Rebecca Rienzi, Executive Director
Rebecca has over 25 years experience in the nonprofit sector. She joined Pathfinders for Autism in 2007 and has served as Executive Director since 2010. Prior to joining Pathfinders for Autism, Rebecca’s professional experience focused around environmental and social justice issues in Maryland and Baltimore City. Her strengths include community organizing, program development and implementation, volunteer management, partnership building, fundraising and organization management. Rebecca was instrumental in advocating for the coverage of autism treatment services by health insurance plans sold in Maryland resulting in the passage of legislation in 2012. She serves on many local and state committees and workgroups where she advocates for individuals with autism and their families. Rebecca was born and raised in Baltimore. She is a graduate of the University of Maryland Baltimore County and currently lives in Baltimore County with her husband and two daughters.
Trish Kane, Deputy Director
Trish Kane joined Pathfinders for Autism (PFA) in September of 2010. As the Deputy Director, she oversees all programming for the organization, to include the Resource Center which is the cornerstone of PFA’s mission, training activities and fun events which serve the Autism community throughout Maryland. Trish is a Certified Police Academic Instructor for the Maryland Corrections and Police Training Commission. She has been providing an understanding of ASD to various audiences since 2012. In addition to first responders, Trish trains educators, library staff, various government agencies, and, since June 2016, hospital systems throughout Maryland.
Katie Ramirez, Development Director
Katie Ramirez joins PFA with over 15 years’ experience in development for various national nonprofits, including the March of Dimes, The Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation and The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. As the Development Director, Katie is responsible for oversight of all fundraising events and individual and corporate giving. Working closely with the Executive Director and the Board of Directors, Katie is strategically working to enhance annual giving and advance the Pathfinders for Autism mission through major gifts and corporate partnerships. Katie is the mother of 2 children, lives in Bel Air, MD and can be seen coaching soccer on the weekends or running with friends. Katie is also a proud aunt of a niece who is on the autism spectrum.
Neal Lichter, Program Director
Neal Lichter joined Pathfinders for Autism in October of 2013. Neal is responsible for the daily intake of questions and concerns from parents, caregivers, educators, professionals and individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). As a trainer, Neal has provided an Understanding of ASD training since 2014. Audiences include students from Kindergarten-college, educators, police, first responders, medical personnel, and many others across the state of Maryland. Neal is also responsible for helping to plan many of the workshops that Pathfinders for Autism collaborates on around Maryland. Neal is married, with two sons, one of which has Autism.
Shelly McLaughlin, Program Director
Shelly joined Pathfinders for Autism in 2008. A parent to a son with Autism, she has developed and conducted Autism Trainings for various organizations including the Maryland State Police, multiple County Police/Sheriff’s Departments, Homeland Security, NYPD, US Secret Service, fire departments, EMS staff, corrections officers, colleges, Exceptional Family Programs, state’s attorneys and public defenders, adult medical day programs, restaurants, schools, hotels, libraries, foster care programs, and other professional organizations. Shelly is a certified police instructor by the Maryland Police and Corrections Training Commission, CIT certified through Montgomery County Police, and certified in Mental Health First Aid through Harford County Sheriff’s Office. She has also written several of our PFA Tips articles that have appeared in other publications, such as Chicago Special Parent Magazine and Autism Parenting Magazine.
Nikki Stokes, Resource Center Coordinator
Nikki Stokes joined Pathfinders for Autism in February 2022. She has fifteen years of career experience in Baltimore City as a first responder and emergency call taker. As the mother of an autistic son, she has assisted with trainings, volunteered as a community advocate, and navigated through medical and educational systems for his care. She is a creative problem solver, master crochet instructor, knitter, and certified reiki practitioner. She was born and raised in Baltimore City.
Quinn Lulie, Data Management Specialist
Quinn joined Pathfinders for Autism as a Data Management Specialist effective April 2014. His attention to detail, accuracy, and speed in performing his job makes Quinn an essential part of the Pathfinders for Autism team. He began his relationship with Pathfinders for Autism in February of 2013 as an intern through the Forbush High School vocation training program. Upon graduation, Quinn continued his internship with us through his service provider, Itineris. Quinn lives in Ellicott City, MD. He enjoys reading the morning paper, word scrambles, and watching his favorite TV shows.
Ryan Permison, Special Projects Coordinator
Ryan Permison was diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome/ASD at age 11. He has been a participant at the Hussman Center for Adults with Autism at Towson at University for almost 15yrs. He is currently a Social Group Staff Member at the Hussman Center for Adults with Autism at Towson University where he helps oversee the program and makes sure everyone is having a good time. Ryan graduated from Towson University in Dec 2021 with a degree in Electronic Media & Film, with a minor in Applied Adult Disability Studies. In 2022, Ryan started working for Pathfinders for Autism where he runs the bi-weekly SAAC meetings and helps coordinate future virtual or in-person events for PFA for those with autism and their families. In his spare time, he is the host/producer of a weekly show called And I “Quote” where he interviews content creators of all kinds Saturdays at 12pm EST on Facebook and YouTube. His hobbies include podcasting, binge watching movies or TV series and reading books or comic-books.
Mason Surhoff, Program Intern
Mason Surhoff, son of PFA founders BJ and Polly Surhoff, assembles Safety Kits and Where Do I Belong Kits as well as completes data entry assignments. In addition to working at PFA, Mason works at Enoch Pratt Roland Park as a librarian and he works at the McDonogh Middle School library. Mason competes in Special Olympics and attends The League of Disabilities Camp Greentop every year. Like his mom and siblings, Mason is an avid swimmer and he enjoys working out at NoLimit fitness.
Cpl Janelle Myers, Training Team Member
Cpl. Janelle Myers began her career with the Harford County Sheriff’s Office in 1997 and continued through 2004, as a Correctional Officer at the Harford County Detention Center. She became a Law Enforcement Officer with the Harford County Sheriff’s Office in 2007. Janelle was assigned to the Northern Precinct Patrol where she conducted numerous investigations resulting in arrests and convictions. She was assigned to the Harford County Child Advocacy Center in June of 2011. In 2022 Janelle was promoted to a supervisor position with the School Resource Officers. Since 2013, Cpl Myers has been sharing her expertise in both law enforcement and as a mom to a son with intellectual disabilities as an instructor in PFA’s First Responder training program.
Glenn Myers, Training Team Member
Since 2012, Glenn has been involved with numerous community activities and jobs to include Confidential Document Shredder for the Harford County Sheriff’s Office, Barn Assistant with Gentle Giants Draft Horse Rescue, Store Front Assistant at The Mill, visiting nursing homes and medical rehabs with his Therapy Dog Slate, bird conservation at Eden Mill, and Boy Scout Troop 4513. In 2014, Glenn was offered a position as a Self-Advocate Instructor with Pathfinders for Autism. Glenn has had the opportunity to train thousands of First Responders throughout Maryland and DC, drawing on his deep appreciation for Police, Fire and EMS Providers. Glenn encourages First Responders to understand the daily challenges individuals with IDD’s and/or Autism face and to be patient as “his friends” try to communicate their needs or concerns. Glenn always reinforces the importance for First Responders to stay safe.
Josh Smith, Training Team Member
Josh’s extensive involvement in activities and organizations began at an early age. He received many awards from South Carroll High School for being a leader in his class, participating in sports as a team manager and being a part of the Home Coming Court. In 2003 Josh was hired by Martins Food Store in Eldersburg, Maryland – a job he still holds. His duties include cart return specialist, bagging specialist, training new employees and assisting with other staff needs. With over 30 years’ experience as a participant with Special Olympics, he is now a Global Messenger for them, traveling around the state giving speeches. Having retired as a Special Olympics athlete, Josh is now a coach. Josh has been serving as a trainer for Pathfinders for Autism since 2015. He teaches law enforcement, EMS and Firefighters strategies for having better interactions with individuals with disabilities. Josh continues to pursue avenues where he can advocate for those with disabilities.
Eric Kane, Training Team Member
Eric, a self-advocate with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) has been training with Pathfinders for Autism since December 2016. Eric has been teaching healthcare professionals about communication strategies for individuals with ASD with a focus on non-verbal communication skills. His ability to offer a fresh perspective each time he trains has been instrumental in offering an honest and effective program.
Tom Whalen, Training Team Member
Tom, a self-advocate with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), has been training with Pathfinders for Autism since December 2016. Tom has been teaching healthcare professionals about his healthcare journey starting with a congenital heart condition and his Autism diagnosis at the age of 7. Tom also supports our First Responder Training.
Conor Wade, Donor Appreciation Artisan
Conor is a baker, artist, and bowler with Autism Spectrum Disorder and Tourette’s Syndrome. He is passionate about painting pottery and shares that talent by creating masterpieces PFA uses as appreciation gifts. He also enjoys shopping, going to the movies, and eating French fries with friends.