PRESIDENT AND CEO
Derek Bullard has a passion for serving children and families with mental illness and special needs and has been dedicated to this cause for over 20 years, serving in several roles—CEO, board member, therapeutic foster parent, and as a community advocate. He believes in forming strategic relationships to improve the lives of children and families.
As the founder and former CEO of Access Family Services, a multi-state behavioral health provider, Derek was responsible for leading the organization from inception to an organization with 11 offices throughout North and South Carolina. Under his leadership as CEO, Derek helped guide the organization to become one of the first agencies in North Carolina to achieve certification as a critical access behavioral healthcare agency. The organization also achieved the highest national accreditation with The Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitative Facilities (CARF) for nine consecutive years.
As a native of Charlotte, North Carolina, Derek has founded and been involved with multiple entrepreneurial ventures and served as both a volunteer and board member for local non-profits including Mecklenburg County Communities in Schools, YBM Leadership Alliance, Youth Homes and Illuminations Youth Empowerment.
EXECUTIVE ASSISTANT TO PRESIDENT/CEO & EVENTS MANAGER
Wendy Bennett is the executive assistant to the President & CEO. In addition Wendy manages the production of Star Night and Style Works, the signature fundraising events for the Institute. Bennett is a graduate of Georgia Northwestern Technical Institute.
CHIEF OPERATING OFFICER
Jeaninne Houck directs all financial affairs for the Institute as well as human resources and facilities. She began her career in 1993 as an accountant with a local CPA firm and in 1998 became the finance director for the Hamilton County Community Services Agency, serving on various committees for the Department of Children's Services and working with grantors and private foundations in children's programs. Houck is a graduate of Tennessee Temple University.
DIRECTOR, EARLY LEARNING CENTER
Julie serves as director of the Early Learning Center. Julie has more than 20 years of experience in the field of early childhood education, early intervention and special education. A 14-year veteran of the Institute, she provided outreach services to the community through professional and student training on early childhood special education. Recently she has taken the consulting lead with several Tennessee public school systems seeking to bring children with disabilities into an inclusive environment. Additionally, she has presented at numerous conferences both locally and nationally on inclusive practices. She began her career as a preschool special education teacher in Georgia. She has a bachelor’s degree in Speech-Language Pathology and a master’s degree in Early Childhood Special Education from the University of Tennessee-Knoxville.
DIRECTOR, DEVELOPMENT AND COMMUNICATIONS
Linda manages the development and communications department of Siskin Children’s Institute. This department is responsible the annual fund, special event fundraisers, community relations, and grant–related support. She comes to the Institute with over 40 years experience in community work in the field of early childhood education, community, and fund development. She is active in the Association of Fundraising Executives, Chattanooga Women’s Leadership Institute, Downtown Chamber of Commerce, Chattanooga Civitans, The Chattanooga Area Association for the Education of Young Children, Tennessee Association for the Education of Young Children and the National Association of Young Children. She is a graduate of the University of TN at Chattanooga.
Director of healthcare administration
CENTER FOR DEVELOPMENTAL PEDIATRICS
Stephanie Cooper-Wilkes joined Siskin Center for Developmental Pediatrics as the Business Manager in April 2012. Stephanie currently has over 12 years in medical practice management experience. Prior to joining Siskin, Stephanie was a Regional Practice Manager for Erlanger Health Systems, where she managed several physician practices. While employed as the Practice Manager for Erlanger, Stephanie led several offices through start-up, survival, turnaround and growth modes. From 2005 through 2009, Stephanie was a Billing Office Manager for a Plastic Surgery Group located in Atlanta, GA. Stephanie managed the daily operations of billing in excess of several million/yr. Stephanie’s goals as the Practice Manager for Siskin Developmental Pediatrics office are first, adhering to the Siskin mission, along with prioritizing the support of high-quality patient care and satisfaction.
DIRECTOR, HOME & COMMUNITY-BASED EARLY INTERVENTION
Deidra Love earned her master’s degree in Early Childhood Special Education from UTC, as well as undergraduate degrees in Education and English from Carson Newman University. She brings more than 18 years of experience in the early intervention field, as a teacher, home visitor, and behavior specialist/consultant. Deidra has focused additional study and professional work in the fields of autism, challenging behavior, and inclusion, providing training and workshops for preschool teachers and early intervention professionals across the state. Additionally, she is the mother of four children, and she is passionate about supporting the developmental therapists on her team, who in turn, help families and caregivers build their skills and confidence as capable teachers of their own children. “I am very grateful and excited to join this team as director of the Home and Community-based Early Intervention Program here at Siskin Children’s Institute. I believe the work of home visitors is so important, as we strive to increase children’s progress and growth by building on the strengths and supporting the needs of their families. I look forward to investing in and leading our dedicated and skilled group of home visitors here at Siskin, as well as expanding our program to reach more children and families in the Chattanooga community and surrounding counties.”