STEP, Inc. is a 501 (c) (3) not-for-profit tax-exempt corporation and is governed by a Board of Directors, the majority of whom are parents of children with disabilities. The Board has geographic and minority representation from across the state.
Bill Allen has represented people with disabilities for more than 30 years. Focusing on Social Security disability law and special education law, Bill is a partner in the law firm of Mostoller, Stulberg, Whitfield & Allen and has been with the firm for more than 10 years. His educational achievements include a BJ in journalism from the University of Missouri and a Juris doctorate degree from the University of Tennessee Law School. Bill, who lives in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, has been an unwavering Board member since 2003 and currently serves as Treasurer.
Tom Beeson currently serves as the Chair on the board of STEP. He earned his master’s degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and has received further graduate-level education from North Carolina State University and the University of North Texas. Tom’s areas of study and professional interest include learning, special education, and behavior analysis. He has more than twenty years of experience in treatment and educational settings, providing cognitive/behavior therapy for adolescents and community based services for children and adults with developmental disabilities. Currently he coordinates the FUTURE program at the University of Tennessee, a post-secondary educational program for young adults with intellectual disabilities and/or autism. He is married and has two children, one is a junior at Bearden High School and the other attends West Valley Middle School in Knoxville, TN.
Marcaren Christian serves on the STEP Board of Directors as STEP’s first ever Youth Self-Advocate. Marcaren is an active youth member of the NAACP. She is entering her senior year in high school, is an honor student, and a member of the volleyball team. As a person that experiences multiple disabilities, Marcaren knows the importance of self-advocacy and she is an active participant in her educational planning meetings. Marcaren is a tutor and mentor at school and has actively engaged with her community to raise funds for the causes she believes in. She has a passion for making things better for others, which is demonstrated through her actions at home, at school and in her community.
Gayle Feltner represents the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation on the board of STEP. She is the Transition School to Work Director and is helping Local Education Agencies develop a partnership with Vocational Rehabilitation so that students with disabilities make a smooth, successful transition from school to adult life. She believes that one of the keys to long term success for individuals with disabilities is a paid job in high school. She is a lifelong educator who has worked in Early Intervention and more recently with high school students who are transitioning from secondary school into post-secondary opportunities. She holds a BS in Special Education from the University of Tennessee in Knoxville and an MS degree from Vanderbilt University. She lives in Nashville with three pets and has one son and two granddaughters. She is a practicing Yogi and enjoys all types of sports.
Scott Finney, a dedicated STEP Board member and has worked for The Arc/Tennessee for 27 years as the receptionist. He is a self-advocate with Down Syndrome and a proud 1984 high school graduate from Williamson County, Illinois. Having expertise in pre- and post-secondary education and public awareness, Scott has collaborated with People First and Tennessee Disability Coalition. He has led workshops at conferences and was featured on Nashville’s WSMV-TV Channel 4. Scott’s continued involvement with the disability community is a true inspiration to the Board and all who interact with him. Scott lives in Nashville, Tennessee.
Sadiatou Jallow begins her second term as a Board member and is a mother of a child with multiple disabilities. She has served as a board member for two other non profit organizations that help advocate for people with disabilities; the TN Microboard Association and Family Voices of Tennessee. Sadiatou is a strong advocate for the rights of children with disabilities and has used her passion to influence legislation that impacts special education and health care for this population.
Sadiatou Jallow has a degree in computer Science. She will be graduated in June of 2013 with an Associate degree in Medical Assistant. She speaks English and three of her native Gambian (Africa) languages. She also speaks little French and Arabic.
Karen Jones joined the STEP Board of Directors in the fall of 2014. She is a mother of two children with special needs. She was a preschool classroom instructor and then spent a number of years in Inventory Control. Her journey of advocacy and supporting others has included being a Volunteer Mentor in her school district, a Parent Leader and Mentor for Girls Shine Inc., and serving on the ARC Advocacy Education Committee. Ms. Jones passion for ensuring equal access to education and services began as she provided one-on-one support in the classroom to her daughter. She continues to be an advocate for others, having completed the Volunteer Advocacy Program (VAP), she assists families in navigating special education. Her children have seen first-hand “advocacy in action” and follow her example as they advocate for themselves as young adults.
Carol Lewis begins her third term as a Board member, is a 20-year self-employed educational consultant and early childhood intervention tutor. Carol majored in special education with a minor in interdisciplinary studies and psychology. She has vast first-hand experience with numerous disabilities, including her son with attention deficit disorder (ADD) and other family members with Autism Spectrum Disorder, Down syndrome, intellectual /developmental disability (IDD), Manic Bi-Polar and Other Health Impairment (OHI). Carol lives in Clarksville, Tennessee.
Terry Long was elected to the STEP Board in November, 2013. She previously served on the Board as a state agency representative for the Tennessee Department of Education from 2006 -2012. Terry works as a special education data consultant with the Virginia Department of Education and the IDEA Data Center, a technical assistance center funded by the U.S. Department of Education. She holds a B.S. Elementary and Special Education and M.Ed. in Special Education from Middle Tennessee State University. Terry completed doctoral course work in Special Education at Vanderbilt University. She is a licensed special education teacher and parent of a daughter with Down syndrome.
Larry Mangrum, M. Ed., CRC, CCM
Larry Mangrum has spent most of his professional career assisting disabled individuals with preparing themselves for securing employment in the competitive labor market. He has been able to assist in this regard through positions held in the TN Division of Rehabilitation Services, the non-profit sector managing program services for the deaf and hard-of- hearing and later employee assistance services, private sector insurance case management field, Workforce Investment Act / Career Center system, and in the higher education corporate training area providing customized training solutions to local and regional business and industry.
Throughout his professional career, he has always been involved with the business and industry sectors often providing disability employment / workplace accommodation consultations; provision of employee assistance services to local and regional employers; providing customized corporate training solutions in the area of succession planning, supervisory development, case management, customer services, executive leadership; coordinating special events for entities such as Leadership Chattanooga Alumni Association, SHRM Chattanooga/ American Society of Training and Development, Q2HR.
Larry holds a Master’s Degree in Rehabilitation Counseling from Mississippi State University and a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology from Lipscomb University in Nashville, TN. He additionally holds current national certifications as a Certified Rehabilitation Counselor and as a Certified Case Manager. He maintains active membership in SHRM Chattanooga and the Southeastern Employment and Training Association (SETA). Civic involvement has included graduation from the Chattanooga Chamber of Commerce’s Leadership Chattanooga program, and participation as a Loaned Executive with the United Way of Greater Chattanooga. Outside of professional interests, he travels widely (North America, Europe) with his wife, enjoys woodworking, landscaping projects, a good read, and close friends and family.
Tullahoma native Bertha Reese Smith is entering her third year on the Board of Directors of STEP, Inc. and is currently the Vice-Chair. As the mother of a child born three months premature, with developmental delay, Bertha is passionate about the welfare and advocacy of children and adults with special needs. Bertha is also on the Parent Leadership for her county Children’s' Advocacy Center. Currently she is a paraprofessional in the Attendance office at Tullahoma High School. She and her son reside in Tullahoma, Tennessee.
Linda Marie Redmond Taylor
Linda Marie Redmond Taylor, was elected to the STEP Board in November, 2014. She reports that this is an honor beyond measure. As the mother of a teenager who is multiple disabled, Linda has hands-on experience of what advocating for the rights of students with special education rights entails. She says that Jesse Hezekiah Taylor has molded her to be a fiery advocate. Currently, she is an ASHA-certified, part-time, contractual, Speech/Language Pathologist with the Shelby County Schools System (Memphis, Tennessee). She earned a Bachelor's degree (cum laude) in Communicative Disorders from the University of Mississippi, and a Master's degree (cum laude) in Speech/Language Pathology from the University of Memphis. (While at Ole Miss, she assisted in forming the, now famous, University of Mississippi Gospel Choir, where she was the original pianist for four years, and she pledged Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Incorporated.) Linda lives with her husband, Bro. Franco Taylor (They own and operate Right Stuff Health Ministries.), and their two sons.
Barbara Wagner, a STEP Board member for more than 15 years, is passionate about the work of STEP because she experienced special education and disability related issues before STEP was formed. Barbara helped to organize some of the first STEP workshops held in Tennessee and recalls the participants’ hope and awe when they received the often life-changing information that would help them navigate the special education maze and gave them the tools to be effective advocates for their children. Formerly employed by Tennessee Protection & Advocacy, and a small group of mental health providers. Barbara has had the opportunity to help individuals by identifying appropriate social services, connecting them to agencies that can provide additional assistance in education and assisting them with daily tasks. Her background is in finance, accounting, and business management, with considerable advocacy and social service training, and she has served on a variety of disability related boards during the past 25 years. Barbara lives just outside Sevierville, near the Great Smoky Mountains, where she has raised two children with learning disabilities.