About Autism Works
Autism Works is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization located in Liberty Missouri serving individuals and families who are affected by Autism Spectrum Disorders. We believe great resources, information and support should be available to everyone in the community.
Our organization works with families and the local community to increase autism awareness and develop support for families dealing with the everyday struggles of living on the spectrum.
Meet Our Team
Dessarey Klarlund- Executive Director
Dessarey Klarlund started as a parent volunteer for Autism Works in 2010 and created the first program for teens with Autism Spectrum Disorders at Autism Works. Over the past several years she has continued to develop many new programs for the organization including the Social Skills Program for Grades K-12, STRIVE program for young adults, Summer Programs, Teen & Sibling Groups and Parent Support Groups. She works closely with the families served, community, staff and board members to ensure quality programs are available. Dessarey is also the parent of a young adult with an Aspergers and has a great passion for serving the Autism community. Her personal connection to Autism drives her to continue expanding programs and services.
Dr.Sabrina Mitchell- Social Skill Instructor- High School
Dr. Sabrina Mitchell has been teaching and working in the area of special education for over 15+ years. She has experience working with students with various disabilities from early childhood to 12th grade, with specialization in the area of autism for the last 10 years. Dr. Mitchell holds a Master’s Degree in special education with an emphasis in violent and aggressive behaviors and a Doctorate of Philosophy in special education with an emphasis in autism from the University of Kansas. She serves as an adjunct professor at Northwest Missouri State University teaching courses on autism as well as conducts workshops and professional development presentations both locally and nationally. Dr. Mitchell is currently an Autism and Behavior Programming Coordinator in the Lee Summit School District in Lee Summit, Missouri.
Pat Jones- Social Skill Instructor- Middle School
Pat has worked for Liberty School District for 13 years as a speech-language pathologist. She has experience in a variety of settings including inpatient and outpatient medical facilities and rehabilitation unit, and the education setting. Pat is currently working at an elementary school, providing speech and language services, and social skills training. Pat has a strong interest in autism, as she is currently an IDAC, In-District Autism Consultant for Liberty School District. She received her Bachelor of Science in Education and Master of Science from the University of Central Missouri. Pat completed the Professional Concentration in Autism Spectrum Disorders from the University of California Davis Extension in November 2013. In April 2012 she completed the Social Thinking Mentor Program with Michelle Garcia Winner in San Jose, California.
Kim Stewart- Social Skill Instructor- Grades 3-5
Kim has been employed as a speech-language pathologist for over 19 years with extensive experience conducting speech and language therapy with all ages of persons having autism. She is a full-time faculty member at the University of Central Missouri and part-time SLP at Liberty School District where she is also a co-advisor for the Social Connection Club. She specializes in autism and literacy interventions, supervises speech-language pathologist during clinical fellowships and is an advisor for the National Student Speech Language Hearing Association. Kim received a Bachelor of Science degree and Master of Science degree at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville.
Emily Bassi- Social Skill Instructor- Grades K-2
Emily received her bachelor’s degree in special education and master’s degree in early childhood special education from University of Missouri-Columbia and spent three years as an early childhood special education teacher. She taught in a self-contained classroom designed for children with autism or other social/behavioral needs as well as leading a committee to create a social skills curriculum for the district’s early childhood center. She currently works at Summit Behavioral Services to provide applied behavior analysis (ABA) therapy for children with autism ages 2-7.
Jessica King – S.T.R.I.V.E Program Instructor
Jessica has been a Special Education teacher in the Liberty School District since 2007. She currently teaches at Liberty High School in the Essential Skills Classroom, in a self-contained special education setting. She has experience working with a variety of students in special education through her instruction time, numerous camps, and working alongside individual families. Preparing students for adulthood and independence is a priority in her teaching. Jessica received a Bachelors of Science in Education from Union University and her Master’s of Science from University of Central Missouri.
Heather Inmon- Activities Coordinator
Heather spent five years as an educator in a residential group therapy setting for at-risk youth. During this time, she worked with kids with various behavioral, educational and mental disorders. She enjoys having fun with kids and seeing what they can accomplish. She has a degree in Secondary Education from University of Central Missouri and holds certifications in both Social Studies and Middle School Science. She has since devoted her full attention to her family. As the mother of both a young adult and a preschooler on the Autism Spectrum, she is familiar with the challenges both kids and their families face. She looks forward to planning future social activities for the families at Autism Works.
Andy Gonino- Support Staff
Andy is a special education teacher for Liberty Public Schools. After graduating from college in May 2013, he began working in special education and immediately was drawn to the field. Andy has experience working with students in a high school setting working on academics, life skills, social skills, and personal care skills. Andy received his Bachelors of Science degrees in psychology and sociology from the University of Missouri-Columbia, and plans to complete his Special Education teaching certification at the University of Central Missouri.
Christy Hunt- Support Staff
Christy moved to Liberty several years ago with her family in large part after finding Autism Works. Having lived in a small town with a son growing up with autism and having no support systems it was wonderful to find a place right here in Liberty. Before she moved to Liberty she was a para professional at a K through 8 rural elementary school for 13 years. Since coming to Liberty she assumes the role as full time caregiver for her son who has since graduated. Christy brings a wealth of knowledge as a parent with a child with autism and looks forward to working with kids again.
Kristen Breault – Support Staff
Kristen is a special education paraprofessional with the North Kansas City School District. She received her Bachelors of Science in Criminal Justice from the University of Central Missouri in 2009 and worked in healthcare before realizing her passion was working with children. She is currently working towards obtaining her teaching certification in Elementary Education and plans to complete her masters in Special Education.
Board of Directors
Jamie Krisman- Board Chairman/Founder
Helms Properties, LLC – Jamie previously owned Specialty Risk, Inc, a nationwide Independent transportation insurance agency for 14 years. She was acquired in 2008 by Arthur J Gallagher & Companies and was appointed Area President for their Kansas City office. Jamie holds a BS in Science from UMKC. She retired in December of 2012 to put all her passion and energy into Autism Works, Inc. Jamie was a founding member of this non-for-profit in 2010 for her grandson Adam and other families affected by Autism Spectrum Disorders. She is excited to bring more awareness and services to the Northland community.
Dan Matthews- Vice-Board Chairman
Summit Behavioral Services- Dan began providing behavioral services as a field consultant in Kansas City in 1999. During his career, he has served hundreds of families in homes, schools and other facilities. Dan holds a Bachelor’s degree in Special Education from Missouri State University, a Master’s degree in Special Education from the University of Missouri- Kansas City, and is a Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) and Missouri-Licensed Behavior Analyst (LBA). Although he has held several positions ranging from direct service to administration, Dan feels his most valuable skill is working with parents and teachers of children and adults with severe behavioral issues, and teaching them not just to manage behavior but to improve it. By doing so, Dan feels the quality of one’s life and, indeed the prospects for a successful future can be greatly increased. In January of 2010, Dan started a new company in Kansas City, Summit Behavioral Services. The mission of this new company is to continue to provide immediate, effective and ongoing behavioral supports to families and others who live with the serve children and adults with difficult behaviors. Summit’s focus is on being the best behavioral services agency in the Metropolitan area. By remaining small, flexible and responsive, and by employing staff with excellent educational and hands-on experience, Summit Behavioral Services provides the highest quality behavioral supports available.
Leslie Byram- Board Secretary
Leslie is a private practice attorney licensed in the State of Missouri and State of Kansas focusing on the areas of estate planning and probate law, with an emphasis in working with families who have loved ones with special needs. Leslies holds a Juris Doctorate from the University of Kansas and a BS in International Business from Pepperdine University. Leslie is a member of the Missouri Bar Association, Kansas Bar Association, Kansas City Metropolitan Bar Association and Johnson County Bar Association.
Samuel R. Carnes- Board Treasurer
Sam is a managing member of the accounting firm Carnes CPA, LLC. He assists individuals and small business clients with accounting and tax issues. Sam is a CPA and holds a BS from Purdue University and a BA in Accounting from Lakeland College.
Martin Financial Group LLC- Kelley Martin is the founder and managing principal of Martin Financial Group LLC, an investment firm in Kansas City. He holds a bachelor’s degree in engineering physics and a master’s degree in geophysical engineering from the University of Missouri-Rolla (now Missouri University of Science & Technology). Martin serves on several civic, charitable and economic development boards in the Kansas City area including the Saint Luke’s Northland Hospital Board of Directors and the Saint Luke’s Home Health Care and Hospice Board. Martin also serves on the Missouri Development Finance Board and was appointed to the Missouri State Highways and Transportation Commission by Governor Jay Nixon for a term ending March 1, 2019.
Paul is the Director of Corporate Applications at DST Systems where he has responsibility for managing, supporting and providing strategy for DST’s HR, Financial, Project Management, Sales and Legal applications. Paul holds a BS from Oklahoma State University in Management Science and Information Systems. Paul and his wife Karin have a child with Aspergers, who has been attending various programs at Autism Works for several years. Paul has seen the benefits of Autism Work’s programs not only for his child, but his entire family first hand. It is through this experience, Paul was motivated to join the board to help promote and further Autism Work’s strategic vision.
Jim is Vice President of Corporate Operations for H&R Block which include overseeing operational support for Human Resources, Training, Claims Processing, Tax Operations and consumer-based financial products. He is also responsible for Sourcing and leading company-wide productivity initiatives. Jim holds a BS and MBA from Kansas State University. Jim and his wife, Teri, have six children, including a son with autism who has benefited from the programs at Autism Works. Jim has been active in different ministries with his church and with foster care, adoption and other services to at-risk youth.