Anna Ward

Anna WardDirector, 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.

Cate Smith

Cate SmithCo-Principal Investigator, Faculty

Cate Smith, Ph.D., Reading Education, and Special Education. Dr. Smith comes to Appalachian 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 postsecondary programs for individuals with ID. She has been a visiting faculty in Armenia. She will serve as a program consultant for SDAP.

Mandy Harrison

Mandy HarrisonCo-Principal Investigator, Faculty

Mandy Harrison teaches in ASU's Recreation Management and Physical Education department.  She has her Ph.D. 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.

Rebekah Cummings

Rebekah CummingsAcademic 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 the 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.

Mary Strong

Mary StrongTransition and Career Coordinator

Mary Strong, MSW is an alumnus 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 for helping the world be a more equitable and inclusive place for all humankind. She is especially interested in assisting individuals with disabilities to live the most autonomous and fulfilling lives possible.


Graduate Assistants 

Robert Neeb

Robert NeebRobert 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.