Our staff is a team that takes OAR’s mission to heart.

Meet the staff members who drive all of OAR’s day-to-day operations:

Michael Maloney 

Executive Director

Chief staff executive

Business operations

Community outreach

Adult employment initiative

Mike is part of OAR’s founding team. A native of Weymouth, MA, and a lifelong Boston Red Sox fan, he graduated from Holy Cross and later earned a master’s degree in Business Management from Central Michigan University.

Mike served 23 years in the U.S. Marine Corps, included tours in Vietnam and the first Gulf War. Before joining OAR, he served as executive director of the Marine Corps University Foundation in Quantico, Va. and the Autism Society of America Foundation.

Mike and his wife, Elaine, live in Burke, VA, and have two musician sons, Kevin, a Staff Sergeant in the U.S. Army Ceremonial Band, “Pershing’s Own”, and Doug, Director of Bands at Chantilly High School in Chantilly, Va.

What do you like to do outside of OAR?

In his off time, Mike enjoys: any occasion to hang out with Kevin, Doug, and their wives, being Grandpa to Maxon, Selah, and Cameron, writing, enjoying his sons’ musical endeavors, and rooting for Boston sports teams.

Kristen Essex 

Deputy Executive Director

Donor outreach and relations

Major gifts

Workplace giving

Office management

Grant management

Kristen, a native of the Washington metropolitan area, spent the majority of her life in Rockville. After graduating from Randolph-Macon College, she moved to Virginia briefly before trekking halfway across the country to Dallas. Despite five great years in the Lone Star State, she missed the East Coast and moved to Alexandria in 2010.

After college, Kristen spent eight years in the insurance industry working with structured settlements. Eventually, she decided she needed a career change, and after a brief stint bartending, she ended up as Publisher and Director of Sales and Marketing for the Alexandria Times. Despite enjoying her tenure with the Times, she elected to venture away from her years of sales and find a position in the nonprofit industry, which is how she became Business Manager for the Organization for Autism Research. After three years as OAR’s Business Manager, Kristen was promoted to Deputy Executive Director in October 2018. In May 2019, Kristen graduated from Regis University’s Anderson College of Business and Computing with a Masters of Nonprofit Management.

What do you like to do outside of OAR?

Read, hike with my dog, and spend time with my family and friends, including my daughter Sloane, who was born in November 2018.

Rachel Luizza

Manager, Development and Marketing

Marketing and Communications Management

Organization Development

Website Management

Special Event Marketing and Fundraising

Rachel is originally from the Mile High City and graduated from Colorado State University’s College of Business in 2015 with degrees in Marketing, Management, and Human Resource Management.  After graduating from CSU, she worked as the Marketing and Event Coordinator at an athletic event nonprofit.

After moving to the DC metro area with her partner, Rachel joined Organization for Autism Research’s RUN FOR AUTISM team as a Coordinator in March 2017 and was promoted to Senior Coordinator in January 2019.  After three years working on OAR’s RUN FOR AUTISM team, Rachel transitioned into the role of Development and Marketing Manager in September 2020.

Rachel currently lives and works remotely from Fort Collins, Colorado.

What do you like to do outside of OAR?

Rachel, like most Coloradoans, loves the mountains and exploring them with her husband, two children, and dog by trail running, snowshoeing, camping, hiking, and fishing.

Courtney Carroll

Courtney Carroll

Manager, Hire Autism


Office   (703) 497-3438



Cell      (703) 216-1372


Hire Autism Website

Employment Initiative

Hire Autism Events

Employment Resource Development

Courtney, a Connecticut native, graduated from James  Madison University (JMU) with a degree in Health Sciences, a minor in Special Education, and a Certificate in Autism Spectrum Studies. 

Throughout college, Courtney worked at a non-profit providing hands-on life skills support to individuals with disabilities, 18 years and older, who were looking to achieve independence. At JMU, she was President of her sorority and led their philanthropic partnership with St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. Courtney has also volunteered within the Harrisonburg community and school systems to raise awareness about autism and promote inclusion. In her previous role, Courtney worked as a Registered Behavior Technician where she provided behavioral support to a variety of individuals on the autism spectrum between the ages of four and eighteen. 

Courtney’s passion for working with the autism community led her to join OAR in 2021. 

What do you like to do outside of OAR?

Courtney loves to run and be outdoors. She enjoys spending time with her friends in the DC area and family back home in New England. Courtney is a big fan of all Boston sports teams, especially the Patriots.

Kimberly Ha 

Director, Research and Programs


Applied Research Competition

Education Programs and Initiatives

Webinar Program

Resource Development

Originally from Philadelphia, Kim studied cognitive psychology and neuroscience at the University of Pittsburgh before returning to her hometown and receiving a master’s degree in education from the University of Pennsylvania. She taught students with high and low incidence disabilities as a full-time special education science teacher before she joined OAR back in 2014. Kimberly worked as a programs and outreach associate for two years before she transitioned into her current role as research and programs director.

What do you like to do outside of OAR?

Kim enjoys hiking, reading, playing badminton, and spoiling her nine-year-old corgi.

Ben VanHook

Programs and Outreach Associate


(703) 243-3466



Scholarship and research grant management

Blog/Newsletter coordination

Ben is from Harbin, China, but has been a long-time resident of Northern Virginia. He earned his bachelor’s degree with a double-major in political science and psychology at Mercyhurst University and is currently pursuing his master’s at George Mason University in public policy with an emphasis in education policy.

Being autistic himself, Ben has partaken in numerous conferences, panels, and summits to discuss the equitable inclusion of autistic individuals in education and employment.

What do you like to do outside of OAR?

Ben likes to play music (piano and guitar), write and perform poems, and watch soccer.

Sean Flynn


Overall management of endurance program and fundraising efforts

Sponsor relations

Future event planning

Originally from Florida, Sean graduated from the University of Central Florida. After two years of working as a RUN FOR AUTISM Coordinator with OAR, he held positions in Education and the Non-Profit sector.  Most recently he managed the Charity Partnership Program for IRONMAN. Sean is a big supporter of all things UCF – GO KNIGHTS!

What do you like to do outside of OAR?

I enjoy being active and doing anything that is outdoors. Also enjoy taking in sporting events and other fun activities going on around the DC area.

Sarah Culver

Senior Coordinator, RUN FOR AUTISM

RUN marketing and communication

Runner support and fundraising

Sarah is a native to the Northern Virginia area and a graduate of East Carolina University with a degree in Recreation Management.  Before joining OAR She worked for SHAPE America focusing on professional development for physical education teachers.

Sarah has been a part of the OAR’s RUN FOR AUTISM team since March 2017.  She is a certified running coach, certified race director, and avid runner; completing 39 marathons and 14 ultramarathons.

In spring 2019, Sarah moved to live and work remotely in Virginia Beach, Virginia with her husband and two dogs.

What do you like to do outside of OAR?

When she’s not running, Sarah loves hiking, stand-up paddle boarding, snowboarding, and anything outdoors, the higher the adrenaline factor, the better! She also enjoys traveling to new places, playing fetch with her dogs on the beach, and watching/playing sports.

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Cora Bentley

Coordinator RUN FOR AUTISM

RUN event coordinator

Participant engagement and support

Growing up with a parent in the Air Force, Cora has lived in seven different states but feels most at home near mountains. She graduated from Utah State University in 2021 with a degree in Special Education and a minor in psychology.

During college, Cora interned with a non-profit which focused on housing for adults with autism. She has worked at numerous group homes and summer camps providing friendship and direct support to teens and adults with intellectual disabilities. At USU, Cora was President of her sorority and dedicated over 100 hours of service to domestic violence shelters in her college town.

From a young age, Cora has been passionate about helping people with disabilities. This passion began when her brother was diagnosed with autism, grew in college through her studies and work experience, and finally led her to join OAR’s RUN FOR AUTISM team in 2022.

What do you like to do outside of OAR?

Cora loves all outdoor activities, but her favorites include hiking, skiing, running, and even goat yoga! She also enjoys baking, sketching, dancing, and true crime podcasts.