Press Release: AANE Announces Brenda Dater as New Executive Director


Watertown, MA – October 28, 2021 –  The Asperger/Autism Network (AANE), a national nonprofit based in Watertown, MA that serves the Asperger/autism community, is thrilled to announce that Brenda Dater will take over as the organization’s Executive Director beginning November 1, 2021 following the retirement of AANE founder and Executive Director Dania Jekel after 25 years as the leader of AANE.


Brenda has worked with the AANE community for almost 15 years, including more than a decade in positions of senior leadership. As Associate Director since 2016, Brenda has strengthened the organization by facilitating systems-level change to enhance organizational infrastructure, overseeing the advancement of AANE’s Strategic Plan and providing clinical supervision and direction across the organization. Brenda holds dual Masters Degrees in Social Work and Public Health from the University of Michigan and is the author of Parenting without Panic: A Pocket Support Group for Parents of Children and Teens on the Autism Spectrum.


As a parent, Brenda brings the lived experience of being a part of a neurodiverse family. “I connected with AANE in 2005 when I was searching for support for my nine-year-old autistic son,” Brenda recalls. “That phone call empowered me, connected me to a community, and made me hopeful for my family’s future. I finally found my home. I want everyone who comes to AANE to experience the potency of being heard and understood.” 

AANE’s Board Chair, Dian Bohannon states, “Today’s world requires resilient and steady leaders to identify opportunities and establish stability in the midst of change. We trust that Brenda will provide clear direction in the years ahead, with a commitment to listen to the autism community and embrace AANE’s core values of compassion and respect.”


About AANE:

AANE is a nationally recognized non-profit organization that works with individuals, families and professionals to help people with autism spectrum and similar neurodiverse profiles build meaningful, connected lives. AANE provides information, education, community, support, and advocacy, all in an atmosphere of validation and respect. To learn more, visit



Cathy Aikman Director of Marketing and Communications 

617-393-3824 ext. 230