Laura Whitaker // Executive Director

laura headshot

“Sometimes you choose your job, other times it chooses you.” -Laura

Laura Whitaker, M. Ed., began her relationship with Extra SpecialPeople, Inc. by working as a counselor and, subsequently, a leadership team member in 2003.  With her passion for enhancing the lives of children with developmental disabilities and her specialized education in this field, Laura was selected as the director after the founder, Martha Wyllie’s sudden passing in 2004. She has found her dream job with ESP (or her dream job found her!).  As Executive Director, Laura uses her leadership and management strengths to manage staff, oversee multiple year-round programs and raise funds to run programs. Her favorite part of the job is getting to hug the many children who walk through the ESP doors.

Laura obtained both her Bachelor’s degree in Collaborative Special Education and her Master’s degree in Adapted Curriculum Classic Autism at the University of Georgia. Laura has been awarded number 12 on the Bulldog 100, the Super Citizen Award, the 40 Under 40 Award by the Athens Banner Herald, the Community Four-Way Test Award by the Rotary Club of Oconee County and 40 under 40 for the UGA Alumni Association. Laura and her work with ESP was featured in The UGA Graduate Magazine 2012 edition. She is a member of Leadership Georgia Class of 2017, L.E.A.D. Athens Class of 2012, the LEAD Athens Steering Committee, The Junior League of Athens, and Classic City Church.

Laura’s most important roles include wife to husband Joseph and mother to Owen Patrick (8) and Finley Gray (4).