Board of Directors
Carol E. Gassen | President
Merchants Bank of Indiana
Carol Gassen joined the board in the fall of 2010 and accepted the role of president in November 2012. She is VP, Chief Compliance Officer for Merchants Bank of Indiana and has a degree in finance from Iowa State University. Carol’s career in banking has spanned over 20 years, working in small community banks to large regional banks in Iowa and Indiana. Carol lives in Fishers and is actively balancing family, career and volunteerism. She has two children, a son and daughter. Her daughter is on the spectrum, and after graduating from the University of Iowa REACH program is actively employed and transitioning to full independence.
Doug Abrams | Secretary
Ittenback Johnson Koeller and Abrams
Douglas Abrams is an attorney at law and practices with Ittenback Johnson Koeller and Abrams. He has spent his career counseling clients through large and small person issues as well as complex business legal matters. While he enjoys practicing in various areas, he has specialties in employment, real estate and business law. Prior to the founding of his private practice in 1997, Doug served as counsel to the Indiana Secretary of State where he oversaw the Business Services Division, which implements the state’s business statutes. Doug received his bachelor’s degree in political science from Ball State University and his Juris Doctor from the University of Toledo College of Law. Doug is the proud father of two boys, Willem,10, and Maximus, 8. He enjoys coaching their sports teams along with participating in cub scouts and other current pursuits.
Andy Dietrick | Treasurer
Indiana Farm Bureau
Andy Dietrick, a Hoosier native, has been employed by Indiana Farm Bureau as its public relations director since 2008. Prior to this, he worked as the director of communications for both the Indiana Department of Transportation and Indiana Statewide REC Inc. He started his career at WTTV, an Indianapolis independent television station, where his accomplishments include earning an Emmy award for his work with NBC at the 1988 Olympics in Seoul, South Korea. Andy graduated from Purdue university in 1979 with a degree in radio, television and film. Andy currently lives in Indianapolis with his wife Lesa, his sons Drew and Wyatt, and his two cats. He has first-hand experience and a connection to autism through his adult son who is on the spectrum.
Washington Township Schools
Linda has a master’s in elementary education from Indiana State University and a bachelor’s in elementary education from Saint Mary of the Woods College. She has years of experience in education from creating community programs for parents and children to classroom teaching. Linda also has ten years of experience operating a gift and garden shop. She’s currently working in special education and tutoring for Washington Township Schools.
Noble of Indiana + Martin University
A licensed behavioral health clinician, Patrick Jamison received a master's in community psychology. He also serves as a therapist with the Hamilton County Sheriff’s Department, specializing in transitional services, as well as with the State Workforce Initiative Committee. Additionally, Patrick is employed as a general contractor with Noble of Indiana, and is an adjunct professor with the psychology department at Martin University.
Kari is a board-certified behavior analyst and works as a regional behavior consultant with Positive Pathways. Her career in the human service field began in community mental health as a crisis therapist. Kari has four children, one diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder. His diagnosis motivated her to change career paths and return to graduate school to obtain a master’s degree in psychology with a specialty in applied behavior analysis. She has worked in ABA clinics as well as in community/home-based programs. Kari volunteers once a week as a behaviorist at The Independence Academy. In her free time, she enjoys running and spending time with her children.
Emeritus Board Member
Ruth Padgett, co-founder of The Independence Academy, served as IA's administrator and board treasurer when the school opened in 2008. Ruth had a career as a clinical research associate with Abbott Laboratories, Boehringer Mannheim Diagnostics, and with her own business, before deciding to be at home full-time. Ruth and her husband Greg have three children. Their son graduated from The Independence Academy in 2014.
Emeritus Board Member
Susan LeVay, co-founder of The Independence Academy, served as IA's director and lead teacher from 2008 to 2012. She earned her bachelor’s and teaching license in English education from Michigan State University and her master’s in rhetoric and composition from Colorado State University. Susan held teaching positions at the high school and college levels for 15 years before she began working in special education in 2003. She developed a passion for teaching students with autism and is certified in TEACCH and PEERS. Susan and her husband have two adult sons with autism.