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Voting Members



Katlyn Linsley

Katlyn Linsley is a Board Certified Behavior Analyst at Easterseals Central Illinois. Before becoming a BCBA Katlyn taught in the public school system, as well the private, all-special education sector. She has her Masters in Applied Behavior Analysis with an Emphasis in Autism from Ball State University. Katlyn’s brother, who has autism, is the one who first got her interested in her passion of improving the lives of individuals with disabilities. Katlyn lives in Peoria with her husband Ryan and son Dawson.

Vice President

Vice President

Paul Berns

Paul Berns is Vice President of Johnco Construction, Inc. and a Certified Construction Manager (CCM) through the Construction Management Association of America.  Paul graduated from Southern Illinois University Edwardsville in 2006 from the School of Engineering with a Bachelor of Science in Construction Management.  His company is a Union, General Contracting and Construction Management firm building multi-million dollar commercial projects throughout the state.  Previous experience on projects totaling in excess of $2 Billion in Dallas, Baltimore, Kansas City, St. Louis, and New York City includes management of construction of additions at 2 international airports and 3, new Major League Baseball Stadiums.  Paul is father of two sons, with his oldest son diagnosed with Autism in early 2018.  He has developed a strong passion for helping people with disabilities and special needs, while assisting people affected by Autism Spectrum Disorder being his greatest outreach.  In dealing with this diagnosis in his own family, he will remain embedded in this cause and advocate strongly while building awareness for people affected by ASD. He currently resides in Morton with his wife, Marta.



Michelle Brecklin

Michelle Brecklin is a busy stay-at-home mom and voting member of CIAA. Michelle’s eldest son was diagnosed with autism in November 2017. She wants to support the cause by raising awareness, supporting other autism families, and encouraging kindness in Central Illinois. Michelle’s passion for the cause and strong community ties will make her a resource to CIAA. Michelle loves spending time with family and friends. She also enjoys the great outdoors (camping, fishing, hiking, etc.), shopping local, cooking/baking, being crafty, working out, coffee, and traveling. Michelle lives in Peoria with her husband Dave, their two boys, and two dogs.



Lynda Sharp-Lower

Lynda Sharp-Lower is a graduate of Illinois State University earning her Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology and Sociology in 1991 and her Master’s Degree in Human Services Counseling in 1997. She is also a 2007 graduate of the Peoria Chamber of Commerce Community Leadership School. She has been in the social service field for 25 years and has been employed by Easter Seals Central Illinois since 2012. Currently, Lynda is an Autism Services Specialist and coordinates the Easter Seals Autism Diagnostic Clinic. Lynda lives in Pekin with her spouse and has 3 children; 2 of which live at home. 




Lisa Gerontes-Bowe

Lisa Gerontes-Bowe has been an autism consultant with the Special Education Association of Peoria County, Peoria, IL for the past 15 years. She has a Masters in Special Education, has taught 14 years as a teacher of Early Childhood Special Education and 15 years in adult education. She is a National Board certified teacher in Early Childhood through Young Adult Special Education and is completing her Behavior Analyst certification. Lisa was the co-founder of the local support group, which became part of the Peoria Regional Chapter for ASA and was one of 25 Women in Leadership for the Central Illinois Area. Lisa serves on many committees including Programs & Services for Easter Seals and the Autism Steering committee for Easter Seals. She helped develop the partnership with Bradley University and SEAPCO that provides “real life” classroom experiences for future special education teachers. Lisa works with colleagues to implement new and innovative ways to teach individuals with autism, is a parent of a 23-year old son with Asperger’s Syndrome and a 20 year old daughter. Lisa is actively involved in community projects that increase awareness about services and the needs of individuals with autism.

Voting Members

Brittiany Stone

Brittiany Stone is a Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) at Total Spectrum, providing in-home Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) therapy for children with autism. She has been working in the field since 2010. In 2015, Brittiany graduated with a Masters degree in Applied Behavior Analysis with an Emphasis in Autism from Ball State University, and also holds a Bachelors degree in Psychology from Bradley University. Brittiany lives in Washington with her husband, Brian, and two fur-babies, Luna and Yadi.

Brad Davis

Brad Davis is a Senior Wealth Advisor with Investment Strategists at Better Banks and has been in the financial services industry since 2008.  Inspired daily by his son Caleb, who was diagnosed with autism in 2017, Brad leads Investment Strategists Special Needs Planning, an area of his firm that serves the unique financial planning needs of individuals with special needs and their families.  Brad is a graduate of Western Illinois University, received the Chartered Special Needs Consultant® (ChSNC®) professional designation from the American College of Financial Services, and is a member of the Academy of Special Needs Planners.  He is an avid speaker on various topics pertaining to special needs planning and serves as a representative on the Woodford County Special Education Association Parental Advisory Council.  Brad and Caleb reside in Germantown Hills.

Amanda Estes

Amanda Estes is the Executive Director of The Autism Collective.  Amanda has over two decades experience in healthcare, holding leadership positions in business development, national sales training, rehabilitation services, managed/accountable care, performance improvement, and provider relations/contracting.  She has a BS in healthcare administration from the University of Illinois, an MBA from Benedictine University, and is a member of the American College of Healthcare Executives.  Amanda lives in Tremont with her husband, Bryan, and her children, Makenna and Justin.

Alyssa Herman

Alyssa Herman is an Assistant Vice President for PNC Bank, NA where she current serves in the role of Treasury Management Officer for the Central Illinois Region. Alyssa is a graduate of Illinois State University with a Bachelors of Science Degree in Finance in 2007, and a Masters of Business Administration in 2013. In 2015, she earned her Certified Treasury Professional designation. Alyssa is engaged in the community through the Peoria Chamber of Commerce Community Leadership School and the GENeration United organization through the United Way. Alyssa lives in the Peoria ara with her husband, two young children and two dogs.

Pam Souter

Pam Souter first joined us in 2016.  She has been an educator for over 20 years, and is now an interventionist and instructional coach at a local public school.  Her teenage son, Isaac, has autism. Her family has seen first-hand how successful a child can be when given the proper resources and supports.  Pam is the race director for our biggest yearly fund-raiser: the Autism 5K and Walk. She is an avid runner, and she loves to spend time with her family – her husband Scott, son Isaac, daughter Caitlyn, and dog Yoda.

Holly Swearingian

Holly is a Pediatric Advanced Practice Nurse and currently works as a Pediatric Complex Care Manager for OSF Medical Group. Working with children that have complex or special needs for over 8 years, children and families affected by autism have always had a special place her life. Holly is especially passionate about helping families with resource allocation and promoting autism awareness in the community. She currently lives in Bartonville with her husband, daughter Violet, and two Bernese Mountain Dog/Lab mix “fur babies”.