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John M. Sokol, Ph.D.

Executive Director

Dr. Sokol is the creator of the Ember911™ Child Safety Education Program and its Web site He is in charge of community relations for the Rotary Club of Kankakee Illinois, A Captain for Pembroke Fire Protection District, where he teaches Fire Prevention & Safety and manages this program. He is the area coordinator for the National Fire Prevention Association's Risk Watch Safety Program. He has completed the National Fire Academy's Community Safety Educator certificate along with the Illinois Poison Center's Poison Prevention Educator Training Course. He is NFPA 1035 Fire & Life Safety Educator III Certified. He is a member of the NFLSE - National Fire and Life Safety Educators. He is also a board member of the Illinois State Fire Marshal's Risk Watch Championship Management Team.

Advisory Board

We feel that an important part to our continued success is our Advisory Board. Our Advisory Board is made up of people who are experts in the fields that our program teaches. Advisory Board members are our go to for statistics and important facts. Members help us when we are creating our scripts for the animated shows, our parent/teacher supplement manuals, marketing information and when preparing information for grants and public speaking events. Expertise and quality information is the key to the growth of any program. We thank each and every member for volunteering their time. The information they supply can save a child, their friend or a family member's life. Their input is vitally important. Together we can make a difference.

Crystal Daniel, MHS, CCC-SLP/L

Ms. Daniel is a Pediatric Speech-Language Pathologist who specializes in Autism Spectrum Disorders. She possesses a Master's Degree in Health Science with a focus on communication disorders, as well as, a minor in psychology. She is licensed through the state of Illinois and holds the certificate of clinical competence through the American Speech-Language Hearing Association. She is an active member of ASHA (American Speech-Language Hearing Association), ISHA (Illinois Speech-Language Hearing Association. She has had ample experience working with children with autism both professionally and personally as her fifteen year old niece is autistic and her ten year old nephew has Asperger's Syndrome.

Jessica Blackford, BA

Ms. Blackford hails from a small Southern Illinois town. During her time there she spent many years teaching water safety as a Lifeguard and Water Safety Instructor through the Red Cross and Musgrove Aquatic Center. She attended Southern Illinois University in Carbondale, Illinois, obtaining her Bachelor's Degree in Museology, with double minors in History and Anthropology, graduating Cum Laude.

Ms. Blackford moved to Springfield, Illinois to work an internship with the Office of the State Fire Marshal. After a year, she was honored with the prospect of full employment with the agency to run the NFIRS (National Fire Incident Reporting System) program. After several years at this, she was asked to take over the Risk Watch program. Since then she has remained with Risk Watch and has worked with many other public safety programs within the Office of the State Fire Marshal.

Patty Metzler, RN, TNS, SANE-A, SANE-P, CPN

Patty is a nurse at Carle Foundation Hospital in Urbana. She's worked there for 31 years, and in the emergency department for 29. Her passion to keep children safe has lead her to coordinate the Risk Watch program, Domestic Violence, Sexual Assault, and ENCARE programs. She also is the coordinator for Illinois Poison Center satellite education center at Carle. She is the ED pediatric coordinator, and blends all of these programs to make sure we work to decrease the injury and mortality rates in children. She also does medical mission trips to other countries in cleft lip and cleft palate repairs.

Steve Wilder, BA, CHSP, STS

Mr. Wilder, BA, CHSP, STS is President and COO of Sorensen, Wilder & Associates, a safety and homeland security company specializing in healthcare facilities and educational facilities. He has worked closely with the Illinois principals Association in training school administrators in developing and maintaining secure schools. In addition, Steve has trained educators across the nation in recognizing and defusing aggression in the school setting. Steve also served 31 years with the Bradley IL Fire Department, retiring in 2008 as Fire Chief. He is on the faculty at the University of Illinois Fire Service Institute, as well as being adjunct faculty at Southern Illinois University. He has authored two books, and writes columns for several school safety trade journals.

Amy Rae Hein, MA (Illinois Risk Watch Liaison to Ember911)

Bachelor of Arts (1997); Elementary Education, Reading Endorsement Purdue University Calumet, Hammond, IN – Kappa Delta Pi Honor Society, Master of Arts (2004); Curriculum and Instruction, Olivet Nazarene University, Homewood, IL – Graduated with Distinction

Instruct students in Grades 1-4, MS Office skills: Word, Excel, Power Point, Publisher, Coordinate Accelerated Reader and Study Island programs, teach students to use the Internet as a tool for research as well as a way to be part of the world community, teach iSafe and iKeepSafe Internet Safety programs, SMART board integration, Internet Safety/Technology - Instructed 1st Grade curriculum, differentiate instruction, conduct Guided Reading groups, varied assessment techniques: running records, portfolio, student conferences, reach curriculum goals while considering and teaching to various multiple intelligences and learning styles, actively engage students with exciting lesson presentation, coordinate S.T.A.R.S. after-school program, School Improvement Chairperson, Risk Watch Director, Spirit Team Leader

Career Development: Brookwood Early Literacy Training, iSafe Certified Program Leader, School Improvement Process Training, PBIS School-wide Training, SOCS Website Posting Training

Captain William A. Cannata, Jr

Bill has been a member of the fire service for 31 years. Bill has been an officer with the Westwood Fire Department for the past twelve years. He also has been a Massachusetts Fire Academy instructor for 15 years. Bill became a member of Autism and Law Enforcement Education Coalition (ALEC) in November 2003. In January of 2006, he became the statewide coordinator of ALEC. ALEC currently educates first responders across the state of Massachusetts about Autism Spectrum Disorder and how to better understand a person who is on the spectrum. ALEC has trained over 10,000 first responders in Massachusetts.

Bill is currently the co-chairman for the Autism Society National Task Force. Bill is also the parent of a child with Autism Spectrum Disorder.

Bram Hornstein, BS

Bram is the father of a 15 year old boy with autism and epilepsy. He has been a firefighter/paramedic for the Village of Palatine for thirteen years. He is an instructor for the Ember911™ Prevent-Educate, Autism Awareness Program. He also is the co-founder of a charitable organization, The BHARE Foundation, which helps fund autism research. Bram is an instructor for CPR and ACLS programs as well.

Phil Edwards

Firefighter Phil (as he is known to the children he teaches fire safety and prevention to), graduated in 1985 and spent seven years in the Air Force. After several years with the Mass Transit District and the City of Urbana Public Works, he joined the Urbana Fire Department in 1996. He is in charge of Prevention & Education for the department.

Phil has completed the following training classes: Basic Firefighting, Certified Firefighter II Academy, Instructor I, Management I & II, Fire Prevention Principles, Fire Inspector I & II, Statewide WMD Response: Confined Space Rescue Technician, Tactics and Strategy I, just to name a few.

Melissa McNaughton

Melissa is a certified First Responder with the Beaverville Fire Protection Dist. She is also a trained Medical Assistant having worked in the medical field for a little over 10 years. Melissa's daughter, Alyssa, was diagnosed with severe Autism in September of 2009. Alyssa was just 2 years old at the time and had no means of communication. She also has 2 older sons, Anthony who is 8 years old and Daniel who is 5 years old. At this point, Melissa is a stay at home mom dedicating a lot of her time to helping and teaching her daughter along with educating herself, friends and family about Autism.

Scott Barthelmass

Mr. Barthelmass has spent his entire adult life as a public servant. He has served 20 years as a volunteer firefighter, 18 years as a full-time law enforcement officer and 14 years as an EMT/paramedic. He serves as the public information officer for the Eureka (MO) Fire Protection District, a patrol sergeant for the Overland (MO) Police Department and a paramedic/flight paramedic with the St. Louis Children's Hospital Critical Care Transport Team.

Scott has a passion for educating people. He teaches 100s of first responders each year on various topics and educates 1000s of citizens on various public safety concerns.

Scott has been particularly involved in projects to better the lives for special needs populations, including those with Austism.

In 2011, Scott founded the All Hands for Autism Project. Similiar to the popular Pink Heels tour, he is working on acquiring and touring the country with a fire truck to educate first responders and the public about Autism.