board of directors

Board of Directors

The Board of Directors is the governing body of the Autism Society of North Carolina. Our Board has always been a diverse, dedicated group of volunteers, many of whom are parents or family members of individuals with autism or self-advocates.

Executive Committee

Elizabeth Phillippi, Chair

Elizabeth Phillippi has a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from Emory University. She worked in the banking and auditing fields for many years before leaving the workforce to dedicate more time to her family and the business owned by her husband. Mrs. Phillippi has served as a member of the Advisory Parent Panel for Learners with Exceptionalities, the Advisory Board to the Superintendent of the Charlotte/Mecklenburg School System, and the Advisory Board for Camp Boomerang, and as treasurer of the ASNC Mecklenburg County Chapter. She lives in Charlotte and has an adult son with autism.

Ruth Hurst, Ph.D., Vice Chair

Ruth Hurst is Director of Psychology at Central Regional Hospital. Formerly, she was on the psychology faculty at UNC-Wilmington, worked for the TEACCH Autism Program, and worked in an Iowa state-run residential facility for people with intellectual/developmental disabilities. She has expertise in the fields of autism and Applied Behavior Analysis. She graduated from Catawba College and went on to earn her advanced degrees in psychology from Drake University and the UNC-Greensboro. Dr. Hurst has many professional memberships, including the NC Practice Improvement Collaborative, a project of the NC DMH/DD/SAS; the NC Psychological Association (NCPA), the NC Association for Behavior Analysis, and the American Psychological Association. Dr. Hurst was a founding member of the board for The Homestead, a residential and day program for adults with autism in Iowa, and was a member of the board for the Autism Society of Iowa. She has a strong personal and professional interest in serving people on the autism spectrum and their families. Dr. Hurst lives in Chapel Hill.

John Townson, Secretary

John Townson is Director of Environmental Management at Marine Corps Installations East-Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, where he oversees a broad array of Department of Defense environmental programs. Mr. Townson served in Peace Corps Honduras from 1980 to 1983. He has served for several years on the Board of Directors of a local charter school, The Tiller School, and was the school’s Chair of the Board for two years. Mr. Townson was a founding member of the Crystal Coast Chapter of ASNC. He currently serves on the Consumer Family Advisory Council for Trillium Health Resources. Mr. Townson’s primary objectives for serving with ASNC are to improve the quality and availability of services to those affected by autism, especially in the underserved rural areas of North Carolina. Mr. Townson lives in Carteret County with his wife and daughter.

Chris Whitfield, Treasurer

Chris Whitfield is a Managing Director at GreerWalker, a CPA firm based in Charlotte, and oversees their Outsourced Accounting Solutions practice. Mr. Whitfield also serves as the Finance Director for MANA Nutritive Aid Products, a nonprofit organization that produces ready-to-use therapeutic foods for the treatment of acutely malnourished children throughout the world. With several relatives on the autism spectrum, Mr. Whitfield has seen firsthand its impact on families and appreciates the opportunity to support the Autism Society of North Carolina’s mission in serving those families. Mr. Whitfield and his wife live in Charlotte, where they raised their two sons and daughter.

Sharon Jeffries-Jones, Immediate Past Chair

Sharon Jeffries-Jones is the Executive Vice President-Director of CRA/Community Development for BB&T. She has a BS from Wake Forest University and an MBA from Duke University. Ms. Jeffries-Jones has many years of experience working with nonprofit organizations. She serves on the boards of Habitat for Humanity in Winston-Salem and the NC Community Development Initiative in Raleigh. Ms. Jeffries-Jones lives in Winston-Salem and has a son who has autism.


Rob Christian is a Chapel Hill native and a graduate of the UNC School of Medicine and the Brown University Triple Board Program (general pediatrics, adult psychiatry, and child and adolescent psychiatry). He is also board certified in those three areas. Since 2009, Dr. Christian has worked clinically almost exclusively with children and adults with intellectual/developmental disabilities, including autism, at The Carolina Institute for Developmental Disabilities (CIDD) at UNC School of Medicine, where he is appointed in pediatrics and psychiatry. Dr. Christian is also Associate Director of the NC Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental and related Disorders (LEND) program at CIDD/UNC School of Medicine. He has a special interest in IDD services and policy related issues and has collaborated with ASNC in an array of advocacy and other efforts. Dr. Christian has served on the ASNC state human rights committee since fall 2016. He lives in Chapel Hill with his wife, Jenny, and his two children.

Latonya Croney earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration from UNC-Chapel Hill in 1994 and began her career in the banking industry with BB&T, serving as a Retail Services Officer and as a Project Manager. After discovering her love for training, Ms. Croney transitioned to BB&T University as a Retail Credit Instructor and worked her way up to Senior Credit Instructor. In 2005, she became a Deposit Portfolio Administrator and served as the strategic leader and main deposits contact for her assigned regions in the community banking network. Currently, Ms. Croney is the Bank Card Services Solutions Delivery Manager. Her team is responsible for increasing the effectiveness of branch associates delivering relevant retail and small business card solutions. Ms. Croney lives in Raleigh, where she is active with the local chapter of the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network; a longtime member of her church choir and Financial Peace ministry; and a Gallup Certified Strengths Coach. She enjoys traveling and spending time with her nephews (who are both on the spectrum) and godchildren.

Ray Evernham is a three-time NASCAR Champion crew chief and host of Velocity’s hit TV series “AmeriCarna.” In 2006, he was named Top All-Time Crew Chief by Motorsports Media and has also been dubbed NASCAR Winston Cup Scene Crew Chief of the Decade. He was elected to the NASCAR Hall of Fame in 2017. Mr. Evernham and the Evernham Family-Racing for a Reason Foundation helped found and continue to support ASNC’s IGNITE community center for young adults with Asperger’s Syndrome and high-functioning autism in Davidson. Mr. Evernham lives in Cornelius with his wife, his daughter, and his son, who is on the spectrum.

Mark Gosnell is the Senior Director of Client Service for RGP Consulting in Charlotte. Mr. Gosnell joined RGP in 2002 and is one of the practice leaders of the Charlotte office. Prior to joining RGP, Mark was a Director at PwC Consulting (PricewaterhouseCoopers) and a Senior Consultant with Accenture. He is a lifelong resident of North Carolina and a Davidson College graduate. Mr. Gosnell and his wife have three children, the oldest of whom is a healthy and happy young man with autism. He hopes to leverage this experience to encourage families with their own unique journeys with autism.

Barbara Haight retired in 2012 from the US Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy; during her four-year tenure she received seven Honor Awards for Performance Excellence from the Secretary of Labor. Her previous experience includes 17 years as Senior Associate with Booz Allen Hamilton, a global consulting firm headquartered in McLean, VA, where she helped to develop and implement the firm’s community outreach and philanthropy efforts. Ms. Haight attended Rockville College and the University of Illinois, where she majored in accounting. She has served on many organizations’ boards, including the International Partnership Association, the US Chamber of Commerce’s Business Education Network, and the American Cancer Society. Ms. Haight plans to draw on her knowledge and relationships to help ASNC develop policies, practices, and opportunities for individuals with autism to have meaningful employment experiences. She and her husband live in Raleigh and enjoy being near their son, daughter-in-law, and grandson.

Steven Jones is an attorney who has been General Counsel of Clintrax Global, a service provider in the drug development industry, since 2013. He has been an advocate for local and statewide policies to strength special-education opportunities, particularly for children with Autism Spectrum Disorder, in North Carolina public schools. Mr. Jones lives in Chapel Hill with his wife, daughter, and son, who is on the autism spectrum, and three large dogs.

Michael Reichel, M.D., is the Clinical Professor of Pediatrics at East Carolina University’s Brody School of Medicine in Greenville. A Michigan native, he also serves as the Medical Director for the Greenville Children’s Developmental Services Agency (CDSA) and is the Forensic and Staff Pediatrician for the Tedi-Bear Child Advocacy Center in Greenville. Prior to his arrival in NC, Dr. Reichel spent more than a decade as the Medical Director and Co-Founder of the Baltimore County Child Advocacy Center in Maryland. He has three grown children.

Scott Taylor has been a Territory Support Manager with Southeast Industrial Equipment since 2015. For the past eight years, he has advocated for autism issues on the federal and state level. In 2011, Mr. Taylor served as a Community Representative to the ASNC Board of Directors. From 2012 to 2015, he served on the Board of Directors for Alliance Behavioral Health, a managed-care organization established to manage federal, state, and local funds to provide services for mental health, substance abuse, and intellectual/developmental disorders. During that time, he served on the Human Rights Committee, which he chaired in 2014 and 2015. Mr. Taylor lives in Garner with his wife and three sons, two of whom are on the autism spectrum.

Dana Williams is an Executive Customer Representative with Merck & Company, Inc. She has expertise in the pharmaceutical industry and current market trends affecting health care. Ms. Williams earned a BS in Finance at UNC Greensboro and then worked in the banking industry with First Citizens Bank. She returned to UNC Greensboro to earn her MBA. After completing her MBA in 2005, Ms. Williams began working for Merck and Company, Inc. Ms. Williams is passionate about increasing autism awareness in underserved and minority communities and has been involved with ASNC workshops to increase inclusion of individuals with autism in faith communities. She is married and the mother of twin boys on the autism spectrum. Ms. Williams lives in Fayetteville.

Jeff Woodlief is the President of Premiere Communications and Consulting in Raleigh, which provides structured cabling systems and unified communications to blue chip clients throughout the Southeastern US. He has been with the company since its founding in 1993. He earned a bachelor’s in Business Administration from East Carolina University. Premiere has been an active supporter of ASNC for several years, through both donations and volunteer efforts. Mr. Woodlief serves on the Board to give back to the community and hopes that by serving, he is able to make a contribution that will help make someone’s life better. Mr. Woodlief lives in Raleigh with his wife and 16-year-old twin boys.

Doug Brown previously served on the Board of Directors of the ASNC Guilford County Chapter for three years and as an autism advocate with another local autism nonprofit organization in Greensboro. He obtained his Bachelor of Business Administration from Campbell University in 1996 and his Master of Science in Accountancy from UNC-Wilmington in 1997. He has 19 years of experience in public accounting and also served three years as Chief Financial Officer for a Greensboro company. Mr. Brown lives with his wife and two children in Brown Summit. His desire to help the autism community comes from having a child on the autism spectrum. His goals are to raise awareness in the community about autism and to help the parents, children, and adults on the spectrum experience life to the fullest extent possible.