RDI Staff

Steven E. Gutstein, Ph.D. , Chief Executive Officer steve Dr. Steve Gutstein is an internationally renowned pioneer in the field of developmental disabilities. As the developer of RDIconnect, he has brought over twenty years of experience in treatment planning, program development, clinical expertise and education to his innovative approaches for treating at-risk children, adolescents and adults. Over the course of his career he has trained thousands of dedicated professionals, supporting them as they work with families around the world. It is Dr. Gutstein’s belief that every individual with developmental disabilities merits a second chance to realize success in a world where their choices and decisions are entirely their own.

Rachelle K. Sheely, Ph.D., President of RDIconnect rachelle Dr. Rachelle Sheely serves as the President of RDIconnect as well as the head of professional training and supervision. For the past fifteen years she has been a leader in the development and logistical implementation of programs for both families and professionals working with children, adolescents and adults with developmental disabilities. Along with her extensive clinical training, Dr. Sheely brings an accomplished background in education, art, music and poetry allowing her to inject creativity and originality into the teaching, training and management of the thousands of professionals and families she reaches on a daily basis. Profoundly effecting, Dr. Sheely has spent a lifetime working with children on a professional and personal level. With a gift for moving from observation to intuitive precision, her work extends far beyond treatment, and into the everyday moments that resonate in the lives of her clients.

Elizabeth Alford, Online Community Manager Elizabeth Alford Elizabeth is a creative and energetic leader with many years experience in communications, teaching, training and team development. She holds a B.A. in Music and English as well as formal training in organizational leadership and theological studies. Elizabeth works closely with staff, consultants and volunteers to connect and empower community members through content development and management, communication, training and improving user experience. She also oversees the inbound marketing efforts of RDI through blogging, weekly newsletters, social media and managing the public website.

Jason Alvarado
, Professional Training and Content Specialist Jason brings a mix of creativity, organization and tech skills to his work for RDIconnect. Jason oversees our professional training program and works on the content development team where he crafts creative pieces and helps manage the content in our community. Jason is heavily involved with a non-profit youth organization where he has spent many years planning and coordinating events at the local and state level. Through this passion, he has had the opportunity to interact and work with people from diverse backgrounds and gain invaluable skills. Jason is currently working towards earning his A.A.S in Digital Communications at Houston Community College.

Philip Balonwu, Systems Analyst 2014-04-07_0926 Philip Balonwu is a seasoned Computer specialist and System Analyst. With in-depth knowledge of computers and troubleshooting, he supports and handles all technical related issues to the RDI Learning System Programs. As the Elearning Specialist, Philip is also responsible for developing/designing elearning/instruction materials for RDI curriculum/courses based on web. He responds to all RDI user service request tickets as well as handling all internal technical issues. A dedicated and highly energetic person, Philip holds a B.Sc in Technical Management, A.S in Computer Science and Master of Science in Information Systems.

photo_of_Mrs_Hicks_(2)Janice R. Hicks, Office Administrator   Janice provides daily administrative support to Dr. Sheely, Dr. Gutstein and the RDIconnect staff of professionals.  She is involved with the coordination and implementation of office procedures and frequently have responsibility for specific projects and tasks. Janice’s vital role ensures that the day-to-day operations run smoothly throughout the company.



Kat Lee, RDI Certified Consultant and Content Developer 26 After serving our community in a volunteer capacity for many years, Kat joined our development team in 2011. She works on a variety of projects to provide professional and parent resources for the RDI Learning Community including video editing, webinar production and new product creation. Kat’s clinical experience allows her to bring important insight to the content we create and makes her a favorite blogger, webinar host and conference speaker. Kat has a BA in communications, an RDI Program Certification (2003) and maintains a private practice in Dallas, TX.

Lisa Palasti, RDI Certified Consultant and Product Development Team Member 2014-06-10_1154 Lisa is passionate about empowering parents and helping children with Autism Spectrum Disorder reach their fullest potential and develop real world competence. Lisa began using Relationship Development Intervention with her own family in 2003 and after completing her RDI professional certification in 2005, she works both locally and internationally to serve families.  Including her front line work with families, Lisa also helps behind the scenes at RDIconnect producing parent and professional webinars with Dr. Gutstein.

Umair Syed, Director of Information Technology Unknown Umair is at the forefront of web platform development for the RDIconnect community. He has contributed from its inception to the launching of the RDI-LS system and is currently responsible for its maintenance, for supporting both its users and our internal organization. A graduate of Hyderabad India, Umair has also earned a Masters degree from the University of Houston. Umair is an avid cricket player and fluent in English, Hindi and Urdu.


Esther Tell, Content and Social Media Developer 2014-04-07_1155 Esther fills a distinct and important role at RDIconnect by tackling special projects for every part of the organization including research, marketing, community and creative projects. Esther studied at Laguna College of Art and Design with a focus on fine arts. After college, she owned and operated The Brayer Room, the first company to host ‘pop up’ art galleries in Houston. Currently, she is working towards a degree in Psychology at the University of Houston.


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