Karen Thompson is the Executive Director at ASK. She works across all projects and serves on a number of statewide committees representing persons with disabilities and their families in the areas of healthcare and education. Karen is thrilled to be part of such a passionate, expert staff team! She credits the board members and staff with making the organization what it is today and considers herself lucky to be a part of it. Karen has worked in disability advocacy, rehabilitative training/counseling, and public program administration serving people with disabilities professionally for nineteen years. She holds a Bachelor's in Psychology. Her family experience with disabilities spans three generations. She is the daughter of a stroke survivor, the mother of two children with ADHD, and a person with dyslexia. She sees her disability as an attribute and challenges others to do the same.
Ashley Cooper is the Digital Marketing, Data and Operations Manager at ASK. She works under all projects, coordinating a wide range of training, data, marketing, and administrative support duties. Prior to joining ASK, Ashley spent six years working as an activity program coordinator at a nonprofit long-term care facility in Des Moines and has worked with individuals with disabilities for over 15 years as a Supported Community Living provider with various agencies. She has a Bachelor's from Grand View University in Health Promotion with an emphasis in Wellness Management. Ashley has a younger sister with intellectual disability, and is an individual with ADHD. She has a passion for helping others discover and develop their strengths, and believes the only disability in life is a bad attitude.
Mari Reynolds is a Family Support Coordinator, working primarily for the Parent Training and Family to Family Health Information Center projects at ASK. She has worked at ASK for 15 years. Mari has served on the Iowa Vocational Rehabilitation Council for six years during which she served one term as vice-chairperson, and two years as chairperson. She has also served on the Iowa Safe Schools Coalition, and currently serves on the Olmstead Committee. Mari has a Bachelor's from Grand View University in Psychology and Human Services. Mari's passion for disability advocacy work is a family affair. She has a brother with Cerebral Palsy who lives independently with supports. Mari is passionate about the advocacy work that ASK provides to families and believes knowledge can be powerful!
Paula Connolly is the Family to Family Health Information Center Project Coordinator. Along with project coordination, her responsibilities include outreach and support on several other projects at ASK. Paula is the parent of four children. Her youngest child has significant, multiple disabilities due to a rare genetic condition called Neuhauser Syndrome. She has been an advocate for families of kids with disabilities for more than 25 years and co-founded ASK with a few other parents with similar interests. Helping other families to find the support and resources that their children and youth require is her passion. Paula truly enjoys hearing family stories and helping families work through needs.
Lori Moore is a Training Coordinator & Post-Secondary Transition Project Coordinator. She discovered her passion for assisting people with disabilities in developing their abilities while she was earning her Bachelor's at the University of Wisconsin. She started as a volunteer for Muscular Dystrophy Association and a counselor at a camp for children who are Deaf. After teaching Special Education for seven years in Milwaukee, she was offered a position as a grant assistant for the Wisconsin School Inclusion Project while earning her Master's in Special Education from UW-Madison. When Lori moved to Iowa, she worked for Des Moines Public Schools as a Special Education Consultant. She enjoys the unique professional environment ASK provides where she is able to combine her passions, education, and experiences to work with individuals with disabilities and their families.
Deb Chiodo is a Family Partnership & Professional Development Project Coordinator and Co-Director at ASK. She has worked there three years. Prior to working at ASK, Deb was an elementary school principal for over 20 years focusing on collaborative leadership, mentoring teachers and developing and designing curriculum to enhance and support all student’s needs. She has a Master's in Administrative Leadership and a Specialist in Administration from Drake University and received her Bachelor's in Education with an emphasis on special education from the University of Michigan. Deb is highly active in the education community statewide, serving on the boards of United Way and Employee Family Resources. She is passionate about advocating for families and student’s needs, heading up the initiative Family School Partnership with leading education experts from around the country. Deb is driven to use data to help advocate for students and families in Iowa.
Jessica Gituma is a Family Support Specialist for the Early Hearing Detection & Intervention project at ASK. Her previous experiences range from advocacy for inclusion to direct family support work both professionally and personally in the areas of childcare, recreation, education, safety, healthcare and vocations including elements of program development. She has shared her personal story about her son with a local Early Childhood Director, church pastor, Early Access and IEP team members and school teachers. Jessica has been trained to share hers and her child’s story by taking the Iowa Department of Education’s “Parents as Presenters” Workshop. She has worked in programs that impact children in early childhood including Child Care Resource and Referral and SIEDA Community Action. In the past she has assisted with the launch of a new child abuse prevention council and has served in AmeriCorps reaching some of the most at risk youth through recreation. She has a Bachelor's in Psychology and a Master’s in Business Leadership. Most recently, Jessica came to ASK after running a business with her husband for three years where they worked with the school to provide limited internship and work skill building opportunities for high school students with special learning needs. Together, Jessica and her husband have four children with ages ranging from 12 to 27 years old and have a two year old granddaughter. Their oldest son is 18 and was born with Down syndrome and special health needs, including hearing issues, and has needed educational and medical support for speech, communication, low muscle tone, sensory, and fine motor. One of her other children has always been an advanced learner, which provides a great opportunity to strive to balance the learning needs of all of her children. Jessica loves to help support the success of others and looks forward to hearing about what people need support with!
Anthony Nguyen Bio coming soon!