Tributes to Dania Jekel

Blog Post

It is impossible to capture the tremendous impact Dania Jekel has had on the Asperger/autism community over the years. In honor of her retirement, we would like to share a small selection of the many messages sent from staff and community members expressing their gratitude to Dania and to AANE.

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Congrats on your retirement, Dania! Over the years you have built and shaped AANE into not only a place of comfort, education and support for those we serve, but also into an amazing family that I am proud to be a part of. Thank you for all that you have done!
“The joy of retirement comes in those everyday pursuits that embrace the joy of life” – Byron Pulsifer



When we first spoke with you on the phone, Dania, many years ago, no one knew what was going on with our children (save Dr. Daniel Rosenn, who referred me to you). AANE at that time was basically a one-person operation, and that person was you. You were pioneering something that didn’t exist yet anywhere in the world. What you made possible for our family changed what our children’s lives could be. We couldn’t be more grateful for the knowledge and understanding that we gained through AANE which we then shared with others, and which in turn grew to be the self-knowledge, self-understanding, and self-advocacy that our now-adult children possess.

–Mary Ann & Frank



Thank you for your tireless dedication to our community and strong leadership of our organization. I feel fortunate to have been able to work directly with you (even if briefly) and will fondly remember your fun lunchtime trivia games! Best of luck in your next chapter of life!



Dear Dania,

Thank you for creating and sustaining AANE through its founding and first 25 years. I remember the first time I met you. It was at 182 main street in Watertown. You offered to talk to me and another parent about our sons. You asked us questions and invited us to share our stories. I’ve never forgotten how that personal touch made me feel valued as a new community member. I’ve seen this repeated countless times through the years – taking those 4:30 pm phone calls from families or introducing yourself to event participants. You made people feel they were part of the AANE community right from the start.

And 14 years of working together! Our conversations, on all topics, have been a highlight. Thank you for your insight and support – you have made me a better professional.

I know you have much to look forward to – a grandchild, your art, binging shows, walks in beautiful places, and time for friends and family. You have been a wonderful partner and I will miss you.



Dania….your vision for AANE has made a huge impact on the community. I wish you all good things as you sit back and reflect on all the community has gained from your hard work.



You did something quite amazing, when you founded AANE. You have helped so many people directly and also you have helped so many people indirectly with all you have done to make AANE the incredible organization that it is today. Thank you so much for your support, your mentorship, and your friendship all these years. Enjoy your retirement.



To build an organization like AANE requires a rare combination of determination , courage and vision and the ability to move people. Dania you have all these qualities and much more. There are
countless lives that you have touched positively. You are leaving an enduring legacy. Thank You!




My life began when I met you and found AANE. And now, years and achievements and tribulations later, I find it difficult to picture my future without you in it.

You have given me opportunities for richness, meaning and purpose in my life that I never could have found anywhere else (trust me, I tried)

Because of you, I am a better person-a better version of my true self.

Yes, you have changed the world- the whole world; it’s really true!

And for this once lost and lonely woman, you have provided a whole world.

Wishing you a lovely, joyful retirement!!

PS I will miss you!!!