Our Staff

Naomi SwiezyNaomi Swiezy, PhD, HSPP
DIRECTOR

Dr. Swiezy is a Professor of Clinical Psychology in Clinical Psychiatry at the Indiana University School of Medicine. As founder of the HANDS in Autism® Model and Director of the HANDS in Autism® Center, her programming and research interests include the facilitation and implementation of systems change with direct involvement in the development of programming, training, and supervision of personnel and students in implementing programming elements and facilitating engagement, participation, and training of community partners.  Beyond the development and implementation of training and outreach services, Dr. Swiezy has roots in parent training and interest and extensive experience with staff training and community-based behavioral assessment and interventions applied to individuals across the lifespan with ASD/DD, dual and complex diagnoses, and severe and complex behaviors.  Dr. Swiezy has further served as principal investigator (PI) or director on numerous studies over the past 24 years at the IU School of Medicine as well as in her previous role at Kennedy Krieger Institute at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine in Baltimore, Maryland.  She has an extensive history of exceptional grantee and organizational leadership with effective execution of local, state, and national project aims and objectives.


Tiffany Neal, PhD
ASSISTANT DIRECTOR

Dr. Neal has a rich background in clinical neuropsychology, school psychology, and applied behavior analysis with a concentration in complex or dual diagnoses and experience across inpatient, outpatient, diagnostic, home, school, and community-based service and treatment settings. In addition to service and training roles, she has been active in teaching and serving as an invited member or representative among local, state, and national associations, task forces, and committees focused on autism, dual diagnoses, policies and funding, diversity and equity, implementation science, and program evaluation. Dr. Neal’s experience has greatly informed her approach towards and focus on mental and behavioral health care and training through integration of evidence-based practices and pragmatic measurement feedback systems with consideration of the applicable determinants of change (e.g., readiness, moderators, barriers, etc.) to improve outcomes for children, adolescents, and families within contexts (e.g., schools, justice system, healthcare settings, etc.) that routinely service and provide care to these populations. Among various roles as the Assistant Director at the HANDS in Autism® Center, Dr. Neal lends oversight to the approach, curriculum, partnerships, research, and dissemination efforts for the Center.


Michael Sajdyk

PROGRAM MANAGEMENT SPECIALIST

Michael joined the HANDS team in 2023 bringing with him a diverse skill set to complement the organization’s growing team. His education includes a bachelor’s degree in Public Administration and a master’s in planning. As the Program Management Specialist, he intends on utilizing his background from both the public and private sectors as a project manager as well as his experience in marketing and branding.


Diana Posadas

COORDINATED CARE TECHNICIAN

Diana joined the HANDS team in 2022. She is a recent graduate of Indiana University Bloomington, earning her bachelor’s in science degree in Psychology. Upon graduation, Diana worked as a Registered Behavior Technician where she learned how to apply Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) with her clients. Her passion for ABA and those diagnosed with Autism has grown since and continues to grow in her role with HANDS as a Coordinated Care Technician.


Ryan WolfeRyan Wolfe
MULTIMEDIA SPECIALIST

Ryan has been a part of the HANDS team since 2017. His areas of interest include social media planning, Salesforce/Marketing Cloud, media strategy development, market research, and video design and production. Ryan currently works to use all of these tools to help promote the needs of ASD with outreach and information for the community through his role on the HANDS team as a Multimedia Specialist. 


Jerikah Barnett, MSW, LSW

TRANSITION SUPPORT SPECIALIST

Jerikah joined the HANDS team in May 2023. She obtained her Bachelor of Social Work and Master of Social Work with a focus on Children and Their Families from the University of Alabama. She has a background working in residential facilities, behavioral interventions, and adoption. Jerikah considers herself lucky to have gained such a wide range of experience with various populations and age ranges. She is honored to bring that passion and commitment to HANDS in her new role.


Danielle Behnke, MHA, CCLS

TRANSITION SUPPORT SPECIALIST

Danielle joined the HANDS team in 2022, with 11 years of experience working in the pediatric healthcare setting as a Certified Child Life Specialist. She has a Bachelors of Arts in Psychology and Masters in Healthcare Administration. She has a strong passion for providing individualized, proactive, and collaborative practices for all individuals with ASD and related disorders. Danielle is thrilled to be able to share her passions and apply her previous education and work experiences in her role at HANDS as a Transition Support Specialist.


Kristan Sievers-Coffer

COMMUNITY TRANSITION SPECIALIST

Kristan joined the HANDS team in 2022. She earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Secondary Education and Masters in Elementary Education from Indiana University. She began her career in education as a teacher for 16 years at the middle school level in Illinois and Indiana, covering a range of subjects including primary science, social studies, and English. Kristan spent ten years as a Senior Special Education Specialist at the Indiana Department of Education (IDOE) where she led efforts to monitor disproportionality through IDOE’s Results Driven Accountability system and facilitated support from the statewide resource centers to local school districts.


Audrey Williams

COMMUNITY TRANSITION SPECIALIST

Audrey obtained her Bachelor’s Degree in Special Education from Ball State University, with a focus on Intense Interventions. She has worked in the disability field in a variety of settings, including as an Instructor at Erskine Green Training Institute for 3 years. Because of her background of having a sibling with a disability, she is passionate about implementing individuals with disability into the community, providing trainings for family and other community members on disability basics, and working towards long-term success for individuals with disabilities. She is thrilled to bring both her personal and professional experience together to help families, teachers, and community members in her role as a Community Transition Specialist!


Amanda Bonfanti

COMMUNITY TRANSITION SPECIALIST

Amanda joined the HANDS team as a Community Transition Specialist at the beginning of 2023. Her role includes working with families, schools, and community providers to provide strategies and support to promote success in the children with whom she works. She earned her bachelor’s degree from Louisiana State University in Theater Studies and her master’s degree in Elementary Education/Special Education Mild-Moderate Disabilities from the University of New Orleans. She taught special education primarily working with students with autism in New Orleans and the surrounding areas for 10 years prior to moving to Indiana in the summer of 2022. She is grateful for the opportunity to work with families outside of the classroom and has a passion for helping those with ASD and other related disabilities.


Tracy pictureTracy Collins, MSEd

COMMUNITY TRANSITION SPECIALIST

Tracy Collins joined the HANDS team in 2022. She has been a Special Education Teacher for the last 25 years working with individuals who have autism spectrum and related disorders.  She holds a passionate commitment to individuals with ASD and their development.  Her interest is in emphasizing the relevance of learning to the world beyond the classroom.  Her focus is on collaboration, training, and building partnerships with all those who support individuals with ASD.


Christina Rogers, BSW, MSW, LSW

COMMUNITY TRANSITION SPECIALIST

Christina joined the HANDS team in 2022. She has been with the IU School of Medicine for 17 years. Her career development has been in disability advocacy for the past 13 yrs assisting families looking at current Situations and orchestrating future goals successfully (Transition). When Christina is not at work, you will find her in her gardens.


Becca Panyard

IPP COORDINATOR

Becca joined the HANDS team in 2023 as the Project Management Specialist for our IPP project. Her educational background includes a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice and political science. She comes from a victim services background and has held a variety of roles including victim advocate, crisis intervention coordinator, and program director. She has always been passionate about making services, tools, and resources accessible to individuals with a range of disability identities.


Mikayla Lanzillo

IPP PROJECT SPECIALIST

Mikayla joined the HANDS team in 2023. She is a recent graduate of Saint Mary’s College, earning a Master of Autism Studies. With a background in psychology, Mikayla is interested in understanding mental health challenges for individuals on the autism spectrum. She would also like to continue to learn more about women on the spectrum and their experiences of motherhood. During her free time, she enjoys playing with her mini long-haired dachshund,  Yona.


Aditi Deodhar, PhD
RESEARCH SPECIALIST

Aditi joined the HANDS team in 2019 after completing her Ph.D. in Developmental Psychology at Indiana University-Bloomington. Her research focused on the development of self-regulation and socio-emotional processes during early childhood. In her spare time, she is an avid reader and loves to travel. Aditi is a Research Specialist at HANDS in Autism® collaborating on multiple ongoing research and service projects, as well as communicating research & data with diverse stakeholders including families, educators, medical professionals, and other community providers. 


Allison Crawford-Wallis

TRANSITION SUPPORT TECHNICIAN

Allison joined the HANDS team in 2021 and recently graduated from IUPUI in the Purdue School of Science studying Psychology with a minor in Sociology and a certificate in Child Abuse and Neglect. Her interest stems from personal interaction with individuals on the autism spectrum and the experiences they have faced navigating daily life. She hopes to gain more knowledge about autism and how best to help those in need of assistance.


Yashaswini Uppalapati

DATA SPECIALIST

Yashaswini joined the HANDS team in 2022 and is currently pursuing her master’s degree in Health Informatics at IUPUI, in the School of Informatics and Computing. Her current research areas include healthcare data analysis and biostatistics. Yashaswini works as a Research Assistant at HANDS, where she is currently working on the Autism Project ECHO. She is eager to deepen her knowledge and diversify her skillset through this role.


Mounika Gottipati

DATA SPECIALIST

Mounika joined the HANDS team in 2022. She is a Health Informatics master’s student at IUPUI in the SOIC department. Her current areas of academic and research interests include health data analytics, electronic health record systems, and clinical informatics. Mounika works as a Research Assistant at HANDS and is excited to be a part of the team and hopes to enhance her skills and knowledge to achieve higher career growth in the healthcare data analysis field.


KurtKurt Bassett
PROGRAM ASSISTANT

Kurt joined the HANDS team in 2017, coming from a wide range of experience, including; 4 years as a records manager at IDOE, 5 years as a cart collector at Walmart, interning for the Arc of Us, and a teacher aid at his church’s preschool. He volunteers at Riley Hospital, the Children’s Museum, and the Indianapolis Zoo. His hobbies include watching TV, reading history books, sailing, going on vacation with my family cooking, and playing with his dog. Kurt currently works to help put materials together for schools and trainings, host Coffee With Kurt, and assist with other office responsibilities on the HANDS team as a Program Assistant.  


Archana Darsanapu

RESEARCH ASSISTANT

Archana joined the HANDS team in 2022 and is currently pursuing her master’s degree in health informatics at IUPUI. Initially, she started as a Student Support Specialist and later transitioned to a Research Assistant role (NDI Exploratory Student Team Lead), aligning her work more closely with her current educational field (such as Data Analysis, Data coding, REDCap, and CERNER Handling, etc.,). Her academic and research interests are primarily focused on health data analysis and clinical informatics. Before joining HANDS, Archana completed her undergraduate studies in Doctor of Pharmacy (Pharm D) and actively contributed to the Indian Pharmaceutical Association Students’ Forum (IPASF) as a co-editor between March 2020 and March 2021. During her tenure, she successfully published four student magazines, highlighting her dedication and leadership skills. She hopes to give her best assistance and gain more knowledge through this period.


Baby Amulya Devarapalli

RESEARCH ASSISTANT

Baby Amulya Devarapalli, hailing from Guntur, Andhra Pradesh, India, is an ambitious student currently pursuing a master’s degree in health informatics at the Luddy School of Informatics & Computing, IUPUI. Having completed three semesters in the program, Devarapalli’s research interests encompass Health Data Analytics, Coding, Electronic Health Record systems, and Clinical Informatics. Amulya’s academic journey is complemented by an undergraduate degree in Doctor of Pharmacy (Pharm-D). In addition to academic pursuits, Amulya joined the HANDS in Autism Organization in 2023 and has taken on an impactful role as a Research Assistant with the Neurodiagnostic Institute (NDI) Exploratory team. This opportunity has allowed Amulya to actively contribute to the team’s research initiatives. With a deep-rooted enthusiasm for healthcare data analysis, Amulya seeks to leverage this expertise for significant career advancement in the field of Health Informatics.


Mrudhula Thuma

RESEARCH ASSISTANT

I’m Mrudhula, and I joined HANDS in AUTISM in February 2023 as a research assistant for the project Collaborative Sites. At the core of my responsibilities, I stand as the Team Lead for my project, utilizing my expertise to drive the team forward while primarily contributing as a proficient Data Analyst. My background includes a bachelor’s degree in dental surgery (BDS), and I previously worked as a dentist at a private clinic. Currently, I’m pursuing a master’s in health informatics from Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis. I’m excited about analyzing health data to improve outcomes and look forward to growing my research experience and data skills in this role. Let’s work together to make a difference!


Hari Priya Reddy Enugu

RESEARCH ASSISTANT

Hari Priya Reddy Enugu joined HANDS in 2023 Summer. I’m a professional with a background in dentistry and a strong passion for data analysis and clinical informatics. Currently pursuing a master’s degree in health informatics at IUPUI’s Luddy School of Informatics and Computing, she aims to merge her dental expertise with cutting-edge informatics methodologies. I serve as a Research Assistant for the NDI Operational Team, actively contributing to healthcare research projects. This dynamic position has enabled Hari Priya to make substantial contributions to the team’s pioneering research endeavors. Hari Priya’s interest lies in dental informatics, where she envisions leveraging data-driven insights to revolutionize dental healthcare delivery and enhance patient outcomes. Hari Priya’s commitment to advancing research and her aspiration to revolutionize health informatics underscore her pivotal role within the NDI Operational Team. Through her dedication and expertise, she strives to shape the future of healthcare by driving innovative insights and transformative discoveries.


Manasi Somasundaram

RESEARCH ASSISTANT

Manasi Somasundaram joined the HANDS team in May 2023. I finished my bachelor’s in Doctor of Pharmacy from Malla Reddy College of Pharmacy, India and I am currently pursuing my Masters degree in Health Informatics at IUPUI, in the Luddy School of Informatics, Computing, and Engineering. My current research areas include healthcare data analysis, coding, clinical research, and biostatistics. Here I am working as a Research Assistant in the Measures and Dissemination Team and am eager to expand my knowledge and broaden my skillset by taking on this role. I want to advance as a clinical data analyst or health data specialist and better myself academically and personally and contribute my part to the Autism Organization. I am eager to utilize my varied background and passion to bolster the team’s initiatives and play a part in furthering HANDS’ mission. Let’s collaboratively work towards crafting a more promising and healthier tomorrow for everyone.


Sai Tejawi Bidempudi

RESEARCH ASSISTANT

I am Sai Tejaswi Bodempudi, a dedicated health informatics master’s student at the Luddy School of Informatics & Computing, IUPUI. As a final semester graduate, my research interests span health data analytics, clinical informatics coding, and electronic health records. My journey includes a dentistry degree, and my passion lies in data analysis and clinical informatics. My dental practice experience, particularly with autistic children, inspired me to merge dentistry with informatics to enhance patient outcomes. Currently, I serve as a Research Assistant with the Neurodiagnostic Institute (NDI) Exploratory team’ in fall 2023. This role enables me to actively contribute to our research initiatives. I’m eager to apply my healthcare data analysis skills for career advancement in Health Informatics and, I’m thrilled to bring my diverse background to support our mission at HANDS.


Hymavathi Thota, B.  Pharmacy, MBA, MSHI

RESEARCH ASSISTANT

I’m Hymavathi Thota, a master’s student in Health Informatics in my final semester at the esteemed Luddy School of Informatics and Computing MBA with a focus on HR & Marketing from Gitam University Hyderabad Business School and a Bachelor of Pharmacy from Tamil Nadu Dr. MGR Medical University have both enhanced my educational experience. I have been uniquely prepared to negotiate the difficult world of health informatics through my varied academic backgrounds.

My passion for the medical field allowed me to work on both silicon and non-silicon projects at Riley Children’s Hospital, where I gained great practical experience. My grasp of healthcare systems has grown as a result of this experience, and my dedication to enhancing patient care has been strengthened.

As a Research Assistant with HANDS in 2023, specifically with the Autism ECHO Team, I started an exciting new job. I have assumed a crucial position in the Non-Programming Research Data and Program Evaluation Team within this dynamic team. My main goals are to improve my data analysis abilities, increase my clinical expertise, and acquire significant research experience to make a significant contribution to the field of autism research.

My passion to excel as a professional in the fields of health informatics and autism research is fueled by my unrelenting commitment and diversified skill set. As I continue my academic path, I’m committed to accomplishing even more and making a positive difference in the lives of autistic people.


Elias George

DIRECT SUPPORT ASSISTANT

In June 2023, Elias started his journey with HANDS. With a diverse educational background, I hold a Doctorate in Pharmacy, and a Bachelor’s degree in Social Work, and I’m currently pursuing a Master’s in Health Informatics at IUPUI. My journey has led me to join HANDS in June 2023 as a Direct Support Assistant. Throughout my academic and professional journey, I’ve developed a deep understanding of healthcare, social work, and family dynamics. My experience working with families and children during my bachelor’s in social work studies has instilled in me a strong sense of empathy and a commitment to fostering healthy relationships. My pharmacy expertise, coupled with my growing knowledge in health informatics, equips me with a unique skill set to contribute to the HANDS team. I believe in the power of collaboration and innovation to drive positive change. As a Direct Support Assistant, I’m excited to bring my diverse background and enthusiasm to support the team’s efforts and contribute to the mission of HANDS. Together, let’s create a brighter, healthier future for all.


Giroja Lashmi Kakani

DIRECT SUPPORT ASSISTANT

Hello, I’m Girija from India, and my journey with HANDS began in June 2023. I hold a bachelor’s degree in pharmacy and have 1.5 years of experience as a Junior Data Analyst in the Drug Safety Department. The intersection of information technology and healthcare, with its remarkable impact on patient safety, left me fascinated. This fascination prompted me to pursue a master’s degree in health informatics, and I am currently immersed in the second semester of my program. Within the HANDS team, I work as a Direct Support Assistant. I feel immense gratitude for the opportunity to work closely with interns, an experience that I find enjoyable and enriching. This role has provided me with deeper insights into Autism, equipping me with valuable knowledge on how to assist others in dealing with the challenges posed by this condition. My studies in Health Informatics enable me to use data and technology effectively, improving support services and ensuring data security for those I assist as a Direct Support Assistant. My commitment to positively impacting healthcare and Autism support shines through in my work at HANDS.


Keerthana Reddy Bompalli, BPT, MSHI

STUDENT SUPPORT SPECIALIST

Keerthana joined the HANDS team in 2023. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Physical Therapy and is currently pursuing her master’s degree in Health Informatics at IUPUI, in the Luddy School of Informatics and Computing. Her current areas of academic and research interest include health data analysis, clinical analytics, and EHR systems. As a Research Assistant at Hands in Autism, she aims to enhance her skills and knowledge while providing optimal support and gaining valuable insights into the field of Autism.


Akhil Bhimineni

STUDENT SUPPORT SPECIALIST

Akhil joined the HANDS in 2023 and is currently pursuing his master’s degree in computer and information science at IUPUI. He is currently working as a student support specialist, working mainly on sensory kits and bookstore. His academic and research interests are primarily focused on data analytics and data visualization. Before joining HANDS, Akhil completed his undergraduate studies in Mechanical Engineering with a specialization in Automobile Engineering. During this time, he worked as a team manager and driver for a student racing team, actively participating in the Quad Bike Design Challenge event and successfully securing the overall championship. In addition to his academic accomplishments, he gained invaluable real-world experience by serving as a Business Analyst for Walmart. In this capacity, he demonstrated exceptional proficiency by skillfully leveraging the advanced capabilities of Power BI to design and craft insightful and dynamic dashboards. He aspires to offer his utmost support and acquire further knowledge throughout this period, contributing effectively to HANDS.


Boti Ogunmola

STUDENT SUPPORT SPECIALIST

Boti Ogunmola joined the HANDS team as a student support specialist in 2023. She is pursuing her master’s degree in public health with a concentration in Global and Environmental Health at IUPUI, in the Fairbanks School of Public Health where she works as a teaching assistant. She completed her undergraduate degree in medicine from Nigeria and had the opportunity to practice clinical medicine briefly before proceeding to the US to pursue her master’s degree. Her research interests include global, environmental health, and child health. With a heart for Medicine and a love for Children, she hopes to gain more knowledge about autism care and give her best to ensure the program’s continued success.


Sravan Kumar Gadipudi

STUDENT SUPPORT SPECIALIST

Sravan Kumar Gadipudi joined the HANDS in 2023 and is currently pursuing his master’s degree in computer and information science at IUPUI. Prior to his current role, Sravan amassed two years of valuable experience as a skilled Data Engineer, mastering the art of handling intricate datasets and implementing innovative data-driven solutions. This practical experience provided him with a profound understanding of the practical applications of computer science in real-world scenarios. Sravan’s interest in Data Science began at SRM University, where he successfully earned his bachelor’s degree in computer science and engineering. His dedication to personal growth and knowledge expansion serves as a driving force as he seeks to contribute positively to the ever-evolving landscape of technology. During his tenure, Sravan is determined to continually expand his knowledge and provide unwavering support to HANDS.