For more than 25 years, Rena Harris has worked with and for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. She earned a B.A. in Psychology from Oregon State University and an M.S. in Applied Behavior Analysis from St. Cloud State University. Rena has worked in both home and community-based services, starting out as a Direct Service Professional and House Manager. Rena’s career has taken her across the country – from Oregon to New Jersey to Georgia. In 2016, Rena became Executive Director for Georgia Options. Knowing it’s the only organization of its kind in the state of Georgia, she was eager to serve as a champion for the mission. Throughout her career, Rena’s experienced firsthand the difference between a system-centered life and a person-centered life. Rena sees her role as the chief advocate for Georgia Options – including the people supported by the organization and the people who work on its behalf. In 2020, she was appointed by Governor Kemp to serve on the Georgia Council on Developmental Disabilities and will not rest until Georgians with developmental disabilities are included in every aspect of their community, on their terms. She appreciates and promotes the fact that people with intellectual and developmental disabilities deserve the same opportunities and access available to people without disabilities. Rena is the proud mom of two daughters who also recognize the inequity in the world and want to be part of changing it.
Janet has been with Georgia Options since 2017. As Finance Director, Janet oversees all of our financial systems and maintains an excellent balance of financial acumen and leadership perspective. Janet spent 15 years in property management and another 15 years in church administration. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration. Janet loves Georgia Options because “The admin staff is knowledgeable, committed, passionate and fierce. It’s an honor to work alongside them. The people we support are amazing and the DSPs are devoted to making sure they have the best life.” Janet is a devoted mother and grandmother, loves music, and plants a garden every year.
Employee Development Director
Tarin joined the Georgia Options team in 2020 as the Staffing Coordinator and is directing our work to put together the best fit team for the people we support. Tarin calls herself Georgia Options matchmaker, stating “If I am doing my job well, I am helping the people we support find and meet a person who will be in their life for a long time helping them build relationships and live a healthy and fulfilled life.” Tarin began her career as a Direct Support Professional in 2004 and has since worked in increasingly responsible leadership roles with people with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their support systems. She has a B.A. from Western Michigan University and considers herself a student of life experiences. Tarin loves to swim and participate in any activities that put her in or around water. Tarin is glad she joined the Georgia Options team because we are “doing the hard and messy work trying to truly be person centered. We discuss things that make us uncomfortable and we lean into the discomfort, with the person we support at the front, rather than the business.”
Pam joined the Georgia Options family in 2017. As Advocacy Director, she is responsible for making sure the people we support have quality services that meet their individual needs, whether through internal quality improvement or external advocacy efforts. Pam developed tenacity in 10 years as a high school English teacher, which helped prepare her for her next job: mom and advocate for people with disabilities. Pam further developed leadership skills working as a special education Parent Mentor. Pam has a B.S. in Education from the University of Georgia. She is also a graduate of Partners in Policymaking and is a trained Person-Centered Planning facilitator. Pam belongs to the Georgia Parent Mentor Partnership and is a member of Winterville First Baptist Church. Pam is a proud mother of two and grandmother of three and loves to cook, draw, and read historical fiction. She also plays the piano. Pam says of Georgia Options, “Everyone at Georgia Options supports our belief that people with disabilities deserve to live lives they choose for themselves. Diverse personal experiences, unique talents and skills, and a common commitment to our mission keep us constantly changing to meet the needs of the people we support. It’s hard work, but nobody does it better than we do.”
Rachael joined the Georgia Options family in 2021 as our Behavior Specialist. She helps develop Behavior Support Plans for the people we support so they can take advantage of every available opportunity. Rachael is a current Ph.D. Candidate at the University of Georgia studying Counseling Psychology, with an emphasis in health psychology. She worked at the university counseling center, primary care facilities, and hospitals. Her earliest experience working with people with disabilities began during her undergraduate career at Navicent in Macon, Georgia. She has a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology with a minor in Chemistry from Mercer University and obtained her Master’s in Clinical Mental Health Counseling at Georgia State University. She is a member of the American Psychological Association. Rachael says about Georgia Options, “The level of care and intentionality about how persons supported are served makes us stand out as an organization.” Rachael is also a competitive table tennis player.
Dawn joined Georgia Options in early 2021 as our Licensed Practical Nurse. Dawn provides health oversight and works closely with our Direct Support Professionals on supporting people to be in their best health. Dawn has been a nurse for 20 years, with the majority of her nursing career focusing on home health and hospice care. She graduated from Athens Technical College in Nursing and is currently a student at Grand Canyon University, working on her Bachelor’s in sociology. She is a member of the National Collegiate Scholar Society. Dawn thinks Georgia Options is a very special place to work because we support people to live in their own homes, work in jobs that are exciting and rewarding to them, and be able to choose their lifestyle. She is married to her high school sweetheart and has four children. Her family spends the majority of their time at baseball games or at the lake on a sunny afternoon enjoying family time and fishing.
Lucy joined Georgia Options in April 2020 as a Direct Support Professional and decided to use her extraordinary organizational skills to become Compliance Coordinator in August 2021. Lucy is a native of Sao Paolo, Brazil, and brings an extensive background in Corporate Housing in Latin America. Lucy loves working at Georgia Options because the organization “cares and supports people with disabilities to live in their own home and have an amazing life experience. It’s a wonderful opportunity to help people accomplish their dreams.” In her off time, you’ll find Lucy on the beach.
RN Case Manager
Tamara has been Georgia Options’ lead nurse since 2020. She oversees our LPN, our Direct Support Professionals and makes sure the people we support are in their best health. She conducts visits, keeps healthcare plans current, and teaches medication administration. Tamara has been an RN for 17 years, primarily in Neonatal Intensive Care. She has also served as an adjunct clinical instructor and guest lecturer for Mercer University. She received her Bachelor of Science in Nursing and her Master’s of Science in Nursing from Georgia Baptist College of Nursing of Mercer University. Tamara’s daughter has a rare genetic disorder called Coffin-Siris Syndrome. Tamara thinks Georgia Options is amazing because people that the world views as “different” or atypical simply live their lives as “typical” people. The ones who do not have a personal / family support system can find that with Georgia Options. Tamara feels that regardless of a person’s role at Georgia Options, everyone is important and necessary for Georgia Options to continue to thrive. She has three children – Grayson, Zachary, and Bridgette, and a miniature dachshund named Macy.
Nikkie has been with Georgia Options since 2017, starting as a Direct Support Professional and becoming our Scheduling Coordinator. Nikkie manages schedules for almost 100 direct support professionals at a time, making sure everyone is where they’re supposed to be when they’re supposed to be there. Nikkie also supervises our Floating DSPs and sends them where they’re most needed. Nikkie started working with people with intellectual and developmental disabilities in 2006 as an Activity Director for a day program in New Jersey. She moved into a House Manager position with another organization and in 2015, moved to the lucky state of Georgia. She continued her career in Georgia working as a Direct Support Professional and Senior House Manager with various other organizations and joined the Georgia Options team in 2017. Nikkie has an Associate’s Degree in Social Work and would like to pursue a degree in Behavioral Science. She is one of the youngest members of the Elks Lodge and loves to sing. Nikkie loves what Georgia Options stands for, and believes that everyone, no matter their disabilities, should live a full life, a life they want to live with whom they want to live. Nikkie looks forward to the future of Georgia Options and being part of it.
Community Support Coordinator
Jackie has been with Georgia Options since 2017 making sure the people we support and the employees are happy, healthy, and well. Jackie is also Georgia Options’ crisis prevention instructor. She has worked with people with Intellectual and Developmental disabilities for over ten years. Jackie has a B.A. in Sociology and Education and a Masters in Business Administration. She volunteers for ‘Good Day! Good Deeds!’, an organization in Atlanta that provides food for those that are homeless and food insecure. Jackie is a member of the Shinnecock Indian Tribe, a tribe of historically Algonquian-speaking Native Americans based at the eastern end of Long Island, New York.
Kristy joined Georgia Options in the summer of 2020 and manages all of our representative payee accounts and medical supplies. Kristy graduated from Florida Community College of Jacksonville and worked for many years as an administrative assistant and loan manager. She is a member of the Georgia Industrial Loan Association. Kristy is a proud BMX racer and loves kayaking, hiking, swimming, and fishing with her family in her downtime.
Life Experience Coordinator
Allie has been Georgia Options’ Life Experience Coordinator since late Summer 2020. Her role is to partner with the people we support and their DSPs and families to connect them with inclusive opportunities in their local communities, whether it be work, volunteering, or leisure. Allie has been working with people with intellectual and developmental disabilities for the past seven years, including providing support to a local family and teaching Life Enrichment classes at Extra Special People. Allie has a B.S. in Psychology from the University of Georgia with a minor in Exercise Science and has her ACRE certification in Community Employment Services with an emphasis on Customized Employment. She is also a certified yoga teacher. A self-admitted adventure junkie, Allie has cliff-jumped off a 70-foot cliff, slept in a tent in the jungle for 3 months, bungee jumped off the highest bridge in the world, and sandboarded in the desert. Allie is proud to be on the Georgia Options team “because we aren’t afraid to disrupt the status quo. We all believe that the people we support are important, valuable members of their communities, and we do whatever it takes to support them to fulfill their hopes and dreams.”
Emily has been with Georgia Options since 2014, and currently manages our Medicaid billing, complex funding requests, and electronic visit verification system. Emily’s career with people with intellectual and developmental disabilities began in the school system as a Special Education K-5 teacher in Greene County. Emily did her first tour with Georgia Options as a Community Support Coordinator from 2009-2011. After working as a Special Education Teacher for Clarke County, she returned to Georgia Options in 2014 and has been with us ever since. Emily has a B.S. in Psychology and B.A. in Anthropology from the University of Georgia, with minors in Spanish and Geology. Emily also has a Master in Teaching specializing in EBD/Autism from Piedmont College. Emily was also an athlete in college, playing intramural softball and tennis. She enjoys hiking, traveling, going to the beach, and spending time with her family. I enjoy working in my yard! She enjoys traveling and has visited many countries including Russia, Georgia (the country), Italy, France, Germany, Czech Republic, Netherlands, England, Wales, Ireland, and Kenya. She boats, fishes, and water skis in the summer on Lake Lanier. Emily is dedicated to Georgia Options because “we see people as individuals and strive to honor the person’s own choices about their lives. We are there to support and provide assistance in achieving goals and living the most typical life and the greatest life possible. I can’t imagine doing it any other way.”
Darrin has been keeping Georgia Options’ office clean and organized since 2018. Darrin has janitorial experience and is also an avid furniture refinisher. He grew up in Madison County, attended Madison County Schools, and currently volunteers with the Danielsville Fire Department. Darrin is a huge Georgia Bulldogs fan and thinks Georgia Options is awesome because of the helpful and caring people.
Health & Wellness Coordinator
Panther has been Georgia Options’ Health and Wellness Coordinator since April 2018. She oversees and manages all of our health tracking systems, and keeps our team apprised of any changes in condition. Panther has many years of experience working with adolescents and adults with developmental disabilities and shares that Georgia Options is “the most unique organization in what it offers those with developmental disabilities. Georgia Options fosters independence that could not otherwise be obtained. Georgia Options makes it possible for the people they support to fulfill their dreams and aspirations and become a part of their communities.” Panther has an intuitive ability to get along with all people, perhaps a product of her having been to eight schools before the age of 12, or it might be her innate Hawaiian aloha spirit.