CARES BOARD MEMBERS
Jill McLaury, MS, BCBA
As a child growing up with a learning disability in southern West Virginia, Jill learned the value of early intervention first-hand. Her passion for helping children and families access evidence based treatment lead her to obtain a bachelor’s degree in special education from Marshall University in 1997 and a master’s in behavior analysis from the University of North Texas in 2004. Jill is mother to Caroline and Garrett, partner to Tim, a Board Certified Behavior Analyst, Director of Bright Futures Learning Services, founding member of Mountaineer Autism Project and the WV Behavior Analysis Association, and WV’s policy chair for Autism Speaks. She founded CARES to help strengthen and build unity in the a-typical community and increase access to applied behavior analysis.
Kathy Trout Rittenhouse
Secretary and Founding Member
Susan Hofstetter is a native of Putnam County and grew up in Teays Valley. Susan has 30+ years working professionally in the healthcare industry ranging from Fortune 10 companies to start-ups with little funding. She has held various positions related to sales, marketing and executive management. Susan splits time between Fort Lauderdale FL and Charleston WV. She has a degree from Miami University in Ohio and has taken several continuing education courses related to marketing, management and leadership. Susan’s interest in CARES arose from growing up in a civic minded family. Her parents Dave and Eileen were active in the supporting the community through volunteerism and service. When Bright Futures purchased her family home to serve children with autism spectrum disorders and other developmental disabilities she felt a connection to their mission and offered to help in whatever capacity she could. Susan is proud to be on the CARES board and feels that providing resources and support to parents and families who have children with special needs is essential to the immediate community and state. She has two daughters, Jordan and Madison.
Dr. Stephen Underhill
Dr. Stephen M. Underhill is an Associate Professor of Communication Studies at Marshall University. The school’s history with autism services, and the campus climate it fostered, helped diagnose his son with Autism Spectrum Disorder at an early age. Dr. Underhill has since developed an interest in expanding autism services in southern West Virginia. Accordingly, he joined the board of CARES in 2017 and the board of Camp Appalachia in 2019. In these posts, he helps coordinate grant-writing, fundraising, and organizational development in a partnership between the two nonprofits, which both seek to help special-needs families. As a faculty member, he structures courses to collect data on the needs of families with children with ASD. His service to CARES links this need to a broader grant-writing process that envisions the future of autism services and education in the region. In fundraising, he assists CARES’ annual Au-Some Family Fun Day and its 5K Autism Spectrun Sensory Trail Run/Walk and Pancake Breakfast, hosted at Camp Appalachia. Working this event advances his personal goals of eating more and running a half marathon. Stephen is also working with faculty, artists, and entrepreneurs to imagine and develop a strategic plan for the sustainability and community outreach of the Camp and its programs. Dr. Underhill has a forthcoming book from Michigan State University Press titled J. Edgar Hoover and the Rhetorical Rise of the FBI (2020). He is a nature enthusiast and enjoys hiking, white-water rafting, skiing, camping, and the great outdoors.
Dr. Wendi Dunham
Dr. Wendi Dunham is an Assistant Professor of Special Education and the coordinator of the preschool special education graduate program at Marshall University in Huntington, West Virginia. Dr. Dunham lives in southern, Ohio and has over 20 years of experience in the field of early childhood special education, specifically in rural and poverty demographics. She has worked within multiple fields of early childhood special education including Birth to Three, preschool special education teaching, and as an administrator who coordinated preschool special education programs before receiving her Doctorate in 2015. Dr. Dunham has multiple degrees in early childhood education and special education in addition to her Doctoral degree including a bachelor’s degree in Early Childhood Education (birth-5) from Ohio University, a master’s degree in Special Education from the University of Rio Grande, and an education specialist degree in Early Childhood Education (pre-k to 3rd grade) from Northcentral University. Dr. Dunham’s interest in autism is both personal and professional as she has a teenage son and husband who are diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder. Dr. Dunham has first-hand knowledge of the needs of parents who have children diagnosed with autism spectrum disorders and has published research that identified the stressors of low-socioeconomic rural parents of children diagnosed with autism. As an advocate for parents and families who have children with autism spectrum disorder and other developmental disabilities, Dr. Dunham views CARES as essential to providing resources, supports, and education to parents and families as a way to inform and assist them in advocating for their children.
Vicki was born in Parkersburg, West Virginia, but has spent the past 17 years living in the Barboursville area. She is a graduate of West Virginia University with a degree in Accounting. Prior to spending several years out of the workforce to raise her children, Vicki worked for the WV Parkways Authority and Children’s Home Society of WV. She has been Controller at Medical Practice Management Solutions for the past 8 years, where she works with a diverse group of clients that include several ABA clinics and practices.
Vicki is a fierce advocate for children with special needs and welcomed a chance to join the CARES board because she knows first-hand the challenges involved in raising a child on the autism spectrum. Her 16-year-old son Grant provides all the inspiration she needs to help other children and their families develop a strong support network. Helping others is her way of “paying forward” all of the wonderful support her family has received from members of the special needs community.
First and foremost, Vicki is a mom. She spends a lot of her time volunteering as a booster and supporting her children’s school activities. She is also an avid WVU fan and spends as much time as possible in Morgantown with her husband Pat and her two sons Seth and Grant.
Deidra Darst, MS,CCC-SLP
Deidra is a pediatric speech language pathologist and mother to a son with autism. Deidra has watched ABA change her son’s life, so she strongly advocates for more ABA services in the state of West Virginia. She is an author and blogger who shares her story in hopes of helping other families receive services and see their children thrive and reach their highest potential.