Meet Our Team
Beth Robertson, MA, Transition Coordinator
Beth has been working on IDS’ Transition of Teens to Adult Life (ToTAL) project where she has been providing pre-employment transition services to youth and young adults with disabilities. Former Teacher, Counselor and Interpreter for the Deaf, she brings over 20 years of experience working in the field of disabilities. In particular, she has over seven years of experience working for the Mississippi Department of Rehabilitation Services as a Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor and then as an Evaluator at AbilityWorks. She earned her ACRE certification in Employment Services in July 2020 and is passionate about empowering and assisting young adults with disabilities to reach their fullest potential by moving toward independence and competitive, integrated employment.
Taylor Carley, Self-Advocacy Coordinator
Taylor has over seven years of experience in national service, leadership, mentoring, self-advocacy and transition to adulthood services and was the first LEND Trainee in Mississippi. He currently serves as a STEP UP Advisory Council officer and staff liaison and hosts his very own YouTube Series “Chit Chat Thursday with Taylor” that focuses on advocacy and disability efforts in Mississippi. He has received recognition on the national level and was featured as an Association for University Centers on Disability Emerging Leader, a guest on the national video series Tuesdays with Liz and won the 2019 Americans with Disabilities Video Contest with two self-advocate peers. He enjoys sharing his story and his motto . . . “a disability is an ability; I am just like everyone else.”
Dr. Jerry R. Alliston AKA Dr. J, Director
Dr. Alliston currently serves as the Associate Director at IDS, directly oversees the transition to adulthood program and serves as the director of Mississippi’s Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental (and Related) Disabilities program. Dr. Alliston has over 25 years of experience in the social sciences and disability fields focusing on medical social work, military disability case management, disaster case management, early intervention services, and transition services. Dr. Alliston received his doctoral degree in Higher Education Administration from The University of Southern Mississippi as well as a master’s in social work degree. Dr. Alliston researches, develops, obtains funding and implements best practice programs and has concentrated on the development of transition to adulthood programs and services including inclusive employment, national service, advocacy, leadership and post-secondary education programs for students with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
Dawn Lewis, Parent Liaison
Dawn Lewis currently serves as the parent liaison at the Institute for Disability Studies. Dawn is the parent of an adult with disabilities and was the first Family LEND Trainee in Mississippi through the Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental and related Disabilities (LEND) Program. For her leadership/research project, Dawn developed a booklet consisting of stories by parents of children, youth or young adults with ASD and other developmental disabilities that promotes advocacy, awareness and education targeting legislators. Currently, Dawn provides one-on-one parent assistance with the transition to adulthood including a parent support group, assists with the Hattiesburg Campus STEP UP to Leadership Council and leads a weekly crafting activity. Dawn enjoys helping fellow parents, and their youth/young adults, find their paths through the transition to adulthood.
Laura Clements, Transition Specialist
Laura currently serves as a Transition Specialist at the Institute for Disability Studies. Laura received her Master of Psychology degree from Grand Canyon University, a Bachelor of Psychology degree from The University of Southern Mississippi, and her Associate in Marketing Management from Jones College. Laura brings over 20+ years of experience in the field of disabilities. She has worked with MDRS (MS Department of Rehabilitation Services) as an OSDP Case Manager and Vocational Rehabilitation Transition Counselor. Currently, Laura provides transition to adulthood training and assists with postsecondary peer mentoring services. Laura is passionate about giving young adults with a disability the opportunity to be the best version of themselves.
Danielle Sanders, Assistant Office Manager
Danielle Sanders serves as the assistant to the office manager at the Institute for Disability Studies. Danielle is a graduate of Forrest County Agricultural High School and the Project SEARCH Southern Miss Program. Currently, Danielle provides one-on-one training to office interns and works with various job skills trainers to promote learning. In addition, Danielle assists in training youth and young adults with disabilities who participate in an IDS office setting internship. Danielle enjoys helping others reach their dreams for employment.
Danielle, Parks, Transition Specialist
Alyssa Danielle Parks, LMSW serves as a Transition Specialist at the Institute for Disability Studies. Danielle received her Master of Social Work from The University of Southern Mississippi as well as a Bachelor of Social Work degree. Danielle served as the first two-year Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental and related Disabilities Program (LEND) Program and was the first Mississippi AUCD Emerging Leader in 2018. Currently, Danielle provides transition to adulthood training and also provides training and technical assistance for university students with intellectual disabilities. In addition, Danielle assists with one university student organization, the STEP UP to Leadership Advisory Council. Danielle enjoys her work assisting young adults with disabilities reach their employment and postsecondary education dreams.
Tyler Johnson, Transition Specialist
Bryant “Tyler” Johnson, MPH serves as a Transition Specialist at the Institute for Disability Studies. Tyler received his Master of Public Health degree from The University of Southern Mississippi as well as a Bachelor in Psychology degree. Tyler was a two-year trainee in the Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental and related Disabilities (LEND) Program in which he assisted with several activities including the development of a gaming handout for young people with disabilities. Currently, Tyler provides transition to adulthood training, assists with one university student organization, the coast campus STEP UP to Leadership Advisory Council, and also assists with national service and volunteerism services. Tyler is passionate about providing inclusive opportunities to promote overall wellness and assisting youth and young adults with disabilities in fostering their career interests and becoming more independent.
Scott Mullins, Transition Specialist
Scott currently serves as a Transition Specialist at the Institute for Disability Studies. Scott received his Master of Social Work in Social Work from The University of Southern Mississippi as well as a Bachelor of Social Work degree. Scott has assisted with the Project SEARCH employment program and mentored young adults with and without disabilities. Currently, Scott provides transition to adulthood training and assists with national service and volunteerism services. Scott also assists with two university student organizations, the Hattiesburg Campus STEP UP to Leadership Advisory Council and Special Olympics (SO) College Southern Miss. Scott is passionate about assisting youth and young adults with disabilities in reaching their employment and other life goals.