OUR BOARD

Laurie Sessa

Board Chair

Laurie Sessa works in software sales for Charleston’s largest corporate employer, Blackbaud LLC.  Laurie holds a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Notre Dame, a Master of Arts and Teaching from Trinity University, and a Certificate in Executive Leadership from Georgetown University. She brings 17 years of experience in the “social good” sector, working with nonprofits to streamline and enhance their fundraising, marketing and social media strategies. Most recently, she works with Blackbaud’s Healthcare team to drive customer retention at a strategic level.  As a member of the board, Laurie contributes these skills to Pattison’s, and contributes to our fundraising and marketing efforts. Laurie is a certified leadership coach, and is a parent to Eric, a graduate of PACE and summer camper.

Melissa Kelly 

Secretary

Melissa Kelly is a project manager for Chesapeake Health Education Program. CHEP was founded in Maryland in 1996 and provides continuing education credits for healthcare professionals as well as transitional housing for homeless veterans. She has been managing the Charleston transitional housing project for 20 years, which provides transitional housing and partnership with the local VA for drug and alcohol and mental health counseling. She is also part owner of her family business, Charleston Coffee Exchange which is a coffee shop and wholesaler since 2006.  She graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Biology, with honors from Towson State University in 1996, with a minor in secondary education. Together with her husband, she and their daughter Madigan have been involved with Pattison's Academy since 2006, enjoying first the summer camp program with enrollment at PACE at its inception in 2010.  Melissa remains heavily involved in Pattison's Academy, heading up the POPS committee, fundraising, and volunteering. 

Eric Wickstrom

Treasurer

Eric Wickstrom is an IRS Enrolled Agent and owner of Wickstrom Tax and Bookkeeping Services, LLC. Eric attended Presbyterian College and studied Business Management and Accounting. Eric is married to the lovely Kim Wickstrom, also a lifelong Charleston resident. Eric and Kim have 3 children, a daughter‐in‐law, and their first grand‐daughter due in September.

Eric heard a lot about Pattison's Academy over the years from his wife and a current board member. After hearing about the good things the school provides and watching from the wings, the decision was made to get involved. After touring the school and watching the smiles on the kids faces, there was no other choice. Eric brings a lot of experience in business operations and accounting, but his biggest asset might be a large network of local business contacts. He is ready to serve the kids and families at Pattison's Academy in whatever capacity is needed.

Tom Reilly, PhD

Member

Dr. Reilly spent the majority of his career in the high school classroom.  His commitment to the profession spans over fifty years and includes regular and special education teaching, coaching high school soccer and experience in school administration.  He is an advocate for the classroom teacher and believes that the teacher is a vital component in the teaching-learning process.  He believes in continually improving the role and function of the teacher so that they can teach and students can learn.  He currently teaches at the Citadel in the Education and Psychology Departments, in addition to his role as the Director of Internships and Field Experiences for the Zucker Family School of Education.  Dr. Reilly brings years of special education, as well as a wealth of connections and resources within the public school and post-secondary education communities to Pattison’s Academy.

John Belissary, Esq. 

Member

John serves as Administrator of New Generation Adult Day Centers located in Florence and Marion and is the owner of Club Horizons of Charleston.  He currently serves on the SC Alzheimer’s Board of Directors, and is the Alzheimer’s Ambassador to Congressman Tom Rice and a panelist on the Implementation Leadership Council convened by the South Carolina Institute of Medicine and Public Health.

As a sibling of two brothers with disabilities, John is a staunch advocate for both children and adults of special needs.  After practicing law for years, John realized the purpose of his life was to help exceptional individuals. 

Jeff Crudup, Esq. 

Member

Jeff has practiced civil trial defense since 2006.  He is currently the Charleston managing partner of the law firm Clarkson Walsh & Coulter where he defends civil lawsuits and offers corporate counsel to growing local businesses.  In addition to trial work, Jeff is often engaged to speak to other lawyers and healthcare professionals on current legal-medical issues.  Prior to joining the Board, Jeff served as legal counsel to land trusts and educational funds in the Boston, MA area.  His legal expertise is a valuable addition to Pattison’s Academy as it continues to grow and mature.

Matt Walton

Member

Matt Walton is a lifelong resident of Charleston, as is his wife Bonnie. They met while attending West Ashley High School. Matt graduated from The Citadel with a B.S. in Business Administration in 2008, and from Charleston Southern University in 2019 with a M.S. in Organizational Management. He is a project manager at The Boeing Company, where he has worked since 2014.

 

Matt became involved with Pattison’s Academy in 2016 when his late son Connor began receiving early interventionist services through the school. Connor subsequently attended the Pattison’s Academy summer camp in 2017, 2018, and 2019. Connor also attended PACE for his entire year of kindergarten.

 

Matt and his family have seen firsthand the incredible work Pattison’s Academy is capable of providing to the students and families that need a place like Pattison’s to call home. He is passionate about ensuring the success of Pattison’s for years to come.

Dr. Jennifer Perdue

Member

Jennifer Perdue was born in Iowa City, Iowa and grew up in Wisconsin. She graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee with a Bachelors in Science & Kinesiology. She received her Doctor of Chiropractic degree from the founding school of chiropractic, Palmer College. While at Palmer, she was the President of the Pediatric Club helping students continually increase their skills when helping children and pregnant women. Dr. Perdue is the sole owner of Live for Wellness, which she opened in January of 2013. Her clinic currently sees thousands of patients per month and will be expanding soon to a second location on Johns Island. She was honored to win Best of Charleston- Chiropractor in 2019.

 

Dr. Perdue is the President of the Lowcountry Referral BNI Chapter in West
Ashley and has been an active member for over 7 years. Family members, students and staff from Pattison's Academy visit Dr. Perdue for wellness care. She enjoys seeing the
children and their families have relief and feel better with chiropractic care. The Live
for Wellness team enjoys participating in events for Pattison's, such as Keeping the PACE and annual Block Party.

Jim Bush 

Member

Jim Bush has been a development professional and strategic planning consultant for more than 30 years. Recognized as an expert in his field, he’s helped small and large nonprofits alike raise more than $300 million through major and capitals campaigns, annual fund programs, and planned giving campaigns. Additionally, Jim has helped large and small organizations across the country develop and implement comprehensive
strategic plans.


Prior to joining the Winkler Group, Jim held senior-level fundraising positions with
Elon University, the YMCA, and the SPCA. He also served as a fundraising consultant at Blackbaud, the world’s largest fundraising software provider. Here, Jim developed comprehensive fundraising programs for nationally known organizations including World Vision, Jazz at Lincoln Center, the American Red Cross, and the YMCA.

 

Jim is a noted lecturer, trainer, and teacher. He has presented at more than fifty national and international fundraising conferences; he has been named the top speaker at six national and international conferences. His articles on fundraising have been published in leading nonprofit journals. He has served on the national fundraising faculty for the YMCA and currently serves on the faculty of the Nonprofit Leadership Institute.

 

Mr. Bush holds a bachelor’s degree in political science and public administration from Elon University.

Paige Knowlson

Ex Officio Member & Executive Director 

Paige has been leading Pattison’s Academy as the Executive Director since 2017. Paige holds a BS in Exercise Science from the University of South Carolina, a certificate in Non-Profit Management from Winthrop University, and an MS in Occupational Therapy and Certificate in Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental Disabilities (LEND) from Virginia Commonwealth University.

 

As both a licensed Occupational Therapist and a nonprofit leader, Paige brings extensive knowledge, energy and purpose into all of her interactions with the staff, children and community. She is passionate about helping each and every one of the Pattison’s children reach their maximum potential by pushing each of Pattison's four program further towards excellence. As Executive Director, she has led the charge to advocate for Pattison’s Academy at the local, state and federal level.