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Board of Directors

Chris Sabis

Attorney, Sherrard Roe Voigt & Harbison

Chris heads Sherrard Roe Voigt & Harbison's Government Compliance & Investigations group. Chris concentrates his practice in the areas of Government Investigations and Litigation. He has extensive experience in False Claims Act (FCA) matters involving allegations of healthcare and procurement fraud, white-collar fraud investigations, commercial litigation, and government investigations under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and Mutual Legal Assistance Treaties (MLATs). Chris has significant experience in the mediation of FCA cases and is a Rule 31 Listed General Civil Mediator by the Tennessee Supreme Court. He also has advised clients on provisions of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) and the CARES Act, including emergency leave provisions and the Paycheck Protection Program enacted in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Chris earned his J.D. at Georgetown University Law Center, where he was Senior Notes Editor of the Georgetown Journal of Legal Ethics. He graduated magna cum laude with a B.A. in History and Political Science from the University of Rochester.

Active in the community, Chris is the a member of the Honorary Board of Stars, a non-profit that provides prevention, intervention, treatment, and training programs addressing bullying, substance abuse, violence, and social and emotional barriers to success in Tennessee schools. He is the Secretary of the Board of Directors of Autism Tennessee and the Environmental Sustainability Chair for the Rotary Club of Nashville. Chris has been an Adjunct Professor of Law at Belmont University. He enjoys hockey, theater, and spending time with his wife and two young boys.

"I remember when my son received his diagnosis – the sorrow, the confusion, the fear. It was an AutismTN program that allowed us to begin coping and working toward providing him the services he needed. I want to help ensure the continued existence and growth of this programming to help other parents in the same position."

Past President
Dr. Darrell Gwaltney, Jr.

Dean & H. Franklin Paschall Chair of Biblical Studies and Preaching Ph.D.

The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary; M.A., University of Missouri-Kansas City; M.Div., Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary; B.A., Missouri Baptist College; Additional Studies: Regent's Park College, University of Oxford 

I came to Belmont to serve as dean for the College of Theology and Christian Ministry in 2004 and was named the H. Franklin Paschall Chair of Biblical Studies and Preaching in 2012. I also serve as the Director of the Moench Center for Church Leadership.

I teach biblical studies, theology, worship and preaching, and church leadership classes whenever I can get away from the administrative duties of my job as dean. I love students and conversations with people about faith and life as we think deeply and purposefully about how to be best prepared for the work God has called us to do.

In addition to my classroom and administrative responsibilities, I have an active ministry working in local churches. I serve as an intentional interim and work in leadership development roles for churches. Working in churches helps me be better prepared for the classroom.

Serving as dean for the College of Theology and Christian Ministry at Belmont is particularly fulfilling because of the wide variety of denominational backgrounds and vocational interests among the students. Our students imagine themselves serving in churches and community non-profits, as musicians and doctors, artists and lawyers, and pastors and missionaries. It is exciting to serve here because everyone walks a somewhat different path of faithfulness.

The faculty and students in the College of Theology and Christian Ministry form a community of people who are seeking to understand God’s claim upon their lives. I believe I am privileged to work with such faithful colleagues and students.

I am an avid St. Louis Cardinals baseball fan, a lover of books, an erstwhile programmer, gardener, and big fan of my wife of 36 years, Donna, my daughter Meghan and her husband, Alvaro, my daughter Jordan, and my son Trey.

Vice President
Paul Wydra

Chief Development Officer - AOS/Sigma Pi

Paul Wydra - Paul has worked at Middle Tennessee State University for over 15 years now. He is the Director of Development Initiates and works with fundraising efforts for the James E. Walker Library, the Honors College, University College and special events, special projects and affinity groups. Prior to working in the development office, he was the Assistant Director of Alumni Relations for over 10 years. In that position, he worked with Alumni Affinity Groups, Young Alumni, the alumni scholarship program and organized events all throughout Tennessee and out-of-state. MTSU is the second largest undergraduate university in Tennessee with over 21,000 students and has almost 140,000 living alumni. 

Paul received his Master of Education degree in Higher Education - Management & Supervision from MTSU in August of 2011. Paul is currently the Vice President on the board and has been involved in AutismTN for over two years and loves the people he works with on the board and on staff. His mother is a retired special education teacher, who for years worked directly with special needs children and autistic children.


Walt Hovious

Accountant, Pilot.com

Walt is an accountant at Pilot.com and a member of the Tennessee bar. He studied at the Saint Louis University School of Law and Belmont University. He is Treasurer of the Board of Directors of Autism Tennessee. He lives in Bellevue with his wife Casey and their son, Gabriel.

Walt is interested in the furtherance of laws and workplace accommodations that assist those on the autism spectrum.

Babs Tierno, M.Ed

Deputy Director, TN Department of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities

Babs Tierno joined the Tennessee Department of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities in early 2022. In her role, she focuses on the communications and coordination of Clinical Services collaboration efforts. Her projects include work with Seating and Positioning Clinics, Harold Jordan Center, and TN START. Additionally, Ms. Tierno produces a weekly show called the Clinical Consultation Network, which hosts guests from across the state and country to discuss innovative approaches to clinical care with providers and stakeholders.

Ms. Tierno has Bachelor degrees in Psychology, Sociology, Criminal Justice, and Interdisciplinary Legal Studies from The University of Tennessee, Knoxville, and her Master's degree in Education from Middle Tennessee State University. She has more than 15 years of non-profit experience. Most recently, Ms. Tierno was the Executive Director of Autism Tennessee for many years and continues to serve on the Board of Directors. She also serves as a mentor for Master Level students at Vanderbilt, volunteers for Gallatin Soccer Club, and is active in a local women's leadership group. Ms. Tierno lives in Gallatin with her husband and her sons, ages 12 & 7, (both boys are on the autism spectrum), Gigi, and two German Shepherd Dogs, Stella and Scarlett.

"I serve on the Board of Directors at AutismTN because I am passionate about maximizing independence and autonomy for marginalized populations. In the case of autism, I have a personal connection to the programs and advocacy work because we are creating opportunities for families like mine to normalize seeing themselves in their community working, living, and playing in the same way typical families participate."

Dan Beuerlein
Managing Director, Brentwood Capital Advisors

Founded in 1999, Brentwood Capital Advisors is one of the South’s leading investment banks that provides mergers and acquisitions and capital raising advice to privately-held, middle market healthcare, technology and tech-enabled and outsourced services companies. BCA has served as exclusive financial advisor in 250+ successfully closed transactions totaling over $40 billion in value. As Managing Director, Dan provides strategic advice and M&A advisory services to middle-market healthcare services companies across several sectors, with a focus on autism services, women’s health / fertility, and physician practices.

Dan Beuerlein brings over 20 years of experience in multi-state, multi-site healthcare operations with an emphasis on building and scaling mission-driven Private Equity- backed startup companies in the ambulatory / acute care, women’s health / fertility, and behavioral health / autism industries. His growth-focused skillset, derived from private-equity backed start-ups and large public/private companies, has driven his success as a business development and operations executive in a variety of roles.

Prior to joining Brentwood Capital, Dan was Chief Development Officer at Agape Care Group, one of the largest privately held hospice providers in the Southeast. At Agape Care, Dan was responsible for leading the company’s growth strategy via acquisition of regional hospice providers throughout the Southeast.

Prior to joining Agape Care, Dan served as Chief Development Officer for BlueSprig. In just two years, BlueSprig grew from a start-up with a few clinics in Texas to one of the largest national providers of behavioral therapy for children with autism through a network of 110 clinics in 13 states. Dan currently serves his local community as a Board Member of Autism Tennessee, a non-profit committed to providing funding, education, and support for over 50,000 families in Tennessee affected by autism.

Prior to BlueSprig, Dan served as Chief Development Officer and Executive Vice President of Operations at Vivere Health, a leading fertility management and equity partner that developed a national network of IVF clinics / laboratories, international egg bank, and fertility pharmacy dedicated to helping clients achieve their goal of starting a family.

Prior to joining Vivere Health, Dan served as Chief Development Officer at Springstone, Inc., backed by Welsh Carson Anderson & Stowe, where he led the company’s growth strategy to develop a nationwide network of behavioral health and addiction hospitals to provide hope to clients and families suffering from the challenges of mental health and substance abuse.

Prior to Springstone, Dan was Regional Vice President of Operations for Symbion Healthcare, where he led a region of hospitals and ambulatory surgery centers and led business development initiatives of all types including de novo facility development, mergers and acquisitions, and physician recruitment.

Dan earned a B.S. in Engineering from Tennessee Technological University and an M.B.A. from the Owen Graduate School of Management at Vanderbilt University.

Dan, his wife Lauren, and their son, Reid live in Nashville, TN where they donate their time and resources to community initiatives including Autism Tennessee, Habitat for Humanity, Room in the Inn, Junior Achievement, and the Nashville Rescue Mission. Dan loves classic cars, college football, Major League Soccer, and plays guitar in a local cover band on the weekends.

Daniel Byrdsong
Operating Partner, Graham Capital Healthcare

Sandeep Chauhan
Managing Director, Dreymoor Fertilizers Overseas

Sandeep Chauhan comes from a business family based in Rohtak, a city in Northern State of India, Haryana. However, his ambition to carve out a niche for himself, on his own, he decided to move to Moscow, Russia to pursue higher studies in engineering. Given his family business background, he has an innate ability to identify business trends and opportunities. He decided to join the bulk commodity trading industry post his engineering graduation.

Today he is one of the most successful executives running a billion-dollar trading company as the CEO and Managing Director. Amongst his many notable industry achievements, he was also conferred the ‘Haryana Gaurav Samman’, highest honor of the state by the state government in 2017 for his contributions to the business world.

Life has its own way of balancing. He moved his family of two young kids and wife to USA in 2014 to provide better education facilities and medical treatment required for special needs within the family. Autism cause is very close to heart, and he has been involved in many initiatives in India. His personal foundation in India is engaged with special needs schools, providing access to experts and funding. The Foundation helps the institutions dedicated to the cause with latest research-based teaching methods. It's working with panel of experts to deploy the programs and develop a sustainable network of experts.

Desiree Dyer
Nashville Symphony

Desiree Dyer joined the board of Autism TN in early in 2023 as an Autistic Self-Advocate after volunteering as a Sensory Friendly Event Partner. Every other month she continues to host Online Bingo, a new group for Girls on the Spectrum ages 13+ for Autism TN, and is excited about the possibility of working on a podcast about Autistic culture. Desiree was diagnosed late in life at the age of 43 and considers it the moment her life changed for the better. When not doing advocacy work in the disability community, you can find her hard at work at her full-time job as IT Systems Administrator for the Nashville Symphony. On Sunday mornings you can find her at her part-time job as AV Coodinator at Second Presbyterian Church, creating graphics, generating links for worship services and other events, and running the live stream. To top it all off, Desiree is also an active citizen of the Upper Mattaponi Nation. She was recently elected to serve a 4-year term as a Legislative Representative on the Upper Mattaponi Tribal Council. She also serves on the Governance and Administration Steering Committee as well as the Economic Development Steering Committee after previously serving on the Constitution
Committee that created a new and robust government for the tribe as a sovereign nation.

Desiree is has been married to her partner, Ben Vos, for 10 years and loves being stepmom to his teen daughter, a student at Hume-Fogg Academic High School. In her rare and closely guarded free time, Desiree loves to sip wine out on her porch when the weather is nice, trains as a power-lifter, loves to participate in the Second Presbyterian Church women’s book club, “Dancing on the Edge,” attends as many shows as possible at the Schermerhorn, and seeks out opportunities to smash the patriarchy.

Cindy Hickman, EdD, OTD, OTR/L, SIPT, CLT, LANA
Academic Fieldwork Coordinator, Assistant Professor - Belmont University

Cindy Hickman serves as the academic fieldwork coordinator and assistant professor for the Doctor of Occupational Therapy program at Belmont University. Cindy graduated with her Bachelor of Science in Biology from Western Kentucky University, her Master of Science in Occupational Therapy and Doctor of Occupational Therapy from Belmont University. She recently earned her Doctor of Education from Trevecca Nazarene University with an emphasis in leadership and professional practice. She has 22 years of occupational therapy practice experience in educational and clinical settings. Her clinical experience includes serving pediatric clients in the school, early intervention and the outpatient settings, she has also worked in the oncological setting working with patients with breast cancer. She is a certified children’s yoga and mindfulness teacher. Her research interests include sensory processing, anxiety and the impact on occupational performance.

Dr. Theodora Pinnock
Assistant Professor and Associate Dean, Meharry Medical College

Theodora Phea Pinnock's, MD serves as Assistant Professor of Pediatrics at Meharry Medical College where she teaches and trains medical students and residents, and provides developmental and behavioral assessments and treatment. In 2018, she became the Assistant Dean of Admissions. In 2019, she became Associate Dean of Student Affairs and Admissions, where she oversees medical school admissions and assists student with non-academic issue.

Mischa Rowland
Manager, HR Business Partner, Cardinal Health

Mischa Rowland is a HR Business Partner for Cardinal Healthcare. Mrs. Rowland has been in human resources for more than 15 years with various companies in the Nashville TN area. Mrs. Rowland has a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Spring Hill College and a Master’s Degree in I/O Psychology from MTSU. Mrs. Rowland lives in Nashville with her husband, daughter (11), and son (9) who was diagnosed with Autism at 4 years old. Along with AutismTN, Mrs. Rowland serves on the boards for Schrader Lane Childcare Center and Nashville Classical Charter School each that has a focus on quality education for a diverse community.

I am excited to join the AutismTN board. I have spent my career and personal life helping individuals to grow and develop to their fullest potential and making sure they have the tools and resources to do so. I have never let an autism diagnosis stop me from seeing the full potential in my son. I will continue to advocate for him and children like him to ensure they are able to participate wholeheartedly in the communities that they love. I am appreciative that AutismTN is another way to bring important tools, resources, programs and camaraderie to others who are members of the Autistic community and those who advocate for the Autistic community.

Hunter Williams
Data Operations Analyst, 
Trilliant Health

Justin H. Wilson

Partner, Hall Strategies

Working in communications in Nashville for more than a decade, Justin H. Wilson has become a highly sought-after strategic communications partner. He leads comprehensive, results-driven communications strategies for companies and organizations that are shaping the future of the region and rewriting what is possible in their respective industries.

As a Partner and co-owner at Hall Strategies, Justin serves as managing director of public relations, overseeing strategic communications, marketing and branding, crisis communications, community relations, social media and media relations.

He has diverse multi-industry expertise which includes professional and financial services, logistics, law, healthcare, technology, nonprofits, and food service industries. During Nashville’s boom era, he’s helped build the area’s leading commercial real estate communications practice, representing billions in proposed, under development, and delivered projects including Fifth + Broadway, Four Seasons Hotel and Private Residences Nashville, and River North.

Throughout his public relations career, his work has been frequently recognized by peer and industry groups and has been named to the Nashville Post's In Charge list of top business leaders. Justin led client programs and projects that have been named a National PRSA Silver Anvil finalist and won a Telly Bronze Award, a Communicator Award of Distinction, an LEA Global Marketing Achievement Award, and 18 Nashville PRSA Parthenon Awards.

He is a graduate of Auburn University, where he earned undergraduate degrees in marketing and English.

Justin was introduced to the autism community when his son was diagnosed on the autism spectrum at the age of four. He is inspired to serve by his son and the many like him that AutismTN supports in a wide range of important and meaningful ways.

Nir Yatziv
Former SVP, Chief Information Officer, Delek US Holdings, Inc.

Nir Yatziv serves as Delek US Holdings Chief Information Officer and is responsible for the company’s enterprise IT systems that span across all lines of business. Since joining Delek in March 2020, Nir has been instrumental in leading the company’s cloud transformation and working closely with relevant software and services partners in support of the company’s digital journey.

Prior to joining Delek, Nir spent 12 years at ZIM Integrated Shipping in a variety of senior IT roles, including Executive IT Manager and Senior Project Manager. During that time, Nir led the company’s primary corporate business transformation project based on a new SAP industry solution from the initial phase of the project, including initiation and design, to deployment and rollout in eight months. He worked in close alignment with SAP management and development teams to ensure stability and product readiness.

Previously, Nir managed ZIM’s Americas IT unit where he was responsible for a team of technical and functional business experts who managed application development, infrastructure, and ongoing support. His team also provided IT solutions to meet regionally specific needs relative to compliance with corporate standards.

Prior to ZIM, Nir served in various IT leadership roles. Nir earned his EMBA degree from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and a Bachelor’s degree in Economics from the Academic College of Tel Aviv.

Honorary Board of Directors

Blair Dunigan
Special Education Attorney

Dr. Donna Perlin
Physician, TriStar-HCA

Dr .Donna J. Perlin is a pediatric emergency physician at The Children’s Hospital at Tristar Centennial in Nashville, Tennessee. Previously she was on the faculty at The University of Maryland Medical Center, The Johns Hopkins Medical Center and Vanderbilt Medical Center.

Dr. Perlin earned her MD from Virginia Commonwealth University, Medical College of Virginia, in 1989 and she completed her internship and residency in general pediatrics there. She performed a fellowship in pediatric emergency medicine at The Johns Hopkins Medical Center.

She is keenly interested in improving patient experience and patient care in the emergency department for children on the autism spectrum. Dr. Perlin led a team as they developed the first sensory friendly emergency facility in Middle Tennessee. This initiative has spread throughout The Children’s Hospital at Tristar Centennial, and the blueprints are being used by hospitals around the country to establish more sensory friendly departments.

Dr. Perlin is on the Board of Autism Tennessee and is the parent of a young adult on the autism spectrum.

Tom Woodard
Managing Partner, Woodard Bros. & On the Avenue

(615) 270-2077
955 Woodland Street,
Nashville, TN 37206

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Autism Tennessee, legal name ASMT, Inc. is a 501(c)3 charitable organization and donations are tax deductible. This statement is not intended to be tax advice.
100% of donations stay in Middle Tennessee to provide Support, Education, and Advocacy for the autism community. 
Tax ID # 27-1003749
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