Leadership and Boards

The Treatment and Learning Centers (TLC) is supported by several groups of dedicated and highly-qualified people including over 200 skilled and caring teachers, therapists, psychologists, tutors, employment specialists, job coaches, administrators, and support staff. TLC’s staff work collaboratively to meet the multifaceted needs of our clients; we have a strong, caring team and our staff work tirelessly to make sure goals are achieved and progress is made. We utilize effective and proven techniques, with modern equipment, in an up-to-date and thoughtfully-planned facility. Welcome to TLC, a family of services where caring comes first.

Senior Leadership

The Senior Leadership Team consists of the Executive Director, Chief Financial Officer, Program Directors for The Katherine Thomas Lower/Middle and High School Programs, and the Director of Clinical Programs. The role of the Senior Leadership Team is to oversee and make decisions for the organization, addressing strategic, operational, and any other issues that may impact organizational functioning. The team provides input to the Executive Director for organizational decision-making.

Patricia Ritter, PhD
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 the development of the philosophy and model for The Katherine Thomas School (KTS). She then started the special education school in 1995 with 33 children in grades kindergarten through grade 5. KTS now goes through grade 12 and is currently educating over 150 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 received her PhD 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.

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. She currently serves on the MANSEF Board 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. She was recently recognized with a “Women Making History Award” by the Montgomery County Commission for Women.

Suellyn 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.

Rhona Schwartz, MA 
Director, High School Program, The Katherine Thomas School

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 the Teachers College at Columbia University in New York.

Nicole 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 is also an Adjunct Professor of Special Education at the University of Maryland at 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.

Brigid Baker, OTR/L
Director of Clinical Programs

Brigid brings over 20 years of occupational therapy experience to TLC. She has extensive experience in the evaluation and treatment of children with a 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, and private practice. Ms. Baker has been in leadership positions for over 15 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.

President’s Message

I am the 40th President of the Board of Trustees for The Treatment and Learning Centers (TLC), and I am excited to continue our efforts to position TLC as the community leader in improving the lives and expanding possibilities of individuals with special needs in Maryland, DC, and Virginia. I am inspired by the passion, commitment, and hard work that our leaders and community members exhibit every day in helping individuals with special needs to meet their highest potential. It is remarkable to think about how far we have come; we started in a local church basement, and we now we serve over 2,000 individuals with special needs each year and have three dedicated locations!

My predecessor, Barbara Sable, has done a tremendous job in solidifying TLC’s position as an expert, reliable source of support and help for the community, allowing us to share our expertise and provide bright futures for as many individuals as possible. I look forward to continuing to position TLC to flexibly navigate through the ever-changing needs of our community so we can successfully help as many families as possible.

Since 1950, TLC has strived for, achieved, and continues to position itself as a highly visible, leading-edge organization with strong collaborative and advocacy relationships, and plentiful resources that support quality programs, staff, and facilities for individuals with special needs. This success is accomplished through an active and committed community of current and past Board members, volunteers, donors, faculty, staff, and more. TLC is truly a village of individuals from different backgrounds working collaboratively to make a difference in the lives of others. It is an impassioned community of caring.

I would like to thank this special community for their commitment and support. TLC is in the business of providing the best therapy, education, employment services, support and care possible to provide a foundation for the achievement of greater personal independence and success for our clients. TLC could not help others without your help.


Sarah Garnett
TLC President
Guidehouse LLP

Board of Trustees

The current Board of Trustees continues the legacy of leadership set forth by TLC’s first Board of Trustees in 1950 and the individuals who have followed over the past 70 plus years. The Board provides ongoing guidance and has helped TLC navigate significant transitions through the years to effectively respond to the growing and changing needs of our community.


Sarah Garnett
Guidehouse LLP

Michael Chow
Vice President
Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC)

Joshua Phillips
United Bank

Harinder Bawa
Community Volunteer

Geoffrey S. Platnick
General Counsel
Strickler, Platnick & Hatfield, P.C.

Barbara Sable
Past President
Nexus Professional Risk

Patricia A. Ritter, Ph.D.
Executive Director

Board Member Emeritus

Thomas Nordlinger
Community Volunteer

Barry Scher
Policy Solutions, Motley Scher Truitt, LLC

J. Richard Ward
Rockville Fuel and Feed


Bruce Arvand
IBSS Corporation

Harinder Bawa

Michael Chow
Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation

Julie Fernandes
Rockefeller Family Fund

Samantha Fraelich – Rohe
IntegriGen Wealth Management

Sarah Garnett
Guidehouse LLP

Peter Greif
Community Volunteer

Sara Krieg

Temitayo David Olanbiwonnu
Morgan Stanley

Joshua Phillips
United Bank

Geoffrey S. Platnick
Strickler, Platnick & Hatfield, P.C.

Froma Roth, Ph.D.
Retired, American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA)

Barbara Sable
Nexus Professional Risk, LLC

Advisory Councils

Medical Advisory Council

This volunteer group of local physicians supports TLC with guidance on medical issues. We are honored to have the input and direction of this fine group as we develop new treatment options and services and analyze community needs.

Karin M. Belsito, M.D., D.M.D. — Neurodevelopmental Disabilities

Jeff Bernstein, M.D. — Pediatrician

Lance Clawson, M.D. — Psychiatrist

Sylvia Edelstein, M.D. — Pediatric Neurologist

Giorgio Kulp, M.D., F.A.A.P. — Pediatrician

Gonzalo Laje, M.D. — Psychiatrist

Armina Rahman, M.D., F.A.A.P. — Pediatrician

Christine Saba, M.D. — Pediatrician

Dan Shapiro, M.D. — Developmental-Behavioral Pediatrician

Steven Tuck, M.D. — Orthopaedic Surgeon, Pediatric Orthopaedic Care

Paul Weiner, M.D. — Pediatrician

Consumer Advisory Council

Our Consumer Advisory Council is comprised of individuals and families who have experienced TLC services. This group provides feedback and suggestions that enhance our services.

  • Julie Fernandes
  • Allison Fort
  • Ilana Jolson
  • Marget Maurer
  • Christy Phillips
  • Dawnyel Pryor
  • Monica Reaves
  • Dr. Carol Scott
  • Jennifer Shannon
  • Julie Shapiro
  • Jenny Vaswani

Business Advisory Council

The Business Advisory Council provides counsel to TLC’s Outcomes Service. Its members are employers or other individuals who have a commitment to employ individuals with disabilities. Its members work directly with the Executive Director and Outcomes Leadership Team.

  • Sarah Babineau, University of Maryland Affirmative Action/Diversity Manager
  • Erika Bailey, CVS Health Regional Learning Center Coordinator
  • LaVerne Albright Buchanan, TransCen, Inc.
  • Megan Budrevich, Enterprise Rent-A-Car
  • Stacey Butler, CVS Health Regional Learning Center Manager/Workforce Initiatives
  • Susan Howell, IBSS Corporation
  • Kaia Lenhart, GMMB
  • Ashley Middleton, GMMB
  • David Schek, Work Comp Staffing Solutions