Our History

Sherwood’s mission is to empower children and adults with autism and related disabilities to maximize their potential in family and community life.

It started in 1974, when Debbie Wood was a UMKC psychology student, working with a boy in the Olathe Psychiatric Hospital. Debbie and another student had been taking turns, working with him day and night for eight months. The hospital was getting ready to discharge him, yet there were no schools for him to attend. They were going to send him home without services. Debbie said – “no way!” There has to be something better. Debbie and two other students started Sherwood with six students in a church basement. They used a combination of their last names to create the name and drew toothpicks to see who would be president.

At that time, it was the first agency to provide specialized education and support services to individuals with autism in the Kansas City area. Today, Sherwood provides high-quality services to both children and adults with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and a wide range of developmental disabilities.

The philosophy that “there has to be something better” still drives us today. We constantly seek to find the most effective methods and resources available to the individuals that we serve. 

Autism Spectrum Disorder

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a group of developmental disabilities that can cause significant social, communication and behavioral challenges.

  • ASD affects 1 in 59 children.

  • There is no medical detection or cure for ASD.

  • ASD is four times more likely in boys than in girls.

  • Although ASD varies significantly in character and severity, it occurs in all ethnic and socioeconomic groups and affects every age group.

  • People with ASD have a typical life span.

Financial Information is available by viewing Sherwood Center’s profile on the Greater Kansas City Community Foundation’s website.

Additional questions should be directed to contactus@sherwoodcenter.org


Special Education Services

The purpose of Sherwood Center’s Special Education program is to support students to acquire and improve developmental skills in critical areas such as socialization, language/communication, activities of daily living, community inclusion, and functional academics.

  • 92% of participants maintained/improved their ability to live independently.
  • 99% of participants made progress on their individual goals.
  • 96% of participants have improved physical, mental, and/or social well-being.
  • 98% of participants have reduced isolation.

Adult Services

The purpose of Sherwood’s Adult Program is to enable adults with ASD to maintain and strengthen skills in the areas of daily living, language/communication and socialization in order to live, work and function within their communities as independently as possible. The program helps participants learn new skills and build upon previously acquired skills so they can become as independent as possible in their homes and the larger community.

Our Board of Directors

Larry Hisle, President

Kansas City Federal Executive Board

Nathan Martin,Treasurer


Megan E. Carman, Secretary

Kansas City Autism Training Center

Aaron Nichols, Young Advisory Board President

National Advisors Trust Company

“I am proud to be associated with Sherwood and to personally witness some of the lives they have changed over the last 40+ years. Sherwood’s mission to improve the quality of life for those with autism and other developmental disabilities struck a chord with me. I felt a calling to be part of their mission and to help develop Sherwood’s vision for the next 40 years. Please explore this website and find out how you can make a difference for the individuals at Sherwood!”

-Larry Hisle

  • Jim Hoelzel,
    Center School District
  • Cliff Smith,
    Community Volunteer
  • David Rucker,
    Friends of University Academy
  • David Green,
    Foulston Siefkin, LLP
  • Leslie Sims


  • Howard Barewin,
    Volleyball Beach
  • J. Dale Youngs,
    Jackson County Courthouse
  • Kerry Schmittling,
  • Craig Reid,
    Marsh & McLennan Agency

Leadership Team



Laci Maltbie joined Sherwood Autism Center from KidsTLC, where she served as Autism Program Director and a member of the Senior Leadership Team. She holds an undergraduate degree in Education and a Masters in Special Education.

For more than 15 years Laci has developed and implemented high quality programs for individuals with autism on the West Coast and in the Midwest Region. In addition to her work at KidsTLC she has partnered with the Autism Society of the Heartland, Kansas Center for Autism Training and Research, University of Kansas Special Education Department, Autism Speaks, Children’s Mercy Hospital, and the Olathe Public Library to educate the community about autism and increase quality services for individuals with intellectual disabilities.

Laci’s vision is to provide a state-of-the art facility and programs that not only help reduce the stigma of intellectual disabilities for individuals and their families, but also helps them reach their full potential in family, work and community life.



Sarah Guthrie, MA, CFRE, is a seasoned development professional with more than 18 years’ experience helping not-for-profit organizations reach their funding goals.  She has a bachelor’s in broadcast journalism from the University of Tennessee and a master’s in broadcast communication arts from San Francisco State University. A speaker and writer, she obtained her Certified Fundraising Executive (CFRE) certification in 2014. Formerly a member of the board of directors for the Mid-America chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals, she now serves on the National Philanthropy Day Committee.  When she’s not raising money, she’s dreaming about it.



Christine Hernandez joined Sherwood in June of 2017. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Elementary Education and Special Education, a Master’s Degree in Educational and Special Education Administration, and a Doctorate Degree in Educational Leadership.
Christine has 35 years of experience working in education, 30 of which have been in the Kansas City metro area. During this time she has had the opportunity to hold a variety of positions from teaching preschool through graduate school, Principal, Coordinator of Instruction, and Director of Special Education, Gifted and Talented and Psychological Services. She has a background in developing new programs from the ground up for both Special Education and Alternative Education. Christine is passionate about serving children and their families!



Tracy Tormes joined Sherwood in January of 2017. She comes to us with a bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education, a certification in Special Education and 20 years of special education experience.  She is also a Board Certified Assistant Behavior Analyst (BCaBA).  In addition, she has a lifetime of experience with a sibling with special needs.  Her personal experience is what drives her passion to help individuals with disabilities reach their full potential. Tracy is responsible for providing curriculum and training support to students and teachers throughout the Sherwood Special Education Program.

Special Education Program Teaching Team

  • Candice Olsen | Certified Special Education Teacher
  • Jenn Trusty | Certified Special Education Teacher
  • Seth Correa | Associate Teacher
  • Kendra Greenwood | Certified Special Education Teacher
  • Amy Lawder | Certified Special Education Teacher
  • Kayla Morel | Associate Teacher
  • Charles Hayes  | Paraprofessional Substitute
  • Chris Yaeger | Certified Special Education Teacher
  • Patrick Rivera | Paraprofessional Substitute

Special Education Program Therapist Team

  • Kimberly Cheney, M.S., CCC-SLP | Speech Language Pathologist
  • Kristie Clifft, OTR/L | Occupational Therapist
  • Diana Garcia, B.S. | Bi-Lingual Speech Therapist
  • Kristi Hanson | Music Therapist
  • Holly Jacobs, MSEd | Counselor
  • Annie Jansen | Speech Therapist
  • Patricia Stark, M.S., CCC-SLP | Speech Language Pathologist
  • Melanie Southworth | Occupational Therapist

Sherwood Center Support Team

  • Linda Anderlick | Special Education Program Secretary
  • Milka Ramirez | Special Education Program Office Manager
  • Lyle Roach | Facilities Manager
  • Susan Sheeley | Fiscal Manager
  • Anita Townsend | Adult Day Services Secretary