Elena Ghionis

Assistant Professor of Education, Director of Special Education Programs

Dr. Ghionis is an experienced educator in the areas of Intellectual Disabilities, Emotional and Behavioral Disorders, Learning Disabilities, and Early Childhood Special Education. She is a certified autism specialist, a board-certified cognitive specialist, an internationally recognized expert in educational psychology, and a certified professional interpreter in Special Education. She is proficient in special education law and has worked on developing policies, procedures, programs, and continuing to support stakeholders on a local and international level. Dr. Ghionis has extensive experience in creating and implementing inclusive curriculums and programs for children with special needs. Dr. Ghionis received the academic title of Honorary Professor from Kyrgyz Republic Ministry of Education and Science jointly with I. Arabaev Kyrgyz State University in 2018. The South Carolina Autism Society awarded her the title of SC Autism Specialist of the Year in 2015.

Dr. Ghionis implements up-to-date state requirements to train teachers to innovate to meet the ever-changing and challenging needs of students with disabilities. She developed the first graduate-level program in Autism Spectrum Disorder in South Carolina, graduating 35 professionals with a Certificate from Converse College in 2018. In 2022 Dr. Ghionis created a new cognate (Special Education) for a Converse EDD Program in Professional Leadership. She co-created the first MEd program in Advanced Studies with a concentration in Autism Spectrum Disorder in South Carolina. She is a reviewer of proposals and scientific research for the Council of Exceptional Learners (CEC) and the International Society for Autism Research (INSAR).

Dr. Ghionis introduced the humanoid robot, Milo, from Robokind in partnership with the SC Department of Education as a pilot program. This research met with great acceptance and success in enhancing communication, especially with children with ASD. Her research interests include human genetics, assessment and evaluation of intellectual disabilities, intervention for children at risk for emotional or behavioral disorders, conditions comorbid to autism spectrum disorder, and learner-centered professional development.

Dr. Ghionis is married with three children. She loves the mountains, traveling, and spending time with family.


  • EDD Professional Leadership
  • MCD Communication Disorders
  • MAT Special Education: Intellectual Disabilities, Learning Disabilities, Emotional Disorders
  • MED Elementary Education, Educational Psychology
  • BA Early Childhood, Special Education: Early Childhood, Educational Psychology