Administration Team & Department Heads

Brehm administrators embrace the holistic model used to ensure the success of our students. The Executive Leadership Team, with over 100 years of combined experience in their respective areas, represents a fresh approach to educational leadership. The Team of Directors and various coordinators exemplifies the industry standards as leading experts in their particular fields. This dynamic team leads the charge to fulfill the Brehm mission, empowering each member of the Brehm community to learn and grow!

Dr. Elizabeth I. Lewin

Interim Head of School

Start Date: 2019

A Carbondale native, she holds a Bachelor of Science and Master of Arts from Southern Illinois University at Carbondale, as well as an educational specialist degree in education administration from SIUE.  She earned a doctorate in educational leadership at the University of Sarasota in Florida.  Dr. Lewin has over forty years of combined teaching and leadership experience in both K-12 and higher education.

She became the first female to serve as superintendent for the Carbondale Elementary School District, serving from 1995 to 2006. Following her time in that position, she returned to SIUC and joined the faculty in the College of Education and Human Services teaching courses that prepared future school leaders. She was later appointed to serve as Interim Associate Chancellor for Institutional Diversity for SIU during the 2016-17 academic year.

Dr. Lewin’s earlier professional career includes serving as a school administrator for Edwardsville Community School District, where she served as assistant principal and principal from 1988 to 1995.  While living in Edwardsville, she became the first female elected to the city council.

Dr. Lewin has an extensive list of local and state-wide involvement including serving as president for the Rotary Club of Carbondale, membership in Leadership St. Louis, a legislative appointment to the Illinois Arts Council Advisory Task Force, numerous offices in Illinois Women in Educational Leadership and the list goes on.

While she spends many hours serving her community, she also mentors underrepresented professionals in education and business. She has supported hundreds of young professionals entering the workforce for the first time. She credits her parents for her drive to reach back and help others.

Terri Douglas, M.S. Ed

Head of Education and Student Services

Start Date: 1992

“Experience has proven that an academic family-styled boarding school environment is the most effective way for students with learning challenges to break old patterns, foster independence, and achieve their full potential.”

Terri Douglas has been a part of the Brehm family since 1992. Throughout her career at Brehm she has served in many different aspects of the program; from teacher to Associate Director and currently as Head of Education and Student Services. She has worked in the education field for more than 30 years as a teacher and administrator.

A native of Nebraska, Terri received her Bachelor of Science degree from Hastings College in Elementary Education and Special Education. As a member of the Carbondale community, she earned a Master’s Degree in Education and then her Administration Certification from Southern Illinois University. Terri has a teaching certification as a Learning Behavior Specialist Unlimited, which qualifies her to teach K-12 special education students.

Charlene Reed, B.S.Ed


Start Date: 1982

“The best part of my job is the people I work with – students, staff, families – knowing that our team makes a difference in the lives of our students.”

Charlene (Char) Reed is a former special education teacher with certification in Learning Disabilities Education.  She is very proud that she was one of the original teaching staff members of Brehm Preparatory School when it opened in 1982.  During her tenure at Brehm, Char has worked in many capacities. She has been an instructor of several courses and has also served as Admissions Director and Supervisor of Educational Services at Brehm.  In 1995, she became the Coordinator of OPTIONS Transitions to Independence. In 2012, she was named the Director of OPTIONS. In that capacity, she supervises staff and students; creates teaching materials and staff training materials; presents at conferences at the local, state and national levels; recruits new students; manages OPTIONS admissions and guides the growth of the OPTIONS. Currently, Char serves on the Executive Leadership Team as the Head of OPTIONS.

Char received a Bachelor’s in Special Education from Southern Illinois University Carbondale.

Clatus Bierman, CPA

Head of Business and Finance

Start Date: 2016

Clatus Bierman started at Brehm in 2016 as the Controller. He quickly gained the respect and attention of the Board and transitioned into his current role as the Head of Finance and Business.

Clatus assist with the leadership of Brehm as it relates to the business office, technology, facilities, human resources, and contracted services.  Duties include budgeting, forecasting, contracts, and financial reporting.

Clatus is an alum of Southern Illinois University where he earned his Bachelor of Science/Accounting. (Cum Laude)

Jennifer Phillips, MS, CRC

Head of Administration and Outreach

Start Date: 1998

“I love the passion and the commitment of the Brehm team.”

Jennifer Phillips joined the Brehm family in 1998. Prior to her full-time employee status at Brehm she completed an internship at Brehm through Southern Illinois University. She has filled many roles during her time here. Prior to her current role, she served as the Associate Director at OPTIONS Transitions to Independence which is Brehm’s post-secondary program for students with learning disabilities. Instrumental in creating the program she co-directed, she helped post-high school students with disabilities locate internship and paid employment opportunities and provides transition services to empower students to recognize and optimize their lives. In her work as a disability and employment advocate, she also serves on the Center for Independent Living, (CIL) the IL Association of People Supporting Employment First (ILAPSE), and the Brehm School Foundation boards.

Jennifer earned a Master’s Degree in Rehabilitation Counseling from Southern Illinois University Carbondale.

Pam Altman, LCSW, MSW

Director of Health and Well-Being

Start Date: 2006

“No two days are ever the same at Brehm.”

Pam Altman started at Brehm in January of 2006 as a Masters of Social Work Intern. In June of 2006, she began working as part of the residential team both scheduling recreation and supervising dorm parents.

Pam received her Bachelor of Science from the University of Saskatchewan, Masters of Social Work from the University of Missouri (Columbia) and is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker.

Scott Donovan, B.S.

OPTIONS – Director of Independent Living

Start Date: 2005

“I enjoy working in a supportive environment with a team of like-minded individuals with a common goal to move our students towards independence.”

Scott Donovan started at OPTIONS in 2005 as Independent Living Supervisor. Scott main goal is to see the OPTIONS students gain the skills necessary to live a more independent life. Scott is now the Director of Independent Living at OPTIONS.

Scott received his Bachelor of Science in Recreation from Southern Illinois University Carbondale.

Aaron Lee

Director of Student Life

Start Date: 1993

“Changing the world one kid at a time is what inspires me.”

Aaron Lee has been a part of Brehm since 1993. Aaron has always been a community advocate in many different aspects; he serves on the Executive Board of the Autism Society of Southern Illinois, he is a member of the American Association for People with Disabilities, the Regional Director of Mid-America Youth Basketball and the founder of Titans Foundation and Skills Academy.

Rachelle Ridgeway, M.S. Ed, LCPC

OPTIONS - Director of Student Services

Start Date: 2012

Rachelle Ridgeway joined the OPTIONS family in 2012. Prior to OPTIONS, she worked as an Adolescent and Young Adult Therapist, providing mental health services and supports to young people and their families.

Rachelle received a Bachelor of Arts degree in psychology from Southern Illinois University Carbondale and a Master of Science in Education degree in Community Counseling from Southern Illinois University Carbondale. She also is a Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor.


Michael Sims, M.S.Ed., CCC-SLP

Director of Speech and Language

Start Date: 2003

“Daily I am inspired as I see evidence of being a positive influence in the lives of others.”

Michael (Brad) Sims joined the Brehm family in 2003, prior to that he spent 7 years teaching special education, 2 years as an SLP consultant for the Prentke-Romich Company and 14 years in private practice.

Brad earned his Bachelor of Science in education, Master of Science in communication disorders and sciences both from Southern Illinois University Carbondale, and his Certification of Clinical Competence from the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA).

Brian Taylor, M.Ed.

Director of Admissions, Parent

Start Date: 2008

“The best part of my job is helping families. When most families call the admissions department, they’re at a low point with their child. Working with families to get their child enrolled at Brehm and seeing the change(s) in the students is very fulfilling.”

Brian Taylor joined the Brehm family in 2008 as a dorm parent and in 2012 moved to the admissions department. Prior to working at Brehm, he was a police officer and a teacher.

Brian earned his Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice and his Master of Education in Instructional Design from American Intercontinental University.

Margaret Taylor, B.A., B.S.

Director of Human Resources

Start Date: 2015

“The most inspiring part of my job as Director of Human Resources is the staff’s dedication to helping students achieve their potential.”

Margaret Taylor started at Brehm in 2015 as the Director of Human Resources, prior to that she spent 3 years as a paralegal at a law firm that focused on employment, business and civil rights laws.  

Margaret received a Bachelor of Art in administration of justice and a Bachelor’s of Science in paralegal studies both from Southern Illinois University Carbondale.

Department Heads

Jonathan Cohen, M.S.

Coordinator of Information Systems and Technology

Start Date: 2005

“I like that my career path is not defined.  When I first started here, I had no intention of making this my career.  Brehm has a way of growing on you, melting into your identity. As a school, we have a unique, or seemingly unique, ability to take ownership of the projects that we undertake.  It can be daunting at times, but I really do feel like I have a direct impact on the organization and its success with students.”

Jonathan Cohen started at Brehm in 2005 in the IT department. His role has shifted from intern to coordinator during his time at Brehm. Jonathan was a driving force in implementing Brehm’s one-to-one program and the school’s first wireless network.

Jonathan holds a Master of Science from Southern Illinois University Carbondale.

John Hays III

Facilities Coordinator

Start Date: 2017

“I enjoy being able to work with the students and provide them and my coworkers with a safe and healthy facility for all to enjoy.”

John Hays III first started on the OPTIONS campus in 2017 as a driver, in 2018 he joined the Brehm facilities department. Prior to 2017 he worked in the trades as a Union Carpenter and Millwright for 40 plus years.

John is a member of the Carpenters & Millwrights local 716.

Charity Finley, B.F.A.

Coordinator of Communications

Start Date: 2014

“I love the people I work with and also the time I get to spend with students and families.”

Charity Finley joined the Brehm family in 2014. Her background in graphic and web design, event planning, and knowledge of the public and private school sectors made her the perfect fit for the Communications department.

Charity received her Bachelor of Fine Arts in multimedia and web design from the Illinois Institute of Art Schaumburg.

Kenya Govan, M.S.Ed.

Associate Director of Student Life

Start Date: 2009

“I love working at Brehm because of the students.”

Kenya Govan joined the Brehm family in 2009 as a member of the boarding staff. She has held various positions during her time at Brehm from Dorm Parent to her current role as the Associate Director of Student Life.

Kenya received her Bachelor of Science in criminal justice with a minor in sociology from Southern Illinois University Carbondale. She also earned a master’s of science in education – Specialization in Adult Education at SIUC.



Guadalupe Montoya M.S., CCC-SLP

Speech-Language Pathologist (SLP), Coordinator of Summer Program

Start Date: 2015

“Contributing to a future generation of leaders is the most rewarding part of what I do.”

Guadalupe (Lupe) has been a part of the summer program and a Speech and Language Pathologist at Brehm since 2015. Lupe accepted the role of Coordinator of Summer Program in 2018.

Lupe completed her Master’s Degree in Communication Disorders and Sciences at Southern Illinois University Carbondale and her undergrad is in Business Administration.