About the Board

Group photo of Constituency Board members.
Constituency Board members meet with CARD staff at board meeting.

We are the CARD-USF Constituency Board. We are your representatives to the Center for Autism and Related Disabilities at the University of South Florida in Tampa serving a 14-county region. As parents and individuals with autism, we understand the problems and concerns you are dealing with because we are dealing with them too.

We can all still remember how lost and lonely we felt during the process of getting this diagnosis, and afterwards trying to understand how to meet the needs of our children. Having opportunities to meet and talk with other parents of children with autism and related disabilities was like opening a door to a whole new world.

The board is always looking for new members to join us. Our group meets four times a year with the director and staff of CARD-USF. Please review and submit the *CARD Constituency Board Candidate Form

We have set goals for each year, and work quarterly as a group to develop ways to meet those goals. Each year, we want to understand the needs of CARD constituents from all areas.

We can then advise the administration at CARD-USF on these issues of importance. Our role is to listen to you, be your voice and to coordinate efforts that meet the community needs.

We want to hear from you. We want your input. We want to hear your ideas, concerns and suggestions. Please contact us through the CARD's e-mail and a board member will respond to you directly.

*CARD Constituency Board Candidate Form


Board Members

Meet the CARD-USF Constituency Board

Michele Jewell

Michele Jewell, Co-Chair

I have two beautiful daughters, Izabella and Olivia, who keep me on my toes when I am not running the engineering department at my workplace. We have settled in Tampa after moving all over the country with great organizations such as the US Coast Guard, GE, Sea Ray Yachts and currently with ITW. My oldest daughter, Izabella, was diagnosed with autism at the age of two. Since then we have regularly practiced our favorite form of therapy, visits to Disney! My goal in becoming more involved with CARD is to educate the community about the impactful resource that CARD can be in their lives and how it can benefit their family.

Phyllis Guthman

Shirlan A. Williams, PhD

A PhD in Communication did not prepare me for a son with autism with severe communication and social challenges. Uncertain and desperate, I was referred to CARD-USF. Throughout the years, CARD has provided my family with information and resources that have aided my son's successes. I believe in serving my community and paying it forward. Therefore, I desire to raise awareness that will help ASD diagnosed, parents, educators, and the broader community recognize, anticipate and manage the challenges, and celebrate the successes, that ASD presents.

Lisa Miller

Barbara Jordan-White, PhD

Barbara Jordan-White is a mother of a young adult with ASD who is non-verbal and has other comorbid disabilities. Her interest are in disability advocacy, community inclusion and relationship building. She has a Ph.D. from USF and teaches graduate courses for the autism endorsement at Liberty University.

Lisa Miller

Matias Ramirez

Matias, along with his wife Theresa and their children Martin and Sofia live in Tampa. Martin was diagnosed at the age of 4 with Autism. They know that raising children can be challenging but with the support of family, community, and organizations like CARD no one has to go it alone. In his spare time, Matias enjoys going to the gym with Martin and watching Sofia break boards in Taekwondo and travelling. He has a PhD from USF in Adult Education and is currently the Content and Learning lead for an international software corporation.

Lisa Miller

Lisa Brice

I am a mother of a young adult with ASD who was diagnosed around the age of 3. Over the past 20 years, I have seen the wonderful work of CARD, community, therapists, teachers and the various medical professionals help more students with ASD and their families participate in traditional activities. I hope that my involvement with CARD will continue to help bring awareness of the need for a supportive inclusive community that allows development of friendships, employment training opportunities and increase the awareness of all that CARD has to offer.

Kristen Nieves

Kristen Nieves, Co-Chair

Kristen, along with her husband, are raising two sons in Valrico. They knew early on that there was something very unique about their youngest son. When he was young, he wasn't talking when he should have been and when he finally starting speaking, it was unintelligible. However, that same little boy was doing puzzles meant for much older kids and knew all the Presidents of the United States by photo. Pervasive Development Disorder was the first diagnosis. After many visits to various physicians, a pediatric neurologist and various tests, by age of three he was diagnosed with ASD. With the help of many family members, speech therapists, occupation therapists and teachers, their son is now participating in a traditional classroom. Knowing how powerful it is to have a strong voice, resources and support, Kristen hopes that her involvement with CARD will continue to help bring awareness to the community, financial resources to CARD and reduce the stigma of being autistic.

Ann Reynolds

Rachel Hunter

I live & work in Bradenton with my husband James, where I'm employed as an estimator for a sitework & underground utilities construction company, but my most important job is mom to our 2 young children: Ethan and Lillie. My son Ethan was diagnosed with ASD when he was 2. I was fortunate to be able to be a stay-at-home mom with him until he was 4, and in that time made it my mission to learn all I could about autism and the resources he would need to make it possible for him to live the fullest and most successful life possible despite his challenges. Today, he is thriving academically and continuing to make steady progress socially & developmentally. I am so excited to become involved with CARD to help promote awareness of ASD and all the excellent resources CARD offers our community. My ultimate goal is to be able to help other parents & care-givers obtain the support and resources they need to give their children the most successful start possible, academically & in life.

Rachel Barcellona

Rachel Barcellona, Secretary

I have successfully completed my first year of College and am an advocate for those with disabilities. I have created my platform, The Ability Beyond Disabilities, to inspire those that have challenges to strive for their dreams as well as to educate those who might not understand the challenges we face. As an individual with Epilepsy and Asperger's Syndrome - a form of autism, I often felt like I could not do things, people with disabilities or anyone who is different are often targets for bullies as I was, but because of my life and social experiences, I have overcome many challenges.

I am an award winning thespian, a model , and currently writing a book. I have won many state and national titles and currently hold the title of Miss Florida International. I competed at nationals this summer and placed top 10 in the world! I work with several organizations that provide services to individuals with disabilities including therapy such as occupational and physical along with music and art therapy. My plan for the future is to graduate from University with a degree in English with a theater vocal performance minor, and hope to travel the world inspiring others!

Barbara Verriest Bob Verriest

Barbara and Bob Verriest

Their youngest daughter is on the autism spectrum. CARD has been a tremendous help for many years in paving the way toward a brighter future for her. CARD has educated the educators by helping them to understand students with ASD. CARD's classes, workshops and seminars, for parents and constituents as well, have enabled the Verriests to make progress toward their daughter's independence and success. They want to stand up for autism awareness and funding for CARD in any way they can, so they became CARD Constituency Board members in 2009. As advocates they hope to increase public awareness and help those on the spectrum feel the joys of achievement and success.

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