Make Incredible Things Possible

Supporting Lifelong Success for Neurodiverse Adults

Our Story

Ashton and Betts McCombs founded SLS Community in 2016 so that neurodiverse adults could flourish, interact meaningfully with the broader community and find their own path to self-actualization. Their daughter, Anna, who is now a young adult, is on the autism spectrum and requires intense support to manage her behavioral concerns. The McCombs family searched around the country to find the right place for Anna, receiving help from Kennedy Krieger Institute, Johns Hopkins Hospital, and finally matching Anna’s needs with May Institute in Boston.

Throughout that journey, they met countless families, many single-parent households, who had little to no resources for their adult child. Most struggled financially and too often felt at a loss on how to best support their child and take care of their family. With the SLS clinical partner, May Institute, we are committed to taking a percentage of the hardest to place adults, a dynamic that often stretches a family’s ability to cope on a day-to-day basis.

SLS Community surrounds neurodiverse adults with opportunities to thrive through independence and choice and implements long-term strategies to open this multifaceted option up to all families. Support extends to family members and  professionals in service fields. We are implementing a comprehensive model that fuels an individual’s ability to contribute their skills, explore their dreams and find joy in everyday living.

Leadership Team

SLS Community was created in response to the needs of several individuals with family members who have developmental disabilities. Since its inception in Arkansas in 2016, the SLS team has grown to encompass a wide variety of individuals, including proven business and community leaders.

Board of Directors
Ashton McCombs
Chairman of the Board

Ashton McCombs

Betts McCombs
Board Member

Betts McCombs

Betts contributes expertise to both the Phigenics and SLS teams on a project basis. As Anna’s mother, Betts is intimately familiar with the needs and potential of adults with autism and hopes and dreams of families, as well as the difficulty and isolation. The McCombs research into support, services, treatment and programs that foster self actualization brought them to the University of Chicago, the Cleveland Clinic, Johns Hopkins Hospital, Kennedy Krieger Institute and May Institute. She is passionate about helping all people live healthier, more well-rounded lives through food, physical exercise, relationships, and using their gifts.
Board Member

Clifford W. Plunkett

Cliff, with Friday, Eldredge & Clark, handles a broad range of civil litigation, including class actions, professional liability defense in the medical, legal and insurance fields, commercial litigation, product liability, construction, motor vehicle (auto and tractor trailer) and intentional torts. He has tried more than 20 complex jury trials in state and federal courts throughout Arkansas. A graduate of the University of Arkansas School of Law, Cliff is listed in The Best Lawyers in America for Bet-the-Company Litigation and Commercial Litigation and was named Lawyer of the Year 2016 and 2013.
Board Member

Jeff Amerine

Jeff is a key leader in the state of Arkansas and in the Northwest Arkansas region. He is involved with the creation of a lasting venture/startup ecosystem. He is the Founding Principal of Startup Junkie Consulting.
Tanya Hayes
Board Member

Tanya Hayes

Tanya began her professional career as a recreational therapist, helping people with autism and behavioral disabilities enjoy life to the fullest extent possible. She developed ways to build relatedness and became responsible for hiring other therapists and training them in her process and approach. After multiple friends suggested she put her skills to work in the business world, she took on her first HR position with a startup e-learning company in San Francisco.
Tanya has had the opportunity to serve as director, global director, and vice president and chief HR officer for startups, portfolio, and multi-billion dollar companies. Most recently, Tanya founded bluvista, an international executive coaching and HR consulting firm. She earned a bachelor's degree in recreational therapy from Indiana University and an MBA from Northwestern University's Kellogg School of Management.
Board Member

Dr. Marilyn Benoit

Marilyn B. Benoit, M.D. is the immediate past Chief Medical Officer/Chief Clinical Officer and SVP of Clinical and Professional Affairs of Devereux Advanced Behavioral Health (2011-2018). She is a Past President of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry (2001-2003). She attended Georgetown University Medical School, where she also completed both General & Child & Adolescent Psychiatry training. She has trained psychiatry fellows at all three medical schools in Washington, DC: The George Washington University, Howard University and Georgetown University. She is a Clinical Associate Professor in the department of Psychiatry at Georgetown University. She is also an adjunct Clinical Associate Professor in the department of Psychiatry at the Drexel School of Medicine. She holds a graduate degree in Health Services, Management & Policy from The George Washington University School of Public Health. She has served on non-profit Boards, including The Field Center of Social Work & Social Policy at the University of Pennsylvania, the Child Welfare League of America, the Alliance for Childhood,
which she co-founded, and Devereux Advanced Behavioral Health. She is an Advisor to BestKids Mentoring organization for youth in foster care in Washington DC from its inception 20 years ago. Dr. Benoit currently serves on the Boards of Chance Academy, a not-for-profit school in Washington, DC for underprivileged children, the Talisman Therapeutic Riding Center on Maryland’s Eastern Shore and SLS Community in Northwest Arkansas. Dr. Benoit is now focusing her professional activities on systems consulting in Behavioral Health, Organizational Management and Organizational Behavior.
Caitlin Shemin
Board Member

Caitlin Shemin

Cait is a Northwest Arkansas native who has been involved in advocacy for the neurodiverse community throughout the past twenty years. She obtained her bachelor's degree from the University of Arkansas. Arising primarily from her devotion to advocacy, Cait is in the process of obtaining a Master of Social Work from Fordham University. Cait manages investor portfolios through her company and has expertise in legal and development matters.
Board Member

Randy Alexander

Randy served 33 years as Director of Housing at various state universities, including the University of Arkansas. He is also a former state representative. Randy and Pat’s daughter, Lauren, had Spina Bifida, and passed away in her twenties.
Staff
Mary Ann McIntyre
Director of Clinical Services

Mary Ann McIntyre

Mary Ann is a Board Certified Behavior Analyst and a Licensed Speech/Language Pathologist.
In Graduate School, she realized that her passion extended beyond the evaluation and
treatment of individuals with significant communication and social needs, broadening her
focus to include those with significant social, behavioral and cognitive differences. Mary Ann
has served this population as a member of two university developmental teams, a supervisor in
a residential facility, an at-risk infant/toddler consultant, a graduate level clinical instructor and
adjunct professor, as the coordinator of Vanderbilt’s Autism Program (Communication Sciences
Department), and as an independent Autism Consultant. Prior to becoming the Director of
Clinical Services at SLS Community, Mary Ann served as Co-Coordinator for the Behavior
Support Specialists (Arkansas Department of Education, Division of Special Education). She was
honored to serve on the SLS Community Board, as a charter board member and Secretary of
the Board between October 2017 and May 2019. Mary Ann is driven to develop professionals
who combine their passion for caring for others with well-honed skills. As a professional, she is
devoted to ensuring that every neurodiverse person has an individualized designed and
selected, purposeful place to play, work, and live.

Our Mission

To be an innovative, successful, reproducible model of excellence, celebrating and supporting neurodiverse adults as they achieve their full potential.

Vision for the Future

SLS Community develops live, work, and play solutions for neurodiverse adults, fully integrated with the surrounding community. Phase One is currently underway and includes our Home & Farm, and the Engage, Educate & Employment program. Phase Two is the Community & Training Center (shown below) and farm-to-table restaurant. A land trust has reserved up to 80 acres – for future acquisition through donations – to build our living, recreation, and training center, in addition to a working farm.

SLS Community
Art Pod
Music Pod
Creativity Pod
Community & Training Center
Testimonials
Dr. Lauren SolotarCEO, May Institute

SLS offers a highly interactive, human-centered project, creating housing, employment, recreation, learning, outreach and more. The May Institute is pleased to partner with SLS in developing this unique, groundbreaking approach for adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

Chancellor Joseph SteinmetzUniversity of Arkansas

SLS will not only provide services not currently available for adults with developmental disabilities in our community and stimulate economic activity, but the effort will also create research and talent development opportunities for students and faculty at the University of Arkansas.

Mayor Lioneld JordanCity of Fayetteville

We believe in helping one another in this city, which is why SLS is such an important project for Fayetteville. SLS is so much more than just quality jobs; it’s inclusive workforce development for a portion of the population that is highly underserved.

Dr. Cindy Fong

We must all participate in the movement to normalize the disability experience and increase awareness of the fact that those with “special needs” also have the same needs and desires of ALL humans... to love and be loved, and to engage in meaningful work, fully integrated in the community. What's lacking is simply the resources, programs and supports to make this dream a reality.

Our Impact Partners