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Siskin Ceo looks back on first year, shares vision for future


Chattanooga, Tenn., September 22, 2019


More than 2,000 children with special needs from six different states walked through the doors of the Center for Developmental Pediatrics at Siskin Children's Institute in the past year.

Many of them come seeking treatment and support for developmental delays and disorders, while others come with families seeking answers.

About half of the kids will have a diagnosis of Down syndrome, cerebral palsy or a genetic disorder. The other half will be diagnosed with autism or suspected of autism.

Siskin houses the area's only board certified developmental behavioral pediatrician specially trained to treat these disorders. And although those 2,000 children benefit greatly from the service, Derek Bullard, president and CEO of Siskin Children's Institute, said it's not enough.

Read the full article.

As reported in the Chattanooga Times Free Press - September 22, 2091- Author: Elizabeth Fite


Siskin Children’s Institute Provides Free Parent Workshops This Fall


Chattanooga, Tenn., September 19, 2019


CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. - Siskin Children’s Institute is happy to provide free workshops for parents of young children with an Autism Spectrum Disorder in partnership with the Chattanooga Autism Center and Vanderbilt Kennedy Center’s Treatment & Research Institute for Autism Spectrum Disorders (TRIAD) program this fall. 

The three hour informative workshops provide insight and strategies for parents of young children with an Autism Spectrum Disorders. These strategies are based on the principles of Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) and focus on skills that can beused not only at home, but in schools and the community. Topics for this fall include addressing challenging behavior, developing successful sleep habits and teaching basic communication skills. Workshops will be held one Saturday of every month with childcare and lunch included. To RSVP or find more informationon these free sessions visit

“We are so grateful to be able to provide these free parent workshops for families caring for children with an Autism Spectrum Disorder, “ says Deidra Love, workshop facilitator. “We know that building the skill sets of parents will have long-term benefits for their children.”

Thanks to the Rotary Club of Chattanooga for generously supporting this parent education series this year.


multi-platinum selling band starship to rock starnight, featuring mickey thomas


Chattanooga, Tenn., July 3, 2019


CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. – SiskinChildren’s Institute is excited to announce this year’s concert headliner,Starship Featuring Mickey Thomas. StarNight 2019 will be held on Saturday,August 24 at the Chattanooga Convention Center with Alnoor and Gina Dhanani ofThe Double Cola Company taking the helm as co-chairs. 

Mickey Thomasis the owner of the soaring voice that propelled Starship through the decadesof the 80’s and 90’s. With his soulful and compelling vocals, Mickey hasestablished himself as one of Rock Music’s most recognizable stars. Mickey madehis mark in 1976 as lead vocalist on the mega-hit “Fooled Around and Fell inLove” with The Elvin Bishop Band. In 1979, Mickey’s joined Jefferson Starshipas lead vocalist, after the departure of Grace Slick and Marty Balin.

Backed by thepower of Mickey’s vocals, Jefferson Starship immediately scored a #1 hit with“Jane.” With this new sound and powerful new vocals, the group was renamed Starshipand continued to record an amazing string of hits including “No Way Out”, “We BuiltThis City”, “Sara”, and earned an Oscar nomination for the #1 hit “NothingGonna Stop Us Now” from the movie, Mannequin.Other top hits included “Find Your Way Back”, “Stranger”, “Laying It on theLine”, and “It’s Not Over Till It’s Over” which became Major League Baseball’stheme in 1987.

Moreover, every Starship album released since 1979 has gone Gold, Platinum, orMulti-Platinum. Mickey’s stellar voice and video charisma on Starship’s videoclassics such as “We Built This City” and “Sara” have become staples on MTV andVH1. In addition to Mickey, band members include Jeff Adams – bass, John Roth –guitar, Phil Bennett – keyboards, Darrell Verdusco – drums, and Stephanie Calvert– vocals.  

StarNightguests will enjoy a full night of entertainment as Chattanooga native RobinGrant will grace our cocktail reception stage. Robin has been delighting localaudiences for many years. With the recent release of her first criticallyacclaimed CD, Good Girls she is nowgarnering national acclaim. Good Girlsis a collection of original jazz songs reminiscent of the all-time great standards.The album debuted at number four on iTunes jazz charts. Robin's soulfulstylings may take her listeners back to the great Tinpan Alley days of the1920's 30's and 40's, but it's with an edgy delivery and sizzle that resonateswith the youthful in body & spirit. Her live shows showcase her vocalsthroughout her diverse repertoire of all-time-favorites mixed with her popularoriginal compositions.  

To round outthe night, Bizz & Everyday People will keep you dancing in the StarNightafter party. The group, based out of Nashville, TN, hosts dynamic talents whohave dedicated their lives to music. They’ve performed all across the SouthernUnited States since 2011.  

StarNight 2019wouldn’t be possible without our sponsors:  Double Cola Company, Siskin Steel & Supply Company, SecurAmerica,Hamico, Southeastern Salvage, JoAnn Yates, CBL Properties, Mitch and Deborah Everhart, Athens Distributing,Chattanooga Times Free Press, Sinclair Broadcasting Group, Reagan Outdoor Advertising, 98.1 The Lake, and Allegra Printing.

StarNight 2019opens with a cocktail reception with Robin Grant beginning at 6 p.m., thenmoves to a formal dinner followed by a concert performance by StarshipFeaturing Mickey Thomas. An electrifying after-party with dancing and music fromBizz & Everyday People will round out the night.

For more information and tickets, visit


Siskin Children’s Institute Announces family advisory council members


Chattanooga, Tenn., June 24, 2019


CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. –Siskin Children’s Institute Family Voices of Tennessee Southeast Partnership selected 17 individuals to serve on the inaugural Family Advisory Council. This group of parents, alongside representatives of community partners, will focus on bringing awareness and changes in areas of importance to families caring for children with chronic illness, special health care needs, and disabilities. 

“We are happy to bring together parents caring for children with special needs as well as those who have grown children to work alongside our community partners to advocate for changes in our community,” says Lisa Spurlock, coordinator of the Family Voices of Tennessee program at Siskin Children’s Institute. “Together we can provide vital connections for families and serve as a vehicle of communication and collaboration between family leaders and community leaders working to reach common goals through family-centered care, inclusion, advocacy."

Family Advisory Council members were appointed after all candidates underwent an interview process to gauge their ability to advocate on behalf of the children with special needs and their families, share their own experiences openly and effectively, and build an active and engaged community of parents.

Those selected for the Family Advisory Council are Kathy Corley, Alyssa Darmody, Chrystal Murphy, April Nesin, Morgan Oostra, Mequitta Owens, Cindy Parker, Caroline Rogers, Sara Scott, and Mary Jane Thomas. 

The following individuals represent community partners selected to serve: Ashley Allen, Erlanger Medical Center, Family Advisory Council Leader; Roddy Coe, Tennessee Council on Developmental Disabilities; Elaine Adams Gossett, City of Chattanooga, Therapeutic Recreation; Valerie Rutledge, University of Tennessee, Chattanooga, College of Health, Education, and Professional Studies; Kristi Tankersley, Orange Grove Center, Tennessee Family Support Program; and April Wilson, University of Tennessee, Chattanooga, College of Social Work.

The Helen Siskin Pregulman Family Voices of Tennessee Southeast Partnership offers resources, support, and guidance to parents as they care for children with special healthcare needs, chronic illnesses, or disabilities.


Siskin Children’s Institute Announces Co-chairs for Annual StarNight Concert Gala
Alnoor and Gina Dhanani to take the helm


Chattanooga, Tenn., June 4, 2019


CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. – Siskin Children’s Institute is excited to announce this year’s co-chairs for StarNight 2019, Alnoor and Gina Dhanani. Siskin Children’s Institute holds a special place in the hearts of Alnoor and Gina, as their youngest daughter attended the Siskin Early Learning Center for several years. StarNight, Chattanooga’s premiere gala, will be held on Saturday, August 24 at the Chattanooga Convention Center and welcome nearly 1500 people for a night of music, dancing, and fun in support of children with special needs served by the Institute. 

“We are thrilled to be chosen as this year’s StarNight co-chairs,” says Gina Dhanani. “Siskin Children’s Institute is such a special place for families in our community and we know that first hand as our daughter attended the early learning center for several years. We saw the love and friendship that blossomed with all the children in that inclusive environment and are grateful she was able to experience that at such an early age. We couldn’t be happier to support the great work of Siskin Children’s Institute and all they are doing for children with special needs.” 

Alnoor Dhanani is the President and C.E.O. of The Double Cola Company, a part of the K. J. Group of Companies. Double-Cola is a 90 year old company that was founded in Chattanooga, TN and still maintains its headquarters here. Alnoor has extensive experience in international business, having negotiated investment and licensing agreements in several countries around the world. In the course of these negotiations, he has worked closely with local governments and with public and private sector institutions. Alnoor has a Bachelor’s of Business Administration degree from Schiller College (London) and has also attended the MSBA graduate program of Boston University. Alnoor has been involved with several community organizations United Way, Metropolitan YMCA, Chattanooga Area Chamber of Commerce, and UTC among others.
Gina Dhanani is the Chief Operating Officer of The Double Cola Company. She has been with The Double Cola Company since 2004, and has been extremely influential in leading the company’s growth over the last several years. She has shown true vision for the company through the planning and execution of new products, such as QUAD Energy, MINOKU Coconut Water, and ZILI Tea—products that have expanded the company’s traditional product offering for the first time in 90+ years. As a mother of four, Gina has a heart for advocating for children and practices this through volunteering her time with several local non-profits. Gina holds a bachelor’s degree from The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga and an MBA from Auburn University. She is also a graduate of the Chattanooga Chamber of Commerce’s Leadership Chattanooga and Chattanooga Women’s Leadership Institute’s Women Mentoring Women. In 2009, Gina was recognized in City Scope Magazine’s Gold Club, featuring 30 influential business leaders in the community, and was featured in Chatter Magazine’s “20 under 40” in 2018. 

StarNight 2019 opens with a cocktail reception beginning at 6 p.m., then moves to a formal dinner followed by a concert performance. An electrifying after-party with dancing and music from Bizz & Everyday People will round out the night. 

For more information and tickets, visit


Southeastern Salvage Home Emporium Provides New Landscaping 


Chattanooga, Tenn., May 15, 2019


CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. – Southeastern Salvage, a locally owned home store, along with owners Bubba and Carla Morgan have generously helped create a more inviting area outside the main entrance for children and their families, valued at more than $15,000. The Morgans recruited the team at Reedy’s Landscaping including owners, Galen and Barbara, to help design and bring to life a beautiful and welcoming entryway to be enjoyed as families bring their children with special needs to the Institute for specialized services such as therapy and developmental assessments.  

“We are so grateful for Southeastern Salvage Home Emporium and the Morgan family’s support over the years,” says Derek Bullard, president and CEO of Siskin Children’s Institute. “Because of their incredible donations we have been able to reallocate those dollars into programs and services for children with special needs in our community.” 

Children from the Siskin Early Learning Center also had the opportunity to explore the area as part of a classroom project on bugs and insects. The children spent time digging for worms and looking for interesting bugs they could research to learn more about their natural environments and life cycle.

The Morgan family has been a long-time supporter of the Institute’s work serving children with special needs in our community and have given not only of their resources, but also their time. Carla has served on the Institute’s board of directors and chaired the marketing and development committee for many years while their daughter, McCall, co-founded a mixed doubles tennis tournament alongside a classmate at Baylor School benefiting the Institute. The family chaired StarNight in 2016, the largest fundraiser for Siskin Children’s Institute and dedicated numerous hours to organizing the event.

“We’d never be able to do all that we can for children with special needs in this community if it weren’t for friends like the Morgan family and Southeastern Salvage Home Emporium,” says Linda McReynolds, director of development and communication at the Institute. “We are so blessed for their more than 30 years of support.”


Normal Park Students Visit Siskin Museum of Religious Artifacts


Chattanooga, Tenn., May 10, 2019


CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. – Students from Normal Park Museum Magnet School’s 6th grade class visited the Siskin Museum of Religious Artifacts housed at Siskin Children’s Institute in early May. Students have spent the semester learning about different religions around the world. Each class had the opportunity to view rare and precious artifacts that were part of a larger collection of religious pieces dating back to 16th century.

Mose and Garrison Siskin, founders of Siskin Children’s Institute, commissioned Rabbi Harris Swift to collect artifacts. Through a series of trips to Europe in the 1950s he located and purchased religious artifacts, many representing their Jewish faith. Swift was able to collect more than 400 pieces including 247 Judaic and 140 Christian ranging from the 16th to 20th century. In addition, a number of pieces were collected representing Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, Confucianism, and others.  

Students visiting the museum were tasked with identifying and illustrating pieces that represented various world religions while also finding pieces that were meaningful to them. The visit was the culmination of a semester of study on world religions.

The Siskin Museum of Religious Artifacts is housed at Siskin Children’s Institute and is open to the public for self-guided tours Monday through Friday from 9am-4pm. Guided tours are available by appointment. To learn more about the Siskin Museum of Religious Artifacts, visit


Siskin Children's institute welcomes three new board certified behavior analyists


Chattanooga, Tenn., May 10, 2019


CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. – In an effort to enhance access to care for local children with special needs and their families, Siskin Children’s Institute has developed a new Applied Behavior Analysis Therapy program. The new team includes many Registered Behavior Technicians (RBT) and three Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA).

Kayla Lentz,  M.Ed., LBA, BCBA
Kayla is a licensed and Board Certified Behavior Analyst. She has experience working with individuals of all ages and with a wide range of abilities but has a passion for working with children with an autism diagnosis. She received her bachelor’s degree in applied behavior analysis from the University of North Texas and her master’s degree from Arizona State University. Kayla especially enjoys teaching functional living skills and communication.

Jessica Palmier, BCBA
Jessica is a licensed Board Certified Behavior Analyst. She received both her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Auburn University. Jessica has experience working with preschool and school aged children in home and school settings. In addition to these services she has worked in many other settings including adult services, the foster care system, and a private clinic. Jessica contributes the knowledge and expertise to teach families how to respond to challenging behaviors and teach appropriate behaviors by utilizing the principles of applied behavior analysis

Jane White, BCBA, LBA
Jane is a Board Certified Behavior Analyst and TN Licensed Behavior Analyst with over a decade of experience in the field of ABA. She holds a B.A. in Psychology from University of North Carolina Asheville and an M.A. in Applied Behavior Analysis from University of South Florida. Jane has experience working with preschool and school-age children in home, clinic, and school settings. As a graduate student, Jane conducted research in the area of verbal behavior with children with autism. She has special interests in the areas of verbal behavior and early intensive behavioral intervention.

Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) is an evidence-based form of therapy that focuses on increasing positive and helpful behaviors while also decreasing unwanted behaviors. It can help increase language and communication skills, improve focus, memory, and academic performance, and enhance social skills with peers and adults. ABA is oftentimes a primary tool when working with children with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) and other developmental disabilities.

ABA therapy is customized to meet the needs and goals of each child. Therapists will work with each family to help develop these goals and strategies based on the child's interests and skills in order to increase positive and helpful behaviors.

The ABA therapy program at Siskin is ideal for children 18 months old to 12 years of age. BCBAs, along with RBTs, will work with each child and their family to develop an ABA program to meet the needs of that individual child.

Learn more about ABA.


Southeastern Salvage HOme Emporium Supports Siskin Families


Chattanooga, Tenn., April 24, 2019


CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. – Spring has sprung at Siskin Children’s Institute thanks to the generosity of Southeastern Salvage and Carla and Bubba Morgan, longtime supporters of the Institute and its’ work serving children with special needs in our community. The Morgans kindly give their time, talent, and treasure to support the Institute and have recently helped refresh many of the classrooms, a multipurpose room, and outdoor spaces in recent months. Classrooms in the Siskin Early Learning Center enjoyed new furnishings including rugs, while a space often used for therapy and other enrichment programs received new flooring. “We are incredibly grateful to Southeastern Salvage and the Morgan family for their generosity,” says Derek Bullard, President and CEO of Siskin Children’s Institute. “Thanks to their kindness, families have a welcoming atmosphere when walking in to the building, children have rugs and other furnishings in the classroom, and our multipurpose space now has flooring that allows for more activities and that will last for years to come.” In addition, Southeastern Salvage and the Morgan family also helped spruce up the front of the building by updating the landscaping and clearing some overgrown vines.  

The Morgan family and their support continues as they’ve served as co-chairs for several fundraising events supporting the Institute including StarNight and StyleWorks, signature fundraising events each year. Carla has also served for many years on the Institute board of directors and recently chaired the development and marketing committee. Additionally, their daughter, McCall Morgan, co-founded of Serving it Up for Siskin, a tennis tournament organized by the Baylor School Tennis Team that benefits children with special needs served by the Institute. 

The Morgan family have even helped provide a Santa experience for many of the children Siskin serves by providing stockings and small gifts for children in December each year.

“Thank you to the Morgan family and Southeastern Salvage for ensuring that families caring for children with special needs feel welcome and at ease when at the Institute, “ says Linda McReynolds, Director of Development and Communications. “We are so grateful for their involvement and support for the last 30 years."


Silverdale baptist academy hosts 5th annual egg hunt 


Chattanooga, Tenn., April 16, 2019


CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. – On April 12 the Silverdale Baptist Academy Interact Club held the 5th annual Egg Hunt at Siskin Children’s Institute for the children and families of the Siskin Early Learning Center. This partnership began five years ago when the Interact Club at Silverdale Baptist Academy wanted to begin a legacy event, a project that would impact the community and would be an annual event to help others locally.

The Interact Club is a student led organization and follows a special motto, Service above Self. “This is my third year going, I love the egg hunt because it’s an outlet to serve and give God glory, and it brings me joy to see us impact the lives of kid’s and show the love of Christ,” says Timothy Moyers. The club is associated with the Rotary Club and after meeting with the mayor’s council on disabilities a suggestion was made to present their egg hunt idea to Siskin Children’s Institute. Since then, the club has visited the Institute every spring with hundreds of eggs, activities like face painting, and this year they invited the Chattanooga Fire Department as well.

“The Easter Egg Hunt at Siskin has become one of our signature projects,” says Nikki Bautista, Foreign Language Department Head at Silverdale Baptist Academy and Interact Club sponsor. The club also helps with other events supporting children, raises money for families that need water filters in Cubulco, Guatemala, sock drives for the homeless, and more.

“This is by far one of our favorite service projects!” said Beth Allison, Silverdale Baptist Academy High School IMPACT Teacher. Beth teaches a self-contained class for students with disabilities at the Academy and every year she brings her students to participate in the Interact Club Egg Hunt. One of her students is an alumni of the Siskin Early Learning Center. Beth says “It’s been so special, to her parents, to see that she’s able to give back and serve at a school that was so special to them.”

Julie Mickel, Director of the Siskin Early Learning Center, says “We are so impressed with these students from Silverdale Baptist and their passion for helping children in the community. Our children, families, and staff look forward to this event every year.” 


Suntrust foundation gives $10,000 to help establish helen siskin pregulman family voices of tennessee southeast partnership


Chattanooga, Tenn., April 8, 2019


CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. – Thanks to the SunTrust Foundation, families will have additional access to resources through the newly established Helen Siskin Pregulman Family Voices of Tennessee Southeast Partnership. The Partnership, in collaboration with Family Voices of Tennessee and the Tennessee Disability Coalition, provides emotional and educational support to the families of children with special health care needs, chronic illnesses, or disabilities.

“We’re thrilled to receive funding from the SunTrust Foundation that will help us provide parent workshops on a number of different topics related to their child’s well-being, parenting a child with special needs, and building community,” says Lisa Spurlock, Family Voices of Tennessee Southeast Coordinator at Siskin Children’s Institute.

The SunTrust Foundation generously awarded the Institute a grant of $10,000 to assist in providing local families resources and information they want and need as they continue on their journey caring for their child. “It is so important that parents have access to information, support, and resources that help them help their child. We are grateful that the SunTrust Foundation is providing that support,” said Derek Bullard, president and CEO of Siskin Children’s Institute.

“We’re committed to ensuring the well-being of children with special needs and their families,” said Jim Vaughn, SunTrust Bank East Tennessee market president. “That’s why the SunTrust Foundation continues to support Siskin Children’s Institute for their dedication and innovative ways to instill confidence among children with all abilities.” 


Siskin Center for Developmental Pediatrics Implements New Technology to Help More Families


Chattanooga, Tenn., March 14, 2019


CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. – New technology at Siskin Children’s Institute will enhance how children with special needs are served in our community. The new real time teleconferencing system, being rolled out this month in the Siskin Center for Developmental Pediatrics, will improve how children and families access care and will utilize distant site partners and providers. Developmental Pediatrics is recognized as one of the fields with the greatest shortages of pediatric subspecialists, and as such, recruiting Developmental Pediatricians can be especially difficult. However, the need for these specialists continues to grow as more and more families are referred to the Institute for developmental assessments and testing. “This new technology will be a huge asset for the Institute as we continue to grow,” says Stephanie Cooper-Wilkes, Director of Healthcare Administration at Siskin. “We’re excited to roll this out and begin seeing families for follow up visits and other non-diagnostic needs using teleconferencing format.” Families will continue to see an on-site provider for all initial visits and diagnostic-related appointments.

A Spring City family knows that first-hand as they were the first to take advantage of this technology in early March as they came in for a follow up appointment with Siskin’s Dr. Van Decar. During the visit, Dr. Van Decar was able to interact with the child and his family just as he had done in their previous visit, he was able to simultaneously review patient records and notes taken from the last visit, share growth charts, and other relevant information with the family in real time via the conferencing system. 

“This new technology puts Siskin Children’s Institute in an excellent position to serve more children and recruit additional physicians from our region who may not be able to be in the office every day, but can use the telemedicine/telecommunications software to treat families from an off-site location,” says Derek Bullard, President and CEO of the Institute. “We are excited to be able to help more families and hope to increase access to care for families in our rural areas in the coming months.”

Learn more about the Siskin Center for Developmental Pediatrics.

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