John DeGonda is the Founder and President of The degondABA School. He attended Centre College, in Danville, KY, for his undergraduate degree majoring in Psychobiology and minoring in Psychology. In 2012 he earned his Master’s degree in Applied Behavior Analysis from Spalding University in Louisville, KY. John has had the opportunity to work with many adults and children who have been diagnosed with developmental and intellectual disabilities while employed as a Mental Health Counselor, Service Coordinator, and most recently as a Behavior Specialist. He has worked well with teams made up of other professionals and caregivers and learned about the approaches these services take when working with their clients. While working with these teams, he has taken on leadership roles to ensure that the adult or child was receiving the best and most effective services available. John now has the opportunity to utilize the knowledge he has gained and his professional experience to improve the lives of the students of The degondABA School.
Bryce Cotton attended Centre College, in Danville, Kentucky where he obtained a Bachelor of Arts degree while majoring in English and History. In 2011, he earned his law degree from the Brandeis School of Law at the University of Louisville. He now practices at a well respected civil defense firm in Louisville. Bryce's wife, Samantha, is obtaining her doctoral degree in Social Work at the University of Louisville and formally worked at a residential facility for adults with disabilities. During that time Bryce for the first time in his life became acutely aware of the legal, economic, societal and educational hardships that affect individuals with disabilities of all ages. Due to these experiences he feels the goals of and possibilities presented by The degondABA School will improve and enhance the lives of students of the School in a positive and productive manner.
Samantha Cotton obtained a Bachelor’s degree from Centre College and a Master’s Degree in Social Work at the Kent School of Social Work, University of Louisville. She is currently a PhD Candidate at the Kent School and works as the Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Dementias Director through a Human Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) grant at the Institute for Sustainable Health & Optimal Aging. She is currently a part-time faculty member at the Kent School of Social Work, teaching in the Advanced Research Practice sequence. She provides supervision to Kent School of Social Work students completing practicum through the Institute for Sustainable Health & Optimal Aging. Her research interests focus primarily on the needs of individuals with Alzheimer’s disease and their caregivers including developing innovative evidenced based practices for caregiving, infusing compassion into caregiving in both community and long-term care settings, and implementing alternatives to pharmaceutical interventions for individuals with dementia.
Whitney McAnally Estes
Whitney McAnally Estes obtained a Bachelor’s of Arts degree in Psychology at The University of Kentucky. Upon graduation she continued her education at The University of Kentucky Master’s of Rehabilitation Counseling program where she obtained a Master’s of Rehabilitation Counseling degree and her Certified Rehabilitation Counseling Certificate in 2012. As a Counseling professional she has worked with numerous individuals with mental health, physical and developmental disabilities. She is most interested in transition of students with significant disabilities into the work place. Whitney is an advocate of hands-on life skill training for these students and understands the necessity of individuals with disabilities obtaining and maintaining substantial, gainful employment to become well adjusted adults in their community.
Chris Herrick attended Centre College (’09) majoring in psychology and minoring in education. He then attended Bellarmine University (’12) earning is Master’s in Teaching for secondary education, and Rank I in learning and behavior disorders. Finally, Chris earned his Education Specialist’s degree from the University of the Cumberlands (’15) in administration and educational leadership. For last 5 years he has taught at Mary Ryan Academy, a small, alternative, special education high school within Jefferson County Public Schools. While serving as the lead teacher at Mary Ryan Academy Chris has worked with a wide range of special education students, from developmental disorders such as Autism to mental health issues such as bipolar disorder and anxiety. Chris is passionate about working with his students and has seen first-hand the need for a program such as the degondABA School in the Louisville community. Chris married his beautiful wife Jill in 2012, they have a dog named Maisy.