Professional Advisory Board
Ole J. Thienhaus, M.D., M.B.A. – Dr. Thienhaus is Head of the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Arizona College of Medicine. He was appointed to this position effective March 1, 2012. He came from Las Vegas, Nevada, where he had been Chair of Psychiatry at the University of Nevada School of Medicine since 1996. Previously he had been Associate Professor of Psychiatry and Vice Chair for Administration at the Department of Psychiatry of the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine. Dr. Thienhaus graduated Medical School in Berlin (Free University) in 1978 and began surgical training, switching to psychiatric training in 1980 at the University of Cincinnati. He then completed a fellowship in geriatric psychiatry, graduating in December 1984. He joined the faculty at the University of Cincinnati and remained there until his move to Nevada and finally Arizona. Dr. Thienhaus is Board-certified in Psychiatry and Geriatric Psychiatry. He is the author of some eighty peer-reviewed articles and editor or author of four books. His areas of expertise are mental disorders of old age, psychiatric emergencies and health care policy. In 1985, he graduated from the University of Cincinnati College of Business Administration with an MBA. In 2008-2010, he served as Dean of the University of Nevada School of Medicine.
Lawrence (Larry) Barr – Larry was raised in Arizona and graduated from Tucson High School in 1948 then from the University of Wisconsin in 1957 (BSME) after 4 years in the USAF. He graduated from Rennssalaer Polytechnic Institute in 1960 (MSME) while working in Connecticut. He worked for 11 years in plastics engineering and research management before returning to Arizona in 1968 and then worked 22 years on a variety of mechanical engineering and astronomical projects with the National Optical Astronomy Observatories (NOAO). Experiences during that time included telescope design and managing engineering groups and projects. Retired as Engineering Manager from NOAO in 1989 and continued as a consultant to a variety of astronomical and mechanical engineering projects until the present time. Larry has authored many technical articles and received several patents.
Larry was married in 1951 to Jacquelyn Evans and will soon celebrate 60 years of marriage to her and being father to 6 capable children with 13 grandchildren and 2 great-grandchildren. He likes to play poker, read books, and do woodcarving. An interest in Echoing Hope Ranch arises from seeing the needs of a 16-year-old, autistic grandson and recognizing that many others like him need the structure and future of a place where useful work and caring support is provided.
Evelyn Kleinhans, CPA – Evelyn holds a B.S. in Business Administration and a Master of Accounting, both from the University of Arizona. She has practiced public accounting since 1979. Prior to forming Kleinhans, Lashbrook, Butler & Hoff, P.L.L.C., Evelyn was a partner with the Tucson firm of Stevenson, Jones, Imig, Holmaas, & Kleinhans, P.C. Evelyn’s primary focus is on real estate planning, and federal income taxation of partnership, trusts, estates, limited liability companies and individuals. She has been published in Taxation for Accountants and Taxation for Lawyers, and has instructed graduate tax courses at the University of Arizona. She has also conducted seminars for various professional groups. Evelyn’s professional affiliations include the Southern Arizona Estate Planning Council, the Tucson Tax Study Group, the Arizona Society of Certified Public Accountants, and the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants.
Laura Nagle – Laura Nagle is an architect from Williams Arizona who has Asperger’s syndrome and is the President of the Northern Arizona Chapter of the Autism Society of America. Laura is providing her expertise to many projects related to autism and has become a great public speaker about her disability. Recently she spoke about autism and emotions at the Greater Phoenix Autism Society of America Conference. She also speaks at schools, churches and other organizations that are interested in knowing more about the disability.
Steve Muller – Steve has served as the Executive Director of The Homestead since 1996. The Homestead is a private, non-profit organization that provides innovative solutions for children and adults with autism in Central Iowa. With 220 employees, The Homestead provides regular services to over 150 children and adults. These services include intensive 1:1 programming which has provided lif-changing resutls.
The Homestead has been an innovator in creating autism-specific strategies that have led children and adults to become more independent and live fuller and healthier lives. Services are provided in the person’s home, in the community or in residential and vocational settings operated by the The Homestead. consultation and training is available to family members and allied professional interested in furthering the understanding of autism. The organization operates a unique living and learning farm operation where adults with autism grow chemical free produce. The fresh fruits and vegetables are shared with members who purchase shares in the annual harvest.
Steve Muller serves on state and national boards related to autism and developmental disabilities. He has been actively involved in developing and improving the service delivery system for people with these intellectual challenges.
Vicki Obee Hilty – Vicky is the Executive Director of Bittersweet Farms, in Whitehouse Ohio. In operation for more than twenty years, Bittersweet is the first United States farmstead devoted solely to the care of autistic adults. During her twenty years at Bittersweet, Obee-Hilty, who holds a master’s in Rehabilitation Counseling from Springfield College, has also served as the farm’s social worker and Program Director. As Executive Director, she has focused on finding creative ways to meet the needs of adults with autism. Most recently, she has guided Bittersweet’s expansion: increasing the farm’s training and consulting services; overseeing a 2.5 million dollar renovation project, and the development of two new sites and programs; and winning a 1.3 million dollar HUD housing grant, which will provide homes for 12 autistic adults.
Cathy Purple Cherry, AIA, LEED-AP – Cathy has connected her life experiences with her brother, who has Down Syndrome, and son, with autism and other challenges, with the design skills of her architecture firm, creating a dedication to Purposeful Architecture – designing spaces that have a life-long positive effect on people with disabilities. Cathy is a Licensed Professional Architect in states of Maryland, Virginia, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, West Virginia and the District of Columbia. She is an LEED Accredited Professional with the United States Green Building Council.
Cathy has published many articles about designing spaces for people with disabilities and is a regular speaker on the issue. She has won many awards for her projects including awards for excellence in construction, for excellence in design for a green facility, for design that meets the special needs of its members while meeting programmatic needs of facility and employees, for disability accessibility and for best historic renovation.
Ruth C. Sullivan, PhD. – Ruth is a pioneer in the field of autism, one of the first parents to be active, an organizer and lifelong crusader for education for people with autism. In 1965, Dr. Ruth Sullivan was one of the founders, with Dr. Bernard Rimland and others, of the Autism Society of America (formerly called the National Society for Autistic Children), and was its first elected president; she is also on the permanent honorary board of the society. Ruth Sullivan was founder and former Executive Director of the Autism Services Center, a nonprofit, licensed agency which provides services to people with autism in Huntington, West Virginia in 1979. It now provides services in three counties to hundreds of families who have a family member with developmental disabilities.
Ruth was one of the chief lobbyists for Public Law 94-142 (the Education of All Handicapped Children Act, now known as the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, or IDEA), which guaranteed a public education to all children in the United States. Before the passage of the law, individual school districts in most states were allowed to choose whether they were willing to educate a child with disabilities. She was also the main impetus behind the founding of the West Virginia Autism Training Center at Marshall University, in Huntington, West Virginia, where her husband was a university professor.