LifeWorks at WKU Board of Directors Welcomes New Staff
BOWLING GREEN, Ky. – The Board of Directors of LifeWorks at WKU is pleased to announce the hiring of three professional staff members to launch its inaugural year of operations. LifeWorks at WKU is a two-year residential transition-to-work and independent living program for young adults with autism spectrum disorder.
David Wheeler, Molly Swietek and Hendrix Brakefield have joined the LifeWorks staff to support the non-profit’s mission to facilitate a living and learning environment that empowers individuals with autism and other learning differences to realize their full potential and successfully transition to leading lives of independence, self-direction and inclusion.
David Wheeler, Executive Director, has over 27 years of experience helping individuals of varying ages, abilities and backgrounds from across southcentral Kentucky build better, more inclusive lives in the community. His journey in the field of developmental and behavioral health services began in the early 1990s, followed by two decades of helping promote and facilitate services to meet individuals’ needs and expectations. Wheeler previously served as the Director of State General Fund Services for LifeSkills, Inc. He holds a bachelor’s degree in Human Services from Lindsey Wilson College and a Master’s in Social Work from Western Kentucky University.
Molly Swietek, Director of Public Relations and Grants, is a 12-year veteran of WKU, most recently serving as Development Manager for WKU Public Broadcasting and previously as Associate Director for the Office of Research & Creative Activities. She has extensive experience working with non-profit organizations, grant writing and building community partnerships. Swietek serves as the project director for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting’s Education Innovation Grant, “Embracing Differences, Finding Strengths: A Public Broadcasting Model for Autism Inclusion” and manages a fellowship program that provides employment training opportunities for college students with autism spectrum disorder. She has a bachelor’s degree in English from WKU and a master’s degree from Tennessee Technological University.
Hendrix Brakefield joins LifeWorks as a Life Coach, assisting individuals with vocational experiences and in developing independent living skills. He attended WKU from 2009-2014 where he was a member of the WKU Hilltopper football team and graduated with a degree in Special Education and teacher certification for both Learning and Behavior Disorders (LBD) and Moderate-Severe Disabilities (MSD). Brakefield taught middle school MSD at Bowling Green Junior High and most recently served as the Recreation Director at The Stewart Home & School in Frankfort, Ky. There he was responsible for planning, managing, and implementing night and weekend activities for over 300 students. Brakefield found his passion for special education as a student worker with the Kelly Autism Program at WKU’s Suzanne Vitale Clinical Education Complex.
The LifeWorks at WKU Board of Directors are Joe Dan Beavers, Chairman of the Board; Jeffrey Katz; John Kelly; Beth McKinney; Ann Mead; and Mary Lloyd Moore; along with special advisors Heather Glass; Garry Watkins; and Ron Wilson.
LifeWorks at WKU was established in 2019. The administrative and classroom facilities, along with the residential complex – The Julie & Gary Ransdell Living and Learning Community – were completed in April 2020. The LifeWorks at WKU program will launch its first cohort this month with a grand opening planned for the spring of 2021. Learn more at www.lifeworksatwku.org