Make Incredible Things Possible

Supporting Lifelong Success for Neurodiverse Adults

Our Story

Ashton and Betts McCombs founded SLS Community in 2016 to create an community with the supportive resources for neurodiverse adults to 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 lack of comprehensive services in Arkansas and nationwide caused the family to place Anna out of state at Kennedy Krieger Institute in Baltimore and the May Institute in Boston for four years away from home. 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. SLS is 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.

Like any parents, Ashton and Betts were struck by the disparity between the opportunities afforded Anna’s siblings and the lack of supportive services and infrastructure for Anna and other neurodiverse individuals to reach their full potential.

This journey stirred Ashton and Betts to create SLS Community in Fayetteville, Arkansas. This project is grounded in their personal experience, as well as the experience of other families they have met. The McCombs family considers Anna to be the true “Founder” of SLS Community.

Ashton passed away from a malignant brain tumor in November 2021. Ashton was a loving father and husband, a visionary leader, and an uncompromising champion of the neurodiverse population. He did not accept the current paradigm of services, opportunities, and inclusion for those with intellectual disabilities, especially those with behavioral issues. Ashton was also “Anna’s person” and had a calming effect on her like nobody else.

Although Ashton will not see SLS Community realized from an earthly perspective, the McCombs family and many incredible partners are devoted to building on the groundwork he laid and making his dream for Anna a reality for many.



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

Ashton McCombs III: In Memoriam

Ashton McCombs III Obituary

Ashton P. McCombs III, age 64, of Fayetteville, Arkansas went home to be with his Lord and Savior on Sunday, November 7, 2021.

Ashton lived a full, vigorous life brimming with service, spontaneity, vision, and action. He was born in Hamburg, Arkansas on March 20, 1957, the son of Ashton P. McCombs Jr. and Joyce (Denton) McCombs and brother of Mary (McCombs) Whipple. Ashton’s quick wit, good humor, and propensity for pranks were refined in his charmed Delta upbringing, filled with idyllic days on the family farm, fishing on Bayou Bartholomew, and legendary small-town antics that often involved firecrackers or frightening his beloved sister Mary. After graduating from Hamburg High School in 1975, Ashton received an appointment to the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland. During his time in Annapolis, he was a member of the 23rd Company, played on the tennis team, and achieved a B.S. in History. As a proud graduate of the Class of 1979, Ashton was commissioned into the Navy as a Supply Officer. While in Athens, Georgia for training, he met the love of his life, Elizabeth “Betts” Singleton through several strokes of fateful serendipity, both naive of the adventures ahead. Ashton and Betts married on November 18, 1984, in Central, South Carolina, and started a family of four children. Ashton gave his family the gift of exploring God’s creation together by marching his rambunctious crew from Illinois to the Netherlands, and finally back home to Arkansas.

Ashton was a beloved leader and an archetype of American enterprise, work ethic, and unbridled optimism. After graduating from the Naval Academy, he worked 23 years for Nalco Chemical Company during which he rose steadily through the ranks to become General Manager overseeing one of the most successful parts of the company. In 2004, he co-founded Phigenics LLC with Jay Reading and William McCoy. Together, they set standards in the water management industry. They pioneered innovation to prevent disease and injury from waterborne pathogens and conserve water in facilities such as hospitals in all 50 states. In 2016, he and Betts founded SLS Community, a non-profit organization in Fayetteville, Arkansas with the vision of building an inclusive community for neurodiverse adults with vocational, residential, and clinical resources. As Ashton always said, the true founder of SLS Community is their daughter Anna. Her journey with autism has been an anchor for the family as well as the impetus for SLS Community’s enduring mission.

Ashton never knew a vision too large, an adventure too wild, a dull moment, someone in need he could not help, or a joke too bizarre (in his estimation). He had a gift of lighting up a room and making everyone he spoke with feel that they were the only person in the world, because to him, they were. He had boundless love for his family, deep curiosity for history, lifelong passion for music, and he satisfied his devotion to running by logging 1000 miles a year while somehow avoiding a single injury. Ashton followed his savior Jesus Christ his entire life and set an example of sacrificial love, abiding faith, humility, generosity, and courage until his final day on Earth.

Betts McCombs
Founder & 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.

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.
Executive Director & Board Member

Ashton McCombs IV

Ashton is a Marine Corps veteran and is Anna's older brother. He holds a B.S in Mechanical Engineering from the United States Naval Academy, M.S. in Management from the University of Florida, and MBA from the Fuqua School of Business at Duke University.
Board Member

Amy Kelly

Amy Kelly has nearly twenty years of personal and professional hands-on experience in navigating the world of neurodiverslty, autism and intellectual disabilities, advocacy and special education, since the diagnosis of her daughter in 2003 with severe autism, intellectual and developmental disabilities, and other life-long chronic conditions. After her daughter's diagnosis and beginning an intense therapeutic program at Devereux Advanced Behavioral Health in 2006, Amy noticed a need for increased family engagement within the organization and community at large. She put together a business plan to address these issues and presented it to the Executive Director, who then created Amy's position as Director of Family & Community Services in 2011. Now serving as National Director of Family Engagement for Devereux since 2019, she has been able to utilize her role to create new ways of engaging and collaborating with families and caregivers inside and outside of the organization, as well as connecting to the major touchpoints of the autism and I/DD journey, for staff, leadership, the community and families, both within Devereux and the Human Services professional field. Amy has an MBA from Saint Joseph's University as well as a Masters in Nonprofit Management from Johns Hopkins and serves as a family representative and advisor on several special needs boards in the community, locally and nationally. In addition, Amy participates with other patients and families in efforts supported by the American Board of Pediatrics Foundation, The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia and the Autism Speaks Autism Care Network, and serves on the Executive Committee to the American Academy of Pediatrics Section on Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics to assist children and families living with special needs and the importance of awareness, quality care and resiliency.
Board Member

Ron Cook

For over 25 years Ron Cook has worked passionately to promote good communities. He understands that a better world doesn’t just happen, but results from people working together — in creative collaboration and thoughtful philanthropic partnerships. As a father of two sons, Ron is most proud of his role as a volunteer coach in youth football, basketball and baseball leagues and as an advocate for the rights and potential of youth and adults who live with the unique strengths and challenges of neuro-diversity. Ron has held leadership positions in various faith-based and nonprofit organizations focused on community and economic development both locally and internationally. In support of philanthropic partnerships, he has served as a director of development for the largest private liberal arts university in Arkansas and currently as a major gifts officer for the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, Arkansas' only comprehensive academic health sciences university.
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.
Board Member

Dr. Lee Wachtel

Lee Wachtel is the Medical Director of the Neurobehavioral Unit at the Kennedy Krieger Institute and a Professor of Psychiatry at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. She received her undergraduate degree from Princeton University and her medical degree from Johns Hopkins. She completed her residency and fellowship training at the University of Maryland, and joined the faculty at Kennedy Krieger in 2003. She has developed extensive expertise over the past twenty years in the treatment of severe behavioral and psychiatric presentations in ASD, including the variable manifestations of catatonia and appropriate treatment with electroconvulsive therapy. She has published extensively and lectured throughout the USA, Canada, Europe and Israel.
Board Member

G. Richard Smith, M.D.

Interim Dean, College of Medicine
Executive Vice Chancellor, UAMS
Distinguished Professor, Department of Psychiatry
University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences

Dr. G. Richard Smith is a nationally known psychiatrist and Distinguished Professor of Psychiatry, Medicine and Public Health. He served in numerous leadership roles at UAMS during four decades on the faculty, including dean of the College of Medicine and executive vice chancellor of UAMS in 2013-2015. He returned to serve as interim dean and executive vice chancellor in January 2023 following the death of Dr. Susan Smyth.

A 1977 graduate of the college, Dr. Smith stayed at UAMS for his internship and residency in psychiatry and continued his training with a fellowship at Strong Memorial Hospital in Rochester, New York, before joining the UAMS faculty in 1981.

In a career devoted to UAMS and service to the state of Arkansas, Dr. Smith has held many leadership roles in psychiatry and public health as well as leadership of the College of Medicine. He was the first director of the VA Health Services Research and Development Field Program for Mental Health in Little Rock, from 1990-1999. He also was the founding director of the Arkansas Center for Health Improvement and a leader in securing the state’s tobacco settlement for initiatives to improve health care for Arkansans.

In 2001, Dr. Smith became the Marie Wilson Howells Chair of the Department of Psychiatry, where he served for 12 years until his appointment as dean and executive vice chancellor. Dr. Smith developed several acclaimed research programs in psychiatry, and his vision for integrating psychiatric care, education and research in one facility drove his efforts to establish the highly regarded UAMS Psychiatric Research Institute (PRI).

After leading the college from 2013-2015, Dr. Smith returned to the Department of Psychiatry. He was appointed to his former posts as department chair and director of PRI in 2018 and served in these roles until his initial retirement in June 2021.

Board Member

Matt Zakaras

CEO, Westran Holdings, LLC
Matt is the Chief Executive Officer of Westran Holdings, LLC, a firm founded in 2016 to invest capital, provide executive management and strategic advice to middle market companies delivering engineered products and services, including niche manufacturers, tech-enabled companies and related real estate projects. Matt currently serves as the Chief Executive Officer/President of Precision Quincy (, a manufacturer of thermal processing equipment used in industrial applications) and a Strategic Advisor to Phigenics (, a water-tech company focused on water management plans and related diagnostic products). Matt received his undergraduate degree from Marquette University in 1998 and his law degree from DePaul University in 2001. Matt practiced law as a transactional attorney for ten years before joining a family office in 2011 that focused on making investments and providing executive management to distressed manufacturing companies.
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.
Operations and Programming Plus Manager

Morgan Grunow

Morgan is the Operations and Programming Plus Manager at SLS Community. She graduated with a degree in Therapeutic Recreation from Illinois State University in 2013. Since then, she has worked as a professional in various management roles in residential settings for neurodiverse adults. Morgan has a passion for helping neurodiverse adults reach their full potential through live, work and play solutions.
Programming and Behavior Support Manager

Heather Henderson

Heather is the Programming and Behavior Support Manager. She is an Arkansas native and graduate of Prude University with a Bachelor of Psychology in Applied Behavior Analysis. Over the course of 13 years, she has had many different roles in the lives of many individuals who are neurodiverse. Her specialty lies in the analysis of challenging behavior, skill development and staff training. She is passionate about this field and providing a rich quality of life for all SLS's Community Participants.

Our Mission

Support lifelong success for neurodiverse adults and their families by making essential resources accessible to all.

Vision for the Future

Our vision is an innovative, replicable “live, work, play” community where residential, vocational, health and wellness, community, and clinical resources are accessible and affordable for neurodiverse adults to reach their full potential.

  • Provide a range of affordable supportive living housing options for neurodiverse residents. This includes behavioral direct support services and programming grounded in Applied Behavioral Analysis, skills development, and whole health. SLS will maintain some capacity for neurodiverse individuals with high intervention needs for severe behavior.
  • Partner with the University of Arkansas Medical Sciences (UAMS) as the UAMS Psychiatric Research Institute constructs an outpatient multi-specialty medical facility with allied therapeutic services and research capabilities, specially adapted to meet the needs of the neurodiverse population.

  • Create employment opportunities aligned to the diverse abilities of neurodiverse adults through a network of partner businesses in the South Cato Springs development and in Northwest Arkansas, as well as several small-scale social ventures that are under the SLS Community legal structure. This includes a Workforce Development Initiative to facilitate screening, training, job placement and Direct Support Professional services, as well as education for the employer for proper integration into the workplace setting.

  • Provide community and recreation options, events, and opportunities for neurodiverse adults to integrate and socialize with the broader community.
SLS Community
Art Pod
Music Pod
Creativity Pod
Community & Training Center
News & 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.

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