Senior Leadership Team

Patricia Ritter, Ph.D., CCC-SLP
Executive Director
Dr. Pat Ritter was named Executive Director of TLC–The Treatment and Learning Centers in 2009, after serving as Assistant Executive Director for 18 years. She practiced as a speech-language pathologist in various settings and began her tenure at TLC as the Director of Outpatient Speech.  During her time at TLC, Dr. Ritter has served as a vital member of the leadership decision-making team.  Her key achievements include development of the philosophy and model for The Katherine Thomas School (KTS).  She then started the special education school with a colleague in 1995 with 30 children in grades kindergarten through grade 5.  KTS now goes through grade 12 and is currently educating 134 students.  Dr. Ritter also established therapeutic groups for children with sensory processing and autistic spectrum disorders, and developed a highly regarded special education preschool program based on a development model for early intervention.  Over her career at TLC, Dr. Ritter has been an innovator for many programs that meet the evolving needs of the community. TLC has enabled Dr. Ritter to fulfill her personal mission of making a difference in the lives of others.

Dr. Ritter is a Fellow of the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA), one of the association’s highest honors. She was honored by the Maryland Association of Nonpublic Special Education Facilities (MANSEF) with its Inspiring Dreams, Changing Lives Award in 2011 and served as president of MANSEF from 2013 to 2015.  She is a graduate of Leadership Montgomery Class of 2008 and has been on numerous professional and community boards as well as a frequent presenter to many organizations in the community.

Dr. Ritter received her Ph.D. in Speech-Language Pathology with a specialty in Child and Adult Language and Second Language Learning from Ohio University. She holds the Certificate of Clinical Competence (CCC-SLP) from ASHA and is licensed in Maryland.


Rhona Schwartz, MA
Director, The Katherine Thomas High School Program
As an administrator and a classroom teacher, Ms. Schwartz has more than 30 years of experience working with children and adolescents with learning disabilities. Ms. Schwartz has led the KTS High School Program and the development of its curriculum since its inception in 2004. Throughout her career, Ms. Schwartz has nurtured  collaborative relationships with funding sources, institutions of higher education, and other community organizations and agencies to maintain a high quality program.

Prior to joining KTS, Ms. Schwartz was the assistant head and director of tutoring at a special education private high school. Mrs. Schwartz earned her Master’s degree in Special Education from Teachers College at Columbia University in New York.


SuellynNicole Abera, PhD
Director, Lower and Middle School Programs, The Katherine Thomas School
Dr. Abera has worked with children with disabilities in various capacities since 2001. Prior to joining the KTS team, she spent several years teaching children with Autism and language based learning disabilities in public and private settings, developing curriculum, coaching teachers, overseeing special education and related services for a large public charter school district, and playing an instrumental role in opening a learning center for children with emotional and behavioral disabilities in Washington, DC. Dr. Abera has also served as an Adjunct Professor of Special Education at the University of Maryland, College Park, a Peer Reviewer for the Global Education Review, and a Fulbright Fellow in Ethiopia. Over the years, Dr. Abera has worked closely with families and school teams to create robust plans to meet students’ individual needs, and has been dedicated to supporting school staff to teach students in the most effective ways.

Dr. Abera holds a doctorate in Special Education from the University of Maryland with a Master of Arts in International Training and Education and a Bachelor of Arts in Communication Disorders.


SuellynSuellyn Sherwood, CPA
Chief Financial Officer
Suellyn Sherwood has over 30 years of auditing and accounting experience, in non-profit organizations as well as corporate and healthcare sectors. This multi-faceted work has taken place throughout the greater DC metro area and is marked by a sequential growth in management and accounting responsibility. Ms. Sherwood’s extensive experience has facilitated smooth progress into her role as Chief Financial Officer at The Treatment and Learning Centers.

Suellyn Sherwood earned her Bachelor of Arts Degree in Accounting and Business Administration at Thiel College, in Greenville, Pennsylvania. She further attained her State of Maryland License as a Certified Public Accountant in May of 1989.


Brigid Baker, OTR/L
Director of Clinical Programs

Brigid brings over 20 years of occupational therapy experience to TLC. She has extensive experience in evaluation and treatment of children with variety of diagnoses including autism spectrum disorders, fine and visual motor delays, and sensory processing disorder. Ms. Baker has worked in a variety of settings including hospitals, outpatient centers, schools, early intervention centers as well as private practice. Ms. Baker has been in leadership positions for over 11 years, developing successful and innovative programs in the community. She is committed to providing training and support for families and teachers.

Ms. Baker holds a Bachelor of Science in Occupational Therapy from The Ohio State University. She is certified in Sensory Integration Theory and Treatment and in the administration of Sensory Integration and Praxis Test (SIPT). Brigid is also certified in Therapeutic Listening Program and the Interactive Metronome.