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About Us

Who We Are

Meet our Board of Directors and Executive Leadership

Foundation Staff

  • Executive Director

    Tim Eby is the Executive Director of the Special Education Foundation (SEF) and has been in this position since April of 2022. He had previously led nonprofit public radio organizations in three Midwest cities since 1982. Before joining SEF, he was the Director and General Manager of St. Louis Public Radio from 2009 until 2020. Tim has also served on several local and national nonprofit boards, including Easter Seals Midwest, Focus St. Louis, and National Public Radio.

    Tim earned a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Evansville. He is currently a board member of the National Association of Education Foundations and the St. Louis Civic Pride Foundation. He is married to Kathi and the father of three amazing daughters.

  • Program & Communications Manager

    Shannon Benedek is the Program and Communications Manager for the Special Education Foundation. She earned a Master’s in Education (M.Ed.) with a Specialization in Reading from the University of Missouri St. Louis and holds a Missouri Lifetime Career Professional Teaching license. Her teaching experience included 6th grade, Kindergarten, 2 years as a Learning Consultant, and 6 years as a Parent Educator for Parents as Teachers in the Valley Park School District. From there, she transitioned into marketing and communications and has over 13 years of experience. Some of her work as a Marketing Manager and Communications Strategist includes a local Chamber of Commerce, internationally overseeing marketing for a multi-level marketing company focused in the Asia-Pacific region, and for a marketing agency as Project and Training Manager. Operations leadership, event, and international conference planning adds to her experience and led her to SEF. Here, she combines the rewarding educational aspects to serve the families and students from the Special School District with expanding on programs SEF offers to bring awareness to aid more families in need.

  • Events Manager

    Jill Salinas joined the Special Education Foundation as Events Manager in April 2023. As Event Manager, she will oversee all current and new events presented by the Special Education Foundation, including the annual Dan McLaughlin Charity Golf Tournament and Live Auction, receptions, ceremonies, and other fundraising and cultivation events.

    Jill previously worked as a Market Center Operations Manager for Keller Williams in Newnan, Georgia, and an Assistant Market Center Administrator for Keller Williams in Chesterfield, Missouri. While in Georgia, she served on the Junior Service League of Coweta County where she helped raise money for local foundations that help women, children, and families in need.

    She is currently pursuing a bachelor’s degree in Marketing from Kennesaw State.

Board Officers

  • Chair

    Michael Corry is the Special Education Foundation’s Board of Directors Chair and has been involved with SEF since 2017, and has also served as Chair/President of 7 other organizations. Michael graduated from the University of Missouri St. Louis with a Bachelor of Science degree in Accounting and Finance and an Autism Certificate through their Special Education Graduate school. Currently, Michael is driving SEF’s campaign to help St. Louis Companies implement an Autism Hiring Program for neurodiverse individuals similar to what Microsoft and 40 other major companies are doing. As a part of other organizations, he is a member of the Advisory Board of Caring Solutions and enjoys coaching St. Louis Arc’s basketball team for adults with disabilities.

  • Julia Burke, Ph.D.
    Julia Burke, Ph.D.

    Vice Chair

    Julia R. Burke, Ph.D., retired as a school administrator after serving in public education for 35 years. Prior to retirement, Dr. Burke served as the associate superintendent for human resources in the Hazelwood School District where she supervised the human resource functions for over 3,000 staff. In addition, she served as assistant superintendent for student services supervising alternative education, special education, guidance and counseling, social work, school safety, school resource officers, health services, enrollment and residency. During this time in the Hazelwood School District, Dr. Julia Burke spearheaded writing and securing a $6 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education designed to develop safe learning environments, promote healthy childhood development, mental health care, and prevent youth violence and drug use. She also led and implemented district-wide active intruder professional development and training procedures for staff, students, and board members.

    In 2018, Julia Burke started her own consulting company, Educational Services by Burke, LLC, which specializes in executive coaching, human resources and educational consulting, business development, and special education advocacy. Currently, Burke serves on the executive board as Board Vice Chair for the Special Education Foundation. She previously served as a Board Member for Annie Malone Children and Family Services and Lutheran Family and Children Services of Missouri. Julia Burke is a proud graduate of Saint Louis University, where she completed her Bachelor of Science in Communication Disorders. She holds a Master’s degree in Educational Administration from the University of Missouri-Saint Louis. She earned her Ph.D. in Educational Leadership from Saint Louis University. Dr. Julia Burke currently works as a consultant/coach for the Missouri Prevention Science Institute on behalf of the University of Missouri-Columbia.

  • F. Michael Lackey
    F. Michael Lackey

    Vice Chair

    Mr. Lackey is President and Managing Director of Total Rewards Strategies. He has over 30 years of experience in human resources, compensation and benefits consulting including, design, funding and expense projections for executive compensation and employee benefit programs.

    Prior to founding Total Rewards Strategies, Mr. Lackey was Managing Principal and Global Compensation Practice leader of JPMorgan Compensation and Benefits Strategies (formerly CCA Strategies). He was previously National Compensation Practice Leader for Palmer & Cay and worked for Towers Perrin as Manager of the St. Louis office. Mr. Lackey also worked for William M. Mercer in the United States and Canada and was Director of Compensation and Benefits for a multinational Canadian company.

    Among the clients that Mr. Lackey has served are Anheuser-Busch InBev, Arch Resources, Ascension Health, AT&T, Bank of America, BioSTL, BJC Health Care, Bunge Limited, Carnival Cruise Lines, Centene, Charter Communications, Commerce Bancshares, Emerson Electric, Essex Industries, Fred Weber, Gateway Arch Park Foundation, Haynes International, Healthways, Hershey Entertainment, Major Brands, McBride Homes, McLaren Engineering Group, Missouri Foundation for Health, Monsanto, Pace Properties, Peabody Energy, SeaWorld, Sigma-Aldrich, Spire, Stoneridge, tvsdesign, United Van Lines, The United Way of Greater St. Louis, U.S. Bancorp, and Washington University.

    Mr. Lackey received an Honors Bachelor of Mathematics Degree in Actuarial Science from the University of Waterloo, Canada. He is a member of the Compensation and Benefits Network of Greater St. Louis, the Employee Benefits Association of St. Louis, the Global Equity Organization, the National Association of Stock Plan Professionals, the St. Louis Actuaries Club and WorldatWork.

    Mr. Lackey is a member of the Board of Directors of the St. Louis Arc and The Special Education Foundation. He is a former member of the Board of Directors of Art St. Louis, the St. Louis Chapter of the American Heart Association, the St. Louis Art Fair and Safe Connections.

  • Todd Streff
    Todd Streff


    Todd Streff is the Executive Director of Streff Behavior Consulting. In 2018 he established the Skills Center, at Boone Center Inc, which is a vocational training facility for individuals with disabilities. He is a Board Certified and a Missouri Licensed Behavior Analyst. Since 1994 he has been providing services to a variety of populations including children and adults with autism, dual diagnosis, traumatic brain injury, and typical development. During the last three decades he has developed and owned two leading companies that specialize in intervention services for individuals with disabilities. He has developed school based ABA programs, training programs for school staff and parents, addressed challenging behaviors and specializes in the startup of new training programs for individuals with disabilities. He has presented at state and national conventions, served as an adjunct faculty, and has conducted many workshops, staff trainings and invited lectures in the United States and internationally. He currently chairs the Missouri Behavior Analyst Advisory Board.

  • Treasurer

    Will Skowyra is the Special Education Foundation’s Treasurer. He has been with SEF for the past 5 years. He has a Bachelor of Arts from Stetson University. Will is also part of the Golf committee to help organize the annual Dan McLaughlin Golf Tournament. He also serves on the Finance committee to discuss budget reviews and other financial-related topics.

  • Debbie Bentele
    Debbie Bentele

    President Emerita

    Debbie Bentele is the President Emerita for the Special Education Foundation. She had been a member of SEF’s Board of Directors since 1999 and held both Vice President and President positions during that duration. Debbie established the Women Leaders in 2009 based on the guest’s interest in a friend-raiser on how they could help. The group settled on hosting a fashion show to raise money to support the students, headed by Debbie. Prior to her work at SEF, Debbie was Executive Director of Stepstone Productions, producing videos for non-profit organizations. She was also involved with Heroes with Heart and held President and Chairman positions on the SIDS Board of Directors. That knowledge and experience were shared with SEF, paving the way to 20+ years of annual golf tournament fundraisers for the Foundation.

Board Members

  • Michael Barbercheck
    Michael Barbercheck

    Michael Barbercheck is a Wealth Advisor at Krilogy and has been a member of the Special Education Foundation Board of Directors since 2021. He fulfills his mission at SEF to provide a supportive and inclusive environment for children with special needs.

    Michael earned a Bachelor of Science in Accounting from Saint Louis University and serves on the Foundation’s Finance Committee. As an active member in the greater St. Louis community, Michael also serves on the Leadership Council at Glendale Lutheran Church. He and his wife Kelsey reside in Brentwood, MO.

  • Richard Carver
    Richard Carver

    Richard Carver has been a member of the Special Education Foundation Board of Directors since 2015. He has also been a Des Peres Audit and Finance Committee member since 2015. Carver is a Certified Public Accountant and has held various accounting positions with increased responsibility with Centerre Bancorporation and Boatmen’s Bancshares from 1976-1991, and was Senior Vice President and Treasurer of Boatmen’s Bancshares from 1991-1997. As the former Chief Financial Officer of the Special School District, he came to SEF’s Board of Directors after his retirement in 2015 and became a part-time C.F.O. of the St. Louis Language Immersion School from May 2018- November 2021. He is married to Sharon Carver and has two stepdaughters.

  • Jasmine Chen
    Jasmine Chen

    Jasmine Chen is an attorney who joined Sandberg Phoenix in 2022 and is a member of the Business practice group. Her estate planning practice focuses on helping families enhance their lives today and secure their futures tomorrow. She has been a Special Education Foundation Board of Directors member since 2022. She has earned an LL.M from Saint Louis University’s School of Law, an M.B.A. from the University of Missouri-St. Louis, and a Bachelor of Law from Tunghai University- The College of Law. Jasmine is also a Board member of Productive Living Board; President of North America and a member of the Bar Association of Metropolitan St. Louis and the Taiwanese Women’s Association-St. Louis Chapter. As a trust and estate attorney, she has served many families with loved ones with special needs and helps deliver the resources and raise awareness concerning students with disabilities to minority communities.

  • Geoffrey Grammer currently works at Ameren as Corporate Counsel and has been part of the Special Education Board of Directors since 2022. He has a J.D. from Southern Illinois University and a BSBA from the University of Missouri and serves on SEF’s Finance Committee. Grammar is also part of the Thomas Dunn Learning Center, MICDS Board of Trustees, MICDS Alumni Association, Association of Corporate Counsel – St. Louis Chapter, and the Energy Bar Association – Midwest Chapter.

  • Tracy Hayes is a Senior Wealth Advisor with Mariner Wealth Advisors and has been on the Special Education Foundation Board of Directors since 2022. She serves on the Foundation’s Finance Committee. She earned a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from University of Missouri- Saint Louis and also serves on the Advisory Board of Ladue Early Childhood Education.

  • Allen Palmquist and his wife Jill have five children, ages 18-29.

    They reside in Webster Groves and his hobbies include: Running, f3 boot camp, volunteering as a Parish School of Religion second grade catechist, reading and cooking.
    He is passionate about mental well-being, financial literacy, and children’s causes.

    Allen's “Why” for wanting to serve on the Special Education Foundation is because his oldest daughter is a Special Education teacher and she’s shared the challenges her students and their families face and has inspired Allen with the triumphs of her students at Parkway South.

  • Carin Fahr Shulusky was born and raised in west St. Louis County, Missouri. She attended the University of Missouri, Columbia, where she received a Bachelor of Journalism in 1973. After college, she went on to be the first professional woman in the advertising departments of several major corporations.

    After a 25-year career in marketing, Carin created her own firm, Marketing Alliance. She was president of Marketing Alliance from 2002 – 2014. She is a past-president of the Business Marketing Association of St. Louis and has received their Lifetime Achievement Award. She was a member of the National Association of Press Women. Carin currently serves on the board of the Special Education Foundation. She has volunteered for Springboard to Learning as a coach in their WiseWrite program.

    Carin retired in 2014 to devote more time to writing. Her first book, In the Middle, was inspired by her own battle to care for her beloved mother, Dorothy Hoehne Fahr. Carin’s second novel, Finding Light in a Lost Year, follows a successful fictional St. Louis couple as they traverse the drama and difficulties of the pandemic. Although the characters are fiction, the trials they face were very real. And yet, they find a light in this historic year.

    Carin lives with her husband, Richard Shulusky. They have two grown children and are proud grandparents to one granddaughter. Carin is a lifelong member of Pathfinder Church in Ellisville, Missouri. She has served for over thirty years in their Children’s Ministry.

  • Eugene (Gene) Toombs IV retired as a Division President from MiTek, a St. Louis-based Berkshire Hathaway business, after 28 years of service. His career focused on leadership development and coaching and mentoring to build high-performing teams to deliver business objectives. He has Bachelor of Science and Bachelor of Arts degrees from Bucknell University and a Masters in Business Administration from Washington University. Gene also serves on the Board of Directors for The Magic House and Central Institute for the Deaf and supports other charitable organizations with his family. Gene is married to Lynn Toombs and they have college age twins.