Professional Advisory Team

Vickie Barnes

MA, CCC-SLP, Program Director of Pediatric Language Clinic


Vickie Barnes (MA, CCC-SLP) is the current Program Director of University of Tennessee Health Science Center's (UTHSC) Pediatric Language Clinic (PLC), an early intervention program for families of children ages birth to three. The PLC speech-language pathologists provide specialized early intervention services to children that have Autism Spectrum Disorder or significant social, communication, or behavioral delays through center-based, home-based, and consultation services.  The PLC's center-based program is also a training site for graduate students through UTHSC who are completing their Master's degree in Speech-Language Pathology.

Alex Beach

MBA, Business Advisor


Alex has an MBA from UTK and a BA in Communications and German from the University of Delaware. He has worked for Comcast in the roles of Programming Manager and Marketing Manager. He is currently Director, Affiliate/VOD Operations – Content Distribution & Marketing at Scripps Networks Interactive.

Tom Beeson

MS, UT Future Program Coordinator


Tom received his MS from the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill. He has over twenty years experience providing cognitive and behavioral functioning therapy to adolescents, and community-centered services to both children and adults with disabilities. Tom is the current program coordinator for UT’s FUTURE.

Beth Bostrom

Occupational Therapist


Beth has a B.S. in OT from TSU. She has worked at St Mary's, Blount Memorial Hospital, Maryville City Schools, Blount County Schools, and Blount Memorial Pediatric Outpatient Clinic. She is currently developing an Occupational Therapy program for Pain Consultants of East Tennessee. She has a passion for working with children with sensory processing deficits and making therapeutic intervention fun.

Elizabeth Gagliardi Ginder

MSSW, ABA Interventions


Elizabeth has a masters in Social Work from the University of Louisville. She is a Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) who currently works as a Behavior Analyst for ABA Interventions in Knoxville, TN. Elizabeth specializes in working with children aged 2 through early adulthood who have intellectual and developmental disabilities, focusing on verbal behavior and skill acquisition for children who may demonstrate challenging behaviors.

David Cihak

Ph.D, UT Associate Professor of Special Education


Dr. Cihak is currently an Associate Professor of Special Education at UT. He received both his MS and Ph.D. in Exceptional Children from Georgia State University, and he brings over twenty years of experience as a teacher and teacher educator of Special Education. David played an integral role in the creation of the University of Tennessee’s FUTURE program, a Post-Secondary Education program for students with Autism and intellectual disabilities.

Juli Sams

PhD, UTK Community Outreach Coordinator


Juli has her doctorate from UTK in Child and Family Studies. She has worked with children with special needs and their families in many home- and center-based settings. She currently serves as the Community Outreach Practicum Coordinator in the department of Child and Family Studies at UTK.

Jonathan Sharp

Organizer of Mountain Empire Aspies


Jonathan has a degree in Accounting from Northeast State Community College. He is a founder and current organizer for Mountain Empire Aspies, a tri-cities based social support group for adults who have Aspergers Syndrome, PDD-NOS, or High Functioning Autism. Jonathan currently resides in Johnson City, TN.