Executive Staff

The Aging and Disability Services Division (ADSD) helps all of Nevada's elders and adults and children with disabilities or special health care needs to live independent, meaningful and dignified lives in the most integrated setting appropriate to their needs.


Edward Ableser

Dr. Ableser has an extensive background in politics, education and psychology with a passion and commitment to advocacy and support to those we serve.  Appointed to the Arizona State Senate at age 26, followed by a 10-year span in the House of Representatives and the Senate, he was a legislative champion for excellence in education, mental health policy, and extensive anti-bullying legislation.  Edward brings legislative experience working on legislative appropriations budget committees; in addition to furthering legislation prohibiting the exploitation of seniors, individuals with autism, housing projects and community advocacy work.   


Edward attended Arizona State University in Tempe, Arizona, where he earned two Bachelor's degrees (Political Science and Chinese), a Master's degree in Counseling Psychology, and a PhD in Justice and Social Inquiry.


With extensive experience working with health and human services programs and educational support services, Edward possesses the leadership and knowledge of administering programs in compliance with statutory obligations.  He has built and expanded efforts to support over fifteen years of experience serving as a licensed professional counselor, coaching children, parents, and families through the effects of depression, anxiety, and many other mental-health disorders. 


Edward is excited to join the Department of Health and Human Services and support the mission to ensure the provision of effective supports and services to meet the needs of individuals and families, helping them lead independent, meaningful and dignified lives. 

Deputy Administrators

Cara Paoli
Deputy of Children's Services Unit
Cara has extensive knowledge and experience in the area of human services and is a proven leader with a wealth of clinical experience. Her previous experience includes positions within the Division of Child and Family Services supporting children and families with behavioral health issues, teaching at the University of Nevada, Reno, and providing clinical services within community mental health programs. In 2011, Cara accepted a new opportunity with Mental Health and Developmental Services as the community services manager for Sierra Regional Center working with individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Cara holds a Master of Social Work degree and is a licensed clinical social worker.
Jill Berntson
Deputy of Aging and Disability Services
As an ADSD deputy administrator, Jill Berntson is responsible for oversight of programs that provide community-level resources to assist seniors and people with severe disabilities and their families in helping them to live as independently as possible. Prior to her appointment as deputy administrator, Jill has worked for DHHS as a social worker for child protective services and elder protective services and providing case management for recipients of community-based care services; as social work supervisor and social services manager; and most recently as the social services chief for the Elder Rights Program. During her tenure with DHHS, Jill has worked with national experts to develop best practices related to elder protective services and the advocacy for older adults. Her experience working with older adults spans over 21 years. Jill holds Bachelor’s degrees in social work and psychology from the University of Nevada, Reno.
Alex Cherup
Deputy of Aging and Disability Services
Alex Cherup recently started at ADSD as the Division’s first QA Deputy Administrator. In this role, he is responsible for the development, coordination and implementation of quality assurance programs within the Developmental Services, Children’s Services, and Aging and Physical Disabilities units.

Originally from Troy, Michigan, Alex Cherup began his work in Nevada in 2008 as an AmeriCorps VISTA (Volunteers in Service to America) with the Youth Transition Project at the Nevada Center for Excellence in Disabilities at the University of Nevada, Reno and Family TIES of Nevada.

In 2014, Alex graduated from Northeastern University School of Law with a Juris Doctor degree. While in law school, he focused his studies on civil rights and disability rights law, completing research on the law and advocacy surrounding competitive and integrated employment for workers with disabilities as well as comparative legal work with respect to Title II of the ADA and accessible transportation and Chinese disability law. He participated in an internship at the Centre for Disability Law and Policy at the National University of Ireland, Galway, in Ireland.

After law school, Alex returned to Nevada to work at the state’s Parent Training and Information Center, Nevada PEP, as the Director of Transition Services, supporting families of transition-aged youth with disabilities in the transition from high school to adulthood.
Homa Woodrum
Advocacy Attorney

Homa Sayyar Woodrum serves as Advocacy Attorney for the ADSD, where she specializes in elder and disability rights.  Homa has been licensed to practice law in the State of Nevada since October of 2007. Homa graduated from the William S. Boyd School of Law at the University of Nevada Las Vegas in May of 2007 with her Juris Doctorate. Prior to law school she earned her BSBA in International Business at UNLV and has lived in Nevada since July 2000 after relocating from Wasilla, Alaska.


Elder law practice found Homa as a law clerk and later as an associate attorney. Prior to joining ADSD, she represented protected persons, guardians, family members, and more in guardianship as well as probate courts. Though the State Bar of Nevada does not certify any attorney as an expert, Homa's past cases include numerous matters involving financial exploitation, physical abuse, and isolation of older persons in the civil arena, including trials. Her legal background also includes time as an adjunct professor at UNLV's William S. Boyd School of Law, recognition for extensive pro bono service, as well as a history of disability rights advocacy and public speaking.


Homa relocated to Northern Nevada and left private practice to assume the role of Chief Advocacy Attorney at ADSD in January of 2017. Her goals include balancing current protective measures and services with lifespan advocacy to ensure self-determination and autonomy as well as access to justice for Nevadans served by ADSD and those who care about and for them.

Benjamin Johnson
Public Information Officer / Health Information Director
Ben Johnson is a Nevada native with over 15 years of experience in the Healthcare industry as an EMT-Paramedic, and Health Services Administrator. Growing up in the Carson Valley, Ben attended the University of Nevada, Reno, and competed for the Wolf Pack as a Triathlete, and Wrestler. While attending college, earned his wings in the US Air Force deploying overseas supporting Aeromedical Evacuation operations for Operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom on duty stations across the globe. While on overseas deployment and at his home station at Point Mugu California, Ben earned Master’s Degrees in Business Administration, and Healthcare Administration.