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Meet the Parent Support Team!

An image of Parent Navigator, Anja, and her autistic son.
Anja web pic .JPG

Anja Wilson

Autism Parent Navigator

Anja is Founder of M.A.D. Mom’s Advocating Daily for Autism, Cortland’s Corner, Anja’s Advocacy Avenue, and author of “Unapologetically Embracing Autism”, and “Cortland's World”. 


Born in Columbia, SC she is a single parent to son, Cortland who was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder at the age of three. An alumna of the University of Tennessee, her passion for advocating for Autism was born because of Cortland’s journey. A passion that is built on a foundation of advocacy, where she aims to be a powerful and strong voice for those that cannot advocate for themselves by promoting the embodiment of advocacy, empowerment, education, commitment, and community.

A headshot of Parent Navigator, Carissa Stevens.

Carissa Stevens, MA

Autism Parent Navigator

Carissa is the mother of three. Her desire to advocate for families and children with autism began after her son was diagnosed with autism in 2017. 

Carissa graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Public Relations from the University of South Carolina and a Master of Arts from Webster University in Management and Leadership.  


An image of Parent Mentor, Laura Sigman.

Laura Sigman

Autism Parent Mentor

Laura is a busy mother to two daughters. Her daughter Creelynn was diagnosed at age 3 with Autism Spectrum Disorder.

During the last eight years she has dedicated her time to learn and advocate for her daughter's needs.  She is looking forward to sharing everything she has learned to help other parents. 

Meet the Research Team!

A headshot of Associate Professor, Dr. Robert Hock.

Robert Hock, PhD, LiSW-CP

Principal Investigator

Dr. Hock is an Associate Professor at The University of South Carolina in the College of Social Work's Children, Youth, and Families specialized practice area. He has previously served as the social work discipline director for the South Carolina Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental and Related Disabilities. His publications focus on the treatment of autism spectrum disorder, and children and families in mental health settings. 


Dr. Hock received his Master of Social Work, with a certificate in Clinical Social Work with Families, from Michigan State University, where he also earned his Ph.D. in social work.

A Picture of Graduate Research Assistant, Abbie Lockie.

Abbie Lockie, BSW

Graduate Research Assistant

Abbie recently graduated from Hope College with her Bachelor of Arts in Social Work. She is currently a Master of Social Work candidate at The University of South Carolina. Abbie has experience working with youth and their families, including advocating for vulnerable children. 

Abbie loves going on hikes with her new puppy, reading, and exploring South Carolina. 


A headshot of Research Lab Coordinator, Hannah Behr.

Hannah Behr, MSW

Research Lab Coordinator

Hannah has five years of research, evaluation, and implementation experience in community-based interventions. She is dedicated to providing communities with evidence-based programs and practices that prevent long-term health and mental health issues.  

Hannah graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Experimental Psychology and a Master of Social Work from The University of South Carolina. Hannah enjoys seeing live music and spending time with her loved ones.  

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Katie Hardman, BSW

Graduate Research Assistant

Katie recently graduated with her Bachelor of Science in Social Work from Longwood University. She is currently a Master of Social Work candidate at The University of South Carolina. 

Katie loves spending time outside, close to the water, and with friends and family. 

A headshot of Research Assistant, Brenis Aaron.

Brenis Aaron, LMSW

Research Assistant

Brenis has experience as a Registered Behavior Technician working with children diagnosed with ASD; and, she is passionate about working with children and families.


Brenis graduated with a Bachelor of Science from North Greenville University and with a Master of Social Work from the University of South Carolina. Brenis enjoys spending time outside with her family, friends, and dog.

A picture of Graduate Research Assistant, Emma Keady.

Emma Keady, BA

Graduate Research Assistant

Emma graduated with her Bachelor of Arts in Psychological and Brain Sciences from George Washington University. She is currently a Master of Social Work candidate at the University of South Carolina. Emma has experience working with children with special needs, and most recently worked as a registered behavior technician in Florida. She is excited for this opportunity to work with the lab!


Emma loves to hang out with her cat, travel, and find new places to eat.

A headshot of Research Assistant, Tamara Grimm.

Tamara Grimm, LISW-CP

Graduate Research Assistant

Tamara is a PhD student at the University of South Carolina, College of Social Work. She also completed a graduate certificate in Women & Gender Studies at USC in conjunction with her PhD coursework. Her research areas include gender related health disparities, gender bias in medicine, and the use of holistic health practices as adjunctive treatment for mental health disorders. Prior to beginning her PhD, she served as Lead Women Veterans Program Manager for the VA Healthcare System serving Ohio, Indiana, and Michigan for over 8 years. She has also worked in community mental health, holding various roles such as: clinical supervisor for a criminal justice ACT team, clinical supervisor for a case management team, and case manager. Tamara is currently a therapist in private practice and teaches MSW level courses at the USC.


Tamara received her bachelor’s degree in psychology and comparative religion, with a minor in Women’s Studies, from Miami University in Oxford, OH (2003). She completed her MSW at the University of Cincinnati in 2006.

In her free time, Tamara enjoys teaching yoga and spending time with her two rescue pups, Harry and Eddie


A headshot of Graduate Research Assistant, Heather May.

Heather May, BS

Graduate Research Assistant

Heather graduated with her Bachelor of Science in Psychology degree from Pennsylvania State University. She is currently a Master of Social Work candidate at the University of South Carolina. 

Heather enjoys reading, being outdoors, and spending time her family and friends.

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