Advisory Council formed for Children’s Autism Center

An Advisory Council has been created for the Opportunity Village Children’s Autism Center in Clear Lake, Iowa.

The role of this group of volunteers will be to advise the Village on OVCAC activities, make suggestions, and review whether the center is meeting the needs of the community. This group will meet at least four times a year, starting in January 2014. 

“We have a wonderful group of volunteers on the Advisory Council who will help guide us,” said Jim Aberg, services director at Opportunity Village.

Members of the Advisory Council are:

•Pat Tomson, executive director, First Citizens National Bank Charitable Foundation, and community advocate.

•Melissa Al Sharif, mother of a son with Autism.

•Karn Johansen, nurse practitioner and mother of a son with autism.

•Dea Ellen Birtwisle, licensed independent social worker.

•Mike Barkley, principal of Clear Creek Elementary School.

•Dr. Norma McGuire, pediatrician.

•Amy Wilhelm, mother of a son and daughter with autism and Lake Mills school paraprofessional for children with autism.

•Mel Harms, chairperson of Music Therapy Department at Wartburg College and licensed Music Therapist.

•Jere Bartolo, speech and language pathologist  at Mercy Medical Center.

•Sarah Smith or Krys Sloan, Cerro Gordo Medical Alliance Society.

•Heidi Grafton, educator with Mason City School District and mother of a daughter with autism.

•Mark Feustal, Opportunity Village Board of Directors and retired AEA assistant director of special education.

The Children’s Autism Center was created in August 2013 by Opportunity Village to provide resources, education, and support for families of children diagnosed with autism spectrum disorders.  For more information about OVCAC, contact Christina Maulsby, project coordinator, at or 641-355-1216.

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