Rachael Cushing Cook MA, LPA, BCBA
Chief Clinical Officer
Rachael first learned about autism spectrum disorders (ASD) in the early 1990s when her younger sister Catherine was diagnosed with moderate-to-severe autism. Catherine’s poor prognosis changed once the science of Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) was introduced to her educational and life skills curricula. From that point on, Rachael’s course of study and future life goals focused on helping other children with ASD and their families. Rachael received her undergraduate degree in psychology from the University of North Carolina – Asheville. While completing her Bachelor’s degree and upon graduation, Rachael served as a lead behavior therapist for many years, working with several local individuals with autism using ABA. During this time, she received direct training from consultants out of UCLA’s Young Autism Project. In 2009, Rachael received her Master’s degree in Clinical Psychology (clinical concentration in ABA) from the University of North Carolina Wilmington. Shortly thereafter, she became a Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) and acquired her North Carolina license to practice psychology (LPA). Rachael is excited to be working again in Western NC where so much of her initial training in the field of autism and ABA originated. It is her goal to enhance the local autism community by sharing all that she has learned since beginning this journey over 20 years ago.
Board Certified Behavior Analysts
Rachel Smith, M.Ed, BCBA
Senior ABA Supervisor
Rachel joined the SGH team in 2014. During her first year in the Grotto she fell in love with the science of ABA. She completed her coursework and became a BCBA in 2017. Rachel loves working with clients of all ages but is most passionate about early intervention.
Cliff Cowan, MA BCBA
Senior ABA Supervisor
Cliff grew up in New Orleans, Louisiana and received his BS in psychology from The University of the South (Sewanee) and a MA in ABA from the Florida Institute of Technology.
Sophia Greco, MA, BCBA
Senior ABA Supervisor
A West Virginia native, Sophia moved to Asheville in 2015 to work as an RBT in The Grotto. In 2016, Sophia became a BCBA and transitioned to the Senior ABA Supervisor position overseeing clients and staff in the Grotto, Grotto 1.5, and SGH’s integration day programs.
Jade Henke, BCBA
Jade is from Perth, Australia and grew up in London. She came to the States to play college tennis at Mars Hill University and graduated in 2017 with a BS in health and physical education and a K-12 teaching license. She has completed MA coursework and BCBA while here at SGH. In her free time, she and her wife like to explore the mountains with their four dogs.
Victoria Rogers, BCaBA
Victoria is originally from St. Louis, MO and holds a BS in Psychology with a minor in Special Education from the University of Northern Colorado. She received her BCaBA in 2018 through Florida Institute of Technology and began working toward her MA in 2020. She truly enjoys the environment at St. Gerard House and loves seeing clients work on social skills with peers and witnessing the collaboration and growth of the RBTs.
Gabi graduated from East Carolina University with a BA in Psychology and Spanish, as well as an MA in Professional Behavior Analysis from the Florida Institute of Technology. She made the decision to work with individuals with ASD after witnessing the positive impact therapists had on her brother, who is on the Autism Spectrum. She previously worked at the Autism Society of NC in Asheville before coming to St Gerard House. Gabi enjoys hiking, pottery, and spending time with her friends and family
Program Managers/Program Coordinators
Amy lives in Asheville with her husband Jason, their 3 kids, and cat Pepper. She came to SGH from Eliada Child Development Center where she worked as an Assistant Directors. Amy has an AA in Early Childhood Education and has worked in this field for 15 years. Working with children and youth has always been her passion and she is excited to be a part of the SGH family.
Julia Matthews, BCaBA
Feed The Need
Julia is a Board Certified Assistant Behavior Analyst from New Jersey with a degree in Psychology and American Sign Language. Working with children and adults with disabilities has been her passion for over ten years. Julia started out working with the Grotto and Connect programs in 2014 and she is now the program coordinator for our Feed the Need program.
Heidi graduated from Western Carolina University with a BS in Education. She has taught Special Education for 25 years. Heidi is married and has two children and one rescue pit bull.
Grotto 1 and 1.5 Program Manager
Andrea was born in Venezuela, and now calls Hendersonville home. She got her degree in Culinary Arts in Tampa, Florida. She was first introduced at SGH when she volunteered with Feed the need as a guest chef. In her free time, she enjoys cooking, and spending time with friends and family.
Feed the Need
Sharon is happy to be a part of the St. Gerard House staff. After a career in the performing arts (performance, education, production, marketing), Sharon transitioned into Education for Exceptional Children, before coming to work for St. Gerard House. Sharon is a graduate of Mississippi University for Women with a BS in both Microbiology and Theatre.
Feed The Need
Kaitlyn Beard graduated from East Henderson High School and received her BS in Exercise Sports Science with a concentration in Health Promotion at the University of North Carolina at Pembroke. Kaitlyn was looking to start a career centered around children with autism, so she did some research on the St Gerard House and fell in love. In her spare time she likes to spend time with her husband and go on hikes with her fur babies.
Marlene has been a part of the SGH family through our Connect Program after school and during the summer. Marlene was hired on as an RBT for the Grotto 2 program and is currently attending Blue Ridge Community College.
Anna grew up near Atlanta, GA and received her BA in Art Marketing from the University of North Georgia in 2013. After several years of teaching in preschools Anna discovered ABA in 2019. Her passion for ABA grew and she is currently enrolled in Clemson’s Center for Behavior Analysis program. In her downtime, Anna loves to spend her weekends hiking or running with her dogs.
A North Carolina Native, Genesis graduated from Blue Ridge Community College. Genesis is a mom of two, her son and daughter both have special needs. Genesis values that working at St. Gerard House allows her to spend more time with her family. Genesis enjoys reading, cross-stitching, and crocheting in her spare time.
I graduated from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro in 2018 with a BS in Recreation Therapy. While in college, I volunteered in different locations serving individuals with Autism and since then remained in the field. In my free time, I enjoy hiking, reading, and hanging out with friends.
Abby came to St. Gerard House after working at a therapeutic boarding school for teen girls. She has 3 younger sisters with autism. Abby and her husband have 3 cat daughters, Daisy, Minnie and Kiwi. In her spare time, Abby likes to plan Disney World trips and play cozy video games. Abby lived in Japan for three months and is currently studying for the Japanese Language Fluency Exam.
Mary is the mother of three boys. Her oldest son has severe autism and disabilities. She has been connected to the disabilities community for years and to St. Gerard House in some way since 2012. She wanted to give back to the community and began her work as an RBT in 2018 after earning her associates degree in School Age Education. She is happy to have the chance to give her time and help bring joy and hope to families like hers.
Madison is a Lenior, NC native. She graduated with a BS in Psychology from the University of North Carolina Asheville after studying abroad in Spain where she hiked over two hundred miles on the Camino de Santiago. Madison is eager to explore holistic methods of therapy that could potentially involve yoga integration, being in nature, and connecting with animals.
Hannah grew up in Charlotte, NC before moving to Asheville. She worked at Eliada Childcare as an assistant preschool teacher where she discovered a passion for working with children on the spectrum. She is slightly obsessed with plants, having over 130 in her home. She is also learning wire wrapping in her free time.
Bridget is originally from Corvallis, OR. She graduated from Belmont Abbey College with a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology. Before St. Gerard House, Bridget interned at Positive Behavior Support Corp. where she worked with individuals on the Autism spectrum. After her internship, she worked at a Summer Camp before making the choice to become a Registered Behavior Technician. During her free time, Bridget enjoys hiking and spending time outside.
Maria Vera Yepez
Born in Mexico, Maria has been living in WNC for 12 years. Maria was introduced to SGH by volunteering at their annual luncheon and later became very interested in ABA. She recently graduated with her Associates in Science with a concentration in Business Administration and will continue her studies.
Taylor Ward, MA
Taylor is originally from Brooklyn, NY where he graduated from New York University and later received his Master’s in Special Education at Touro College. Taylor has been working with individuals on the Autism spectrum since 2015. He enjoys living in a tiny house community in Mills River with his wife and daughter. In his spare time, Taylor enjoys hiking, trail running, and spending time with his family.
Luisa Astudillo, MS, BCBA
Director of Clinical Quality & Compliance
Luisa grew up in Havana, Cuba, and studied Law at the University of Havana. She came to the US in 2008 and attended Miami Dade College where she earned a BS in Criminal Justice. She graduated from NOVA Southeastern University with a MS of Forensic Psychology. She and her husband moved to NC in 2019.
Jenny Baker, BCaBA
Staffing & Access Specialist
I was born in Atlanta, GA and raised here in Hendersonville, NC. I’ve been a part of The St. Gerard House family since 2015. In my spare time I enjoy seeing live music, mountain biking, spending time with my family and friends, and being outdoors, especially at the beach.
Director of Development and Community Engagement
Callie joined St. Gerard House in January of 2022 with over 15 years of experience in marketing, growth, community relations and development. She is a graduate of Appalachian State University and Asheville native. Callie has been an active member of the Rotary Club of Asheville since 2010 and served on the Board of Directors as well as in many other leadership positions. Having a child on the Spectrum brings her work full circle uniting passion and purpose in every step.
Christina Donnelly, MS
Christina was born in Savannah, GA. She received a BS in Special Education from Armstrong Atlantic State University in 2011 and worked in the education field for nine years. She is married with three kids and has three dogs. She is a military spouse. Christina completed a MS in Accounting in 2020 from Post University and joined our Finance Department in February, 2021.
Chief Operating Officer
Tyler has worked with children and adults in various capacities since 2005. In his career he has been a direct service provider, managed facilities, created internship and training programs and worked with local and private funders to create new services to meet community needs. He enjoys the challenge of many moving pieces and is honored to work in service of the staff, clients and families of St. Gerard House.
Tyler lives in Asheville with his wife and enjoys reading science fiction and recording music as a hobby.
Director of Client Access and Family Support
Bertha joined the St. Gerard House team in August 2013 as the Office Administrator and has been involved with all aspects of fundraising and development throughout the years. Her greatest joy is watching the daily miracles that take place at St. Gerard House.
Monika Soares, MA
Monika was born and raised in Torun, Poland. She earned a MA of Law in 2005 from the University of Nicolaus Copernicus. The following summer she came to the United States through a student exchange program and met her husband. They have two sons. Monika is excited to be a part of the billing team helping families navigate the complex insurance world.
Cecilia has been part of the administrative team at St. Gerard House since 2014. During this time, her role at SGH has changed but her passion of helping families facing autism has not. Cecilia considers herself blessed to be a part of this organization that has allowed her to learn and grow.
Chief Financial Officer
Brad is a NC native who came to SGH via Arthur Morgan School – a farm-based school near Burnsville, NC – where he lived and worked with his partner Kristen and their two children for five years. He graduated from the University of North Carolina Greensboro with a BA in History and a NC teaching license. Brad has worked in education, management, and finance.