Meet Your Team

  • Julie Riley

    Project Director

    Hi y’all!  I’m the LASARD Project Director, and I’m also the Director of K-12 Initiatives at LSUHSC Human Development Center.  I’m a Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) and I may be a little obsessed with data.  I have been working with individuals with disabilities over the past 20 years and have a passion for inclusive practices, increasing social interaction, and solving challenging behavior issues.  I have been with LASARD for 11 years, and prior to that I worked as a consultant to schools and families, school counselor, and special education teacher.  I love living in New Orleans and partaking in all the food, music, and festivals – especially Mardi Gras!

  • Melinda Luna


    Hello! I’m a LASARD facilitator in the New Orleans area. I have a dual certification in Elementary Education and Mild/Moderate Special Education. I have been working with individuals with disabilities since 2011 and working closely with other educators on supporting student needs in the school setting. I started working with PreK programs across Louisiana in 2020 and have fallen in love working with the younger kids. Creating and implementing visual supports for kids of all ages is a passion of mine. During my classroom observations, I look forward to seeing the “aha” moment when the visual is effective for the student and the teacher realizes that the strategy actually works! Outside of work, I love spending time with my family and going on fun adventures around the city. I have two energetic boys, Logan and Reid, and many pets of all shapes and sizes!

  • Chris Champagne


    I have been designing and implementing projects to support teachers of students with disabilities for over 20 years.  I have a passion for equity and love problem solving solutions and supports to help teachers succeed in providing students with disabilities the opportunities they deserve to thrive in the classroom.  When I am not working I love exercising, spending time outdoors, and hanging out with my cats.

  • Donna Hammons


    Hey everybody!  When it comes to work experience, I have worked as a director of training and case management programs for youth and adults with developmental disabilities, a director of children/youth programs, a special educator, and for the past 11 years as a LASARD facilitator. Each career experience has allowed me to continually gain on-the-job training and real life application.  One of the most valuable tools in my toolbox is my ability to be flexible and practical when working alongside the adult learner to tackle changes in practice and implementation.

    In addition to a full work life, I have been married for over 32 years and have 2 beautiful daughters, Morgan and Meagan. David and I are empty nesters now—except for Thor and Sadie (a Shar-Pei and miniature Dachshund).

  • Amy Dakin


    Hey everyone! I’m one of the LASARD facilitators located in North Louisiana and am a certified special education teacher. I have been working with students with disabilities for 10 years. I also have experience as a classroom teacher, testing coordinator, and school administrator. My first degree is in accounting, so working with Excel and creating schedules are my jam! I love hanging out with my family and spending time planting flowers in my backyard.

  • Ali Kowitz


    Hi y’all! I’m a LASARD Facilitator in the New Orleans area. I have a B.S. – Elementary Education from Louisiana State University (Geaux Tigers!) and a Master of Education – Special Education (grades 1-12) from Northwestern State University. My experience includes: special education teacher, special education coordinator, Section 504 coordinator, PBIS chair, SBLC chair, and IEP Facilitator. Additionally, I am an Educational Therapist (ET/P) and I focus on children and adults with ADHD, learning disabilities, and executive functioning skills. I am an advocate for inclusive practices and I love working with schools to build inclusive and accessible environments for all learners. When I am not working, you can find me out on the water; doing other outdoorsy things; and, hanging out with my family, two dogs (Louie & Echo), and Cactus the Bearded Dragon.

  • Lisa Davison


    Hi everyone! I am a LASARD facilitator in the North Louisiana area. I have been working in the educational setting with children with disabilities since 1996; initially as an Occupational Therapist for 18 years then as an autism specialist. I love working with school staff on implementing strategies that have big impacts on a student’s success both academically and in real life application.  Outside of work, I enjoy spending time with family, lounging on the beach, and reading.   I am married and have 3 adult children, 1 daughter-in-love and 1 grandson.

  • Jennifer Boyter


    Hello! I am a LASARD facilitator located in the Northwest part of the state. My career path has
    been diverse, but it has always involved education! I started as a classroom teacher (years ago)
    and quickly learned that I needed training for serving students with unique learning differences.
    I studied School Psychology at LSU Shreveport and worked in Pupil Appraisal for our local
    school district. My work in school psychology led me to a strong desire to collaborate with
    teachers serving students with autism and the study of Applied Behavior Analysis. I was fortunate
    to work as an Autism Specialist and BCBA for our local school district. I am excited to
    collaborate with school districts to build capacity and support teachers and students.

    My husband and I have four adult children. Our daughter and son-in-law and two of our sons
    are living and working in beautiful Oregon. Our youngest son is currently in law school at the
    University of Arkansas, Fayetteville.

    Fun fact: all three of our boys are engaged to be married within a year of each other!!

    Our home life now involves our husky rescues (Stella and Teddy), a little poodle (Geoffrey), and
    a cat (Huckleberry). We enjoy mountain biking, time with friends, and dreaming and scheming
    on ways to spend time with our kids!

  • Constance Alphonse


    Greetings! I am honored to serve as a LASARD facilitator in the New Orleans area! With over 16 years as an educator, I have served as a special education teacher, instructional facilitator, and administrator. In addition to being certified in special education (1-12) and elementary education (1-5), I am also a reading specialist and National Board Certified Teacher. I am passionate about creating equitable, high-quality learning opportunities for ALL students, particularly students with diverse needs. As a LASARD facilitator, my goal is to support and build the capacity of educators to help students reach their maximum potential by developing respectful, diverse, and inclusive environments.

    My hobbies include reading and spending time with my husband and two children.

  • Joseph Tate


    Hello! I am excited to be a LASARD facilitator in the greater New Orleans area! I have been working with exceptional students and their teachers for 17 years now, half of that time as a special education teacher and the other half as a special education administrator. I love helping teachers and schools create inclusive environments where all students thrive! I have an undergraduate degree in special education from the University of Memphis and a Master of Special Education from the University of New Orleans. I am also a graduate of the 2016 cohort of the Special Education Leader Fellowship, a program designed to help school leaders in the New Orleans area enhance their skills in special education practice and leadership.

    When I’m not at work, I love going on cruises or visiting my favorite theme park, Dollywood! I also love exploring the “Best-bank” of New Orleans, which is where we live with our two bulldogs, Big Baby and Carl Dean. I’m also a float lieutenant in one of the largest Carnival krewes in the city, and love going to as many balls, parades, and events as I can during the Carnival season.

  • Amanda Clark


    Hey y’all! I am excited to be joining the LASARD team supporting parishes throughout central and southwest Louisiana. I hold dual certification in Elementary and Special Education (Mild/Moderate) and am a Nationally Certified Educational Diagnostician. I am passionate about individualized and appropriate inclusive practices, building relationships, co-teaching and collaboration, and working to foster independence. I consider myself to be a lifelong learner and enjoy doing research on just about anything! This comes in handy as I am pursuing my doctoral degree with a concentration on Exceptional Learners.

    Outside of the office you will find me pretending I am a top chef, hanging out with my college sweetheart and having dance parties with my 2 sons, entertaining family and friends, as well as being an advocate for creating a fun and healthy lifestyle!

  • Krista James


    Hi! I am so happy to be back with LASARD after a 13-year break and to be supporting schools in the New Orleans area. I have been working with students and teachers for the last 20 years as a special education teacher, autism specialist, administrator, and professor. I have a B.S. and M.Ed. in Special Education from Wilmington University, and an Interdisciplinary Ph.D. in Education, Leadership, & Cross-Cultural Studies from the University of Alaska Fairbanks. I have recently moved back to the United States after living and working in International Schools in Cambodia, Guatemala, and Italy. I live in Slidell with my children and my dog, Yaya, and am so happy to be back close to my family and friends, after being away for so long.