Leadership Team

Mitchell Bowman

Program Director (he/him)

Mitchell is an experienced leader in community arts, wellness, education, and job skills training, with a passion for serving individuals with autism and other neurodiversities.

Mitchell helped launch Greenleaf NCC in August 2019, after serving as Director of Out-of-School Programs for Creative Action, where he was instrumental in helping to expand the organization’s reach to nearly 20,000 youth a year and instituting training and program delivery changes to make programs more inclusive for students with special needs. Mitchell is also an accomplished multi-disciplinary teaching artist, with over 17 years of experience in youth development, education, and recreation.

Mitchell is a Certified Autism Specialist, Certified Job Skills Trainer, and he has over 10 years of experience working directly with individuals with disabilities and their families. Mitchell studied film/digital media at Ohio University and music education at Otterbein University. He holds a master’s degree in education from Naropa University, where he also developed skills as a mindfulness and wellness educator.

Andy Manns

Lead Teacher, (he/him)

Andy is an Austin musician and Special Education Teacher with extensive experience in supporting students with autism and related neurodivergent conditions.

Andy joined the Greenleaf NCC team in the summer of 2021 after 15 years of dedicated service to Austin ISD, working as a SCORES and Project Search Teacher, as well as a high school special education department chair. Andy is passionate about incorporating technology and arts into his lesson plans, especially when teaching social-communication, organizational and executive functioning, career and transition skills, and independent living.

Andy is known for serving as a positive role model to his students, and he is committed to using a whole-child approach to enable all his students to meet their potential. Andy earned a bachelor’s degree in English from the University of Texas at Austin and holds teacher certification credentials in special education and general education.

Anne Dowd

Speech Language Pathologist (she/her)

Anne is an improv theater performer and licensed Speech Language Pathologist with fifteen years of experience working with students with speech/language needs including individuals with autism and other neurodivergent conditions. Anne joined the Greenleaf NCC team in the fall of 2021 after serving students in Chicagoland public schools as well as private practice and home-based therapy settings.

She earned a Bachelor of Arts in Communication from DePaul University with an emphasis in linguistics and media studies. She earned a Master of Arts in Communicative Disorders from Northern Illinois University.

She is passionate about teaching functional social skills and has completed extensive continuing education in the area of social emotional learning. She studied improvisational and sketch comedy at the Second City in Chicago.

She incorporates tenets of improv into her teaching to foster students’ abilities to build self-esteem and form healthy connections with others.

Amanda Varcelotti

Associate Program Director (she/her)

Amanda has more than 10 years of experience working in fine arts and with students with autism. Amanda joined the Greenleaf NCC team as a full-time staff member in the summer of 2021 but has been dedicating her time and talent to the Social Creativity program since its inception.

Amanda has supported curriculum development and program activities at Creative Action, ZACH, and Joshua’s Stage, and she has an amazing track record for bringing creativity and energy to all she does.

Amanda earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Musical Theater from Syracuse University and a Master of Fine Arts in Performance and Pedagogy from Texas Tech where she also led activities to help build life and social skills for students at the Burkhart Center for Autism Education and Research through her role as a teaching artist and company member of the BurkTech Players. Amanda is also a Certified Autism Specialist and Certified Job Skills Trainer.

Thomas Brocato

Paraprofessional (he/him)

After graduating from the University of Puget Sound with a B.A. in psychology, Thomas has been working as a Behavioral Technician for the last three years in Tacoma Washington. Recently he has moved back to Austin to be closer to family and friends as he continues his career in psychology. Among other areas of support, Thomas will be assisting students at Greenleaf NCC’s 18+ School with workforce readiness and work experience opportunities. In his free time, Thomas enjoys spending time creating art and playing many different musical instruments.

Randi Shade

Greenleaf NCC Steering Committee, Co-Chair

Randi stays busy volunteering for countless causes while raising a son (age 16) who is on the autism spectrum and a daughter (age 14) with her wife, Kayla Shell, an attorney and executive at Dell. In 2008, Randi became the first openly gay person elected to serve as a member of the Austin City Council.

Previously, Randi was Executive Director of the Austin Entrepreneurs Foundation and the CEO of CharityGift, a venture capital backed Internet company she founded in 1999 and sold to a publicly traded company in 2005. Randi began her career at Procter & Gamble and later worked for Texas Governors Ann Richards and George W. Bush, serving as Founding Executive Director of the Texas Commission on Volunteerism and Community Service (now called OneStar Foundation) during which time she launched and managed the AmeriCorps program statewide. Randi also formerly served as Director of National Development for City Year and was awarded an Echoing Green Foundation-Harvard Public Management Fellowship to work for Teach for America in 1991.

Randi earned a BA in the Plan II Honors Program at the University of Texas at Austin in 1988 where she served as student body president and an MBA from Harvard Graduate School of Business in 1992.

Rebecca Yerly

Greenleaf NCC Steering Committee, Co-Chair

As the mother of two sons, one of whom has autism and IDD, Rebecca has spent the past fifteen years researching and managing the complex medical and behavioral condition that is autism.  

With a Ph.D. in Educational Psychology from the University of Texas, she and her husband, Jon Hockenyos, have been involved in legislative efforts at the state level to expand insurance coverage for people with autism and were recognized by the Texas Senate for their uncommon dedication and perseverance in improving the lives of children with autism spectrum disorder.

In addition to autism advocacy, Rebecca is employed at TXP as a Project Analyst where she has worked on numerous projects in the public policy arena, including the role of microlending in economic development of the disadvantaged community in Texas and the effects of the earned income tax credit on the working poor in the San Antonio region.  

She serves on the board of directors for YouthLaunch, an organization that empowers young people to become change makers in their schools, communities, and the world beyond through service.  A sixth generation Texan, Rebecca and her family are guaranteed to be found eating Mexican food every Friday night in South Austin.

Rene Craft

Greenleaf NCC Steering Committee

 She is an Austin-based blogger, neurodiversity advocate and communications professional. Craft has 20 years of experience working in corporate, nonprofit and agency communications with a dedicated focus working in areas that create positive change in Austin. She is the mother of two children, including an autistic son, who is a full-time student at Greenleaf NCC. See attached to learn more about Jackson’s experience at Greenleaf NCC.

David Ferdman

Greenleaf NCC Steering Committee

David is the founder of CyrusOne, a premier global REIT specializing in design, construction, and operation of more than 50 high-performance data centers worldwide. The company provides mission-critical facilities that ensure the continued operation of IT infrastructure for approximately 1,000 customers, including approximately 200 Fortune 1000 companies. David has served as President and Chief Executive Officer of CyrusOne and as a Director. Prior to founding CyrusOne David was the Chief Operating Officer and co-founder of UWI Association Programs (d/b/a Eclipse Telecommunications), a facilities-based telecommunications service provider. As Chief Operating Officer of UWI, David was instrumental in the company’s rapid growth, which culminated in its acquisition by IXC Communications (now part of Level 3 Communications Inc.) in 1998.

Jon Hockenyos

Greenleaf NCC Steering Committee

Jon Hockenyos founded TXP while attending the LBJ School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas at Austin in 1987. Since then, TXP has successfully completed hundreds of projects for a wide variety of clients, with a strong record of on-time, on-budget delivery. In his role as President of the firm, Jon is involved in managing the day-to-day operations of the organization, performing technical analysis, and developing strategies for clients. In addition, he makes numerous public presentations and speeches. Jon has served as a resource witness on a variety of issues in front of city councils, state legislatures, and the U.S. Congress. Jon’s private sector background extends beyond TXP. He is currently a board member of Seton Healthcare and American Bank of Commerce. He also served on the Board of Directors for Capital Metro (the Austin area transit authority), the Board of the ARC of the Capital Area, and the Travis County Citizen’s Advisory Council. Jon’s personal business interests also include restaurants, real estate, and infrastructure/water development. He received a Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy from the University of Illinois and Masters of Public Affairs from the LBJ School of Public Affairs, where he has taught as an Adjunct Professor.

Lucy Humble

Greenleaf NCC Steering Committee

Lucy Humble was formerly in business development for large professional services firms, including legal, accounting and consulting; and now co-manages a family of six children and two grandchildren, including several with special needs. She has followed the development of creative housing and educational services for the Autism community for the past ten years and has been following policy as it relates to Medicaid waivers in Texas. She joined the Steering Committee for Greenleaf NCC in 2021 and has been supporting Lemon Tree Collective, a new housing concept in Austin. While her children were in school, she supported numerous activities for special needs students in Eanes ISD and served on the District’s Inclusive Culture Committee.

Cindy Kaplan 

Greenleaf NCC Steering Committee

Cindy Kaplanis a serial entrepreneur with a background in psychology, wellness, and marketing. In 2006, Cindy and her husband Tony adopted their son, Jadyn, a severely malnourished as a baby from an institution in Central Asia. This experience led Cindy to start a nonprofit, SPOON, to bring critical nourishment to the world’s most vulnerable children. Under Cindy’s leadership, SPOON has become a global leader in nutrition and feeding practices for children with disabilities and those without permanent family care. SPOON has worked in over 15 countries worldwide, including the US, to improve health outcomes for children and shape country-level and international policy. Having served as SPOON’s Executive Director for nine years, Cindy has since transitioned to the role of Board Chair for the organization. For SPOON’s systems-changing work, Cindy has been nominated to the Ashoka Fellowship. Cindy and her family currently live in Austin TX, where she has worked in the local foster care system as a volunteer CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocate). She splits her time between her volunteer roles and her role as mama to two teenagers. Jadyn, now 16, is impacted by IDD and ASD. As he ages, Cindy is shifting increasingly more focus to adult services and housing options for him and his buddies in and around Austin. Cindy has a BS from Union College and a MS in Counseling Psychology from Northwestern University. She is also a certified yoga teacher.