Meet the Staff
Paul J. Garchar, Jr.
Education Background: Bachelor’s Degree in Social Work Youngstown State University 1988 Bachelor’s Degree in Sociology Youngstown State University 1989 Master’s Degree in Health & Human Services Administration Youngstown State University 1999 Licensure: Licensed Social Worker in the State of Ohio Related Experience: Easter Seal Society, Alzheimer’s Association, Help Hotline Crisis Center Non-Profit/Community Services: Currently the President of the Rotary Club of Youngstown, Family and Children First Councils (Mahoning and Trumbull County), United Way Directors Association, Association for Fundraising Professionals Family Status: Paul is married to Gina Marie and they reside in Struthers. Paul and Gina have four children and one grandchild. Favorite things about working at Potential Development: “My list of favorite things about working at the Potential Development Program begins with the children. As our program has expanded over the years, we have been able to build long term relationships with our students. We may be there to hear their first words and can watch them grow into young adults. Building a bond and partnership with the parents and families has been especially rewarding. Depending on when a child enters the program, we may be there as a parent receives the diagnosis of autism for the first time or we may provide a solution to several failed placements in other programs. In either case, we provide comfort, empathy, and stability to families in crisis. Our staff are amazing individuals who truly care about the students and their families. They take pride in their work and truly drive the mission of the Potential Development Program. My list of favorite things about Potential Development wouldn’t be complete if I did not mention our volunteers and Board of Directors. These caring individuals give of their time, talents and expertise and expect nothing in return. With all these great things going on, it is easy to come to work everyday!
Education: Bachelor’s Degree in Social Work Youngstown State University 2002 Licensure: Licensed Social Worker in the State of Ohio Biography: Melissa has been working at Potential Development Program since July 2004, where she is responsible for parent education and support services. Melissa’s previous work experience includes Mahoning County Children Services and Easter Seals of Mahoning County. Melissa is a member of the Downtown Kiwanis. Melissa is married to Bill and they reside in Boardman with their two children. One of my favorite things about working at PDP is celebrating small victories and large milestones with our students!
Special Education Coordinator
Education: Bachelor’s Degree in Elementary Education and Special Education Youngstown State University Masters Degree in Special Education Youngstown State University Licensure: Certified Special Education K-12 Certified Elementary Education 1-8 Certified Early Childhood Education Biography: Marilyn has worked at Potential Development since October 1990. First as a lead teacher and more recently as Special Education Coordinator where she is responsible for curriculum and programming for the School for Autism. Marilyn’s previous work experience includes Leonard Kirtz School and Youngstown City Schools. Marilyn is a member of the Autism Society, the Association of Children with Learning Disabilities, Council for Exceptional Children and is on the Mahoning county Special Education Advisory Council. She is also very active with disabled veterans charities. Marilyn is married to Ben. They have three grown children and 7 grandchildren. They reside in Brookfield.
Grants and Human Resource Coordinator
Education: Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration Youngstown State University 1999 Certificate of Resource Development Regis University 2006 Related Experience: Catholic Charities, Diocese of Youngstown, Canine’s Helping Independent People Non-Profit/Community Services: Past-President, Association of Fundraising Professionals, Mahoning/Shenango Chapter, Rotary Club of Poland, Board Member, The Walnut Grove – Field of Opportunity Family Status: Shellie is married to David and they reside in Poland with their daughter, Gabby. Favorite things about working at Potential Development: My favorite thing about working at PDP is see the students grow and learn. There is nothing more special than seeing a child reach a milestone that at one time might have been impossible. It becomes a celebration for the student, teacher and entire staff and reminds us why working at Potential Development is so special.
Mary Beth Loto
Preschool Program Coordinator
Hello, my name is Mary Beth Loto. I started with Potential Development Program in September 2010. I have a Bachelor’s degree in Early Childhood Education and a Master’s degree in Educational Administration. I received both degrees from YSU. I live in Liberty with my husband James, our one year old son Charles and our two dogs and one cat. When I started here at Potential Development I was hired as the lead teacher in one of our Autism classrooms where I taught for two years. Prior to Potential Development my teaching experiences had been in the general education setting. It was during these two years that I realized how much I enjoyed working with children with Autism and also with their families. It was a very rewarding and challenging two years for me! In September 2012, I became the Program Coordinator for the preschool. I feel very fortunate to have had the opportunity to be in the classroom and now to be gaining administrative experience with Potential Development. I enjoy talking with our families and hearing their inspirational stories. Each family I meet with has a different set of circumstances that brought them to Potential Development. Parents trust us to help their children because of our experience and the results we’ve achieved. Our intensive work focuses on our students, but of course involves the families. In this way, our teachers help to educate all those involved so that each child’s full potential is realized.