Our Leadership Team

Board of Directors

Chair - Doug Garrou, Esq; Secretary - Don Busick
Members: Ronald B. David, M.D., René Massey, Nikia Dower, MS, CCC-SLP/L, BCBA, Harry Alferink

Board member bios

Executive Leadership

  • John Toscano, President & CEO

       John Toscano, MBA, MSW, has been the President and Chief Executive Officer of Commonwealth Autism since January 2002, having come to Virginia from three years of working internationally in autism – the previous year starting a service in Malaysia and the prior two years working in England. John started his experience in autism in 1981 while developing a large residential and day service for adults in New York. Concurrent with his work in autism, John also was a full-time faculty member in social work for 18 years in New York at the State University of New York at Albany and at Siena College. John has traveled extensively observing and consulting with autism services both in the US and across Europe, and has spoken at numerous local, state, national and international conferences. His particular areas of interest include paradigms of care and the rights of people with autism, non-profit organizational management and bridging the gap between agency ethos and practice, program design and implementation and bio-medical interventions in autism. John has held gubernatorial appointments to the Virginia Board for People with Disabilities and the Olmstead Commission. He also serves as an adjunct faculty member at VCU in the schools of Social Work and Public Administration. John earned his MSW from Adelphi University in 1975, and his MBA from Sunderland University, England in 2000. He is married to Nancy, and they have a son, Jack. He is also the father of adult twins, Chuck and Chris, and a grandfather of six. His oldest grandchild, Joey, has autism.

  • Jessica Philips, Executive Vice President and COO

      Jessica Philips, M.S., BCBA, LBA, is a Licensed Behavior Analyst. She joined Commonwealth Autism in 2003. In her current role as Executive Vice President and Chief Operations Officer, she assists the President & CEO and Board of Directors with the implementation of the strategic plan and is responsible for operational and administrative functions within the organization, including oversight of all programs. Jessica began working in the field of ID/DD in 1994 and completed her undergraduate degree in psychology from Virginia Commonwealth University. Her interests in applied behavior analysis led her to pursue a graduate degree from the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, during which time she worked at the Kennedy Krieger Institute. Jessica has taught coursework in autism and applied behavior analysis as an adjunct instructor through Virginia Commonwealth University and The University of Mary Washington and has participated on a number of statewide advisory councils and workgroups including the Virginia Autism Council. In 2012 she was appointed to the Virginia Board for People with Disabilities by Governor Bob McDonnell where she served on the Executive Committee. She has also served on the Board of Directors as President for SupportOne, a not-for-profit organization that provides community supports for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities (ID/DD).  Jessica received her certificate in nonprofit management through NonProfit Learning Point and is also an alumna of the Emerging Nonprofit Leaders Program.

  • Nan Pemberton, VP Operational Support

    Nan Pemberton is a native of Ft. Worth, Texas.  She received her B.S. from Texas A&M University.  She has worked for the Commonwealth of Virginia for 20 years, first as an Administrative/Confidential Assistant to the Director of the Department of Historic Resources, and most recently as the Director of Administration for the Virginia Board for People with Disabilities.  During that time, she has served on the Board of Directors of the Richmond Waldorf School, the Virginia Executive Institute Alumni Association, the National Grants Management Association, and as treasurer of The Founders Center and Commonwealth Autism. Nan also previously worked in Germany, serving as the Special Assistant to the Assistant Chief of Mission at the US Embassy Office in Berlin for five years.  Additionally, she possesses over 10 years of experience as a sales representative for several Fortune 500 pharmaceutical companies. She has one daughter, Kathryn Brooks and one grandson, GeRald Brooks III.  She is active in civic and social organizations.

  • Courtney Vaughan, VP Mission Initiatives

    Courtney Deal Vaughan, M.S., BCBA, LBA, is a Licensed Behavior Analyst. She has been with Commonwealth Autism since 2015. She served as the Director of The Founders Center.  Courtney’s most recent work has been in the private day school setting.  She has worked in four private day school settings, two of which included residential programs.  Through that work she has partnered with 19 different LEAs across Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland and the District of Columbia. Courtney does what she can to bridge the partnership between the private and public sectors. Earlier in Courtney’s career she worked in-homes with families that have history of abuse and neglect and in-home with children with disabilities.  Courtney has a Masters Degree in Behavior Analysis and Therapy from Southern Illinois University at Carbondale. She has served as adjunct faculty in the ABA programs at both The Chicago School and George Mason University.  She currently serves as the Treasurer for the Virginia Association for Behavior Analysis and adjunct professor at Shenandoah University.  Courtney graduated of the Emerging Non-Profit Leadership Program in Richmond in 2017.


Education, Training, & Support for the Community

Christine Holland

Christine Holland, M.S., BCBA, LBA, is a Licensed Behavior Analyst and serves as the Director of our Learning Institute and the Interim Director of our Educate, Train, Support programs. She has been with Commonwealth Autism since 2007. 

Judy Sorrell

Judy Sorrell is the Director of Community Engagement. After serving for 34 years as director of the Shenandoah Valley Regional Program for Special Education, Judy joined our staff in July 2014.

Innovating, Operating, & Modeling Best Practice Services

Miriam Torian

Miriam Torian serves as the Director of The Founders Center. She has been with Commonwealth Autism since 2018. 

Donald Oswald

Dr. Donald Oswald is the Director of Diagnostics and Research at Commonwealth Autism. Dr. Oswald is a licensed clinical psychologist with over 30 years of experience working with people with autism spectrum disorders. He has been with Commonwealth Autism since 2010.