DIVERSITY, EQUITY, INCLUSION, AND BELONGING COMMITTEE

CHADD is dedicated to creating a diverse, equitable, and inclusive environment for our employees, volunteers, and community. Our mission is to empower individuals with ADHD and other neurodivergent traits, valuing diversity in all its forms. We are actively working to dismantle barriers, ensuring fair access and participation for all. Inclusion is central to our culture, where every voice matters. We continuously learn and evolve, seeking feedback and advocating for solidarity with marginalized communities. We believe in fostering an environment where everyone can thrive, reflecting our commitment to diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging.

Read CHADD's full statement on Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging (DEI&B) »

Shirelle F. Pearson

Shirelle F. Pearson, MBA, GBA, Chair

Shirelle F. Pearson is an Account Manager with Marsh & McLennan Agency (MMA) in their New York City Employee Health & Benefits Office, with over 30 years of experience with an insurance carrier, human resources, and group benefits consulting.  She also extends her knowledge to her graduate students as an adjunct professor with the New York Institute of Technology.  She sort resources to support her newly diagnosed son and found CHADD quite valuable in her ADHD educational pursuits, for herself and family.  In 2014, she accepted the role of Treasurer for the Nassau County Chapter, and accepting the additional role of Coordinator in 2018.  Having recently assumed membership on the National’s Diversity, Equality & Inclusion Committee, she is currently pursuing an ADHD parent coaching certification.

Her career has allowed her the opportunity to effectively communicate across organizations, and implement thoughtful benefits and wellness recommendations; positively affecting the lives of thousands of employees and their families.   Shirelle is a published essayist, who enjoys helping clients empower employees through emotionally intelligent strategies, which foster better health, employee satisfaction, higher productivity, and loyalty.  She is a member of MMA’s Diversity Equality & Inclusion Council, and Aspire Mentorship Program; also volunteering time with the New York Metro Area Chapter of the International Society Certified Employee Benefits Specialist (ISCEBS) in the capacity of Director of Programs, and Chapter ISCEBS Chapter Working Group Member.

Shirelle is a life-learner and critical thinker who believes collaboration, is the best way to build a strong village that elevates everyone.   She earned her BBA from Adelphi University, MBA from Dowling College and Group Benefits Associate Certificate from the International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans in partnership with Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.  Her crowning achievements are her marriage of 25 years, and the role of doting mother to her two sons.

Kristin Austin, EdD

Kristin Austin, EdD

Kristin Austin, EdD, is a lover of learning and unlearning. Her goal is to catalyze individuals and structures to question, "Who is at the table? Who is missing from the table? For whom was the table built? And who is unaware the table exists?" Dr. Austin has pursued answers to these questions via twenty-plus years of administrative and faculty higher education roles domestically and internationally, as well as by leading organizations and teams through equity, inclusion, and belonging-oriented education. Currently, she serves as vice president of IDEAs (Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, and Access) at Rewriting the Code, a national nonprofit organization dedicated to disrupting and dismantling racial and gender inequality in the technology sector by equipping and empowering college women in tech. Along with her professional work, Dr. Austin engages in speaking, teaching, and pushing visibility for many inclusion topics, especially those related to neurodiversity. Holding identities of ADHD and learning disabled, she loves to create and hold space for “neurospicy” brains—like hers, and maybe yours. She holds a doctorate in higher education leadership and administration; a professional certificate in diversity, equity, and inclusion; a master’s degree in counseling; and a bachelor's degree (her favorite degree) in social work. She is also blessed to learn from three small and forgiving professors, ages fourteen, twelve, and eight, and is married to a fellow education professional. For these reasons, her favorite getaway is to Target… alone.

Stephen Chen

Stephen Chen

Stephen Chen is a board-tested operational leader and CFO who connects people and initiatives that can improve business and societal outcomes at the intersection of technology and business transformation. Chen was educated at Texas A&M Corpus Christi, New York University, and Brown University. He is a public and private board member of several companies, including Phunware, Kent Moore Capital, BioIntegrate, and formerly Anchor Fundings. He was previously the chief investment officer for a UHNW commodities-based family office and started an alternative asset fund that was collateralized by assets in excess of $2B. Chen brings twenty years of executive experience in financial services and technology, where he has built up particular expertise in sales, capital markets, strategic partnerships and investments, as well as growing and scaling business operations in the United States and Asia. He is a member of the US Chamber of Commerce in New York City, the Urban Land Institute, New York Investment Network, and Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship. His philanthropic work has been covered by the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Washington Post, Fox News, ABC, and NBC. He has spoken at Yale, Brown, NYU, and Columbia University and is the recipient of the Orphans International Global Citizenship Award, the Dragon 100 Fellowship, and the C.V. Starr Fellowship. He has been profiled in two books, Luck Does Not Exist by Mario Calabresi and Inspired! by Vik Venkatraman.

Larry Jones

Larry Jones, MD, MBA, AACC

A retired pediatrician, Larry A. Jones, MD, MBA, AACC, received his medical degree from Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland. He completed his pediatric residency, genetics fellowship, and MBA in executive healthcare management at Washington University in St. Louis. He opened a general pediatrics office in St. Louis in 1981, with a specialty in learning disabilities. Dr. Jones became more involved in treating children with ADHD after he and his three sons were diagnosed, and ever since he has been proactive in bringing awareness about ADHD to public health officials, hospital administrators, and physicians. He served as the chief administrator for childhood lead poisoning and all other child and maternal health activities for the city of St. Louis. For ten years he served as a physician advisor for hospitals in St. Louis, and he subsequently served in that capacity in Charlotte, North Carolina, prior to his retirement. A member of WIE Champions, a group of Charlotte men promoting open discussions on race and culture, he also serves on the board of directors for NAMI Charlotte and several ministries at Friendship, MBC, including social justice. With his wife, Audrey, he coauthored Falling Through the Ceiling: Our ADHD Family Memoir. After training as an ADHD and life coach, he founded TASTE of Success Coaching, with “turning ADHD from stigma to stability” as his mission. Most recently, Dr. Jones and his wife founded the nonprofit Enable Tables Media to support individuals, families, and educators addressing learning challenges. He received CHADD’s Lifetime Achievement Award in 2022.

Gabriela Navarro

Gabriela Navarro

Gabriela Navarro is the bilingual health information specialist at CHADD. She is dedicated to promoting diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging within the public health space. With a background as a certified clinical medical assistant, especially in pediatrics, she has a deep understanding of ADHD and its impact on individuals and families. Growing up in a culturally diverse background, Navarro experienced firsthand the stigma surrounding mental health within her own family and community. Despite these challenges, she advocates for increased awareness and support for individuals facing similar struggles. She is committed to being a voice for those who may have been silenced or overlooked.

Navarro holds a bachelor of science in public health sciences from the University of Maryland and is passionate about continuing her education to further her impact in community outreach efforts. She believes in addressing health disparities at both the individual and systemic levels, with a focus on creating inclusive spaces where everyone can be seen and heard. Through her work at CHADD, she strives to provide culturally competent and comprehensive support for individuals with ADHD, their loved ones, and professionals, ensuring that language is not a barrier to accessing crucial evidence-based health information and resources.

Nicole B. Smith

Nicole B. Smith

Nicole B. Smith has taught students of all abilities, at grade levels ranging from kindergarten to college. She is the director of equity and inclusive education at a private all-girls school in Kansas City, Missouri. She has served on several education panels and her work and successes have been featured in academic magazines. She is currently a board member of the Kansas City Girls Preparatory Academy. Smith holds an MBA with a concentration in organizational development from Rockhurst University, a master of arts in education with an emphasis in curriculum and development from the University of Phoenix, and a bachelor of science in journalism with an emphasis in public relations from the University of Florida. Smith holds numerous teaching certifications in business and journalism-related subjects. Her three grown sons and daughter-in-law are her passion. She also likes to travel, try new restaurants, and work out. She is completing her doctoral degree at Rockhurst University. Her research is on effective DEI practices in organizations.

Liseth Suarez

Liseth Suarez

Liseth Suarez serves as the health information specialist at CHADD. Trained to deliver accurate and dependable information, she assists individuals in making informed decisions regarding ADHD. Additionally, she offers support to the Latino community, catering to Spanish-speaking callers. Prior to her role at CHADD, Suarez worked as a medical assistant in pediatric and adolescent care for two decades. Possessing an associate degree in healthcare administration, she remains enthusiastic about advancing her career and maintaining a positive outlook while making a difference within the ADHD community, particularly among underserved populations.

Brandi Walker

Brandi Walker, PhD

Dr. Walker is the CEO of Marie Pauline Consulting, LLC, her private practice dedicated to providing educational, clinical, and psychological guidance and expertise to organizations seeking to improve their social climate, employee and customer relations, and/or enhance their diversity and equity awareness.

Dr. Walker is also an executive leadership coach experienced in providing educational, clinical, and coaching guidance to military leaders and their teams in order to support strategic initiatives that target the reduction of mental health challenges for servicemen and women. She is a Howard University and University of Maryland, alumna and an Army Clinical Psychologist and faculty member at Womack Army Medical Center at Fort Bragg, NC. Dr. Walker is also an active duty Army officer (soon to retire) who works directly with Service Members and their families, in addition to developing initiatives and collaborations that are in sync with the Army’s Holistic Health and Fitness programming. Additionally, Dr. Walker maintains her earnest desire to further what is known about ADHD and continues to provide therapeutic expertise and researched-informed support to families and individuals that are impacted.

She spent the last seven years working with various hospitals, clinics, and schools conducting research on children with ADHD, their family and various sleep variables and environmental factors of influence. Dr. Walker’s community efforts entail collaboratively initiating the Prince George’s County (Maryland) CHADD (Children and Adults with ADHD) Chapter and CHADD’s Southern Regional Support Center. Dr. Walker also focuses her efforts to training and advocacy on diversity, inclusion, equity, and intersectionality awareness and practices. She serves as Chair Past of the Diversity in the Military Committee, of the American Psychological Association's Society of Military Psychology (Division 19).

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Naline Walker

Naline Walker has over fifteen years of experience working with neurodiversity and neurodivergent individuals as a residential counselor in human behavior and a case manager in Virginia and Maryland. She earned a bachelor’s degree in social science from the University of University of Maryland in College Park, Maryland, and holds dual Master of Science degrees in business administration and management/criminal justice at University of Maryland University College. Walker is a Howard University associate investigator/research assistant and has served as a liaison in the Washington, DC, metropolitan area for recruitment suites in a five-year research study titled An Examination of the Relationship Between Sleep and Parental Distress in Children with ADHD Who Differ in Their Medication Status. She worked at Joint Base Andrews, a military facility in Prince George County, Maryland, for the past ten years. Walker serves as a volunteer facilitator/coordinator for Prince George County CHADD parent support group and as regional coordinator for the CHADD Southern Regional Center. She also volunteers with a domestic violence nonprofit organization advocating against human trafficking.

John Willson

John Willson, MS, LRT/CTRS

John Willson, MS, LRT/CTRS, is the executive director for SOAR, a nonprofit residential boarding school, adventure summer camp, and GAP program serving youth with learning and attention challenges. This is his second stint supporting the CHADD on the national board of directors. Willson holds an undergraduate degree in sociology from Texas State University and a master’s degree in outdoor therapeutic recreation administration from Aurora University. He is licensed in the state of North Carolina as a recreation therapist and holds a national certification from NCTRC to practice therapeutic recreation. He serves on the national board of the Learning Disability Foundation Association and has been a state president of the Learning Disabilities Association of North Carolina. He is a certified wilderness first responder, lifeguard, and rescue SCUBA diver. He can be found canoeing class 3/4 whitewater in his free time. He has led hundreds of adventure courses with youth diagnosed with LD and ADHD. He actively presents to parents and professionals at local, state, and national conferences. Finally, he is the parent of two magnificent adult children living with ADHD.

Max Wiznitzer

Max Wiznitzer, MD

Max Wiznitzer, MD, is a graduate of Northwestern University School of Medicine. He trained in pediatrics and developmental disorders at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital and in pediatric neurology at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. He then did a National Institutes of Health funded fellowship in disorders of higher cortical functioning in children at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Bronx, New York. Since 1986, he has been a pediatric neurologist at Rainbow Babies & Children’s Hospital in Cleveland, Ohio. He is an associate professor of pediatrics, neurology, and international health at Case Western Reserve University. He has a longstanding interest in neurodevelopmental disabilities, especially ADHD and autism, and has been involved in local, state, and national committees and initiatives, including autism treatment research, Ohio autism service guidelines, autism screening, and early identification of developmental disabilities. He is on the editorial board of Lancet Neurology and the Journal of Child Neurology and lectures nationally and internationally about various neurodevelopmental disabilities.

Rachel James, MSLIS

Rachel James, MSLIS, Staff Liaison