Autism Project of Rhode Island Staff Members


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In 1999, my youngest son was diagnosed with high-functioning autism. At that time, there were not many places to turn to. The Autism Project helped to guide my family and me through this process. The founding professionals inspired me to get involved within this community. Being able to provide resources and information to families and be there for each of them, whatever their need may be is something that I truly love to do. It is important for parents, educators and professionals to have access to information so that they can make an informed choice for the child they are raising or working with. It’s been an honor to watch the organization grow and add social programming, classroom consultations and summer camp to our offerings.

I graduated with a bachelor’s degree in history from College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, MA. I began as Executive Director in 2002.

I truly enjoy working at The Autism Project with so many dedicated and creative professionals and parents.

As the director of programs, it is my job to oversee the development of all of the programs, curricula and training for The Autism Project. I entered into the field because of my son. I have extensive personal, professional and educational knowledge of and experience with supporting and educating individuals with Asperger Syndrome and Autism Spectrum Disorder of all abilities.

I enjoy being in this field because I am able to help make a difference in other families’ lives by using my trained skills and personal knowledge. I try to spread awareness as much as possible because as awareness is spread, another individual can receive help.

The Autism Project incorporates an eclectic approach to supporting individuals across their day in multiple environments. I appreciate our commitment to researching, learning and working with current best practices so we can find the most appropriate support each child.

I graduated from Providence College with a Masters Degree in Special Education. I have attended the Mentoring Social Thinking Program by Michelle Garcia Winner as well as the Advanced Training Collaborative Problem Solving Model by Dr. Ross Green. I am TEACCH Levels 1 and 2 certified and I have worked throughout several school districts.

While working with children, I realized that individuals with autism never cease to amaze me. They are a unique group and it can be challenging at times to resolve certain scenarios. I love to be able to observe the situation and figure out a plan. Helping children and families by providing them with solutions to challenges they face is my motivator. I love seeing a child smile, or feel good, about something they did or any kind of success they’ve had. I also love to see a sense of relief and joy come from the families and caregivers as a child accomplishes a goal. It is not just a struggle for the individual but for the family as well. I enjoy educating others on sensory integration and how to make it functional for families to work into their busy days and home life. 

I am an occupational therapist with a specialty in sensory integration. I have practiced in pediatrics in a variety of settings including: early intervention, inclusive preschool and kindergarten programs, supervisory roles and out patient clinic settings. I received my masters from Springfield College and have been working with children and families since. I am SIPT certified, Interactive Metronome Provider, and TEACCH level 1 certified.

My first job as a Speech and Language Pathologist was at a specialized school for children with autism, and from there to almost all of my subsequent positions, "our kids," seemed to keep finding me! Since 1997, I have supported families, educators and children with complex communication needs, including autism, as a speech-language pathologist in home-based, clinical, public and private school settings.

I recently became an aunt to two wonderful little boys; who have made this evolve from strictly professional to personal.

I have learned so much over the years from the children and families I have collaborated with, and I am so excited to have the opportunity to continue to learn as well as share my experiences with others on this journey, consulting throughout the state.

In 1997, I earned my master’s degree in speech-language pathology from the University of Rhode Island and my Certificate of Clinical Competence through the American Speech-Language and Hearing (ASHA) Association.   I received a graduate certificate in Autism Education from Rhode Island College in 2010.

I get a certain satisfaction knowing I am helping others through their autism journey. I know it is not easy to receive an autism diagnosis; The Autism Project was an invaluable recourse to me when my son was diagnosed. I am so happy to be apart of this family, and that I’m able to be there for families just as they were there for me.

As Training and Consultation Coordinator, I report directly to the Director of Programs. I maintain all materials for the trainings as well as working directly to support the consultants. I also coordinate the National Speaker Conference and co-facilitate the Parent-to-Parent training and Grandparents Support Group.

My greatest qualification is that I am a mother of three- two typical girls and a teenage son with autism. Over the past 12 years, I have attended multiple autism conferences as well as taken classes at RIPIN. I have been trained for structured Teaching in Group Settings, Parent-to-Parent, A Starting Point as well as Aspire. I have also been trained in Support Group Facilitation, Skills for Effective Parent Advocacy, and Transition 101 Parent Conference (2011, 2012 and 2013). I graduated from Bryant College in 1992 and
became a Certified Teacher Assistant in April of 2001.

I was a teacher for 34 years within the public school system; my last 15 of those years were spent teaching preschool children with autism spectrum disorder. After working directly with those children, I knew I wanted to continue working within the ASD community. I love being able to use visual support with the children and seeing the light in their eyes when they finally get it. I have always loved working with children with autism as well as their families.

I graduated with a Masters in Education of Severely and Profoundly Handicapped from Rhode Island College. I have TEACCH Level 1 and Level 2 training. I have been with The Autism Project since day one.

I began my career in the business world as a small business owner. I had a life-altering event when my two daughters were both diagnosed with autism. The Autism Project was the place I turned to for guidance, education and support.  I feel fortunate that I work in an environment where I have the opportunity to continually increase my knowledge base and have support from my colleagues. I enjoy helping families navigate the systems of care that are available in Rhode Island and I assist them in obtaining education, support and services. I am here to provide guidance and support as I continue on the journey with families.

I am a Parent Coach for the five-week parent-to-parent classes. I also run three support groups within the organization—Family Connections and Grand Connections. I am trained in advanced PECs training as well as TEACCH Level 1. I have also attended numerous seminars and workshops. Most important, I am here for parents, caregivers and professionals to listen to their stories, help them determine their priority and then work to connect them with the help, resources or an activity that will  improve their quality of life.

After previously working directly with children with autism, I discovered how much heart and soul this type of work requires. It is inspiring to work with a team of individuals that are so invested in making a difference. I am here because I want to learn, help and have fun!

I graduated from the University of Rhode Island with a degree in Psychology. Previously, I worked as a Milieu Therapist at Bradley Hospital.

As a social worker I have had the opportunity to work in a variety of settings. Some of my previous experiences include working as a case manager and advocate for children and families as well as a school social worker providing individual and group counseling. All of my experiences are what led me to where I am today. I have found that working with individuals with autism is the most rewarding job in the world. The families and children I work with continue to teach me something new every day. As a classroom consultant and group facilitator, I have the opportunity to work with individuals of varying ages and abilities. I enjoy collaborating with families and other professionals to ensure that each individual is part of a respectful and supportive environment. 

I graduated from Rhode Island College School of Social Work and earned my BSW followed by my MSW. My internship for my Masters was at The Autism Project and I never left! I became a Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker (LICSW) in 2014.

As the Development Manager at The Autism Project, my job is to raise funds for the essential programs, services, trainings, and supports that we provide to children, teens, and adults with an Autism Spectrum Disorder, their families, and the educators and professionals who work with them.  I don't, however, think of my job as simply fundraising.  What I really do is connect people to The Autism Project and help them make a measurable impact on the children, teens, and families we serve.  I not only encourage people to Imagine, I show them how their visions for a better world can become realities!

I graduated from Northwestern University in 2008 with a B.A. in Communications, Dance, and Comparative Religion, and have been a passionate non-profiteer ever since, fundraising for The Philadelphia Orchestra and Save The Bay before coming to The Autism Project in May 2015. I am thrilled to be a part of this wonderful organization, and feel exceptionally lucky to be here as a co-parent and stepmother to an amazing 11-year-old girl with high-functioning Autism.  It is a privilege to be surrounded by such an energetic, dedicated, and knowledgeable staff and community of volunteers – they inspire me every day!

I adore meeting with and speaking to our supporters, parents, educators, volunteers, and donors.  Please feel free to reach out to me at anytime!

I have always enjoyed helping others, whether it is simply volunteering or my job. Working in the non-profit sector is extremely rewarding, which is why I like working here! My biggest project each year is the Imagine Walk and Family Fun Day for Autism.  The Imagine Walk is a great event that brings together the community to raise money for The Autism Project as well as to bring awareness to the children and families living with autism spectrum disorders.

Prior to starting at The Autism Project I was a stay at home mother—during that time I volunteered with various organizations.  Before that, I was a real estate attorney.  I graduated Tufts University with a degree in International Relations and History and continued on to graduate from Emory University School of Law.


I graduated from Cranston East High School and was a member of the Honor Society. After High School I went to People in Partnerships. I first volunteered at The Autism Project. I learned how to work in the Medicaid Billing Database. I am responsible for all of the billing for our social skills groups.

I like working for The Autism Project because I like to work with computers, I get to show my skills and I work with understanding people.


Staff Directory

Name Email Extension
Joanne G. QuinnExecutive Director 76791
Cheryl Cotter, M EdDirector of Programs 76785
Cristen Sassi, M Ed OTR/LLead Consultant and Trainer 76793
Deana Dufficy, M.S. CCC-SLPLead Consultant and Trainer 76786
Deb LangevinTraining and Consultation Coordinator 76788
Joanne Weaver, M EdLead Consultant and Trainer 76797
Susan BaylisParent ASD Resource Specialist 76796
Sarah PimentaSocial Programs Administrative Assistant 76797
Caren SkurkaSocial Programming Coordinator
Kristen Bock LICSWSocial Programming Coordinator/Consultant 76784
Erica Busillo AdamsDevelopment Manager 76792
Julie MontalbanoDevelopment Associate 76783
Nick MainellaData Entry Clerk

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