The board of directors of LifeWorks at Western Kentucky University announced the hiring of three professional staff members to launch its inaugural year of operations. LifeWorks at WKU is a two-year residential transition-to-work and independent living program for young adults with autism spectrum disorder.

David Wheeler, hired as executive director, has worked in the field of developmental and behavioral health services since the early 1990s. He served previously as director of state general fund services for LifeSkills Inc. He holds a bachelor’s degree in human services from Lindsey Wilson College and a master’s in social work from WKU.

Molly Swietek, hired as director of public relations and grants, is a 12-year veteran of WKU, most recently serving as development manager for WKU Public Broadcasting. She has extensive experience working with nonprofit organizations, grant writing and building community partnerships. She has a bachelor’s degree in English from WKU and a master’s degree from Tennessee Technological University.

Hendrix Brakefield joins LifeWorks as a life coach, assisting individuals with vocational experiences and in developing independent living skills. He attended WKU from 2009-14 and was a member of the WKU football team. He graduated with a degree in special education and teacher certification for both learning and behavior disorders and moderate-severe disabilities. Brakefield most recently served as recreation director at The Stewart Home & School in Frankfort.

LifeWorks at WKU was established in 2019. The administrative and classroom facilities, along with the residential complex, were completed in April. The LifeWorks at WKU program will launch its first cohort this month with a grand opening planned for the spring of 2021.

​– Follow business reporter Don Sergent on Twitter @BGDNbusiness or visit

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