Check out our 21 Designs Store!! All art is made by the members of the Buddy House.
Check out our 21 Designs Store!! All art is made by the members of the Buddy House.
Stephanie Morton is an Allen County native who graduated with her Bachelor’s in Business Administration from Western Kentucky University in 2011. Prior to that, she obtained degrees in paralegal studies and accounting from Draughon’s Junior College. She is the wife of Zack Morton and mother to Courtney and Tyler. Before becoming the Executive Director, she was involved with the organization as a volunteer and a Board Member serving as Treasurer of the board for one year before becoming the Executive Director. Following in the footsteps of former DSSKY director, Jane Tichenor, Stephanie plans to continue the mission for DSSKY.
OFFICE & COMMUNICATIONS COORDINATOR
Aaliyah Van is from Corbin, KY! She is a student at WKU majoring in Communication Sciences and Disorders. She is due to graduate in May! Aaliyah has loved spending time at the Buddy House volunteering and being apart of our organization! She has decided to take it one step further by joining us in this positioN! She is so appreciative of the great friendships she has been forming with our members and can't wait to help DSSKY grow!
KINDERGARTEN READINESS FACILITATOR
McKenna Wilson is a Warren County native who graduated with her Bachelor’s in Music Education from WKU in 2011. She completed her music therapy equivalency in UK in 2018 and is currently completing her Master’s in music therapy. McKenna is board-certified by the Certification Board for Music Therapy and is an active member of the American Music Therapy Association, in addition to having completed training as a NICU-MT. Before becoming involved with DSSKY, she worked as a privately contracted music therapist in Lexington, KY with children and adults with disabilities. McKenna and her husband enjoy traveling, playing with their two animal babies, and volunteering with their church.
Digital Media Manager
Mekinsey Ford-Conway was born in Glasgow, KY but has grown up in Bowling Green. She graduated from Greenwood High School in 2012 and received her Associate of Arts degree from SKYCTC. Mekinsey and her partner are both artists. They have used their talent to paint some murals on the walls inside of the Buddy House. Mekinsey and Caleb have two sweet little girls named, Corrin Olivia and Magnolia Lee. Through working at the Buddy House, Mekinsey has not only discovered her passion but has also found a forever family! Her goal is to help DSSKY grow and carry out its mission in benefitting the lives of individuals born with Down syndrome.
Not only is Aaliyah Van our Office & Communications Coordinator, she is our Rockerz Dance Coach! She has a passion for serving others and the Rockerz gives her the opportunity to do just that! She is so thankful to have been given this opportunity!
Mia Kizer is from Nashville, TN. She went to high school at Dayspring Academy and is currently studying Communication Disorders at WKU. She is super excited to be one of the Rockerz coaches this year! She says that it has been such a fun, positive experience for her, and can't wait to see what all they can accomplish in the years to come!
Anna Beth Nelson is a junior in high school. Her older sister has Down syndrome and has been involved in activities at the Buddy House since she was little. As a child, she joined her sister in Jammerz class, along with their other sister. Having been in the group has fueled a fire in Anna Beth to make sure the top priority for her students in Jammerz is to have as much fun as possible! She loves the Buddy House, absolutely adores teaching, and cannot wait to spend even more time here with DSSKY!
Eric joined the Bowling Green Hot Rods in October 2013 has been in the role of Chief Operating Officer and General Manager since April 2016. He has spent a total of 17 seasons working in professional sports and has been awarded South Atlantic League Sales Executive of the year in 2007, and Midwest League Executive of the Year in 2019.
Prior to joining the Hot Rods, Eric and his wife Sunshine spent that time working in non-profit charity work in the Dominican Republic, Haiti, and United States. During their time they worked with groups helping to provide medical clinics, hot meals, education, and construction projects to those in need.
Originally from Omaha, Nebraska. Eric attended Grace University there and received his degree in business leadership. He also has earned his Masters of Business Administration from Keller School of Management. He enjoys all things Nebraska including Cornhusker football and Creighton basketball. In addition to sports, he likes to spend time with his two children, Colton & Jaxson. He currently serves on the Board of Directors as Treasurer for two non-profits, Down Syndrome of South Central Kentucky and Lafwa, Inc.
Scott moved to Bowling Green in July 1997 from Northeast Ohio. He completed his BS degree in Business Management and Administration in 2010. Scott is a Supervisor and Training Manager with Paul Burrell Management, a company that operates 14 McDonald’s in Bowling Green and surrounding areas. He has 4 children and 3 grandchildren. David, his third child, has Down syndrome and is 29 years old. Scott has been actively involved with Down Syndrome of South Central Kentucky since 2003, serving as President for 9 of those years. During Scott’s leadership, we have seen amazing growth in our organization, and the opening of a headquarters for Down syndrome in south-central KY, The Buddy House. As an advocate and spokesperson for Down syndrome, Scott has had many opportunities to speak to businesses and organizations in the area and as a result, we have formed many partnerships and garnered much support for our programs and positive public awareness for those with Down syndrome.
Dr. Janice Carter Smith, Ph.D., CCC-SLP has served as Clinical Supervisor for nine years, full-time Graduate Faculty Member for 11 years, and Research Coordinator for five years in the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders at Western Kentucky University. Her clinical, teaching, and research areas include research methods, assessment of problem-solving in children, language assessment and intervention strategies for children with complex communication needs, and development of critical analysis skills in college students. Dr. Smith received her bachelor’s degree, master’s degree, and Ph.D. from the University of Kentucky. Go CATS!
Early Literacy Training – Early literacy training curriculum was developed with an emphasis on a concept called “dialogic reading” which has been found to be an effective way in improving early literacy skills with preschoolers who have complex diagnoses like Down syndrome and autism spectrum disorders. Dialogic reading is simply strategically engaging children in question answering and commenting during story reading experiences. Our curriculum provides multiple response options like saying an answer, signing, or selecting a picture symbol to represent an answer choice. The curriculum builds early literacy skills such as attending and listening, understanding key points in a story, building vocabulary, and responsiveness to questions.
Michele Ayers was born and raised in Bowling Green, KY. In 1997 she graduated from Greenwood High School. She then married the love of her life, Wade Ayers, and had 4 beautiful children and one grandson. She has been a stay at home mom raising her children as well as keeping her grandchild. Her youngest son, Aiden, is 5 yrs old and has Down Syndrome. In 2016 when Aiden was born, Michele became involved with the Buddy House. Roughly a year later, she became a proud Board Member of Down Syndrome of South Central Kentucky. She helps organize fundraisers and events to help spread awareness for individuals with Down Syndrome. She is excited to work along side with the board as well as members of the community to help DSSKY to continue to thrive and grow in every way possible.
My name is LeAnn Sparks-Brown, I am the proud mom of 2 amazing children, Gavin 13 and Shelby 8. My husband (Adam Brown) and I were born and raised here in Bowling Green. I am a Special Education Aide at Briarwood Elementary, a Warren County Public School. I have been actively involved with DSSKY since my daughter Shelby was born in 2012. I wanted to ensure that DSSKY and The Buddy House was here for many more years to come so I joined the board 4 years ago. Over the past 8 years I have witnessed DSSKY grow as an organization and open The Buddy House. The Buddy House is only the 2nd of its kind in the state of Kentucky and we are so fortunate to have it right here in Bowling Green.
Emily Johnson was born and raised in southern Indiana. She moved to Bowling Green in 2004 when she started college at WKU. She has a Bachelor's Degree in Healthcare Administration and an Associate's Degree in Diagnostic Medical Sonography. She currently works as an Echocardiographer and an Ultrasonographer. She and her husband Jordan have one child, Sebastian, and a miniature dachshund, Dixie. She reached out to DSSKY when she was pregnant with Sebastian and has been involved with the organization since he was born in March 2020. She wants to continue to create a positive narrative regarding individuals with Down syndrome, so she joined the board in October 2021. She is excited to be a board member of Down Syndrome of South Central Kentucky to help ensure the organization continues to thrive and will be around for a long time for Sebastian and all individuals with Down syndrome.
Sarah Hickerson is a graduate of Greenwood High School and Western Kentucky University majoring in finance and business administration with a minor in economics. In her years at Greenwood, Sarah was able to cultivate meaningful relationships with several peers with Down Syndrome, which have led to long-term friendships. While at Western Kentucky University, Sarah was a member of Best Buddies International and went on to become college buddy director during her final year. Sarah has been involved with the Buddy House since 2013, volunteering mainly through adult fitness classes and art classes, taught alongside Samantha O’Leary for almost two years. Sarah and her husband currently reside in Goodlettsville, TN, where she works for Dollar General as a senior analyst in the demand chain.
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