Meet the MGH Aspire Leadership Team
D. Scott McLeod, PhD
Executive Director of MGH Aspire
Clinical Instructor in Psychology, Harvard Medical School
Dr. Scott McLeod has been on staff at Massachusetts General Hospital since 1990. He became Aspire’s Executive Director in January 2003 after acting as Associate Director for 10 years. Dr. McLeod received his doctorate in clinical psychology from Boston University. He is a Clinical Instructor in Psychology at Harvard Medical School.
His clinical interests include the development of effective interventions for persons with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD). Dr. McLeod consults in a large number of public and private schools about supporting social and academic success with students with ASD. Dr. McLeod strongly believes that real change for persons on the spectrum occurs in the life space. The most effective interventions to support academic, social and vocational success need to be at schools, camps, and job sites. He is a former long time member of the Board of Directors of the Asperger's Association of New England (AANE). He is also the co-author of a new book on ASD: Take Charge of Treatment for Your Child with Asperger's (ASD): Create a Personalized Guide to Success for Home, School, and the Community.
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Elise Wulff, MEd
Program Manager, Child Services and MGH Aspire Works
Elise Wulff has been working with the neurodiverse population in both the public and private sectors for over 15 years. With MGH Aspire since 2008, Elise oversees Child programming, MGH Aspire Works, and related services where participants engage in multi-disciplinary, strengths-based learning. Elise feels strongly that there is a mutual accountability of neurodiverse individuals and their environments (schools, communities, workplaces) to create safe, inclusive spaces that enhance the potential for success for all involved.
Prior to joining MGH Aspire, Elise worked as an Inclusion Facilitator for a therapeutic intervention program for students with Asperger’s, NVLD, ADHD, and similar profiles. In collaboration with Aspire, Elise co-wrote a multi-year tiered self-awareness curriculum based on Aspire’s model ‘The Science of Me,’ as well as curricula to address enhancing Executive Functioning skills and supporting resistant writers.
In addition to managing Child Programming and MGH Aspire Works, Elise provides parent coaching, school-based consultation, and professional development services. She is recognized for her work supporting school districts and other community organizations to enhance their inclusion practices and foster healthy social-emotional development and self-awareness. She has specific expertise in inclusive practices, program design, social-emotional curriculum, tools to build independence, and strategies for building Executive Functioning. Elise received her undergraduate degree in psychology and theater arts from Emory University and her master’s degree in special education from Lesley University.
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Taylor Levesque, MA
Assistant Program Manager, Child Services
Taylor Levesque comes to Aspire with a variety of experience working with children and teens with an ASD or similar diagnosis. Her passion lies in direct service through small group and in-the-moment coaching for children of all ages. Taylor began her Aspire career at the Adventure Camp for children and continued on to lead Explorations groups for Aspire’s teen program. Prior to working at Aspire, Taylor developed and implemented a social skills curriculum for transition-age youth with neurodevelopmental disabilities and participated in the Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental and Related Disabilities (LEND) Fellowship program at Boston Children’s Hospital. Taylor is thrilled to be a part of the Aspire team, where she can to continue to establish meaningful relationships with children and their families to facilitate their positive development.
Taylor received her undergraduate degrees in Child Development and Psychology and her Master of Arts degree in Child Study and Human Development at the Eliot-Pearson Department of Child Study and Human Development at Tufts University.
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Jenn O'Rourke, MS
Assistant Program Manager, Child Services
Before coming to Aspire, Jenn facilitated an inclusion based program in the District of Columbia Public School System, with a focus on teaching social thinking and executive functioning skills to elementary aged children with high-cognitive spectrum disorder. Jenn believes in a teaching approach that values the development of the whole child. Jenn received her undergraduate degree in psychology and earned her masters of science degree in Applied Behavior Analysis from Northeastern University.
In 2015, Jenn was awarded the Newton Parent Advisory Council Special Education award and in 2017, she was nominated for the Excellence In Teaching Award, by DC public schools. She is excited to be a part of the Aspire team and work with individuals from a variety of clinical backgrounds to help children reach their full potential.
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Laura Sears, MS, NCC
Career Counselor, MGH Aspire Works
Laura Sears is a trained mental health counselor with a background in developmental disabilities and serious mental illness. Laura started out in the field by helping to create a peer mentoring program for young adults with high functioning autism at the New York University Child Study Center. She then completed her master’s degree with a specialization in providing counseling services to individuals with developmental disabilities. She has also worked as a crisis clinician and mental health counselor for adults with serious mental illness. Laura is passionate about helping teens and young adults make positive changes in their lives. She is excited to be a part of the Aspire team where she can help participants reach their goals.
Laura received her bachelor’s degree in Romance Languages from New York University. She received her master’s degree from the University of Vermont in Counseling.
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Cornelia Pelzer Elwood, MA
Cornelia’s clinical interest is supporting individuals on the autism spectrum, their parents, and their families. Her professional experience in this field includes parent coaching, job coaching, providing individual and family therapy, and facilitating trainings, support groups, and workshops. She is an ASD specialist for a community mental health agency and worked at Asperger/Autism Network, where she currently serves on the Board of Directors. She is the parent of two boys, one of whom is a young adult on the autism spectrum.
Cornelia co-authored Take Charge of Treatment for Your Child with Asperger’s (ASD) with D. Scott McLeod, PhD, and developed and led a corresponding parent training. She frequently speaks on the topic of parenting a child on the autism spectrum for a variety of audiences including parents, students, camp counselors, and professionals at schools, universities, offices, hospitals, and conferences.
Cornelia received her BA from Vanderbilt University, completed a two-year life coach training, earned a Certificate in Autism Spectrum Disorders from Antioch University New England and a Master of Arts in Clinical Mental Health Counseling from William James College. Her experience of being a mother and working with individuals on the autism spectrum and their families, combined with her education about autism and clinical mental health counseling, help her understand the many facets of autism.
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Brett Mulder, PsyD
Program Director, Teen and Adult Services
Dr. Mulder received his undergraduate degree in psychology and philosophy from Hope College, his Master of Arts degree in philosophy from Tufts University, and his doctorate in clinical psychology from the Massachusetts School of Professional Psychology. He completed a two-year advanced fellowship in psychotherapy and psychological assessment at the Danielsen Institute of Boston University. Also, his training positions included: Harvard Medical School/Massachusetts General Hospital, Massachusetts General Hospital/YouthCare, Boston University, Tufts Medical Center and McLean Hospital.
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Andrew Harris, MEd
Assistant Program Manager, Teen and Adult Services
Andrew Harris is an educator with over 5 years of experience designing curriculum for and working with children and teens with an autism spectrum disorder diagnosis. He has worked at Aspire since 2014, serving first as a Group Leader, and then as the Being Social and Mind Body Specialist for both the Explorations and Transitions Programs. Andrew is also the creator of the Guild Chronicles Program – an innovative small group social-emotional intervention that provides authentic opportunities for participants to develop skills and understanding. He continues to run Guild Chronicles groups here at Aspire, one of our most popular groups, as well as developing curriculum for and running teen and young adult groups.
Andrew received his undergraduate degree in Art Education, from Massachusetts College of Art and Design, and his Master’s of Education degree from Lesley University – with a certificate in Autism studies. He is a passionate educator, dedicated to fostering critical skills in the social-emotional realm, with creative methods that build self-confidence, esteem, and a sense of belonging in the process.
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Jessica Pappagianopoulos, MA
Assistant Program Manager for Teen & Adult Services
Jessica Pappagianopoulos developed a passion for working with individuals on the autism spectrum through her time as a Group Leader for the Explorations Program at Aspire. While at the Labs of Cognitive Neuroscience at Boston Children’s Hospital, she continued to pursue her clinical interest in ASD by contributing to an intervention study aiming to improve executive functioning skills in children with an autism spectrum disorder diagnosis. As the Assistant Program Manager of Teen and Young Adult Services, Jessica aims to support and empower individuals with ASD to build their self-confidence, cultivate social connections to help reach their full potential in all areas of their lives.
Jessica received her undergraduate degree in Psychology from Stonehill College and her Master of Arts degree in Child Study and Human Development, with a concentration in Clinical Developmental Health and Psychology, from Tufts University. She worked as a research assistant at the Child Health Equity Lab at Tufts University, where she completed her thesis on risk perception and smoking behavior among adolescents diagnosed with asthma.
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Emily Hartnett, PhD
Emily Hartnett (formerly Anderberg) is a neuropsychology postdoctoral fellow working with child, teen, and adult programs at MGH Aspire. She loves helping people of all ages connect to others and build feelings of community and confidence. She also provides therapy and neuropsychological evaluations to individuals on the autism spectrum through the Lurie Center for Autism.
Emily received her undergraduate degree in psychology from Yale University, then completed her PhD at Brigham Young University and a clinical internship year at Oregon Health and Science University. Emily’s research has focused on understanding what factors help students on the autism spectrum benefit from therapy at their college counseling centers. She has also worked to help physicians and psychologists improve how they deliver an autism spectrum diagnosis by studying parent experiences with the diagnostic process.
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Twanesha Wilcox, PsyD
Twanesha Wilcox is a neuropsychology postdoctoral fellow working with the child programs at MGH Aspire. Prior to MGH Aspire, she gained a variety of experience working with children and adolescents with an ASD or similar diagnosis in individual and group therapy settings. Twanesha has a passion for working with children in social settings as they connect to others, while providing feedback in real time. She also provides therapy and neuropsychology evaluations to individuals on the autism spectrum through the Lurie Center for Autism.
Twanesha received her undergraduate degree in psychology from Seton Hall University, master's degree in clinical psychology from Teachers College Columbia University, and doctoral degree in psychology from La Salle University. She then completed her clinical internship year at Friends Hospital. Twanesha’s research has focused on understanding how stigma directed at their child and stigma directed at themselves is experienced by fathers of children on the autism spectrum and how it impacts their level of stress.
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