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ONAC Staff Biographies

Susan Daniels, Ph.D.

National Autism Coordinator; Director, Office of National Autism Coordination

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Dr. Daniels serves as the National Autism Coordinator for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, a role created by Congress to facilitate coordination and implementation of autism activities across federal departments and agencies. She also is Director of the Office of National Autism Coordination (ONAC) at the National Institute of Mental Health, and the Executive Secretary of the Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee (IACC). The IACC is a federal advisory committee created by Congress to coordinate federal autism activities and provide advice to the Secretary of Health and Human Services on issues related to autism. In her role with the ONAC and IACC, Dr. Daniels oversees the strategic planning, policy, communications, and operations for the committee, and serves as a liaison with federal agencies and federal advisory committees that work on issues related to autism and disabilities. She has been serving in a leadership role in federal autism policy since 2008 and is a recipient of the NIH Director's Award for her work with the IACC. Prior to working at NIMH, Dr. Daniels worked in policy and program management related to neurodegenerative diseases and infectious diseases at two other NIH institutes, the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) and the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID). Before coming to NIH, Dr. Daniels was a Christine Mirzayan Science and Technology Policy Fellow and consultant at the National Academy of Sciences. She received her Ph.D. in molecular and cell biology from Brandeis University, where she conducted neuroscience research focusing on the function of the sensory nervous system. She holds a Bachelor's degree in Biology and French from Wheaton College.

Ana Cappuccio, LL.B.

Operations Coordinator

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Before joining ONAC/NIMH, Ana served as an Associate Director and Compliance Senior Officer at Churchill Senior Living, where she ensured quality and regulatory control, provided management support, and certified that all residents were in compliance with LIHTC housing rules. She has held positions as a Legal Support Specialist and Translator in various law firms in Venezuela and the USA. She worked at the Organization of American States in Washington, DC—the world’s oldest inter-American system and the oldest international institutional system organization—where she served as a Legal Support Specialist for the Electoral Cooperation and Observation Department. She earned her Law Degree at Andres Bello Catholic University in 1997 in Caracas, Venezuela. In 2002, she completed a Master’s Degree in International Economic Law at the Central University of Venezuela. In 2010, she obtained a French Language Certificate from Montreal University.

Oni Celestin, Ph.D.*

Health Science Policy Analyst

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Dr. Celestin is a Science Policy Analyst in the ONAC, where she supports the IACC by performing analyses, reporting, and strategic planning. Prior to joining ONAC, Dr. Celestin was a Science Associate and AAAS Science & Technology Policy Fellow at the National Science Foundation, working in grant administration, science communication, and science policy. Dr. Celestin completed postdoctoral training in lipid transport and metabolism at the Carnegie Institution for Science, and she received her Ph.D. in Developmental Biology from the University of Chicago, studying the development of the brain. She also received a B.S. in biochemistry and molecular biology from the University of Maryland Baltimore County.

Katrina Ferrara, Ph.D.*

Health Science Policy Analyst

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Dr. Ferrara is a Science Policy Analyst at the ONAC, where she performs research and analysis in support of the IACC's strategic planning and reporting. Prior to joining ONAC, Dr. Ferrara was a postdoctoral research fellow at the Center for Brain Plasticity and Recovery at Georgetown University, studying brain and cognitive development using functional magnetic resonance imaging. She was also a Christine Mirzayan Science and Technology Policy Fellow with the Board on Children, Youth, and Families at the National Academy of Sciences. She received a Ph.D. in Cognitive Science from Johns Hopkins University and a B.A. in Psychology and English from Williams College.

Steven Isaacson, L.M.S.W.

Neurodiversity Liaison

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Mr. Isaacson is a Policy Analyst within ONAC. Concurrently, he serves as a Senior Group Facilitator for DC Peers where he holds space for neurodivergent adults to learn about their place on the autism spectrum. Prior to joining NIMH, Mr. Isaacson was an Employment Training Specialist with Kennedy Krieger Institute, and a Men's Group Instructor at the Hussman Center for Adults with Autism engaging with autistic adults and transition-aged youth to build social, communication, and employment readiness skills. In 2023, Mr. Isaacson earned his Master’s in Social Work with an Organizational Leadership specialization from the University of Maryland, Baltimore. He received the Award for Excellence in Autism Studies in the Post-Baccalaureate program at Towson University. In 2017, he also received his B.A. in Political Science and the Joe de Rivera Peace Prize from Clark University in Worcester, MA.

Tianlu Ma, Ph.D.*

Health Science Policy Analyst

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Dr. Ma is a Science Policy Analyst at ONAC and supports the IACC through research, analysis, and reporting. Before joining ONAC, Dr. Ma was a Science Policy Fellow at the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology, where she supported the Office of Public Affairs in promoting evidence-based science policy and advocating for biomedical research funding. Dr. Ma received her Ph.D. in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology from the Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health, where she studied how changes in physiology regulate female reproduction. Dr. Ma also holds a B.S. in Biochemistry and B.A. in Economics from the University of Texas at Austin.

Rebecca Martin, M.P.H.*

Public Health Analyst

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Ms. Martin is a Public Health Analyst at ONAC and focuses on outreach activities, including enhancing web content, social media use, and increasing engagement with the autism community. Ms. Martin received her M.P.H. in Health Behavior and Health Education, with a special focus on Health Communication, from the University of Michigan. She has a B.A. in Psychology from the University of Maryland.

Angelice Mitrakas, B.A.*

Management Analyst

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Mrs. Mitrakas is the Management Analyst, providing management and administrative support for the Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee. Before joining ONAC, Mrs. Mitrakas worked as the Operations Coordinator for the Extramural Administrative Service Branch (EASB) at the National Institute of Mental Health. There she worked as the liaison between management, program directors, and administrative officers with regards to program administrations. She also worked at the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) where she was a Support Assistant providing executive level administrative support where she was able to utilize her skills in entrepreneurship and small business management. Mrs. Mitrakas received her Bachelors in Linguistics and Translation from Wilson College.

Luis Valdez-Lopez, M.P.H.

Health Science Policy Analyst

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Mr. Valdez is a Health Science Policy Analyst within ONAC. Prior to joining NIH, Mr. Valdez worked for the Association of University Centers on Disabilities (AUCD)'s Maternal and Child Health technical assistance team and UCEDD Resource Center, providing technical assistance to the network of 52 Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental Disabilities (LEND) programs and 67 University Centers for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities (UCEDDs). Mr. Valdez also recently completed a fellowship with the Vermont LEND Program as a Public Health Fellow. Mr. Valdez holds a bachelor's degree in Kinesiology from the University of Maryland, College Park and a Master's of Public Health with a concentration in Global Health from the George Washington University's Milken Institute School of Public Health.

Jeffrey Wiegand, B.S.*

Web Development and Digital Outreach Manager

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Mr. Wiegand serves as the Web Development and Digital Outreach Manager at ONAC, in support of the IACC. His responsibilities include web design, frontend development, backend and database development, 508 compliance, and content management. Mr. Wiegand also oversees digital communications and social media strategy. Before joining ONAC, Mr. Wiegand worked for a media company, serving in various roles including Quality Assurance Manager, Project Manager, and Senior Web Developer. Mr. Wiegand has a Bachelor of Science degree in Information and Computer Science from University of Maryland University College, and a Bachelor of Science degree in Mass Communication from Frostburg State University.

*Also a staff member of the Office of Autism Research Coordination (OARC), within the Office of National Autism Coordination (ONAC).

 
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