About‎ > ‎

Meet The Staff

Meet Our Team

Asha Persaud, MS ~ Executive Director  



Asha Persaud earned dual bachelor degrees from The Pennsylvania State University in Psychology and Spanish and completed coursework in Behavior Analysis. She went on to earn her Masters of Science in School Psychology from Duquesne University. With over 15 years of research experience, Ms. Persaud has trained extensively in diagnostic assessments and behavioral interventions. Ms.Persaud was the Research Coordinator for the Center for Excellence in Autism Research at the University of Pittsburgh. She was responsible for administrating the Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule (ADOS) and coordinating a research project on language processing in individuals with autism. Ms. Persaud has several years of experience as a TSS, BSC, and Regional Director of a wraparound agency, specializing in autism spectrum disorders. As an educational consultant for several school districts, Ms. Persaud has given presentations and trained teachers and paraprofessionals on inclusion strategies in the regular education classroom and assisted in the development of behavior plans. Ms. Persaud was the Director of Autism Services for The Pennsylvania Cyber Charter School, where she offered consultation and training services to families and staff.

Ms. Persaud has been involved in the Autism Speaks “Walk Now for Autism” for several years and has served as 
Co-Chair for the School Teams. She is the President of The Hope for Autism Foundation, a non-profit company founded to benefit families and individuals affected by autism spectrum disorders.  Ms. Persaud was honored as one of Pittsburgh Magazine's 40 Under 40, and was the Recipient of Fund it Forward's 2016 The Spirit of the Community Award.



Administrative Department



Meaghan Nescot ~ Center Director

Meaghan Nescot joined The Hope Learning Center in 2009 and works closely with the administrative, therapeutic and educational staff in overseeing the day to day operations of the center. Meaghan earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Human Services with a minor in Psychology from Geneva College. Meaghan has several years of experience working one on one as a Therapeutic Staff Support for children with Autism, Asperger’s,Down Syndrome, ADHD, and behavioral issues prior to her start at Hope. She has also volunteered her time working in different settings with children such as after school programs, summer camps, alternative housing for children, and schools.









Audrey Mackie ~ Office Manager, Assistant to the Executive Director

Audrey Mackie joined The Hope Learning Center in 2011 working in an administrative capacity.  Audrey earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Speech and Communication Studies with a minor in Journalism from Edinboro University of Pennsylvania. Audrey has an extensive background in media and public relations in addition to event planing.  Audrey works closely with the executive director and administrative team managing day to day operations, client relations and staff needs.  In addition to her administrative duties Audrey assists in planning and executing the annual Night with Santa event at Hope to benefit The Hope for Autism Foundation.  









Katherine Hagan ~ HR Assistant

Katherine Hagan joined The Hope Learning Center in 2015 as a Paraprofessional Lead in the classroom settings at Hope. She graduated from Penn State University in 2014 with a Bachelor’s of Science Degree in Communications Science and Disorders. Katherine is now working towards her Master’s of Science from Argosy University in Human Resources Management and has moved in to her current position of Human Resource Assistant at The Hope Learning Center. Katherine has gained vast knowledge and experience through her years here at Hope and offers a valuable perspective for employer and employee relations.








Therapeutic Services

Speech Therapy Department


Haley Jarrett, MS, CCC-SLP ~ Therapy Supervisor

EducationMaster of Science and Bachelor of Science degrees in Communication Sciences and Disorders with a minor in Human Development and Family Studies from The Pennsylvania State University.

Focus of Practice: Speech and Language Pathology

Experience:  Haley Jarrett joined The Hope Learning Center in 2012. provides services in the Verbal Behavior program as well as the clinic. Haley works with clients who utilize Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) including iPad applications such as Proloquo2Go and speech generating devices from Tobii DynaVox and the Prentke Romich Company. Haley is trained and has experience with the Language Acquisitions through Motor Planning (LAMP), which is a therapeutic approach based on motor learning. She is trained in the theory supporting the Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS) and the protocols for how to appropriately implement the phases of PECS. Haley is interested in improving communication outcomes and enhancing the quality of life for individuals who have Autism Spectrum Disorders and other complex communication needs. As supervisor of therapy services, Haley is responsible for the oversight of therapeutic staff, collaboration between services, and the ongoing development of quality and integrity of therapy sessions.



Stacie Schneider, MA, CCC-SLP ~ Supervising Speech and Language Pathologist

Education:  Master of Arts degree in Speech-Language Pathology at The University of Pittsburgh and Bachelor of Arts degree in Communication Sciences from The Pennsylvania State University.

Focus of Practice: Speech and Language Pathology

Experience:  Stacie Schneider joined The Hope Learning Center in 2009.  Stacie has several years of experience working with the pediatric population in various outpatient rehabilitation centers.  She has worked with children from birth to age 21 with a variety of speech and medical diagnoses including: Autism Spectrum Disorders, ADHD, expressive and receptive language, articulation, fluency, cleft palate, pragmatics, and genetic disorders.  

Stacie is recognized as an Adjunct Clinical Instructor in the Department of Speech-Language Pathology at Duquesne University for her dedication and time supervising students working towards their maters's degree in Speech-Language Pathology.  Stacie also supervises master's degree students from The University of Pittsburgh.




Kylie Racioppo, MS, CCC-SLP ~ Speech and Language Pathologist

Education:  Master of Science degree in Speech and Language Pathology and Bachelor of Science Degree in Speech-Language Pathology from Indiana University of Pennsylvania

Focus of Practice: Speech and Language Pathology

Experience:  Kylie Racioppo joined The Hope Learning Center in 2011.  During graduate school, Kylie gained experience working with several different populations in various settings such as a school for children with special needs, specialized clinics and a hospital. She has also worked one on one at inclusive summer camps that enable children with autism to be integrated among their typical peers. Kylie is skilled in working with children with autism and early childhood language disorders.






Chelsea McGinn, MA, CCC-SLP ~ Speech and Language Pathologist

Education:  Masters of Arts in Speech Language Pathology and Bachelors of Arts in Speech and Hearing Sciences from Edinboro University of Pennsylvania 

Focus of Practice: Speech and Language Pathology

Experience: Chelsea Hackworth joined The Hope Learning Center since 2013.  During graduate school, Chelsea gained experience working with children who had a variety of medical and developmental disabilities at both The Governor George Leader Speech and Hearing Clinic and Seneca Valley School District. 

Chelsea recently completed her Clinical Fellowship and is excited to continue her work within the field of speech-language pathology and working with children on the Autism Spectrum and those with language, articulation, and fluency needs.  Chelsea provides treatment at the Wexford location and through schools contracted with The Hope Learning Center.



Jocelyn Shuber, MA, CCC-SLP ~ Speech and Language Pathologist



Education:  Master of Arts Degree in Speech-Language Pathology from the University of Pittsburgh and Bachelor of Science Degree in Communication Sciences and Disorders and a minor in Human Development and Family Studies from The Pennsylvania State University.

Focus of Practice: Speech and Language Pathology

Experience:  Jocelyn Shuber completed an internship with The Hope Learning Center and came on staff in 2014. Jocelyn had the privilege of providing both individual and group speech therapy to children in a variety of settings, including pediatric outpatient clinics and a local middle school.  

Jocelyn currently serves as a mobile therapist, treating clients in Pittsburgh and its surrounding communities.  She has experience working with children on the Autism Spectrum and those with articulation, language, and fluency disorders.





Occupational Therapy Department


Shannon Hurley, MS, OTR/L ~ Occupational Therapist

Education:  Master's degree in Occupational Therapy and Undergraduate degree in health sciences from Gannon University.

Focus of Practice: Occupational Therapy 

Experience: Shannon Hurley joined The Hope Learning Center in 2014.  She completed her thesis work in the Quality of Life in Adolescents with High Functioning Autism and Asperger's Syndrome using Creative Arts Activities. She has worked with the pediatric population in a variety of settings such as Early Intervention services, outpatient services, and school-related OT services. 




Salley Kafko, MS, OTR/L ~ Occupational Therapist

EducationSUNY New Paltz with a bachelor's degree in psychology before attending Stony Brook University, where she received her 2nd bachelor's degree in health science and her Master's of Occupational Therapy

Focus of Practice: Occupational Therapy 

Experience: Salley Kafko has been with The Hope Learning Center since August 2016. She recently moved from New York City where she was employed as an occupational therapist with the NYC Department of Education, working with students from preschool to 5th grade in acheiving independence in the school environment. She also has experience working at a sensory gym with children from early intervention to high school, specializing in Autism Spectrum Disorder and sensory processing. She is a member of the American Occupational Therapy Association and is certified by the National Board of Certication in Occupational Therapy. She is currently licensed to practice in New York and Pennsylvania. Salley works every day to create an atmosphere in which each of her clients can achieve success and reach their goals. 



Haley Lipscomb, MS, OTR/L ~ Occupational Therapist

Education: Master's degree in Occupational Therapy and Bachelor's degree in Health Science from Duquesne University

Focus of Practice: Occupational Therapy 

Experience: 







Jordan DiCerbo, COTA/L ~ Certified Occupational Therapist Assistant 

Education: Associate of Science degree in Occupational Therapy Assistant from The Pennsylvania State University

Focus of practice: Occupational Therapy

Experience: Jordan DiCerbo joined The Hope Learning Center in 2017. She previously gained experience working in pediatrics by providing both school related and outpatient occupational therapy services. She has experience treating children with a variety of diagnoses including: Autism Spectrum Disorder, ADD, Developmental Delay, Intellectual Disability, and visual/fine motor deficits.  Jordan has always had a passion for working with the pediatric population!







Erica Manarski, MS, OTR/L ~ Occupational Therapist

EducationBachelor of Science degree in Exercise Science from Indiana University of Pennsylvania, Master of Science Degree in Occupational Therapy from New York Institute of Technology

Focus of Practice: Occupational Therapy 

Experience:  Erica Manarski gained experience during her education while completing an internship at The Children’s Institute of Pittsburgh; working with children with autism, cerebral palsy, and neurological impairments. She was also involved in the Special Needs Activity Program (SNAP) at IUP; working with children and adults with special needs. During graduate school in Long Island, New York, Erica worked as a Water Safety/Aquatics Instructor for children from 6 months to 18 years, adults, as well as children with autism. During this time, she found an interest in combining the sensory processing benefits of aquatic therapy with her occupational therapy practice. She has a passion for helping people live their lives to the fullest, and to help each of her clients function to the fullest potential in their everyday life.  Erica is a member of the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA), certified by the National Board of Certification in Occupational Therapy (NBCOT).



Physical Therapy Department


Casey Burlett, PT, DPT ~ Physical Therapist

Education:  Doctorate in Physical Therapy from Chatham University and has a Bachelor of Science degree in Exercise Science from Slippery Rock University.

Focus of Practice: Physical Therapy 

Experience: Casey Burlett joined  The Hope Learning Center in 2015. Casey has had a passion for working with children in various settings ever since graduation. She has gained experience treating children ages 0-21 years old by providing outpatient services, school-related services, and early intervention services. She has experience treating children with a variety of medical diagnoses including: Autism, Down Syndrome, Cerebral Palsy, Spina Bifida, and Global Developmental Delay. Casey is interested in play-based therapy in order to help all children maximize their independence at home and throughout their communities. She enjoys helping make a difference in families lives by providing individualized services to assist children in reaching their full physical potential.



Educational Department


Jennifer Simpkins ~ Education Director 

Education:  

Focus of Practice: 

Experience:








Jane Kennedy, M Ed., Special Education

Education:  Masters in Special Education from Robert Morris University and Bachelor's of Science in Elementary Education from Grove City College

Focus of Practice: Special Education 

Experience:  Jane Kennedy joined The Hope Learning Center in 2016.  Jane has five years of education experience in preschool and early education as well as working one on one with children with special needs.








Alexis Schwartz
, Special Education Teacher

EducationBachelor of Science degree in Special and Early Education from Grove City College  

Focus of Practice: Special Education 

Experience:  Alexis Schwartz joined The Hope Learning Center in 2017.  Alexis is a recent graduate of the Special and Early Education program at Grove City college and has gained her experience through education, and internships in inclusion classrooms and working with students with Autism and Learning Disabilities.  Alexis has also worked with sports outreach in the Dominican Republic with inner city youth during her career.  







Laine Collins, MS

Education: Master's of Science and Bachelor's degree in Education from The University of Tennessee

Focus of Practice:  Education

Experience: Laine Collins joined The Hope Learning Center in the fall of 2015.  Laine is currently enrolled in classes in order to become a Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA). Prior to working at The Hope Learning Center, Laine worked with over 120 middle school students in Knoxville, Tennessee. Laine earned both her Bachelor's degree and her Master's of Science in Education from The University of Tennessee in Knoxville. 








Jeanine Boerio, M.S. Ed. 

Education Master of Science in Education from Franciscan University and Bachelor of Arts in English from Saint Bonaventure University 

Focus of Practice: English and Virtual Education 

Experience:  Jeanine Boerio joined The Hope Learning Center in 2016.  Jeanine has gained experience thru out the years as a pre-k teacher, aid, private nanny and continuing to teach 4th graders CCD at her church.  






 

Desirae Moody, M Ed. 

Education 

Focus of Practice: Applied Behavior Analysis

Experience: Desirae Moody joined The Hope Learning Center in October of 2016.  Desirae has gained a vast amount of experience through her work as an In-home ABA therapy technician and Personal Care Assistant.









Marissa Mott ~ Instructional Aid 

Education: Bachelor of Science Degree in Speech and Language Pathology from Kent State University.

Focus of Practice: 

Experience: 








Jamie Larson, M.A. Ed ~ Instructional Aid 

Education: Bachelor's Degree in Communication Disorders from Geneva College and Masters of Education with an emphasis on Autism from Sliperly Rock University. 

Focus of Practice: Special Education: Autism 

Experience:  Jamie Larson joined The Hope Learning Center in 2017.  Jamie has recently earned her Master's degree in education with an emphasis in Autism.  Jamie has gained experience throughout her career working with children throughout varied settings and through clinical experience as a therapist.  Currently Jamie is going  throught the education, training and certification to obtain her Registered Behavior Technician credential. 




Behavioral Department 



Andrea Strope, 
M.S., BCBA, LBS, COBA ~ Behavior Consultant

Education: Master’s degree in Applied Behavior Analysis and Developmental Disabilities from Auburn University. Bachelor’s degree in Psychology with a concentration in Applied Behavior Analysis from West Virginia University

Focus of Practice: Applied Behavior Analysis

Experience:  Ms. Strope’s research completed in graduate school concentrated on the use of intensive toilet training techniques for individuals with autism.  Ms. Strope has spent several years as a board certified behavior analyst working with individuals from ages 2-50, as well as in varying settings from center, school, consultation, and residential based services. Ms. Strope has provided her behavior analytic skills as a supervisor and regional director of differing organizations across four states. She is a member of the Association for Professional Behavior Analysts. All of Ms. Strope’s experiences have focused on using the scientific principles of ABA to transform the lives of the individuals she serves, as well as training staff, teachers, and parents on implementation of these principles. She continues to be passionate about providing quality services to individuals with disabilities, and always desires to keep up with the most current, empirically based behavior analytic techniques.



Amanda Stewart, M.S., LBS, BCBA 

Education: Master’s degree in Applied Developmental Psychology from the University of Pittsburgh. Bachelor’s degree in Psychology with a minor in Education from West Liberty State College.

Focus of Practice: Applied Behavior Analysis

Experience:  Amanda Stewart joined The Hope Learning Center in 2017.  Amanda has an extensive behavior background and began in the field in 2000 by providing 1:1 ABA therapy for young children with ASD in West Virginia and Ohio in the home setting. After moving to Pittsburgh in 2002 Amanda was employed in the wraparound field for 3 years as a TSS, 1 year as an intake coordinator, and 10 years as a BSC.  Amanda assisted the department as a training supervisor and supervision lead for the department for all direct line staff.

Amanda obtained her BCBA certification in 2015 which allowed her to move into specialized ABA therapy.  Throughout her career Amanda has provided services for children aged 2-13 within home, school , and center based settings for consultative and 1:1 therapy services based on ABA principles, the application of behavior management strategies and skill building programs to assist children and their families. 



Kristie Laughlin ~ Registered Behavior Technician

EducationBachelor's Degree in Family and Consumer Science from Ball State University 

Focus of Practice: Child Development

Experience:  Kristie Laughlin joined The Hope Learning Center in 2016.  Kristie will be starting her graduate program in January to receive Master's Degree in Applied Behavior Analysis with an Emphasis in Autism from Ball State University.  Kristie has experience working with children of all ages and skill sets on the autism spectrum through her internship at The LOGAN Center in South Bend, Indiana, she was also a 1:1 Behavior Technician at The Behavior Analysis Center for Autism in Elkhart, Indiana as an Instructor of Step-Up classroom at Applied Behavioral Services in West Chester, Ohio.  Kristie has completed her training and recently received her Registered Behavior Technician credential.  






Brianna Marburger ~ Registered Behavior Technician

Education: Bachelor of Science Degree in Psychology from the University of Pittsburgh

Focus of Practice: Applied Behavior Analysis & Autism

Experience: Brianna Marburger joined the Hope Learning Center in 2017.  She is currently enrolled at the University of Pittsburgh to complete her M.Ed. in Applied Behavior Analysis, as well as to complete the Autism Certificate Program.  Upon completion of her degree she will sit to become a Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA).

Prior to her start at Hope, Brianna worked as Therapeutic Support Staff in the home, school, and community settings, and also worked as a behavior technician in an approved private school for children on the autism spectrum as well as with multiple disabilities.  Brianna received training in Applied Behavior Analysis & Verbal Behavior through PaTTAN, and worked in a verbal behavior classroom that was overseen by PaTTAN consultants. Brianna has experience working with individuals from ages 2-18, as well as individuals with autism, intellectual disabilities, down syndrome, fragile x syndrome, Prader-Willi syndrome, anxiety disorder, and ADHD. 






Kate Jeppesen ~ Registered Behavior Technician

Education: Bachelor's degree in Psychology from Notre Dame College

Focus of Practice: Behavior

Experience: Kate Jeppesen joined The Hope Learning Center in 2017.  Prior to her work at Hope, Kate has gained a wide array of experience in the behavioral field through her 8 years in working in specialized schools in the Cleveland area. 





Comments