Family Employee Resource Group: Children with Special Needs

Virtual - Zoom

Family Employee Resource Group: Children with Special Needs


Event Description: 


The WorkLife Office is proud to present an Ask the Expert session regarding Children with Special Needs. We are pleased to announce that we will be joined by multiple experts in the area including: 

  • Amy Lowrie, Related Services Director & Early On Director, Eaton Regional Education Services Agency 
  • Diondra Straiton, President, Mid-Michigan Autism Association 
  • Catherine Blatnik, Treasurer, Mid-Michigan Autism Association 
  • Jaimie Hutchison, LPC, SCL, Director Work Life Office

This will be an excellent opportunity for you to gain information about these organizations and what services they can provide as well as an opportunity for you to ask questions to the panelists regarding children with special needs. Our panelists are prepared to help answer the pressing questions that you have in mind for a child in your life in the areas of neurodivergence, autism spectrum disorder and other sensory sensitivities, early childhood screenings, educational advocacy, special education services, and physical, mental, social, or emotional developmental needs.

The Family Employee Resource Group (ERG) is a place for Spartans to connect on family-related topics with the goal of connecting, building community and sharing best practices regarding raising or caregiving for children and caregivers.

The Family ERG meets on the second Tuesday from 12-1pm each month during the academic year in the form of educational Zoom webinars, interactive “Ask the Expert” format meetings, as well as in person family friendly programs and events (which are held on Saturdays). For questions, contact Rachel Perez at

About the Speakers:

Diondra Straiton | President, Cathy Blatnik | Treasurer, President Mid-Michigan Autism Association

Diondra Straiton (she/her) is President of the Mid-Michigan Autism Association and a doctoral student at Michigan State University’s clinical psychology program. She holds a master’s degree in Psychology from Michigan State University and a bachelor's degree in Psychology and Educational Studies from Swarthmore College. She is also a certified elementary school teacher. Diondra’s research focuses on methods to support autism clinicians to use evidence-based practices in community settings. She has experience working with clinicians in early intervention settings and community mental health agencies across the United States, Canada, and China.

Cathy Blatnik | Treasurer, President Mid-Michigan Autism Association

Amy Lowrie is the Director of Early On and Related Services at Eaton Regional Education Service Agency. In this role, she leads the Early On Team, providing early intervention services for infants and toddlers. She has over 20 years of experience working in Special Education, with the majority of that working in Early Childhood, with infants and toddlers in their natural environment and preschoolers in special education and inclusive preschool settings. She also leads the Build Up Michigan Evaluation Team, providing developmental assessment to preschoolers with suspected developmental delay and supervises the Speech-Language Pathologists in the 5 school districts in Eaton County.

Jaimie Hutchison, LPC, SCL, Director Work Life Office

Jaimie Hutchison is the Director of the WorkLife Office at Michigan State University, supporting MSU’s recruitment and retention of a high performing workforce and the wellbeing of a diverse community of staff and scholars. Jaimie and her team contribute to the development of MSU’s policies and special initiatives, and the office oversees MSU’s University-wide work-life strategies. The office administers a range of programs for faculty, staff, academic staff, and postdocs, including those focused on mental health, workplace flexibility, dependent care, family support, workplace culture, career development, leadership, and workplace-based well-being. Jaimie has worked for 24 years as a leader, therapist, consultant, director, supervisor, trainer, mentor, and administrator. In addition to her work-life role, she is also a therapist at Insight Counseling working primarily with tweens, teens, and families. Jaimie is highly engaged with the local community and has volunteered over 10,000 hours. Jaimie received her bachelor’s degree in psychology from Michigan State University, her master’s degree in community counseling from the University of Northern Colorado, and a post-master’s certificate in school counseling from Eastern Michigan University. Jaimie is a Licensed Professional Counselor in the state of Michigan. Jaimie and her family are proud Spartans and enjoy the diverse events and activities that MSU and the Greater Lansing area have to offer. Jaimie is the mother of one teen and has been married to her spouse, Wayne (also a Spartan), for 24 years.

Jaimie is currently serving a three-year term for the College and University Work-Life-Family Association (CUFWA) Board of Directors. Jaimie also co-chairs the Membership Engagement Committee with Lourdes Rodrigues, Manager of Childcare and Family Resources, Life & Work Connections at the University of Arizona. Jaimie’s interests in her role on the CUFWA Board include membership engagement, leading initiatives to promote personal and workplace well-being, and being part of a vibrant, knowledgeable team in efforts to move our institutions forward by being leaders and innovators in the work-life industry.