Founder and Executive Director
Johnnie Sexton, Au.D., has worked with children who are deaf and hard of hearing for almost 4 decades. He received his B.S. and M.S. degrees from East Carolina University and his Au.D. Degree from A. T. Still University/Arizona Health Sciences. Dr. Sexton has focused throughout his career on pediatric/educational audiology service development, implementation and management and served on a team to design the early intervention system for audiology in North Carolina (including the newborn hearing-screening program) from 1999-2001. He has devoted his energy in recent years to redefining counseling for families with children who have hearing challenges and the professionals who provide services for them. Dr. Sexton created the nonprofit agency, The CARE Project, serving as Executive Director, for the advancement of family, professional and pre-professional training opportunities in emotional/adjustment counseling.
Throughout his career, Dr. Sexton has been very involved in state licensure under 5 Governors in NC with a clear focus on making sure that the consumer of speech and hearing services are protected from unethical and illegal practice. The North Carolina Speech, Hearing and Language Association has twice awarded Dr. Sexton the State Clinical Achievement Award, in 1996 for his pioneering work in educational audiology and in 2017 for his pioneering work in emotional support for families.
Dr. Sexton owns a private practice specializing in educational audiology services and educational sign language interpreter services (John E. Sexton & Associates, Inc./JESA). JESA is 30 years old and employs 14 audiologists who live in regions around the state of North Carolina. He also owns a private practice in specialty speech pathology services (Specialty Speech & Education Services/SSES) which provides specialized speech services for children (auditory verbal therapy, augmentative communication services, etc.) in Southeastern North Carolina.
Since 2018, Dr. Sexton has served as the Co-Chair of the NC Early Hearing Detection & Intervention (EHDI) Advisory Board which oversees the newborn hearing screening program in all birthing hospitals in NC.
Xris Kessler was educated at the Art Academy University of San Francisco and has been the creative force behind the development of The CARE Project components. A painter and sculptor, he is responsible for the videography, film editing, music, packaging, art design, and other aspects of our productions.
Lara Pike attended the University of North Carolina Wilmington where she received her Bachelor of Social Work degree. She and her family live in Wilmington, NC. Lara is the parent of a child who has bilateral cochlear implants and uses cued speech. Lara and her family became involved with The CARE Project in 2015 when they attended their first family retreat on Bald Head Island, NC. Soon after this retreat she and her family continued to remain involved by volunteering at different CARE Project retreats and events held around NC. In 2018, Lara began working as the Logistics Coordinator for The CARE Project. Since then, she has coordinated events across the country such as weekend Family Retreats, Professional Development, Parent Professional Collaboratives, Virtual Family Retreats and Virtual Learning Experiences for both professionals and parents.
Board of Directors
Johnnie Sexton, Aud. Founder and Executive Director
Xris Kessler, Media Director
Lara Pike, Director of Logistics