Director, Co Principal Investigator

Anna Ward, MFA, MA, NBCC, has been working at Appalachian as an instructor for 18 years. She has degrees in Theatre Education and Community Counseling. Anna has taught and worked with a variety of populations as both a theatre artist and mental health therapist. In the surrounding region, she has facilitated arts programming for individuals with intellectual disabilities, often by creating community arts performance experiences with mixed groups. Prior to coming on as SDAP director, she worked with the programs Scholars in her courses at Appalachian.

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, PhD, Recreation Management and Leisure Studies.


Graduate Assistants

Volunteer Coordinator

Cindy Morris is pursuing a Master's in Music Therapy at Appalachian State. She recently completed a 6 month internhip in music therapy in Sykesville, MD at a state psychiatric hospital. She earned her Bachelor's in Music education from the University of Tennessee at Martin in 2008. Cindy has expereince working with multiple populations including adults and children with developmental disabilites.

Scholar Academic and Social Coordinators

Kelly Jean Tucker is currently studying Professional School Counseling in the Masters program at Appalachian.  She has a degree in psychology from The University of Georgia.  She has worked with children and teens with a variety of diagnoses such as PTSD, ASD, and behavioral disorders. She is interested in pursuing the Expressive Arts Therapy certificate here at Appalachian.

Heather Moore is currently pursuing her Master's degree in Social Work at Appalachian State.  She earned her undergraduate degree in Exercise and Sport Science from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.  She has experience working with a variety of populations including individuals with intellectual and physical disabilities.

Christian Immel is currently pursuing a Master's in Clinical Mental Health Counseling at Appalachian State University. He receieved a psychology degree from NC State University, and has worked as a paraprofessional and developmental technician for individuals with developmental disabilities for the last couple of years. He has one child, a one-year-old miniature poodle named Nico. 

The SDA Program Board of Directors

These individuals are an integral part of sustaining, supporting, and advancing our program. Each bring various expertise from professional and personal experience to our program.