Leadership and team
One of REED Academy’s greatest strengths – a leadership team of passionate administrators with a shared vision for educating individuals on the autism spectrum from diagnosis through age 21.
CEO & Executive Director
Jill oversees the vision and leadership for the REED Foundation for Autism, including REED Academy and REED Next, and its affiliated social enterprise business, Greens do Good. She has been the executive director of REED Academy since 2012, and prior to that, served on the Board of Directors. In 2016, with the support and inspiration from the Board of Directors, Jill and her team incubated the seeds which have grown into the REED Foundation for Autism, expanding the organization’s reach to assist those living with autism from diagnosis through adulthood.
Jill has 25 years of experience in leadership and management in both the private and non- profit sectors. She believes that while creativity and new ideas are catalysts for change, it is innovative thinking and respectful collaboration that solves any problem. Prior to REED, she worked at Symantec, a high-tech company based in California, where she managed internal global events, served as part of the marketing team for a start-up incubator project and was an integral member on a global “Change Management” team. Before Symantec, Jill spent many years running operations for New Jersey-based Professional Staffers, where she learned how to take risks and manage diverse teams of people.
Leah Farinola, MA
Leah began working with the families at REED in 2001, before REED was even officially founded. Starting as a full-time instructor in 2006, she has held various positions, including instructor, lead teacher, assistant to the executive director, classroom consultant, and curriculum coordinator. Leah became principal in 2009.
She completed her undergraduate coursework at William Paterson University and graduated with honors, holding a degree in psychology and elementary education. She completed her post-baccalaureate special education certification and also obtained a master’s in educational administration with principal and supervisor certification from Caldwell University. She is currently completing her doctorate at Seton Hall University and is an adjunct professor at Caldwell University.
Kelli Fowler, MA, BCBA
Kelli is a board-certified behavior analyst who holds a master’s in special education from Caldwell University. In addition, she is a certified general and special education teacher. Kelli has worked in both public and private programs since 2004. She has privately consulted for numerous school districts and organizations, in addition to providing services to families within the home and community settings. She has worked with children ranging from early intervention through age 21.
During her time at REED, Kelli has developed several initiatives, including the Bridge Program, social skills groups, transition programming, and various community-based instruction. These programs have helped both REED Academy students and families as well as other individuals within the autism community. Kelli is dedicated to providing support and education that can help touch the lives of people across all walks of life.
JOE NOVAK, EdD, BCBA-D, CCC-SLP, ATP
DIRECTOR OF CURRICULUM & TECHNOLOGY
Joe is a board-certified behavior analyst–doctoral, ASHA-certified speech and language pathologist, and RESNA-certified assistive technology professional who obtained his master’s in speech-language pathology from Kean University and a doctorate of education in special education from Nova Southeastern University. Additionally, Joe has both speech-language specialist and supervisor certification for the state of New Jersey. Joe is an adjunct professor at Kean University, where he teaches graduate courses in ABA to students in the speech-language pathology and special education programs.
Joe consulted at REED for speech and language programming (with an emphasis on augmentative and alternative communication) prior to joining full-time in July 2015. Since Joe has come aboard, he has spearheaded various initiatives, including a new data collection system (Catalyst), the development of an advisory council, the creation of various trainings related to speech and language, a clinical handbook, and a comprehensive in-house curriculum. Joe works hand-in-hand with the clinical director, Kelli Fowler, to support the educational and behavioral needs of the students at REED.
Prior to joining REED, Joe worked in ABA programs at Douglass Developmental Disabilities Center and Bernards Township Public Schools as a speech and language pathologist. He has worked in the school setting with individuals ages 5–20 and privately with individuals from 3–23. Before working with individuals with autism, Joe worked as a writing center tutor at Seton Hall University.
Laurie has worked in the accounting and finance field for over 25 years initially starting her career in public accounting. She soon transitioned into corporate accounting but she soon realized non-profit work was her passion. Laurie has extensive non-profit accounting and finance knowledge having worked in this field for over 20 years. In addition to her accounting and finance experience she also has many years of human resource experience. Laurie holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration with a concentration in Accounting.
Laurie has always believed in being a hands on employee regardless of position. She believes in knowing all of the little details of an organizations finances as well as seeing the big picture. Having a clear understanding of the finances as well as the operations allows for sound decision making. She believes integrity, a positive attitude and communication are important traits to have in any organization.
MEET OUR SENIOR STAFF
At REED Academy, our staff plays a crucial role in enhancing each child’s fundamental, academic, leisure, and vocational skills, while providing individualized curriculum that caters to their specific needs.
Our instructors also lend a personal touch, bringing their dedication and passion to their relationships with their students. This special bond builds a positive relationship and creates a welcoming environment.
BSN, RN, CSN
Pat DeFlora, BA
Nicole Hjelm, BS