The Treatment and Learning Centers (TLC) is supported by several groups of dedicated and highly-qualified people including over 200 skilled and caring teachers, therapists, psychologists, tutors, employment specialists, job coaches, administrators, and support staff. TLC’s staff work collaboratively to meet the multifaceted needs of our clients; we have a strong, caring team and our staff work tirelessly to make sure goals are achieved and progress is made. We utilize effective and proven techniques, with modern equipment, in an up-to-date and thoughtfully-planned facility. Welcome to TLC, a family of services where caring comes first.

Senior Leadership
President’s Message
Board of Trustees
Advisory Boards

Senior Leadership

The Senior Leadership Team consists of the Executive Director, Chief Financial Officer, Program Directors for The Katherine Thomas Lower/Middle and High School Programs, and the Director of Clinical Programs. The role of the Senior Leadership Team is to oversee and make decisions for the organization, addressing strategic, operational, and any other issues that may impact organizational functioning. The team provides input to the Executive Director for organizational decision making.

Patricia Ritter, PhD
Executive Director

Dr. Pat Ritter was named Executive Director of TLC–The Treatment and Learning Centers in 2009, after serving as Assistant Executive Director for 18 years. She practiced as a speech-language pathologist in various settings and began her tenure at TLC as the Director of Outpatient Speech. During her time at TLC, Dr. Ritter has served as a vital member of the leadership decision-making team. Her key achievements include the development of the philosophy and model for The Katherine Thomas School (KTS). She then started the special education school in 1995 with 33 children in grades kindergarten through grade 5. KTS now goes through grade 12 and is currently educating over 150 students. Dr. Ritter also established therapeutic groups for children with sensory processing and autistic spectrum disorders and developed a highly regarded special education preschool program based on a development model for early intervention. Over her career at TLC, Dr. Ritter has been an innovator for many programs that meet the evolving needs of the community. TLC has enabled Dr. Ritter to fulfill her personal mission of making a difference in the lives of others.

Dr. Ritter received her PhD in Speech-Language Pathology with a specialty in Child and Adult Language and Second Language Learning from Ohio University. She holds the Certificate of Clinical Competence (CCC-SLP) from ASHA and is licensed in Maryland.

Dr. Ritter is a Fellow of the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA), one of the association’s highest honors. She was honored by the Maryland Association of Nonpublic Special Education Facilities (MANSEF) with its Inspiring Dreams, Changing Lives Award in 2011 and served as president of MANSEF from 2013 to 2015. She is a graduate of Leadership Montgomery Class of 2008 and has been on numerous professional and community boards as well as a frequent presenter to many organizations in the community.

Suellyn Sherwood, CPA
Chief Financial Officer
Suellyn Sherwood has over 30 years of auditing and accounting experience in non-profit organizations as well as corporate and healthcare sectors. This multi-faceted work has taken place throughout the greater DC metro area and is marked by a sequential growth in management and accounting responsibility. Ms. Sherwood’s extensive experience has facilitated smooth progress into her role as Chief Financial Officer at The Treatment and Learning Centers.

Suellyn Sherwood earned her Bachelor of Arts Degree in Accounting and Business Administration at Thiel College, in Greenville, Pennsylvania. She further attained her State of Maryland License as a Certified Public Accountant in May of 1989.

Rhona Schwartz, MA 
Director, High School Program, The Katherine Thomas School
As an administrator and a classroom teacher, Ms. Schwartz has more than 30 years of experience working with children and adolescents with learning disabilities. Ms. Schwartz has led the KTS High School Program and the development of its curriculum since its inception in 2004. Throughout her career, Ms. Schwartz has nurtured collaborative relationships with funding sources, institutions of higher education, and other community organizations and agencies to maintain a high-quality program.

Prior to joining KTS, Ms. Schwartz was the assistant head and director of tutoring at a special education private high school. Mrs. Schwartz earned her Master’s degree in Special Education from the Teachers College at Columbia University in New York.

Nicole Abera, PhD
Director, Lower and Middle School Programs, The Katherine Thomas School

Dr. Abera has worked with children with disabilities in various capacities since 2001. Prior to joining the KTS team, she spent several years teaching children with autism and language-based learning disabilities in public and private settings, developing curriculum, coaching teachers, overseeing special education and related services for a large public charter school district, and playing an instrumental role in opening a learning center for children with emotional and behavioral disabilities in Washington, DC. Dr. Abera is also an Adjunct Professor of Special Education at the University of Maryland at College Park, a Peer Reviewer for the Global Education Review, and a Fulbright Fellow in Ethiopia. Over the years, Dr. Abera has worked closely with families and school teams to create robust plans to meet students’ individual needs and has been dedicated to supporting school staff to teach students in the most effective ways.

Dr. Abera holds a Doctorate in Special Education from the University of Maryland with a Master of Arts in International Training and Education and a Bachelor of Arts in Communication Disorders.

Brigid Baker, OTR/L
Director of Clinical Programs

Brigid brings over 20 years of occupational therapy experience to TLC. She has extensive experience in the evaluation and treatment of children with a variety of diagnoses including autism spectrum disorders, fine and visual motor delays, and sensory processing disorder. Ms. Baker has worked in a variety of settings including hospitals, outpatient centers, schools, early intervention centers, and private practice. Ms. Baker has been in leadership positions for over 15 years, developing successful and innovative programs in the community. She is committed to providing training and support for families and teachers.

Ms. Baker holds a Bachelor of Science in Occupational Therapy from The Ohio State University. She is certified in Sensory Integration Theory and Treatment and in the administration of Sensory Integration and Praxis Test (SIPT). Brigid is also certified in Therapeutic Listening Program and the Interactive Metronome.

President’s Message

Melissa PappasAs the 38th President of the Board of Trustees for The Treatment and Learning Centers (TLC), I am excited to continue the legacy of strong leadership to position TLC as a community leader in improving the lives and expanding possibilities of individuals with special needs in Maryland, DC, and Virginia. I have been a Board Member since 2009, and have witnessed firsthand the passion, commitment, and hard work set forth by our various leaders and community members to serve individuals with special needs and help them meet their greatest life potential. It is quite astounding to stop and think about how far we have come; we started in a local church basement, and now we serve over 2,000 individuals annually with special needs and have three dedicated locations!

The previous President, Bill McDonald, who has been an active Board member since 2002 and served as President from 2013 to 2018, has done a tremendous job in solidifying TLC’s position as an expert, reliable source of support and help for the community, to allow us to share our expertise and provide bright futures for as many individuals as possible. I look forward to continuing to position TLC to flexibly navigate through the ever-changing needs of our community so we can successfully help as many families as possible.

Since 1950, TLC has strived for, achieved, and continues to position itself as a highly visible, leading-edge organization with strong collaborative and advocacy relationships, and plentiful resources that support quality programs, staff, and facilities for individuals with special needs. This success is accomplished through an active and committed community of current and past Board members, volunteers, donors, faculty, staff, and more. TLC is truly a village of individuals from different backgrounds working collaboratively to make a difference in the lives of others. It is an impassioned community of caring.

I would like to thank this special community for their commitment and support. TLC is in the business of providing the best therapy, education, employment services, support and care possible to provide a foundation for the achievement of greater personal independence and success for its clients. TLC could not help others without your help.


Melissa Pappas
TLC President
ATHENA Consulting, LLC

Board of Trustees

The current Board of Trustees continues the legacy of leadership set forth by TLC’s first Board of Trustees in 1950 and the individuals who have followed over the past 65 plus years. The Board provides ongoing guidance and has helped TLC navigate significant transitions through the years to effectively respond to the growing and changing needs of our community.

Melissa Pappas
ATHENA Consulting

Barbara Sable
Vice President

William McDonald
Retired, GEICO

Michael Chow

Geoffrey S. Platnick
General Counsel
Shulman, Rogers, Gandal, Pordy & Ecker

William McDonald
Past President
Retired, GEICO

Patricia A. Ritter, Ph.D.
Executive Director

Alex Ahluwalia
Marriott International

Betty Anne Aschenbach
Kia of Silver Spring

Harinder Bawa
Think Tank, Inc.

John Bogasky
Advancier LLC

Michael Chow

Robert Essink
Community Volunteer

Reid Figel
Kellogg, Hansen, Todd, Figel & Frederick, PLLC

Sarah Garnett
Guidehouse LLP

Peter Greif
Community Volunteer

Sara Krieg

Jamie Lapin
Risk Management Group, LLC

William McDonald
Retired, GEICO

Melissa Pappas
Athena Consulting

Joseph Parlanti
Progeny Systems

Geoffrey S. Platnick
Shulman, Rogers, Gandal, Pordy & Ecker, PA

Froma Roth, Ph.D.
American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA)

Barbara Sable

Hollis White

Thomas Nordlinger
Community Volunteer

Barry Scher
Policy Solutions, Motley Scher Truitt, LLC

J. Richard Ward
Rockville Fuel and Feed

Advisory Boards

Medical Advisory Board

This volunteer group of local physicians supports TLC with guidance on medical issues. We are honored to have the input and direction of this fine group as we develop new treatment options and services and analyze community needs.

Karin M. Belsito, M.D., D.M.D. — Neurodevelopmental Disabilities
Robin Chernoff, M.D. — Retired, Pediatrician, Developmental and Behavioral Specialist
Lance Clawson, M.D. — Psychiatrist
Sylvia Edelstein, M.D. — Pediatric Neurologist

Giorgio Kulp, M.D., F.A.A.P. — Chairman
Elliot Gersh, M.D. — Pediatrician
Kevin Gil, M.D. — Family Practice, Geriatric Specialist
Gonzalo Laje, M.D. — Psychiatrist

Armina Rahman, M.D.  — Pediatrician
Christine Saba, M.D. — Pediatrician
Dan Shapiro, M.D. — Developmental-Behavioral Pediatrician
Steven L. Tuck, M.D. — Pediatric Orthopedist
Paul Weiner, M.D.  — Pediatrician

Consumer Advisory Board

Our Consumer Advisory Board is comprised of individuals and families who have experienced TLC services. This group provides feedback and suggestions that enhance our services.

Carole-Lena Aaron
Paula Billos 
Katherine Corsico
Linda DeGraffenreid

Allison Fort
Mirsada Gega
Christy Phillips
Monica Reaves

Katie Samsock
Dr. Carol Scott
Jennifer Shannon
Rachel Smith
Kris Sterling 


Business Advisory Board

The Business Advisory Board provides counsel to TLC’s Outcomes Service. Its members are employers or other individuals who have a commitment to employ individuals with disabilities. Its members work directly with the Executive Director and Outcomes Leadership Team.

Sarah Babineau, University of Maryland Affirmative Action/Diversity Manager
Erika Bailey,
CVS Health Regional Learning Center Coordinator
LaVerne Albright Buchanan, TransCen, Inc.
Stacey Butler, CVS Health Regional Learning Center Manager/Workforce Initiatives

Kaia Lenhart, GMMB
Robin Marquart, SHRM-SCP
Ashley Middleton, GMMB
Dean L. Porter, FDA/White Oak Alliance, Inc.