John is a semi-retired consultant with more than thirty year’s experience managing state and local government programs and departments in the Metropolitan Atlanta area. His consulting work focuses on criminal justice / juvenile justice reform efforts using evidence-based practices that optimize outcomes. Clients include federal, state, and local government entities as well as non-profit agencies. John has served as the Executive Director for two non-profit agencies and was a founding member of the Georgia Council of Court Administrators. He is currently a Senior Consultant with the National Drug Court Institute and trains local court systems nationally supported by the U.S. Justice Department. John has a long, successful history of working with the state government and legislature to advocate for adults with developmental disabilities and promote systems change. He lives in Flowery Branch with his lovely wife, Weda, and likes spending time with his daughters and grandchildren. One of John’s daughters receives support from Georgia Options in her own home, allowing her to develop a sense of independence and the opportunity for self-determination that is not available through any other provider in the state. John joined the Board to help support this work and to expand access to others.
Rita is a retired banker and former owner of a floral and gift shop. She has served in various volunteer roles with Georgia Options since its inception and is the proud mother of an adult daughter that receives services from the organization. Rita also serves on Georgia Options’ Quality Assurance Committee, promoting safe and healthy lives for the people supported.
Dr. Joe Cubells
Dr. Cubells is an Associate Professor in the Departments of Human Genetics, and Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, at the Emory University School of Medicine, and Director of Medical Services at the Emory Autism Center. Dr. Cubells serves on the Board of Directors of Georgia Options because he recognizes the critical importance of supporting adults with special needs so they can live in their own homes, and participate in their own communities. Together with his colleague P. Danielle Belva, MSN, he follows more than 500 patients and families living with autism and related neurodevelopmental or genetic conditions. Working with the neurodevelopmentally disabled community has led Dr. Cubells to advocate for the members of this community because, in his 16 years of work with people living with such disabilities, he has learned that they share the same hopes and dreams that all of us have. Dr. Cubells believes that Georgia Options is at the forefront of formulating innovative strategies for helping adults with special needs live full, dignified lives.
Jason is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ Professional and the founder of Ability Wealth Group. A consumer economics major from Alpharetta, Georgia, Jason graduated from UGA. Following his graduation, he made the not so difficult decision to stay in Athens, GA where he and his family continue to live today. In the years following graduation, Jason obtained his CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ certification to help families better plan for their future. In addition to his CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ certification, Jason maintains the Chartered Special Needs Consultant® designation. Christy and Jason’s son Drew who is a fun, loving, opinionated, and mess-making little boy is a fighter of a rare disease. This has led Jason and Christy to be advocates in all aspects of Drew’s life. If you ask Jason why he chose to help others in the special needs community, “sometimes your job finds you”. Jason is actively involved in the Athens community as past president of Rotary (2009-2010) and former president of L.E.A.D. Athens. Jason currently sits on the development committee of Extra Special People Inc. and is a board member for Georgia Options; a charitable organization that provides an opportunity for independent living for individuals with special needs. Jason is passionate about his community and the support that it brings other families who have loved ones with special needs.
Trish is an attorney, native Athenian, and, most importantly, a mom. She attended UGA (Go Dawgs!) and Emory Law School. After having her son Max, Trish realized just how important comprehensive Estate Planning is and how outdated most of the traditional legal options are. After a 6-month master course, Trish became a certified Personal Family Lawyer® and created a better option for Georgia families – Arch Legacy Firm. She specializes in working with families with minor children and Special Needs Trusts. Trish loves supporting her community and is on the Board of BrightPaths Athens, Georgia Options and Georgia Special Needs Alliance, and is an active member of both the Oconee and Athens Chambers of Commerce.
Dr. Stephen McGarity
Dr. McGarity is an Assistant Professor at the College of Social Work and Vice-Chair of the Institutional Review Board at the University of Tennessee. His research focuses on poverty, financial inclusion, and legislation for people with disabilities. He also teaches graduate classes on nonprofit development, policy analysis, and research methods. Dr. McGarity has a long history with Georgia Options and started as a direct care worker in 2011. He has also served as a support coordinator and a member of the Georgia Options Human Rights Committee. His experiences as a direct care worker and support coordinator were instrumental in his decision to earn his Ph.D. and commit to a lifelong journey of researching barriers that prevent people with disabilities from fully participating in society. Dr. McGarity currently resides in Athens with his wife and two sons.