Melody P. Crane, M.Ed., Executive Director of The Riley Center
Mrs. Crane holds a Bachelor’s degree in Special Education/Emotional Conflict and a Master’s degree in Special Education/Mild Learning Handicaps. She has 20 years experience teaching children with special needs including autism, learning disabilities, and seriously emotionally disturbed/behavior disorders. She has served as a principal of a private Classical Christian School and as an educational consultant.

Terry Palek, President
Mr. Palek is a Product Manager for Mercury Computer Systems – EPG. He holds a Bachelor’s degree in Electronics Management from So. Illinios University and a Masters of Science degree in Systems Management from Florida Tech. Mr. Palek is active in volunteer efforts and has been recognized twice by the Madison City Council for his community service.

Taron Thorpe, Vice-President
Mr. Thorpe is a Market Executive with First Commercial Bank of Madison, brings over 20 years of business knowledge to the market specializing in small to median size businesses’ financial goal achievement. He is a graduate of Auburn University with a degree in Business and Economics and a Masters of Business Administration. He serves on several non-profit boards and is active in community service.

Dr. Heather French, Secretary
Dr. French serves as an administrative staff advisor and heads up our Grant Committee. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in English; a Master’s degree in English; and a Ph.D. in Educational Policy, Planning, and Leadership. Dr. French has experience as an Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) therapist, as a K-12 classroom teacher, and as a college instructor.

Justin Burney, Treasurer
Mr. Burney is an attorney in the Huntsville office of Maynard, Cooper & Gale, P.C. His areas of practice include general corporate law, real estate, and government contracts. Mr. Burney attended the University of Alabama School of Law. Mr. Burney holds a B.S. and an M.S. in chemical engineering from the University of Alabama.

Mrs. Melanie Baker, Director
Mrs. Baker is the Director of Air and Missile Defense Programs for Lockheed Martin Corporation.

Dr. Brian Beitel, Director
Dr. Beitel is a Pediatric Dentist in private practice. He holds a BS from Emory University and a DDS and MS in Pediatric Dentistry from the University of Tennessee College of Dentistry. His Residency program was affiliated with both LeBonheur Children’s Medical Center and St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee. Dr. Beitel has practiced in the Huntsville area for over 25 years, seeing children with special needs as a significant portion of his practice. He is active in organized dentistry on the national, state and local levels.

Mark Bradshaw, Director
Mr. Bradshaw heads up our annual “Swinging for Autism” fishing tournament at Ingalls Harbor in Decatur. He owns AcuSeal, Inc. in Decatur, AL.

Dave Johnson, Director
Dave Johnson is the Director of Strategic Planning and Army Programs for Venturi, Inc., an aeronautical engineering company that provides engineering and support services to Department of Defense and NASA agencies. Before joining Venturi, he served 22 years in the U.S. Army, serving in numerous operational and Defense Acquisition assignments, retiring as a Lieutenant Colonel in 2007. He serves on the Executive Board of Directors of the Semper Fi Community Task Force (SFCTF), a charitable organization providing assistance and support to currently serving and recently separated wounded veterans.

Harry Lioce, Director
Harry Lioce owns and operates Interconnect Systems Corporation.

Richard Moss, Director
Richard Moss is the CTO at

Paul Ray, Director

Roger Schneider, Director
Roger Schneider is the CEO of, a new media company based in Huntsville. He has over 25 years of experience as a technology executive in venues ranging from the implementation of statewide Child Support Enforcement Systems to directing nationally televised political events. He was Director of Research for U.S. Congressman Ronnie Flippo and led operations for the Office of Presidential Personnel in the White House; he has also served as a board member for several governmental authorities and non-profit organizations. Roger and his wife, Robin, have a twenty-one year old son with autism and have worked closely with many of the nation’s top centers for autism therapy. They are excited to offer their experience, as well as the perspective of parents of an older person with autism, to the Riley Center which they feel is already revolutionizing the quality and quantity of care available to our area’s families affected by autism.

Todd Steigerwald, Director

More Information Our Staff Board of Directors