Meet The UAS Team


Executive Director

Heather is a Psychology major from the University of Dayton and holds a certificate in Integrated Marketing Communications from DePaul University. With more than 20 years of experience, Heather has worked across various business sectors including under three Governor's at the State of Illinois, public, private, university and non-profit settings.

Heather joined Urban Autism Solutions in 2016.


Operations and Case Manager

Martha is a graduate of Lewis University with a degree in Social Work. She joined Urban Auti

sm Solutions 2015. Martha oversees all staff management in addition to programs and schedules for clients including goals and outcomes. Martha is also responsible for medication management and medical appointments, weekend activities and meets with clients one-on-one. Martha is a Chicago native who resides on the westside with her husband and daughter.


Communications Manager

Michelle is a graduate from the University of Illinois at Chicago and one of Urban Autism Solutions' original volunteers! She has partnered with multiple non-profit organizations throughout Chicago and is passionate about community development. As a communications strategist, she has worked with businesses around the country to optimize their stories. Michelle is always open to connecting with members of Chicago's community and individuals who want to learn more about the initiatives at Urban Autism Solutions.

 Vocational Instructor

Zechary earned his Bachelor’s in Music Education from VanderCook College of Music in 2012. Prior to joining Urban Autism Solutions, Zech spent two years working at the Walter Christopher Elementary School, where he taught music to children with exceptionalities. Zech continues his professional education by taking courses at the Resource Center for Autism and Developmental Delays.

Zechary is the heart and sole of Urban Autism Solutions, offering direct support to his many peers, serving clients in the urban agricultural setting, overseeing cooking and meal planning, providing community based instruction and fully participating in the young adult community life that encompasses Project 1212.

Images provided by Nico Martinez




Julie founded Urban Autism Solutions in 2012 with her husband Michael after recognizing a need to provide young adults with autism residential, social and vocational solutions. She is a non-voting member of the board.

A Speech-Language Pathologist for more than 33 years, Julie was also the owner of Pediatric Speech, Language and Literacy Services, a boutique pediatric evaluation and therapy business which has been serving the needs of children with complex language and learning difficulties for more than 13 years. Julie has also provided speech and language evaluation and treatment at Evanston and Glenbrook Hospitals, Northwestern Memorial Hospital, Chicago Institute for Neurosurgery and Neuro-Research and the Cove School. She has lectured and served as a clinical supervisor for the Northwestern University Voice, Speech and Language Service in the Department of Otolaryngology and has authored several articles related to communication disorders. Julie currently provides supervision for graduate students in the Rush Speech-Language Pathology program.

Julie attended Northwestern University and received her undergraduate and graduate degrees in Speech and Language Pathology from the School of Speech-Communication Sciences and Disorders. She is a member of the American Speech-Language and Hearing Association and the Illinois Speech-Language and Hearing Association and an advisory board member to the Rush University Occupational Therapy Department.

Julie has created programs and served hundreds of children with and without special needs in the areas of recreation, education, religious education and agricultural engagement.



Cindy Patrick is the Principal of CP Management Solutions, LLC, a company she founded after leaving Turner Broadcasting and CNN after 29 years, 20 of which were in executive management, in which she was responsible for the operation of CNN’s production facilities and a staff of more than over 800 employees, worldwide.
Cindy has been involved in the special needs community in Atlanta, through the Coralwood School and the Coralwood Foundation.   She has also served on the Board of Trustees at the Fernbank Museum of Natural History. A native of Corning, NY, Cindy graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Radio-TV-Film from Northwestern University.



Warren has 35 years of professional experience in state government and the private sector, focusing on economic development, public policy and financial services. He has a developed a reputation for creating and implementing successful programs that strengthen the Illinois economy.

Prior to forming his own company, Warren was as President and CEO of the Illinois Biotechnology Innovation Organization (iBIO) and the iBIO Institute, a trade association representing the diverse biotechnology industry in the biomedical, bio industrial and bioprocessing sectors.

Before joining iBIO, Warren led the revitalization of the Chicago-based Illinois Medical District Commission (IMDC), home to four hospitals, two academic medical research universities and the Chicago Technology Park by implementing initiatives involving real estate, infrastructure development, community health, translational research and clinical data.

From 2009-2012, Warren was Director of the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) and Director of Operations from 2003-2009. At DCEO Warren led initiatives to increase investments in business relocation and expansion, entrepreneurship and innovation, restore disadvantaged communities and develop workforce training to meet the challenges of the 21st century economy.

Warren began his career as a Legislative Analyst in the Illinois Senate, worked in the Office of the Illinois Treasurer and in the mortgage banking industry.

Warren is a life-long resident of Illinois having lived and worked in Olney, Springfield and Chicago and is the father of two beautiful daughters, Kristin and Allison. He has extensive knowledge of the entire State and in the Executive and Legislative branches of government at the local, state and federal level.


MARY WALSH, President of the UAS Board

Mary Walsh is the Deputy Director for Resource Management and Administration at the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s (NRC) Region III office and has more than 25 years of experience in a variety of leadership, program management, strategic planning, and project executive roles.

Prior to joining the NRC, Mary worked at the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) – where her roles included leading deployment activities for sustainable building technologies; serving as Chief of Staff for GSA’s $5.5 billion American Recovery and Reinvestment Act construction program; and overseeing national program and strategic planning activities for the Office of the Chief Architect’s $11 billion capital construction program.

Mary graduated from Harvard University with a Bachelor’s in economics and earned her Master of Science in real estate development from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Mary is  the board president of Urban Autism Solutions.




Dr. Louis Kraus is the director and founder of the AARTS Center at Rush and also Woman's Board Professor and Chief of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry Rush University Medical Center.

Dr. Kraus completed Medical School at the Chicago Medical School and did his psychiatry training at Northwestern University.  He is board certified in general psychiatry, child and adolescent psychiatry and forensic psychiatry.

Much of Dr. Kraus’s work focuses on the interface of child and adolescent psychiatry and the law, educational work and advocacy for children.  He is the Chairmen for the Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry Assembly, and is the elected representative to the American Psychiatric Association for Child Psychiatry (AACAP) to their Assembly. He has been the delegate for the AACAP to the American Medical Association (AMA) for the past fourteen years. He also serves as an elected member of the Council of Science and Public Health at the AMA. His lectures and writing focus on issues dealing with autism, delinquency and advocacy.

Dr. Kraus is the Medical Director for the Easter Seals Therapeutic Schools and is in charge of the psychiatric services through Rush at the Orthogenic School, a residential school in Hyde Park. Dr. Kraus also consults with approximately 15 school districts in Chicago and the northern suburbs, as well as the Department of Justice related to civil rights violations of incarcerated children.

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Angela is delighted to serve on the Advisory Committee for Urban Autism Solutions and brings a number of years of fundraising, marketing and special events experience with her.  In the early years of the foundation, Angela coordinated the UAS Symposium on autism, taught cooking classes at 1212 and helped with some of the grassroots initiatives. Angela is currently an events director for the largest recreational bicycle ride in Wisconsin.

Outside of work, Angela enjoys serving on the alumni board of her high school, volunteering for the Greek Hellenic Community, cooking, painting and going to the theatre.



Barbara McKillop is an experienced grant writer with expertise in the solicitation of funding support from foundation, federal and corporate resources. Barbara has a diverse background in working for community non-profits, community action agencies, and volunteer-based organizations and is committed to serving at-risk populations. She holds Master’s in Applied Anthropology from Brigham Young University and has served in the Peace Corps working in South America as a health and nutrition promoter and spent 13 years working as a humanities teacher in Paraguay.


Cheryl Prins is the co-owner and Executive Director of Active Visions, Inc., a social service agency committed to providing individuals with developmental disabilities an array of continuous services that enable them to achieve the best quality of life. Cheryl believes in individual empowerment, self-advocacy, community integration/inclusion and advocacy for families.
Active Visions, Inc. began in 1994 with specialized services including an active treatment program for individuals with intellectual disabilities living in nursing homes. Eager to offer more opportunities to individuals with disabilities, Active Visions, Inc. opened its first CILA home in 1997, in Niles, IL, and now operates 15 homes which support 65 individuals.

Active Visions, Inc. also began providing service facilitation to children and adults in the home-based program in 2000, and this program has since grown to include nearly 500 people. Counseling services began in 2013.


Marc Rolfes supports our work with strategy, financial, contracting and business operations expertise. Marc combines his skills and perspectives acquired from corporate positions and consulting engagements he has held for 20 years in the for-profit environment along with his more than 10 over ten years in the non-profit world sector. In the past five years Marc has consulted in the areas of non-profit business operations, strategic planning, Board governance, early-stage start-up strategy review, financial modeling, and expansion strategy.


Steve has been working on the web since 1996. With 20 years of experience, he’s has seen the industry change substantially. He is constantly learning and never settling for anything less than perfection; ensuring his brands are showcased properly on every electronic device.

Steve is passionate about music and non-profit industries. He has worked with Elektra Records, Wind-Up Records, Silent Majority and Machine Records artists. His non-profit work includes: Transform Rock County, Rock County Tobacco Free Coalition and Urban Autism Solutions.



Central Law Group consists of attorneys with extensive experience in the fields of real estate, estate planning, small business corporations and conflict resolution.

Thank you to Andrew Werth and Mary Frenzel for months of real estate representation and negotiation that led us to Project 1212.


The Illinois Medical District Commission (IMDC) fosters economic growth of the Illinois Medical District partners by supporting healthcare, research, program, technology commercialization and real estate development initiatives.

We are very grateful to the IMDC for providing Growing Solutions Farm with 1.2 acres of rent free land since 2013.


As a leading property developer, builder and owner, Lend Lease is focused on a integrated model, global scale and local expertise to deliver tranformational urbanization project that are embraced by users and create long term value for stakeholders.

The Lend Lease Foundation continues to support and help us grow through their talented team and generous donations.


From quick and cost-sensitive tenant development projects under impossible deadlines to complex lap space to corporate headquarters that extend brand identity, MRSA has a proven track record of delivering exceptional results.

Michael Semenzin and David Cassell have worked with Urban Autism Solutions to create a specialized interior environment that will support the residents of 1212 as well as members of the growing community.


Selden Fox is a team of knowledgeable and experienced professionals offering a wide range of auditing, accounting, taxation, and business consulting services.

We are very grateful to Edward Tracy and his colleagues for their financial representation, accounting and audits.


XL Catlin knows about risk and can help you manage it. Clients turn to them for support, security and intelligent risk management as it relates to insurance.

We are grateful for the ongoing work and support XL Catlin provides to us annually at the Growing Solutions Farm.




Rachel L. Loftin, Ph.D.

Clinical Psychologist, Assistant Professor
Clinical Director, AARTS Program
Department of Psychiatry
Rush University Medical Center
scheduling (312) 563-6637
office (312) 942-2969
fax (312) 942-4224

Soo Lee, M.D.

Psychiatrist, Assistant Professor
Department of Psychiatry
Rush University Medical Center
Scheduling: (312) 563-6637
Office: (312) 942-7315
Fax: (312) 942-4224

Latha V. Soorya, PhD, BCBA

Assistant Professor
Research Director, AARTS Program
Department of Psychiatry
Rush University Medical Center
2150 West Harrison Street
Chicago, IL 60612
Office: (312) 942-3767
Fax: (312) 942-8576