The Starfish Savers Team
Our Founder, Educational Consultant, Advocate, and Coach, Larrie Ellen Randall, works closely with Catherine Falk, our Community and Transitions Services Coach, to lead our clients through a series of small changes and the necessary supports that will help them achieve their goals.
Larrie Ellen Randall, M.Ed in Special Education
Founder and Educational Consultant
Larrie Ellen Randall earned her bachelor’s degree in Elementary and Special Education at Rhode Island College and her master’s degree in Early Childhood Special Education at George Mason University. She has additional training in assistive technology, TEACCH (Treatment and Education of Autism and Communication disabled Children), PECS (Picture Exchange Communication System), and holds an Employment Specialist Certification.
Larrie Ellen has over 45 years of experience providing a variety of services to people of all ages with developmental and complex disabilities. Following years of volunteering and serving as an aide as a teenager, she started her professional career as a classroom teacher for students with multiple disabilities—and later as an autism resource teacher. While working at the Fairfax County Therapeutic Recreation department, Larrie Ellen developed curriculum and taught multiple programs including community integration groups and dance and hobby classes for adults and teens. She also supported summer camps and Saturday programs for school-aged participants. Additionally, Larrie Ellen served as a behavior specialist for both Fairfax County Therapeutic Recreation and the Fairfax-Falls Church Community Services Board.
Larrie Ellen’s expertise has been sought out and provided through training and speaking engagements in places of worship, private schools, and parent organizations across Northern Virginia. She has also served as an expert witness for several families seeking extended child support for people with developmental disabilities past the age of 18.
Starfish Savers was born as a means of providing advocacy services for families of school-aged students with complex needs, including reviewing special education documents and attending special education meetings along with parents and students (as appropriate) to share their own strengths and needs.
As her clients grew older, Larrie Ellen realized there was a lack of services in the community for people with High Functioning Autism and other complex challenges. So she began providing advocacy services for post-secondary and employment settings and added 1:1 community-based coaching services for teens and young adults.
With her breadth of experience, Larrie Ellen is able to successfully advocate for people with complex needs at all educational levels as well as provide individual training and support that move them toward increased independence and confidence. She has had the honor and privilege of developing long-term relationships with many of her clients and their families from preschool to adulthood as she advocates for their futures.
Larrie Ellen’s high energy, many interests, hobbies, and continued excitement to learn provides her clients with access to many opportunities for skill exploration and development. Her personal activities include sprint triathlons (which include biking, swimming, and walking), gardening, many crafts, sewing, home renovations, and playing with her golden retriever, Nikki. Now she is learning woodworking and kayaking.
Catherine Falk, Bachelor of Psychology, Master of Applied Behavior Analysis
Community and Transition Services Coach and Advocate
Catherine joined Starfish Savers, LLC in August 2015. She graduated magna cum laude from The Catholic University of America with a bachelor’s degree in psychology and earned her master’s degree in applied behavior analysis (ABA) from Northeastern University in August 2016.
Catherine has extensive experience in social-skill instruction and implementing behavior interventions with specialized knowledge in ABA, Verbal Behavior, and coping skills for people with Autism Spectrum Disorder, ADHD, and complex needs.
She has developed expertise in working with college students, young adults, and adults to enhance and support executive functioning skills as well as coping skills for a variety of mental health barriers—so they can move toward growth and success in employment and independent living. During COVID, Catherine found that the pandemic necessitated a shift towards more online support, and it has shown to be a continued positive and ideal way to increase support, flexibility, and accommodations.
Catherine now provides virtual services full-time, which has proven extremely successful in supporting high school and college students with the breaking down and completion of assignments and daily responsibilities. She also provides virtual support to working adults with ADHD seeking assistance with time management and the organizational skills required for daily life.
When she’s not working, Catherine enjoys traveling, spending time outdoors, and visiting new restaurants with her husband. When home, she enjoys crafting and spending time with her very energetic dog, Wendall.
Resident Supporter and Joy-Bringer
Nikki brings joy and calm to anxious clients when they are interested—and she will love them forever after they meet. She enjoys walks, catching balls and frisbees, giving cuddles, and chatting. Any of her clients will tell you she loves to “talk” especially when excited to see them. But her favorite activity is swimming in ponds, lakes, rivers, or even a pool…as long as you throw a stick.
The Starfish Story
There was a young man walking down a beach at dawn. He saw a frail old man picking up stranded starfish and throwing them back into the sea. The young man gazed in wonder as the old man threw the small starfish from the sand to the water.
He asked, “Old man, why do you spend so much energy doing what seems to be a waste of time?”
The old man explained that the starfish would die if left in the sun.
“But there must be thousands of beaches, and millions of starfish!” exclaimed the young man. “How can you make any difference?”
The old man looked for a minute at the starfish in his hand. Then, as he threw it back to the safety of the sea, he said, “I made a difference to that one!”
“26 years ago, a parent of one of my students shared this story with me in appreciation for making a difference in their lives. Then it was shared with me again, along with the gift of a sterling silver starfish necklace from colleagues. It was the encouragement and support of these individuals that led me to you.”– Larrie Ellen Randall