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 Executive Director of Special Education : 
Jan Cawthorne


 Jan Cawthorne has been a part of the Special Education Leadership Team since 2009. She is a licensed Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) and holds a Credential of Competency in Advanced Training in Autism Spectrum Disorders from the Pennsylvania Department of Education. She has a Bachelors Degree in Social Work from Penn State University and a Masters Degree in Social Work from Temple University, as well as graduate certificates in Autism Spectrum Disorders and Applied Behavior Analysis from Penn State University. Jan has worked for the
Arizona Department of Education as a Program Specialist and for the Division of Developmental Disabilities. In Pennsylvania, she was a consultant providing behavioral supports and designing educational programs for students with Autism and other disabilities in public, private, and charter schools. She has also provided support to children and their families in home and community settings.


Area Director - Curriculum:  Cris Barnett 


Cris Barnett received her Bachelors and Masters degrees in Special Education from Boston College.  After teaching special education students in Littleton Massachusetts, she moved to Arizona.  She began teaching in Specific Learning Disabled at Lehi Elementary School.  After teaching at Lehi, Cris moved to a district level support position as a demonstration teacher.

Once she completed her administrative coursework she was appointed to the position of Area Director for Special Education.  Currently Cris’ responsibilities include supervising and supporting teachers, speech pathologists and curriculum and instruction for special education. 

Area Director - East:  Jen Lamanna

Jen Lamanna






 Area Director - Training/Compliance: Trish Geraghty    


TrishTrish Geraghty holds a Bachelor of Science in Human Services and a Masters of Arts in Special Education from the University of Phoenix as well as a Masters of Education in Curriculum and Instruction from Arizona State University. For the past eight years, she has taught students at Tempe Elementary School District with special needs in grades K-8. In addition to her teaching experience, she worked for the Arizona Department of Education as a Program Specialist.

Trish enjoys supporting teachers with behavior management intervention strategies, reading instruction, and integrating technology in instruction. She has a Reading Endorsement and has extensive training in Orton-Gillingham and Lindamood-Bell reading programs. Trish has been recognized as Teacher of the Year by the Council for Exceptional Children and as a Rodel Exemplary Teacher Finalist. She looks forward to bringing her experience and skills to support the students and teachers of Mesa Public Schools.




Area Director - West: Melanie Kelley


Melanie Kelley is in her 16th year with Mesa Public Schools.  She holds a Bachelor's degree in Special Education and a Master's degree in Educational Leadership.  Melanie taught students with special needs
at the secondary level prior to becoming a district Content Specialist supporting secondary teachers with curriculum, materials, strategies, and behavior supports.  Melanie is also a facilitator for the Masters in Autism Spectrum Disorders at Arizona State University.  In her free time,
she enjoys attending sporting events with her family.  Melanie looks forward to her new role as West Area Director. 

504 / Special Ed Compliance Specialist - Joan Kern


Joan Kern earned her Bachelor of Science in Special Education at Moorhead State University in Minnesota. She then earned her Master’s in Special Education from NAU. In 2008 she completed the requirements for her Supervisory Certificate from NAU. Joan is also a certified special education teacher. 

Besides teaching, her other work experience includes the position of complaint investigator and corrective action compliance coordinator for the Arizona Department of Education, director of a non-profit organization, and education advocate for the Arc of Arizona.

Joan enjoys family activities, movies, reading and scrapbooking.

Coordinator of Psychological Services -
Elizabeth Danielson


Dr. Elizabeth Danielson was named Coordinator of Psychological Services in 2009 after having served as the school psychologist at Stevenson and Las Sendas Elementary Schools in Mesa for seven years.  Prior to beginning work with the Mesa Public Schools, Dr. Danielson spent nearly 20 years in higher education, as professor and director of the school psychology graduate program at Minnesota State University Moorhead, associate academic vice president at MSUM, and Academic Vice-President at Concordia College, Moorhead.  She began her school psychology career in Colorado where she earned a Ph.D. in educational psychology at the University of Colorado, Boulder while working for a rural special education cooperative in northeastern Colorado and then in Boulder. 

Dr. Danielson has served as an educational consultant in Arizona, Florida, Maine, Minnesota, and South Dakota.  She has published and/or presented research papers in reading comprehension, mathematical problem solving, cooperative learning, assessment of adaptive behavior, and assessment of young children.  Dr. Danielson has held leadership positions in several state and national school psychology associations and is currently the treasurer of the Arizona Association of School Psychologists.  AASP presented her with the Keith Perkins Lifetime Achievement Award in 2008.

Dr. Danielson grew up in the southwestern United States, attending elementary school in Scottsdale and graduating from high school in Waco, TX.  She earned a B.A. in history and English from Baylor University.  Her husband Scott is chair of the engineering technology department at Arizona State University.