Director, Co Principal Investigator
Anna Ward, MFA, MA, NBCC, is in her 20th year at Appalachian. She has degrees in Theatre Education (K-12) and Clinical Mental Health Counseling. Anna has taught and worked with a variety of populations as both a theatre artist and in clinical mental health. She has facilitated arts programming for individuals with intellectual disabilities, creating inclusive community arts experiences. Prior to coming on as SDAP director, she worked with Scholars in her courses at Appalachian. Currently, her focus is on creating inclusive outreach opportunities around transition and employment by collaborating with other departments and programs in the university and community.
Co Principal Investigator, Faculty
Cate Smith, PhD, Reading Education and Special Education. Dr. Smith comes to Applachian faculty after serving as the Program Coordinator at UT FUTURE program in Knoxville, TN. She has taught special education in public schools and is particularly interested in assistive technologies and post secondary programs for individuals with ID. She has been a visiting faculty in Armenia. She will serve as a program consultant for SDAP.
Co Principal Investigator, Faculty
Mandy Harrison teaches in ASU's Recreation Management and Physical Education department. She has her PhD in Parks, Recreation and Tourism Management, with a focus in therapeutic recreation from Clemson, SC. Her professional background is in therapeutic recreation, and therapeutic wilderness programming with adjudicated youth and special populations.
Academic and Life Skills Coordinator
Dr. Rebekah Cummings enjoys helping students navigate the physical, social, and academic environments of college, develop life skills they will use regularly in adulthood, and learn strategies that will support their academic success. She has a Ph.D. in Human Development from Virginia Tech with a graduate certificate in Autism Spectrum Disorders from University of North Carolina - Charlotte. Dr. Cummings has been teaching at ASU since 2009 (with consistent courses in First Year Seminar since 2010) and has also served as an academic coach for students seeking to improve their academic performance.
Transition and Career Coordinator
Mary Strong, MSW is an alumni of Appalachian State University where she obtained her Bachelors and Masters degree in Social Work. Mary completed her undergraduate internship with SDAP before returning as a staff member. Mary is committed to upholding the ethics of the social work profession and supporting the mission of SDAP. Her role as the Transition and Career Coordinator allows her to employ her passion of helping the world be a more equitable and inclusive place for all humankind. She is especially interested in assisting individuals with disabilities live the most autonomous and fulfilling lives possible.
Student Support and Recruitment Coordinator
Caitlin Duffy received her Bachelor of Social Work with a minor in Psychology from Appalachian State. She completed her undergraduate internship with SDAP and currently holds the position of Student Support and Recruitment Coordinator, working with the program's volunteers to provide mutually beneficial relationships between the scholars and their peers. Caitlin has previous experience working with underserved populations, including individuals that are homeless and food insecure.
Robert Neeb is currently a graduate student at Appalachian State University where he is studying Music Therapy. At Appalachian State, Robert is a graduate assistant for the SDAP and additionally for the Hayes School of Music. Robert received his undergraduate degree in Music Education with a Concentration in Jazz at the University of Southern Maine where he graduated summa cum laude in the spring of 2016. Throughout his time at USM, Robert taught music theory and percussion lessons to students ranging from 8 years old to 30 years old, performed in numerous ensembles and bands (USM Jazz Ensemble, Southern Maine Symphony Orchestra, USM Concert Band, USM Vocal Jazz Ensemble, USM Chorale, etc.), and was overall an extremely active member of USM’s school community as well as the music community in Portland, ME. Amongst his academic and personal achievements, Robert is a hardworking and dedicated individual whose sole purpose is to contribute to making the world a better place for all people.
Miriam Stapp is currently a first year student in the Music Therapy Equivalency/Master's program at Appalachian State University. After receiving her Bachelor's degree in Music Performance from Corban University in Salem, OR, Miriam moved to Charlotte, NC where she spent several years working in project management and supervisory roles in the Audio/Visual Integration industry. Her time spent in management roles illuminated the desire to see individuals develop to their fullest potential. This is her first year working with the SDAP Program.
Jonathan Williams, MT-BC is a music therapist pursuing a Master of Music Therapy degree at Appalachian State University’s Hayes School of Music. He works as a graduate assistant for SDAP and for the music therapy department. At SDAP, he works as a Person Centered Planning Advisor, where he provides 1:1 support to program Scholars. Before coming to Appalachian, Jonathan received a Bachelor of Arts in Music (Cello) Performance with a minor in Psychology from The College of Charleston. In addition to cello playing and pursuing music therapy, he is passionate about guitar playing, reading, writing, swimming, and hiking. After Jonathan completes his master’s degree, his professional aspiration is to work as a music therapist in a mental health setting, where he hopes to serve and advocate for mental health recovery and awareness.
Josh Carrico is currently a graduate student at Appalachian State University studying Professional School Counseling with a graduate certificate in Autism Spectrum Disorders. He achieved his undergraduate degree in Psychology and Criminal Justice at Western Carolina University. At WCU Josh was heavily involved as the Programming Chair on the Executive Board in the Leadership Institute, which as an organization sponsored philanthropic events on campus and work in the community. Amongst his personal achievements Josh has volunteered with Hot Asana yoga studio of Southern Pines in their Inclusive yoga class for children. His passion is to working to make schools a more inclusive and safe environment for all students.
Grace Miller is the program’s MSW Intern. She completed her undergraduate degree at East Carolina University, where she studied Communication Sciences and Disorders. After graduation, she spent three years as a direct support professional, working one-on-one with adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Grace is currently in her first year of Appalachian State University’s Master of Social Work program. She has a passion for advocacy and inclusion within the IDD community, and is looking forward to developing new skills during her internship with SDAP.