 years of business management experience. In her spare time, she loves spending time with her sons, the love of her life, Ted, and her dogs.
Revenue Cycle Manager
Luisa Astudillo, MS
Quality & Analytics Specialist
Luisa grew up in Havana, Cuba, and studied Law at the University of Havana. She came to the US in 2008 and attended Miami Dade College where she earned a BS in Criminal Justice. She graduated from NOVA Southeastern University with a MS of Forensic Psychology. She and her husband moved to NC in 2019.
Monika Soares, MA
Accounts Receivable Specialist
Monika was born and raised in Torun, Poland. She earned a MA of Law in 2005 from the University of Nicolaus Copernicus. The following summer she came to the United States through a student exchange program and met her husband. They have two sons. Monika is excited to be a part of the billing team helping families navigate the complex insurance world.
Accounts Receivable Specialist
Cecilia has been part of the administrative team at St. Gerard House since 2014. During this time, her role at SGH has changed but her passion of helping families facing autism has not. Cecilia considers herself blessed to be a part of this organization that has allowed her to learn and grow.
Christina Donnelly, MS
Christina was born in Savannah, GA. She received a BS in Special Education from Armstrong Atlantic State University in 2011 and worked in the education field for nine years. She is married with three kids and has three dogs. She is a military spouse. Christina completed a MS in Accounting in 2020 from Post University and joined our Finance Department in February, 2021.
Diane Maxwell is a NC native and has worked with children & families for over twenty-five years; including raising a daughter and 2 sons of her own. She holds degrees in Early Childhood Education, Child Development, and Birth-Kindergarten Education. She’s been with SGH for almost 5 years and learns something new from the children every day.
Before his retirement in July 2020, Eli spent 38 years growing fruits and vegetables for the Biltmore Estate. In his free time he enjoys traveling, woodworking, hiking, photography, gardening and home renovations. He loves spending time with his darling wife Mary Beth, their four sons, daughters in law and grandchildren.