OVCAC Advisory Council

An advisory council was created during the inception of the Opportunity Village Children's Autism Center in Clear Lake, Iowa. The role of this group of volunteers was to advise the Village on activities, services, and to help determine whether the center would meet the needs of the community. 

Members of the Advisory Council were:

  • Pat Tomson, Executive Director, First Citizens National Bank Charitable Foundation, and community advocate
  • Melissa Al Sharif, mother of a son with Autism
  • Karn Johansen, Nurse Practitioner and mother of a son with autism.
  • Dea Ellen Birtwistle, licensed independent social worker
  • Mike Barkley, principal of Clear Creek Elementary School
  • Dr. Norma McGuire, pediatrician
  • Amy Wilhelm, mother of a son and daughter with autism and Lake Mills school paraprofessional for children with autism
  • Mel Harms, chairperson of Music Therapy Department at Wartburg College and licensed Music Therapist.
  • Jere Bartolo, Speech and Language Pathologist at Mercy Medical Center
  • Sarah Smith / Krys Sloan, Cerro Gordo Medical Alliance Society
  • Heidi Grafton, educator with Mason City School District and mother of a daughter with autism
  • Mark Feustal, retired AEA Assistant Director of Special Education
  • Jeni Oelkers, parent of a son with autism and a son with Down Syndrome


The Children's Autism Center was created in August 2013 by Opportunity Village to provide resources, education, and support for families of children diagnosed with autism spectrum disorders. For more information about OVCAC, contact Dr. Jesse Logue or Dr. Lauryn Toby at 641-355-1216.