Stone Soup Group was founded on the principle that it takes the varied experiences and expertise of many to support families caring for children with special needs. Meet the Board and Staff that contribute to the mission of Stone Soup Group every day.
Board of Directors
Stone Soup Group (SSG) is overseen by a volunteer Board of Directors, who each brings unique and valuable skills and life experience to the table. If you are interested in becoming a part of this dynamic group of parents, family members, self-advocates and professionals, please contact Mary Middleton, Executive Director for more information.
Bryan Thomas, President & Parent
Bryan moved to Barrow from Sacramento in 2007. Bryan and his wife Laura have three children: Violet (age 6); Adele (age 4); and Ellis (age 2). The Thomas Pack also includes two dogs, two cats, and occasional visiting guinea pigs. Bryan studies Earth’s atmosphere and magnetic field on behalf of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), taking measurements and maintaining instruments as the Station Chief of the Barrow Observatory. He has previously worked in the non-profit sector as a Technician with Arctic Slope Telephone Association Cooperative (ASTAC) and as a Logistics Planner and Senior Systems Programmer with the Barrow Arctic Science Consortium (BASC). Bryan’s hobbies include: reading; computer programming; museums; hiking; gardening; playing with Lego™ bricks; and citizen science.
Debbie Brooks, Vice President & Parent
Debbi moved to Alaska from Payette, Idaho in 1980. She attended UAA from 1984 until 1990 and attained two bachelor’s degrees. She has worked for Refrigeration & Food Equipment, Inc. since 1989 in the foodservice equipment industry and became a Project Manager in 2001. She has enjoyed the teamwork with her fellow contractors to build some really beautiful kitchen facilities all over the state. Her new “pet” project is Axel, an 11-month-old lab/golden retriever, who she is training as a service dog to support her son with his transition into adulthood.
Debbi met her husband Rick in Anchorage and they live in Spenard with their son Django (16). She started visiting Stone Soup with her son in 2008 for Wii Club after visiting with a parent navigator for help with Django’s IEP. Django and Debbi can usually be found at Stone soup every third Friday for the Souper Gaming night as they connect with the friends they have made over the years. Debbi is also is involved in the MAP (Mentor Advocate Partner) program and is open to visit with parents about the journey with a special needs child and share her experiences.
Arlene Patuc, Secretary
Arlene is a long time pediatric nurse and board member since 2016. She has worked with Stone Soup Group for over 14 years in her professional capacity and with the Alaska Native Community for the last 25 years. She came to Alaska from Pittsburgh PA. She graduated from Penn State University and recently obtained a Masters of Public Health from UAA. In 2013 she was accepted as a LEND fellow. As a 2013 LEND fellow, Arlene advocated on Capitol Hill for children with disabilities. She has one precocious four-legged child Maggie.
Anthony Cravalho, Treasurer & Parent
Anthony came to Alaska in 1996 when he was stationed at Fort Wainwright while serving in the U.S. Army. Anthony is a father of an adult son with autism and is a Kotzebue resident of 11 years who works as the director of Planning & Development for the Maniilaq Association. He has experience serving as a board member for the Statewide Independent Living Council (SILC), Special Education Service Agency (SESA), and Governor Council for Disabilities & Special Education as well as serving locally on the Kotzebue advisory school council and Lions club board. Anthony, who is an Eagle Scout, is a graduate of University of Nevada Las Vegas with a B.A. in History and a B.A. in Political Science.
Lynn is a former Executive Director of Stone Soup Group, retiring in 2009. In 2013, she returned to the Board of Directors of Stone Soup Group, where she had served for five years prior to becoming Executive Director. Ms. Caswell spent the last 17 years of her career managing agencies and programs serving individuals experiencing developmental disabilities and their families. Prior to that, she was the Executive Director of the United Way of Anchorage, where she worked 12 years. Her earlier career years were spent with public and private agencies in the field of child protection.
Matthew Findley, Parent
Matt has been a member of the Stone Soup Group Board since 2014. He and his wife, Marjorie Allard, are parents to two children, one with special needs.
Matt is a partner at the local law firm of Ashburn & Mason where he represents a wide array of clients in commercial litigation and appeals. Matt is a graduate of the George Washington University and University of Michigan Law School. Matt played trumpet professionally prior to law school and remains an active musician who has played with numerous local ensembles, including the Anchorage Symphony and Anchorage Civic Orchestras.
Christine Michel, Parent
Christine completed her PhD in Perth, Western Australia, and relocated with her family to rural Alaska in 2010. She was employed as a Forensic Nurse for 2 and ½ years in Bethel, Alaska. Her previous 20 years of experience in clinical nursing includes working in the emergency department, pediatrics and critical care areas. Currently, she is employed as an Associate Professor at the University of Alaska, Anchorage in the School of Nursing. In early 2011, her son was diagnosed with Autism. Over the past five years, she has been actively involved is supporting community education and awareness for children with special needs. Dr. Michel is fluent in American Sign Language.
Eric Jordan, Parent
Eric is originally from Seattle, WA, but grew up on the Colville Reservation in eastern Washington. He is enrolled in the Grand Ronde Tribe in Oregon and maintains family connections in Colville and the Fort Peck Sioux Reservation in eastern Montana. He moved to Alaska in 2013 to start a family and build a life here. His wife is Inupiaq from Anchorage, and her family is from Unalakleet.
Eric received a B.A. in Cultural Anthropology from Dartmouth College and a Master’s in Health Administration from the University of Washington School of Public Health.
He was introduced to Stone Soup Group when his now five-year-old son was first diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder in 2016. From the time of this diagnosis, Stone Soup Group has been an invaluable resource and partner for him and his family.
Benjamin Sutton, Self-Advocate
Ben was born into a large family, the 2nd arrival of fraternal twin boys on June 2, 1991.
As a toddler, he went from scooting across the floor like a soldier at boot camp going under razor wire straight to walking – skipped crawling altogether. Ben had his own language until about 4 years old. His family and friends were all very loving and accepting of all of his
“different” ways. Fast forward to 2010 West High School graduation, then the ACE Program for students with disabilities from which he graduated in 2012. Ben wrote a book about autism and how it has had an impact on his life while in school. Ben was able to successfully leave the Anchorage School District which made him very happy. In the first few years after leaving the Project Search Program through ACE, he had a few short-term jobs until landing in his current position at the Federal Building as a contracted night janitor through Assets, Inc. where he has been for 4 ½ years.
Ben came into contact with Stone Soup in his early 20s when he was selected to be on the original Transition Team, which seeks to help young adults move from life in the school system to work life. This is his second involvement with Stone Soup. Ben is enthusiastic about the positive and energetic support network in place there. He is excited to be a member of the Board of Directors and serve his community.
Mary Middleton, Executive Director
Mary has been the Executive Director at Stone Soup Group since 2013 and moved to Alaska from Texas in 2001. Growing up an Army brat, she moved frequently and still enjoys traveling to new places. She is a graduate of Texas A&M University and has worked in non-profit management for more than 20 years. She is the mother of an adult son who experiences autism and a teenage daughter. Time away from work includes never-ending home renovations, spoiled dogs, hikes and travels.
Donna Nichols, Admin Services Manager
Donna Nichols has been with Stone Soup Group since 2003. At Stone Soup Group she keeps us running day-to-day as the Admin Services Manager. She serves as liaison with our contracted accountant and oversees the agency’s routine financial transactions. Donna is the mother of four children and is the sibling of an adult brother with developmental disabilities.
Megan Kelley, Communications and Outreach Manager
Megan was born and raised in Alaska and is a graduate of UAA, where she earned a Bachelor’s of Arts in Sociology. Megan has a professional background in sales, marketing, and media advertising. She has brought her skills, along with her desire to serve the greater good, to Stone Soup Group. In her free time, Megan enjoys practicing yoga, hiking, sailing, traveling, and learning a plethora of new things; like how to play the ukulele and hand lettering. Megan is the mother of two boys, one of whom experiences autism.
Lee Sweeden, Reception
Lee is a life-long Alaskan with many years of experience working in horticulture and landscaping. In 2013, Lee decided to move to an office environment after she underwent hip surgery. She has enjoyed the change very much.
Lee joined Stone Soup Group in August 2018 as our receptionist and is feeling comfortable and at home.
Alexandra Fogarty, Acting Executive Director & Program Director
Alexandra Fogarty has many years of experience working in nonprofit leadership roles and with diverse groups. Alex is responsible for managing the Stone Stoup Group’s core programs, including grant management, program activities and training. Prior to joining Stone Soup Group, Alex was the program director for an organization working with school districts in Colorado to improve the health of students. Alex got her start at a health care research firm working in a graphic design department in Washington D.C. Outside of work Alex enjoys running, hiking and adventuring, especially with her two dogs Mattie and Kinley.
Trailanie McNeal, Information and Referral Specialist
Trailanie is a Mother of one and has lived in Anchorage, Alaska for 20 years. Throughout her work history, she has always been passionate about working and caring for people who couldn’t do for themselves or just simply needed help. Trailanie has an older brother and niece who experience behavioral disabilities. Trailanie Is our Information and Referral Specialist. She is eager to help assist any client or family in any way possible. Trailanie’s goal is to watch people walk out of Stone Soup Group with a smile on their face, knowing we are a step closer to getting them the help they need.
Mandy Cleveland, Parent Navigator
Mandy Cleveland has been a Parent Navigator at Stone Soup Group since 2010. Both she and her husband are lifelong Alaskans and have two girls with special needs. Their oldest has a genetic condition along with profound deafness and youngest has ADHD. At Stone Soup Group Mandy is the resident expert when it comes to schools. She has many personal and professional years working with IEP’s, schools, specialist, private therapy and more. Her personal experience has given her a passion for helping families caring for children with special needs navigate when there are “stormy waters”.
Sabrina Johnson, Regional Parent Navigator – Kenai Peninsula
Sabrina started as a STAR Navigator at Stone Soup Group in September 2016. She has spent her life assisting individuals who experienced dementia and intellectual challenges. Sabrina has always been passionate about advocating for supports for people with various abilities. She has enjoyed the opportunity to touch the lives of others as a long-term mental health outreach provider, volunteer adaptive sports coach, special education assistant, and home care assistant. Sabrina believes in focusing on people’s strengths, kindness, tolerance, and respect, for one another.
Tracey Morgan, Parent Navigator
Tracey Morgan joined the team at Stone Soup Group as STAR Navigator September 2016. She has served individuals who experience developmental disabilities and/or complex medical conditions for over twenty-five years in various roles including, Direct Service Provider, Care Coordinator and as a Supported Living Specialist providing supervision and oversight of Medicaid waiver services. As a life long Alaskan in her free time she enjoys being outdoors camping, hiking, snowshoeing, and fishing, as well as road tripping and exploring nature and all our great state has to offer.
Barbe Neeson, Parent Navigator
Barbe Neeson is now a Parent Navigator but has been involved in Stone Soup Group in one capacity or another pretty much since the beginning! Barbe is the mother of three children (now grown). She raised two daughters and a son who was diagnosed with a seizure disorder, neurofibromatosis, and Tourette syndrome. Thanks to her own personal story and years of working with families, she has extensive experience working with families through all transitions and stages. In Barbe’s free time you may find her making a mean pasta salad for the office or relaxing with some solo drumming.
Heidi Young, Regional Parent Navigator – Prince of Wales Region
Heidi is a Stone Soup Group Parent Navigator and the owner and operator of Island Care Services, serving all of Prince of Wales Island, Metlakatla, Juneau, Petersburg, Hoonah, Ketchikan, and Sitka. Heidi has lived on Prince of Wales for 9 years although she grew up working summers for her aunt and uncles’ lodge and attended school in Port Alice. She values and enjoys taking the time to listen to the people and parents in Southeast, AK. She especially likes to listen to the stories told by elders, and helping others to live more fulfilled lives. Heidi loves to spend time outdoors with her 5 children and her husband. They love to hunt, fish and hike.
Karen Lomack, Parent Navigator
Karen Lomack was born in Anchorage, raised in Akiachak, then moved to Bethel, Alaska in 1995. In May of 2005, Karen moved back to Anchorage and made Anchorage her home. Karen has 5 children that range from 6 to 21-years-old. Karen has experience navigating the system on a personal and professional level. Some of Karen’s interests are beading, going on long road trips, camping, fishing, boating, and, participating in subsistence activities with her family.
Marcus Douglas, DDRC Navigator
Marcus was born and raised in Anchorage and graduated from UAA in 2016. Marcus joined Stone Soup Group as a STAR Navigator in February 2017. Over a span of 20 years, Marcus has worked for Anchorage Parks and Recreation [for 10 years] and has directly served individuals who experience mental/physical disabilities in the community and in-home. Marcus started his employment history working with a licensed child care agency in 1999 and returned to that agency while attending college after 2010. Marcus and his wife have been married for over 11 years and have two daughters and a dog. In his free time, Marcus enjoys basketball, football, sports, painting, hiking, camping, Legos and BBQ-ing year round.
Thomas Summers, DDRC Navigator
Thomas was raised in Palmer, Alaska…and has lived in Alaska on and off for 35 years. Before returning to college in 2010, Thomas has worked in several different industries. It was through life experiences that Thomas decided to obtain a BA in Human Services at the University of Alaska Anchorage. Thomas graduated from UAA in May of 2017. Thomas has a passion to help others, and strives to live by the Golden Rule! In his free time, Thomas enjoys spending time with his son, cooking for friends and family, and just enjoying the beauty that Alaska has to offer!
Lisa Bennett, DDRC Manager
Lisa is originally from Arizona and moved to Alaska in 2014. For Lisa, moving to Alaska was one of the most exciting adventures of her life. Lisa has over 26 years of experience in providing support services to individuals and families who experience special needs. Lisa proclaims that this is a very rewarding career! Lisa is the proud mother of three young adult children and one fur baby. Her hobbies include hiking, biking, camping, and anything related to water, or being outdoors.
Kayla Pokupec, DDRC Navigator
Kayla is a born-and-raised Alaskan, with roots in both Anchorage and Fairbanks. Kayla has worked with local agencies across a wide range of services; from developmental disabilities and behavioral health to general health care and homelessness. She is the mother of two beautiful daughters, as well as two dogs, and a very large and very spoiled rabbit. Kayla is currently pursuing an education related to public health. When she’s not studying, Kayla enjoys exploring Alaska and good conversation around the campfire.
Megan Newport, Regional Parent Navigator – Bethel
Megan originally moved to Bethel, Alaska from Michigan eleven years ago. She has two children; one is a senior at Bethel Regional High School, and her youngest attends Ayaprun Elitnaurvik Yup’ik Immersion school. Megan has personal and professional experience working with individuals who have developmental disabilities.
Anna Zierfuss, Regional Parent Navigator – Fairbanks
Anna was raised in Fairbanks and achieved her Bachelor of Arts in Psychology at UAF. Anna is the mother of a son with learning disabilities and Inattentive ADHD. She was active in her son’s schooling including tutors, special services and his IEP & 504 plans. Anna has volunteered or worked in social services since she was 9 years old when her grandmother brought her as a nursing home visitor. Her knowledge ranges from assisting in care for many disabilities, Seniors and teaching life skills. Anna loves to crochet, read and sing in her downtime and spend time with her son when he is home from college.