BCDD Staff

For general questions regarding services, referrals or programs please call the main number at (901) 448-6511.


Frederick B. Palmer, MD photoFrederick B. Palmer, MD
Director, Boling Center for Developmental Disabilities
Shainberg Professor of Pediatrics Email: fpalmer@uthsc.edu

Dr. Palmer is committed to interdisciplinary training of professionals in comprehensive, coordinated, family-centered care and supports for children and adults with disabilities. He has worked closely with the American Board of Pediatrics and the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology in developing certification policies and procedures in the subspecialty of Neurodevelopmental Disabilities. Dr. Palmer's special clinical service interests are in cerebral palsy, autism spectrum disorders, preschool language disorders and better meeting the needs of children and adults with disabilities and their families in the setting of our changing health care delivery and related support system.



Bruce L. Keisling, Ph.D.
Associate Director
Boling Center for Developmental Disabilities
Assistant Professor
Department of Pediatrics

(901) 448-1282

See more info, if available...


Elizabeth Bishop photoElizabeth Bishop, Ed.D., MSSW
LEND Training Coordinator
Email: ebishop@uthsc.edu

Elizabeth A. Bishop has been with the Boling Center since 2001 and is interested in educational issues from inclusion to post-secondary education as well as adult and distance learning. As a social worker her interests lie in systems and macro level practice of working with communities to assess and address issues and concerns. Her roles at the Boling Center have included aspects of community outreach and training as well as practice social work skills working with families and community partners. Ms. Bishop holds a doctorate in adult education.



Jenness Roth, M.Ed  photoJenness Roth, M.Ed
Family Faculty Coordinator
Email: jroth11@uthsc.edu

Jenness Roth is part of the Training Department at the Boling Center, and she is passionate about ensuring that parents and siblings of people with disabilities are included in all training and learning opportunities available. Ms. Roth is the parent of two sons, one of whom has significant developmental disabilities. She has an extensive history in the state of Tennessee advocating, and teaching advocacy skills, to parents of children with special needs.


Vanessa Baker   photoVanessa Baker
Business Manager
Email: vbaker@uthsc.edu

Shauna Morgan photoShauna Morgan, CPS
Accounting Assistant
(901) 448-6511

Shauna Morgan photoGertha Alexander
Patient Accts Specialist

Tracy Lowe photoTracy Lowe 

Administrative Services Assistant Patient Admissions/Reception

Levader Jones photoLevader Jones
Appointments Secretary
Email: ljones41@uthsc.edu

Developmental Pediatrics

Toni Whitaker, MD photoToni Whitaker, MD
Developmental Pediatrician
Associate Professor of Pediatrics
Email: twhitak1@uthsc.edu
Dr. Whitaker is certified in Pediatrics and Neurodevelopmental Disabilities by the American Board of Pediatrics. She is involved in clinical service provision at the UT Boling Center for Developmental Disabilities, as well as at a number of other community locations. Dr. Whitaker allocates a large portion of her time and effort to conducting developmental follow-up for premature infants at local neonatal intensive care units (NICU). Dr. Whitaker also participates in a number of clinical research projects as well as teaching medical students and residents in the UT College of Medicine.


Debra Hanna, MD  photoDebra Hanna, MD
Developmental Pediatrician
Assistant Professor of Pediatrics
Dr. Hanna is certified in Pediatrics and Neurodevelopmental Disabilities by the American Board of Pediatrics. She is involved in clinical service provision at the UT Boling Center for Developmental Disabilities, as well as at a number of other community locations. Dr. Hanna allocates a large portion of her time and effort to clinical consultation and care of children with Spina Bifida, Dysphagia, and variety of other developmental disabilities. Dr. Hanna''s areas of interests include transition to adult care of children with developmental disabilities and ongoing adult care. Dr. Hanna also participates in teaching medical students and residents in the UT College of Medicine, UT College of Allied Health Occupational Therapy students and masters level nutrition students from local universities.


Genetics (Clinical)

Jewell C. Ward, M.D. photoJewell C. Ward, M.D., Ph.D.
Chief of Genetics
Professor of Pediatrics
Email: jward@uthsc.edu

Robert S. Wilroy, M.D. photoRobert S. Wilroy, M.D.
Professor of Pediatrics

Enikö Pivnick, M.D. photoEnikö Pivnick, M.D.
Associate Professor of Pediatrics
Email: epivnick@uthsc.edu

Vicki Park
Vicki Park, Ph.D.

Associate Professor of Pediatrics
Email: vpark@uthsc.edu

Avirachan T. Tharapel, Ph.D.
Professor of Pediatrics
Email: atharapel@uthsc.edu

Phyllis Coopwood, R.N.
Genetics Nurse
Email: pcoopwood@uthsc.edu

Stacy Hines-Dowell, FNP
Stacy Hines-Dowell, FNP

LeBonheur Genetics Nurse
Email: shines@uthsc.edu

Paula Martens, B.S. (part-time, retired)

Diana Chambers, MS photo
Diana Chambers, MS, Ed.D.

Genetics Counselor
Email: dchambers@uthsc.edu


Carolyn Graff, PhD photo
Carolyn Graff, PhD

Chief of Nursing
Professor, College of Nursing
Email: cgraff@uthsc.edu

Brenda Haddakin, LPN photo
Brenda Haddakin, LPN

Email: bhaddakin@uthsc.edu


Lee Wallace, MS, RD, LDN photo
Lee Wallace, EdD, RDN, LDN, FADA, FAND

Chief of Nutrition
Metabolic Nutritionist
Email: cwalla15@uthsc.edu

Lee Wallace has worked with children and adults with developmental disabilities for over 20 years, first in the community and now at the Boling Center. She enjoys working with individuals and families on the practical aspects of following a healthy diet. She is nationally involved in both the Behavioral Health Nutrition and the Pediatric Nutrition Dietetic Practice Groups of the American Dietetic Association. 

zach deberry

Zach DeBerry, MS, RDN, LDN

BCDD Nutritionist


Laura Murphy, EdD photo
Laura Murphy, EdD
Chief of Psychology; Research Coordinator; Professor of Psychiatry
Email: lmurphy@uthsc.edu

Laura Murphy is Chief of Psychology and Research Coordinator at the Boling Center for Developmental Disabilities and is a Professor in the UTHSC Department of Psychiatry. Her clinical interests include interdisciplinary team evaluation and diagnosis of such developmental disabilities as Autism Spectrum Disorder, Intellectual Disability, and ADHD. Additionally, she is interested in parent and school consultation concerning behavioral and educational interventions for children with developmental disabilities. Her research interests include the reliability and validity of various cognitive, adaptive, and behavioral instruments in the developmental disabilities diagnostic process. She also investigates the contribution of parenting stress, family demographic characteristics, and parent rating styles in this diagnostic process.

Lauren Benner, PhD
Lauren Gardner, PhD

Dr. Gardner is the Lead Clinical Psychologist at the Boling Center for Developmental Disabilities as well as a Clinical Assistant Professor at UTHSC in the Division of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, and a Nationally Certified School Psychologist. Her background includes experience working with children and families in both clinical and school settings. Dr. Gardner has extensive experience conducting interdisciplinary diagnostic evaluations to improve the health of infants, children, and adolescents with disabilities. She also provides family-based clinical services for children and families with a wide range of concerns (e.g., noncompliance, autism spectrum disorders, developmental disabilities, depression, anxiety, and social skills deficits).

picture of staff

Sarah Irby, PhD

Dr. Irby is a staff psychologist at the Boling Center for Developmental Disabilities. She conducts comprehensive evaluations to rule-out neurodevelopmental disabilities including autism, ADHD, and intellectual disabilities. Dr. Irby provides supervision to graduate-level practicum students and pre-doctoral psychology interns during these evaluations. In addition, she supervises the ABA for Families program at the Boling Center, which trains parents of children with autism in the use of applied behavior analysis.

Center of Excellence for Children in State Custody

Kristin HoffmannKristin Hoffman, Ph.D. Director, COE
PCIT Supervisor, Psychologist
Email: khoffma9@uthsc.edu

Melissa Hoffman, PhD photo
Melissa Hoffman, PhD
Assistant Professor, Department of Psychiatry
Email: mhoffman@uthsc.edu



Lisa AsbillLisa Asbill, PhD.


COE Psychologist, PCIT Clinic
Email: julia@uthsc.edu

Melissa James, MSSW photo
Melissa James, LCSW

Social Worker, Center of Excellence
Email: mjames26@uthsc.edu

Sharon Wilbanks photo
Sharon Wilbanks, BA, CPS
Senior Administratve Services Assistant
UT Center of Excellence
Email: swilbanks@uthsc.edu

Benetra M. Johnson photo
Benetra M. Johnson
Project Coordinator
Email: bmangumj@uthsc.edu

Physical Therapy

Luisa Ramirez de Lynch  photo
Luisa Ramirez de Lynch

Physical Therapist, Camino Seguro West contact
Email: lramirez@uthsc.edu

Social Work

Belinda Hardy photo
Belinda T. Hardy , LCSW

Chief of Social Work, Technical Assistance Coordinator
Email: btate@uthsc.edu

Chanda Dunn

Chanda Dunn, LCSW
Social Worker

Audiology & Speech-Language Pathology

Karen Hudson, MA, CCC-SLP photo
Karen Hudson, MA, CCC-SLP

Speech-Language Pathologist
Email: khudson@uthsc.edu

Denice Perkins, MA, CCC-SLP photo
Denice Perkins, MA, CCC-SLP

Speech-Language Pathologist
Email: dperkins@uthsc.edu

Roxanne Aaron photo

Jennifer P. Taylor, AuD, CCC-A
Clinical Assistant Professor, University of Memphis
Email: jptaylor@memphis.edu

Relative Caregiver Program

Teresa English photo
Teresa English, MSSW
Program Administrator
Email: tdjones@uthsc.edu

Teresa English has been in the Social Services field for 25 years. She has a vast array of experience working with children and families. She completed her graduate education at the University of Tennessee with a Masters in Social Work. She especially loves her current position as Lead Family Advocate Counselor with the Relative Caregiver Program. Ms. Jones is very passionate about her work with families and finds it especially gratifying to watch families progress and successfully graduate from the program.

Rhonda Ferguson photo
Rhonda Ferguson, BPS
Family Advocate Counselor
Email: rfergus8@uthsc.edu
Rhonda Ferguson has been a Family Advocate Counselor with the Relative Caregiver Program since 2006. She has over 15 years of experience in social services in Memphis including high-risk family prevention, family support, and foster care. As a Family Advocate Counselor, her primary role is establishing working collaborative services between caregivers and the social services available in the community.

Shunta Adams photo
Shunta Adams, BS
Community Outreach Coordinator
Email: sadams10@uthsc.edu

Pamela Beckley, CAP
Administrative Services Assistant
Relative Caregiver Program
Email: pbeckley@uthsc.edu

Pamela Beckley has been an Administrative Services Assistant with the Relative Caregiver Program since 2001, where her primary responsibilities are as liaison between the Program, the University fiscal departments, and the program?s external funding source. Pam's main responsibilities include maintaining fiscal records for all parties that reflect the dissemination of funds, ensure compliance with fiscal policies and procedures, and to assist the Family Advocates in serving participating families in need in a speedy and efficient manner.

Brittny Washington photo
Brittny Washington
Principal Secretary
Email: bwashin6@uthsc.edu

Chayla Ward
Chayla Ward

Family Advocate Counselor
UT BCDD Shelby County Relative Caregiver Program
(901) 448-3322
Email: cward40@uthsc.edu

Rodney Johnson
Family Advocate Counselor
UT BCDD Shelby County Relative Caregiver Program
Office: (901) 448-3324
Fax: (901) 448-3534
Email: rjohns61@uthsc.edu

Detris Whitten
Family Advocate Counselor
UT BCDD Shelby County Relative Caregiver Program
Office: (901) 448-3913
Fax: (901) 448-3534
Email: dwhitte1@uthsc.edu

Center for Literacy, Education and Employment

Melvin Jackson
Melvin Jackson, MPS, MAT
Vice Chair, BCDD Community Advisory Council
Memphis Center for Independent Living Board of Directors, Member
Office: (901) 448-1783
Email: mjacks63@utk.edu

Melvin joined the Center for Literacy, Education & Employment in the Fall of 2011. He has been a middle school teacher and a volunteer tutor in adult literacy. Melvin holds a Master of Professional Studies degree and a Master of Arts in Teaching degree, both from the University of Memphis.  As a Self-Determination trainer and Transition consultant, Melvin provides professional development and technical assistance to teachers and others on helping high school students, including those with disabilities or other barriers, transition from high school to career or post-secondary education or training.