Facilitators for Support Groups and Social Activities

Our facilitators are AANE staff, consultants, or volunteers who themselves are on the autism spectrum, have family members on the spectrum or have worked extensively with the Asperger/autism community. 

Joanna Andros - Adults Social Events Facilitator

Joanna Andros, MSW worked as a community organizer and teacher for eight years prior to getting a Master of Social Work and becoming a Child and Family Therapist in CA. When she moved to NH, Joanna received her Graduate Certificate in Autism Spectrum Disorders from Antioch New England Graduate School and has facilitated groups for over ten years. Contact: joanna.andros@aane.org

Amanda Bailey - Parents of Children & Teens Support Group Facilitator

Amanda Bailey is a Family Support Specialist for AANE and draws on her knowledge as the parent of two children with autism and direct experience in family support through leadership of her local Special Education Parent Advisory Council and ongoing work with Mass Families Organizing for Change. In 2016, she attended the Federation for Children with Special Needs Parent Consultant Training Institute. Contact: amanda.bailey@aane.org

Stephanie Birkdale - Adults Interest Group and Social Events Facilitator

Stephanie Birkdale is the Program Manager for AANE. She co-facilitates the Boston Book Club for adults on the spectrum and also manages and facilitates the Women's Social Event series. Stephanie is also an adult on the spectrum and enjoys reading, knitting, walking, and web design. Contact: stephanie.birkdale@aane.org 

Jane Thierfield Brown - Parents of Adults Support Group Facilitator

Jane Thierfeld Brown, Ed.D is the Director of College Autism Spectrum, Assistant Clinical Professor at Yale Child Study, Yale Medical School, and the former Director of Student  Services at the University of Connecticut School of Law. Jane provides college consultations and is married with three children, the youngest being her 28-year-old son with Autism. Contact: jane.thierfieldbrown@aane.org

Alex Burke - Adults Interest Group Facilitator - Writer's Workshop

Alex Burke is the Development Assistant at AANE and also facilitates the Online Writers Workshop Interest Series for Adults. Contact: alex.burke@aane.org

Michele Cantara - Adults and Parents of Adults Support Group Facilitator

Michele Cantara is Co-Director of Adult Services and the mother of a young adult with ASD who is taking college classes and working part-time. She recognized her son's social interaction issues early on because she studied psycholinguistics as an undergraduate. In 1998 she co-founded the Massachusetts Special Education Parents Advisory Council (MASSPAC). She also spent 35 years in the high-tech industry, and now applies her consulting and change management skills in adult consultations, parent coaching sessions, and support groups at AANE. Contact: michele.cantara@aane.org 

Kate Cody - Adults and Families of Adults Support Group Facilitator

Katherine Cody, PsyD is in private practice in NYC and offers clinical training to graduate and post-graduate students, conducts psychological and neuropsychological evaluations, and psychotherapy services. Her expertise is working with individuals and neurodiverse couples with Asperger/autism spectrum profiles and co-occurring mental health conditions. Dr. Cody is a national speaker and offers consultations regarding best practices in evaluations and evidence-based approaches. Contact: kate.cody@aane.org

Brenda Dater - Parents of Children & Teens Support Group Facilitator

Brenda Dater, MPH, MSW is the Associate Director of AANE and the author of Parenting Without Panic. Brenda is mom to three sons, including a college graduate with an Asperger profile. Brenda has completed the Federation for Children with Special Needs parent consultant training and a fellowship with the Institute for Nonprofit Management and Leadership at Tufts University. Contact: brenda.dater@aane.org

David Duval - Adults Social Events Facilitator - Pizza & Game Night

David Duval earned his BS in Communications/Media from Fitchburg State College in 1996.  He began attending AANE pizza & game nights as a participant and volunteer and now hosts the event.  Dave enjoys collecting music CDs of all genres, attending concerts, and skiing during the winter months. Contact: david.duval@aane.org

Leslie Feinberg - NY Families of Teens Support Group Facilitator

Leslie Feinberg is the NY Resource & Referral Specialist at AANE and founded Supporting Our Young Adults Network which she created to meet the needs of parents in the community whose children utilize NYS self-directed services so they may lead a self-determined life.  Contact: leslie.feinberg@aane.org

Christa Flanagan - Adults and Parents of Adults Support Group Facilitator

Christa Flanagan, M.Ed is an Adult Services Consultation Specialist and LifeMAP Coach at AANE. Her experience advising college students and their families through higher education has given her the insight needed to support individuals in working toward their personal, educational, and independent living goals. Contact: christa.flanagan@aane.org

Nick Gallop - Adults Interest Group, Social Events, and Support Group Facilitator

Nick Gallop Staff PhotoNick Gallop is the Adult Services Coordinator at AANE and a published author specialized in helping young adults. He has experience working with universities, parents, and individuals. Nick is also an artist and musician and is knowledgeable both on how artistic expression can help those on the spectrum, and how to market oneself as an artist. Contact: nick.gallop@aane.org

Dena Gassner - Adult Women Support Group Facilitator

Dena Gassner, MSW, Ph.D. Candidate is an Adjunct Professor in the Autism Certificate Program at Towson University. She is a contributing author to Spectrum Women: Walking to the Beat of Autism and a national board member for Arc US and has provided consultative services and given testimony to the Government Accountability Office in Washington and at the UN in Geneva. Contact: dena.gassner@aane.org

Stephanie Goodner - Adults Interest Group Facilitator - Book Club

Stephanie Goodner is a long-time book connoisseur and enjoys connecting with other avid readers when she co-facilitates the Online “Open” AANE Book Club for Adults, which meets on the second Tuesday of each month.  Contact: stephanie.goodner@aane.org

Nick Haslam - Adults Interest Group Facilitator - Dungeons & Dragons

Nicholas Haslam is the LifeMAP Administrative Assistant at AANE and also co-facilitates the Advanced Dungeons and Dragons Interest Series and was first introduced to DnD over 20 years ago, but has been campaigning for the last five years. As a player, he favors gish characters. Contact: nicholas.haslam@aane.org

Trish Huff - Adults Social Events and Support Group Facilitator

Trish Huff, MSW, LICSW  has a private practice in Western Mass. Trish began working with AANE by facilitating support groups for adults on the spectrum and serving as a community liaison providing information and referral. She co-led the start-up and administration of a local chapter and provided presentations on the autism spectrum for the community and local educators. Contact: trish.huff@aane.org

Bonnie Kaplan - Families of Adults Support Group Facilitator

Bonnie Kaplan stays at the cutting edge of valuable resources, services, and research by attending many conferences and presentations each year. She is always interested in learning the latest information and gets tremendous satisfaction from sharing this information with members of the support group. Contact: bonnie.kaplan@aane.org

Jodi Kaplan - Teens Support Group Facilitator

Jodi KaplanJodi Kaplan, MS, MBA is a special education teacher and an experienced support group facilitator. She was on the Board of Directors of the Asperger Syndrome and High Functioning Autism Association, chaired the annual fundraising event, and is a parent to an adult child with an Asperger/autism spectrum profile. Contact: jodi.kaplan@aane.org

Gail Kastorf - Adults Support Group Facilitator

Gail KastorfM.Ed. is the Grant Writer for AANE. Gail has provided training to educators, career counselors, vocational rehabilitation counselors, and employers. She has also assisted adults to understand how Asperger’s may impact their work-life and offers strategies to increase success on the job.  Contact: gail.kastorf@aane.org

Robert Lagos - Adults Support Group Facilitator

Robert Lagos holds a BS degree from UCLA and is a computer programmer analyst and statistician. He has presented at events and workshops for AANE, Sweetser, and Southern Maine Autism Conference and has mentored teens and young adults with autism. Robert is also a co-author with Wilma Wake and Eric Endlich of the book, "Older Adults: The Lost Generation" and is a “virtuoso” classical pianist. Contact: robert.lagos@aane.org

Toby Liebowitz - Adults and Parent of Adults Support Group Facilitator
Toby W. Liebowitz is the Director of AANE Rhode Island. She is a retired special educator and facilitates support groups for parents of adults with Asperger Syndrome or similar diagnoses. She has taught many students and has members of her extended family on the Autism spectrum. She enjoys encouraging families to share their challenges and successes with each other. Contact: toby.liebowitz@aane.org
Aaron Levinger - Adults Interest Group Facilitator- Team Trivia

Aaron Levinger is the LifeMAP Data Entry Specialist and Administrative Assistant and facilitates several groups at AANE. He has spoken for the Understanding Our Differences program in addition to speaking to many groups of students and other audiences. In 2013, Aaron was given the Katie Lynch Memorial Award as Speaker of the Year. Aaron works other part-time jobs, including one at his local public library.  Contact: aaron.levinger@aane.org

Allyson Linehan - Adults and Parents of Adults Support Group Facilitator

Allyson Linehan is the Adult Services Consultation & Coaching Specialist and a LifeMAP Coach at AANE. Allyson has worked over 30 years in the human service field and has a Masters in Pastoral Counseling from Boston University. She enjoys helping clients achieve their goals and dreams. Contact: allyson.linehan@aane.org

Stephanie Loo - Parents of Adults Support Group Facilitator

Stephanie Loo, M.Ed. is the Director of Information and Referral at AANE and draws upon her wealth of personal and professional experience to provide valuable information, resources, and support by phone through Parent Coaching. She initiated the AANE/NESCA Transition Roundtable, which resulted in expanded programming focused on transition planning and preparing our teens for college. Contact: stephanie.loo@aane.org

Linda Manning - Adults and Parents of Adults Social Events and Support Group Facilitator

Linda Manning, MBA has a background as a special education consultant and also works at a non-profit organization serving seniors and individuals with disabilities. She is the parent of four young men, two who are neurodiverse, and two who are neurotypical. Contact: linda.manning@aane.org

Janeka Melanson - Parents of Adults Support Group Facilitator

Janeka Melanson is the Director of Online Learning/Conference Coordinator at AANE. Janeka is married with two daughters and is a member of the board of the Special Education Parental Advisory Council and Parent Teacher Organization, as well as a Special Olympics Coach. She is an advocate of self-care and exercise, especially for those raising children with unique challenges. Contact: janeka.melanson@aane.org

Grace Myhill - Neurodiverse Couples Support Group Facilitator

Grace Myhill, MSW is the Director of Couples and Partner's Services at AANE and of The Peter M. Friedman Neurodiverse Couples Institute. She specializes in working with neurodiverse couples who encounter difficult or unfulfilling relationship dynamics with their partners or spouses. Grace is also in private practice and works with individuals, couples, groups with other neurotypical partners or couples, and in intensive workshops with other couples. Contact: grace.myhill@aane.org  

Nisha Narvekar - Adults Support Group Facilitator

Nisha Narvekar, MA, Ph.D. Candidate has been with AANE in various capacities. She was LifeMAP Assistant Director and a seasoned LifeMAP coach. Nisha enjoys a rich experience from working with a diverse set of clients. While in India, Nisha worked with underprivileged children at a high risk of HIV, using dance therapy for group counseling and creating HIV awareness. Contact: nisha.narvekar@aane.org

Anastasia O'Melveny - Adults Support Group Facilitator

Anastasia O'Melveny leads the AANE Artists Collaborative and facilitates the  Support Group for Adults Over 50. Contact: anastasia.omelveny@aane.org

Judy Omidvaran - Families of Adults Support Group Facilitator

Judy Omidvaran founded the Westchester County Autism Advisory Committee in 2009 to inform elected officials, policymakers, government agency management, and law enforcement of the needs of those with autism, particularly the unserved needs of adults.  The committee meets regularly with the Department of Community Mental Health leadership. Contact: judy.omidvaran@aane.org

Nancy Parker - Parents of Children & Teens Support Group Facilitator

Nancy Parker, MSW, LICSW, is the Director of Child and Teen Services at AANE. Previously, Nancy has worked many years as a counselor in hospitals, colleges, and prisons, created mental health training programs for educators, and provided information, referrals, and support to parents of children with mental health issues. Nancy initially contacted AANE as a parent, when her daughter was first diagnosed in 2006. Contact: nancy.parker@aane.org

Laura Perez - Parents of Children & Teens Support Group Facilitator

Laura Perez, MSc is the Director of Programs for the Latino Community and a Child and Teen Family Support Specialist. Laura attended the Parent Consultant Training Institute of the Federation for Children with Special Needs. She consults with the Justice Resource Institute and the Massachusetts Advocates for Children. Laura is a mother of three, including a young adult with an Asperger/autism spectrum profile. Contact: laura.perez@aane.org

Branden Plank - Adults Support Group Facilitator

Branden Plank is an experienced facilitator who has been leading support groups for over a decade. Branden identifies as an individual with an Asperger/autism spectrum profile and his warm and welcoming nature has made him a trusted friend and mentor of many of his group members. Contact: branden.plank@aane.org

Erica Remi - Adults Support Group Facilitator

Erica Rémi is the Director of Development at AANE.  Erica previously worked at the nonprofit organization Year Up and the consulting firm Development Guild. She has gained extensive knowledge about Asperger/autism profiles through working with neurodiverse colleagues, building relationships with AANE community members, and parenting a child on the spectrum. Contact: erica.remi@aane.org

Liz Roberts - Parents of Adult Support Group Facilitator

Elizabeth Roberts PsyD specializes in the diagnosis and evaluation of individuals across the lifespan with autism spectrum disorder and other learning, developmental, and neuropsychiatric conditions. She currently practices in MA and NY and provides education and mental health with neuropsychological evaluation, psychotherapy, legal advocacy, consultation, training, and supervision. Contact: liz.roberts@aane.org

Marcia Robinson - Grandparents Support Group Facilitator

Marcia Robinson, M.Ed, CAGS is the Volunteer Coordinator and the Speakers' Bureau Coordinator at AANE. She embraces the grandparents of grandchildren of any age with an Asperger/autism spectrum profile. Marcia offers a balance of information, support, as well as strategies for successful experiences such as outings, playdates, and family events. Contact: marcia.robinson@aane.org

Emily Rothman - Parents of Adults Support Group Facilitator

Emily F. Rothman, ScD is a Professor at Boston University School of Public Health and also a student in a licensed mental health counseling program. She co-authored a curriculum for teenagers about pornography and has experience teaching healthy relationships classes to teenagers with an Asperger profile and college students with mental health challenges. Dr. Rothman has appeared on the Today Show, NPR, CNN, Teen Vogue, and other media outlets. Contact: emily.rothman@aane.org

Bruce Sabian - Fathers Support Group Facilitator

Bruce Sabian, LMHC is the owner, co-founder, and director of Academy MetroWest, a children’s group therapy program in Natick, MA. Bruce runs weekly social skills groups and provides individual counseling and executive function coaching services to children, adolescents, and adults. He also works as a consultant and trainer with schools and organizations. Contact: bruce.sabian@aane.org

Pat Schissel - Adults, Families of Adults, and Spouse/Partner Support Group Facilitator

Patricia Schissel, LMSW is the senior clinician in adult services at AANE. Her experience includes adjunct faculty at Adelphi University, and at the C.W. Post campus of Long Island University. She has served on numerous national committees and boards and has also played an instrumental role in the founding of innovative new programs that have achieved national renown, including the Westbrook Preparatory School. Contact: pat.schissel@aane.org 

Leslie Sickels - Spouse/Partner Support Group Facilitator

Leslie Sickels, LCSW is a clinical social worker at Spectrum Services in NY. She specializes in working with neurodiverse couples, individuals with Asperger/autism spectrum profiles, and neurotypical partners.  Much of Leslie’s work also focuses on gender, sexuality, and sex as they relate to the unique concerns of individuals on the autism spectrum.                Contact: leslie.sickels@aane.org

Christian Tsetsos - Adults Social Events Facilitator

Christian Tsetsos is an active member of the AANE Speakers Bureau and an adult on the Autism Spectrum. Christian has been giving speeches and participating on panels at AANE for ten years. He also works full time at a company that provides services to individuals on the spectrum. In his free time, Christian enjoys baking, hiking, movies, exploring different towns & visiting new places. Contact: christian.tsetsos@aane.org

Leslie Tsui - Parents of Children & Teens Group Facilitator

Leslie Tsui is a social/life coach for young adults with Asperger/autism spectrum profiles. She has completed Level 1 of the Social Thinking Clinical Training Program® and also serves as the parent coordinator for the Ely Center in Needham, MA.

Kelly Urban - Adults Support Group Facilitator

Kelly UrbanKelly UrbanLMHC is the Senior Adult Services Consultation Specialist and a LifeMAP Coach at AANE.  Kelly previously worked at McLean Hospital, using DBT to teach young women emotion regulation tools and other life skills to move forward in their lives. Kelly is passionate about supporting individuals, families, and professionals, to help navigate what an Asperger profile means for them or those they care about. Contact: kelly.urban@aane.org

Kim Wutkiewicz - Adults Support Group Facilitator

Kim Wutkiewicz worked in AANE's Development Department, where she wrote extensively about the unique experiences of people living with Asperger's and related profiles, particularly women living on the spectrum. Kim has a long history of working with individuals to navigate challenges and find balance, as both a board-certified acupuncturist and registered yoga teacher. Contact: kim.wutkiewicz@aane.org

Miriam Zisook - Adults Support Group Facilitator

Miriam Zisook, LCSW  practices at Looking Glass Counseling and has worked as a designer on assistive and wearable technology.  She looks to support and increase the power and participation of disabled people in technology fields. Miriam's work is focused on how learning to make things and solve problems like a designer can help people become more confident, competent, and empowered.  Contact: miriam.zisook@aane.org

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