Meet Our Management Team


Dawn Allen
dawnallen@ghainc.org
Dawn Allen

Dawn Allen, Chief Executive Officer

Dawn Allen has been the Chief Executive Officer of GHA Autism Supports, formerly known as Group Homes for the Autistic/GHA, since 1984. She received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology from Pfeiffer University and a Master of Education from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. Dawn joined the organization as a direct care staff person in 1981 when it was then known as “The Group Home for the Autistic”, the first residence that was home to five children. Since that time, GHA Autism Supports has expanded offering a number of services for individuals with autism. Under her leadership, the entity has grown from an organization serving five children to an organization that currently supports over 90 individuals in programs providing residential, vocational, educational, community and in-home services.

Within her professional realm, Dawn has served as a Past-President of Cardinal Innovations/Piedmont Network Council and Past-President of the NC Providers Association.  Currently, she serves as a member of the Admissions Committee of the Murdoch Developmental Center and serves on the Board of Directors of Rubicon. In both 1998 and 2008, Dawn was named “Professional of the Year” by the Autism Society of North Carolina (ASNC). In addition, she was presented the Achievement Award by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Division TEACCH Program in 2008.  In 2012, Dawn was awarded the NC Providers Council “Steve Jordan Lighthouse Award” for her extraordinary contributions to the IDD, MH and SA systems through innovative practices, inspiring leadership and passionate advocacy efforts.  In 2017, she was awarded the Pfeiffer University Distinguished Alumni Award.

Over the years, Dawn has remained active in her community by serving as Past-President and Campaign Chair of the United Way of Stanly County and has served several terms on the Executive Committee of the Stanly County Chamber of Commerce. Currently, she serves as the Chair of the Advisory Council for Atrium Health in Stanly County, the Board of Directors for the Stanly County Community Foundation and is also an active member of the Albemarle Rotary Club.

 

Janet Banks
janetbanks@ghainc.org
Janet Banks

Janet Banks, Chief Innovations Officer

Janet Banks earned a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and a Masters of Arts in Clinical Psychology from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte.  She joined GHA Autism Supports in 1991 and currently serves as the Chief Innovations Officer where her job responsibilities include psychology programming, behavioral consultation, and the development of training curricula. She oversees the professional development of agency best practices, policies and methodologies. In addition to direct care work, Janet also served as the Director of the Autism Society of North Carolina’s Summer Camp Program and as a TEACCH Psycho-Educational Therapist, and continues to serve as a TEACCH Practitioner.  She serves as the agency international liaison and enjoys traveling to train others about autism and to represent GHA Autism Supports.

 

 

Tonia Diggs
toniadiggs@ghainc.org

Tonia Diggs

Tonia Diggs, Chief Human Resources

As the Chief Human Resources Officer of GHA Autism Supports, Tonia oversees the organization’s human resource practices and employee relations. She is a graduate of North Carolina State University and holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Speech Communications, with a concentration in Public Relations. Prior to joining the organization in 1998, Tonia had 7 years of previous human resource management experience in manufacturing and distribution. She is an active member at Memorial Baptist Church in Norwood, NC.

 

Sandra Morton
sandramorton@ghainc.org
Sandra Morton

Sandra Morton, Chief Financial Officer

Sandra joined GHA Autism Supports in January, 2011 and was named Chief Financial Officer in June, 2012.  She is responsible for ensuring the financial stability and liability of the organization through financial projections and reporting of revenues of expenses.  Sandra received both her Bachelor of Science in Business Administration and Master of Accounting degrees from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in May, 1994.  She is also a North Carolina Certified Public Accountant (CPA) and has over 22 years of experience in nonprofit accounting.  Sandra is active in her community and has served as the Assistant Treasurer at Memorial Baptist Church.

 

Beth Olivieri
betholivieri@ghainc.org
Beth Olivieri

Beth Olivieri, Chief Development Officer

As the Chief Development Officer of GHA Autism Supports, Beth oversees the research and development of revenue and marketing opportunities, which includes the cultivation of donations through individuals, corporations, foundations and fundraising events.  Prior to joining the organization in 2009, she served as the Executive Director of the United Way of Stanly County and as the Director of Marketing and Human Resources for Home Savings Bank in Albemarle.  Beth is a graduate of Pfeiffer University and holds a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology. She remains active in her community and serves as President of the Albemarle Middle School PTO, President of the Albemarle High School Boosters Club, a member of the Board of Directors for the Stanly County Family YMCA and a member of the Stanly County/NC Pre-K Advisory Committee.  She is also an active member of First Lutheran Church in Albemarle.

 

Dee Pankey
deepankey@ghainc.org
Dee Pankey

Dee Pankey-Thompson, Chief Training Officer

As the Chief Training Officer of GHA Autism Supports, Dee oversees the agency’s advanced training initiatives.  She is a 1998 graduate of Catawba College and holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Computer Information Systems with a Minor in Sociology.  In 2010, Dee earned her Master of Science in Leadership and Organizational Change from Pfeiffer University.  She currently serves as a member of the Cardinal Innovations/Piedmont Cultural Competency Sub-Committee. Dee is also active in her community and serves as the Board Chair for the Stanly County Family YMCA .  In addition, Dee currently serves as the Treasurer of the Albemarle Middle School PTO.  Dee has been employed at GHA Autism Supports since 1997.

 

 

 

Melissa Rivera
melissarivera@ghainc.org

Melissa Rivera

Melissa Rivera, Chief Quality Officer

As the Chief Quality Officer of GHA Autism Supports, Melissa graduated from Gardner Webb College with a BA in Sociology in 1992. She attended the University of North Carolina in Charlotte and received her Masters in Special Education in 2000. Melissa has had exposure and direct  involvement with the Intellectual Developmental Disabilities population, federal and state waiver support services (ICF & IID), children, aging population, as well as a member of various state affiliated associations.  She has worked in this field for over 26 years in various roles, which have developed her skills which include clinical, medical knowledge, management, team building and leadership roles. Melissa is committed and is passionate about working with individuals with developmental disabilities.