The Scholars with Diverse Abilities Program team is made up of faculty, student support members and volunteers who are dedicated to the success and wellness of our Scholars. Our faculty and student staff members come from a variety of backgrounds and experiences.

SDAP Leadership Team

Dr. Susan Hedges


Dr. Susan Hedges (She/Her/Hers) earned a Ph.D. in education with a focus on special education from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. In addition to working with SDAP, Susan is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Reading Education and Special Education at Appalachian State University. Her research interests include technology supports for students with autism, enhancing whole school environments in support of students with autism, and improving post-school outcomes for students with autism. She has presented at national and international conferences. Her published work can be found in peer-reviewed journals including the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disabilities,Autism, Exceptional Children, and Remedial and Special Education.

Beth Sibley

Beth Sibley

Assistant Director

Beth Sibley earned a BSW from James Madison University and an MSW from the University of South Carolina.  She has experience doing case management in mental health, health care, and child welfare settings. Her extensive background in social work aligns well with SDAP's person-centered planning approach. Additionally, she brings experience in educational settings working with high school students with intellectual and developmental disabilities. 

Beth has worked at App since 2016 as an adjunct instructor teaching in the Social Work and Recreation Management and Physical Education departments. During this time, she taught several SDAP students taking PE courses. In the community, Beth has led a group fitness class for athletes with intellectual and physical disabilities. As a full-time member of the SDAP team, Beth continues to look for ways to support students on their health and wellness journey, helping them develop sustainable nutrition and exercise habits that they can take with them when they leave the program. 

Kaitlyn Reda

Program Coordinator and Lecturer

Program Coordinator and Lecturer

Kaitlyn Reda earned a BFA in Drama from New York University and an MSW from Appalachian State University with a concentration in Community and Organizational Practice. Her background in the performing arts has prepared her for the creativity and flexibility needed in the social work field. Kaitlyn’s time with SDAP began during her foundation-year MSW field placement as a social work intern, which later evolved into a graduate teaching assistantship and graduate assistantship. In addition to her work with SDAP, Kaitlyn also has experience in the substance use and mental illness non-profit spheres.

Student Staff Members

App State undergraduate and graduate students provide an important peer support network for our Scholars. They serve several essential functions that enable Scholars to have a successful collegiate experience in the areas of lifeskill development, residential life, academics and so much more. Below are just some of the many peers who provide support for SDAP students. 

Graduate Assistants

Graduate Assistants with SDAP support Scholars through roles as Personal-centered Planning Advisors, Teaching Assistants and Research Assistant Mentees.

Maddi Dorrill

Graduate Assistant

Person-Centered Planning Advisor

Maddi Dorrill, MT-BC, is a third-year graduate student in the Master of Music Therapy and Clinical Mental Health Counseling programs at Appalachian State University. She received her Bachelor of Music in Music Therapy from The University of Georgia in 2019 and spent a few years working in an inpatient psychiatric hospital before coming back to school. Maddi is passionate about advocating for people with diverse abilities through improving access to education, community resources, and healthcare services. 

Dana Palmer

Graduate Assistant

Teaching Assistant

Dana Palmer is a graduate student working on her MA in Special Education and certificates in Autism and Emotional-Behavioral Disorders. She has a BFA in Art Education (K-12), with minors in Psychology and German from App State. She loves animals, crafting and spending time outdoors. Dana is passionate about equal access to education and believes strongly in the value of diversity in our communities. She is so excited to join the SDAP team this Fall as a Teaching Assistant!

Ellie Russell

Ellie Russell

Graduate Assistant

Person-Centered Planning Advisor

Ellie Russell is a second-year graduate student in the Marriage and Family Therapy Program. She graduated from Florida Atlantic University with a Psychology degree and an Applied Mental Health Certificate. She is elated to be part of the SDAP team. She hopes to be a resourceful and positive peer for the students journey in the SDAP program. Ellie aspires to be a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist. In her free time she loves hiking with her dog, reading books, listening to podcasts, running, crafts, and most of all spending quality time with her friends and family.

College Life Peer Supports

College Life Peer Supports support Scholars by living alongside them in residential halls and helping provide a positive and safe living experience.

Lana Kaufman

College Life Peer Support

New River- Lead Peer Support 

Lana Kaufman is a senior special education major in the accelerated master's program for special education. She is a member and former President of Tau Sigma (the national transfer honors society)  and current President of Appstate’s chapter of the Cooperative Baptist Student Fellowship. She loves to read, listen to music, and hike at Rough Ridge. She also loves exploring new restaurants in Boone. She looks forward to building lasting relationships with continuing students and supporting them in all their endeavors. 

Jonas Scott

College Life Peer Support

New River Peer Support

Jonas Scott is a Junior Construction Management student with a certificate in Photovoltaics. He is the team lead for App State’s Solar Decathlon team, leadership team for App Builds A Home, and is involved with the RUF crew on campus. He runs a small handyman business in town and just finished up a summer season working out in Montana on a Wildland Fire Crew. He loves movies, hiking, drawing, and is trying to learn how to cook. He’s really excited to get to know everyone and have a great school year with them.


SDAP interns come from a variety of programs including the Bachelors in Social Work (BSW), Communications, and Exercise Science progams.

Alex Dobill

MSW Intern

Alex is a first-year graduate student in the Master of Social Work program. She graduated in 2022 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Sociology from East Carolina University. She spent time before coming to Appalachian State University volunteering with Hospice and working at an Autism Program. In her free time, you can find Alex hiking, painting, or cuddling with her two cats. She is excited to work with the students in the SDAP program this 2023-2024 school year. 

Daniel Efird

MSW Intern

Daniel Efird is a first-year student in the Master of Social Work program here at Appalachian State University. Originally obtaining his Bachelor of Science in Biology from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 2017, Daniel worked in the field of microbiology and immunology for several years before his passion for mental health care, along with his own mental health journey, led him to pursue a career in social work. He is honored to be able to do so at Appalachian and equally honored to be able to be a part of the SDAP team where he strives to be a positive and supportive friend and ally to everyone he is lucky enough to work with. In his free time Daniel enjoys listening to music, playing guitar and piano, hiking, running, gaming, and finding small adventures in the beautiful state he gets to call home. 

Ainsley Munn

BSW Intern

Ainsley Munn is a senior undergraduate student in the Social Work Program at Appalachian State University. Ainsley has spent time volunteering and working with the population we serve. She has immense passion for social justice issues including advocating and supporting people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. In her free time she loves spending time with her cat, reading books, listening to music, doing crafts, and spending time with her family and friends. She is excited to use her knowledge from her studies in her internship with SDAP and in fostering relationships with students.