Board of Directors and Staff
Board of Directors
Clay Aiken, Chairman, is co-founder of the National Inclusion Project and a graduate of UNC-Charlotte where he earned his Bachelors degree in special education. He is a Goodwill Ambassador for UNICEF, a multi-platinum recording artist and an American Music Award and Billboard Music Award winner. Clay’s passion for music started at a young age and followed him throughout his adolescence. He performed in numerous musicals and was a member of his school choir. When Clay entered college, music took a backseat while he pursued a degree in special education. While earning his degree, he worked with individuals with autism, among them Michael Bubel, son of Diane Bubel. As Diane and Clay’s friendship grew, it became apparent they both shared the same vision – a world where children of all abilities were offered the experiences of full inclusion. Their goal became to create the National Inclusion Project and make this shared vision a reality.
Diane Bubel, President, is co-founder of the National Inclusion Project and mother of Michael (Mike) Bubel. She actively works to spread the message of inclusion through conventions, television appearances and radio interviews. Though dedicated to the Foundation, Diane manages to also focus on the most important priority in her life, her family. Her son Mike was diagnosed with autism at the age of two. She has developed a unique and viable methodology that has helped Mike succeed with the challenges he’s faced. Diane focused not on Mike’s limitations but on possibilities. She learned how to restructure the activities of daily living using routine, patient repetition, and images to allow Mike to feel a sense of control and to become more and more independent. Diane treats Mike as any other child and encourages his growth as an individual. She is an enduring, loving mother and role model. Inclusion is not only a message she carries. It is a message she practices.
Zak Fathi, PhD, started his professional career as a Field Application Engineer (FAE) and subsequently assumed various roles in R&D, Product Design, Technical Marketing, Intellectual Property Management and Business Development. Zak has 17 years experience in Advanced Materials for Semiconductor and Industrial Applications. Zak has over 45 patents. One patent with Hewlett-Packard enabled the largest Ink Jet Cartridge product launch resulting in $20 billion yearly revenue for HP. Zak Managed a National Electronic Manufacturers Initiative for Flip Chip Assembly for 2 years. He was recently V.P. of Business Development and CTO at Lambda Technologies Inc. and is currently CEO at M.A.T a company developing the next generation semiconductor module architectures for servers, main frame computers and mobile products. Zak is on the scientific advisory board of a biotech company (Immunolight) dedicated to cancer research and a materials company (CleanVolt Energy) dedicated to energy storage. Zak is also a technology advisor to Nike and Corning Inc. Zak has been the recipient of various honors including the R&D 100 award and the Semiconductor Vision Award on products developed while at Lambda, and academic presidential recognition while at the University of Florida where he received his Ph.D. in Materials Science and Engineering. Zak has published over 30 technical papers at various technical meetings including NEPCON, NSF, MRS, IMPI and ACERAS.
Faye Parker, Secretary, has vast experience as an active volunteer who has worked with numerous goodwill organizations including the Multiple Sclerosis Society, Food Bank of Eastern and Central NC, Women’s Missionary Union, the Raleigh Rescue Mission, Relay for Life and CROP Walk for World Hunger. Throughout her son Clay’s younger years, Faye volunteered frequently for his elementary and high school events. She served as a role model for her children teaching them the volunteer spirit and the importance of contributing to the community. When not spending her time volunteering, Faye is busy running her own business, Parker Exclusives, which she founded in 1991.
Dr. Gary Siperstein is the Founder and Director of the Center for Social Development and Education (CSDE) at the University of Massachusetts Boston. A professor at UMass Boston since 1974, Dr. Siperstein received his Ph.D. at the Ferkauf Graduate School of Psychology, Yeshiva University. He has published more than 100 articles, chapters, and books on the social relationships and social development of children with disabilities. His most recent book, Promoting Social Success, focuses on improving social skills and fostering the social and cognitive development of children with intellectual and development disability. He has served as associate editor and editor of scientific journals and been the recipient of numerous research grants including the NICHD (National Institute of Child Health and Human Development) and the U.S. Department of Education, Dr. Siperstein received the prestigious MERIT Award from NICHD for his work on the social aspects of intellectual disability. Enhancing the social competence of children with intellectual disability in inclusive educational settings has been the focus of his most recent work. Under Dr. Siperstein's direction, the CSDE is presently conducting research on the positive benefits of a child with a disability to the family, inclusive practices in recreational and educational settings, and global attitudes and acceptance toward people with disabilities.
Frances Wilson has been the Chatham County Tax Collector since being promoted in 1989. Frances is Past President of the North Carolina Tax Collectors Association, serves on the Taxation and Finance Steering Committee for the NC County Commissioner’s Association and was named 2005 North Carolina Tax Collector of the Year. Prior to her employment with the Tax Administration, Frances was administrative assistant to the Executive Director of the Chatham County Housing Authority. There she served as the agency’s financial director, a position that allowed her to work with underprivileged families in need of housing assistance. The Raleigh News & Observer honored her as “Tarheel of the Week” in May 2005. Frances has served as a board member of the Chatham County United Way, a volunteer for Relay for Life and officer of the Pittsboro Jaycees.
Jerry Aiken, Executive Director, serves the National Inclusion Project with 30 years of corporate experience in the telecommunications industry where he held numerous senior level positions in manufacturing, marketing, customer service, and general management. He holds a Bachelor’s degree in engineering with graduate work in management and marketing. Jerry has volunteered and supported many charitable causes throughout his career including Junior Achievement, United Way, Lymphoma Society, Samaritan’s Purse, and additional mission work assisting hurricane victims. He served on the Board of Directors for the Durham, NC Chamber of Commerce and was Vice-Chair for international development. He was appointed Executive Director for the National Inclusion Project in 2007.
Tonya Gillham, Director of Development and Marketing, leads the business development and fundraising activity for the Project. Tonya has over 10 years of nonprofit development experience and holds a Bachelor's degree in Economics from UNC-Chapel Hill. She has served on many nonprofit and chamber committees in the Raleigh-Durham area, most recently participating in the development of the Triangle Chapter of the Young Nonprofit Professionals Network.
Aron Hall, Director of Programs, coordinates the Project's programs including: Let’s ALL Play, Together We Make a Difference, LEAP Forward, and I Am Norm. He also is responsible for website and social media development. A graduate of N.C. State University, Aron has had multiple experiences in education and recreational programs.
Debbie Cain, Treasurer, is a teacher at the Magellan Charter School in Raleigh, North Carolina, which provides a fully inclusive learning environment. She serves as chairperson of the mathematics department and works closely with the Special Programs team. Debbie has over 30 years of teaching experience, having previously taught at Leesville Road High School and Enloe High School. At both schools, she was named Teacher of the Year. She received the NCSU Sigma Xi Outstanding High School Mathematics Teacher Award. She has been a member of NCAE, WACT, NCTM and NCCTM. At the same time, she is very active in her church community having served as a Sunday school teacher, deacon, elder and receiving treasurer.