The 2022 Autism Spectrum Award Winners
Congratulations! It is with great excitement that we acknowledge, for the first time ever, two winners of the 2022 Els for Autism Spectrum Award; Gyasi Burks-Abbott, from Bedford, Massachusetts, and Dr. Kerry Magro, from Hoboken, New Jersey. The nominees were so inspirational this year, it was impossible to choose one over the other.
Learn more about the award as well as biographies of past winners here.
Meet the Winners
Meet Gyasi Burks-Abbott, a strong self-advocate of change for individuals affected by autism. As an advisor on the Executive Employment Committee of Advocates For Autism of Massachusetts (AFAM) he is the lead self-advocate providing input driving decision making. There, he prioritizes legislation and policy changes that affect individuals with autism. He lobbys law makers about equitable pay, and was an impactful voice in “Nick’s Law”, a law that protects individuals with autism and other intellectual developmental disabilities from abusive caretakers. As a faculty member of Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental and Related Disabilities (LEND) he stresses the importance of autism individuality to healthcare practitioners.
Furthermore, Gyasi has published an autobiography/memoir, “My Mother’s Apprentice”. A recounting of Gyasi’s struggles growing up without a definitive diagnosis and being black in predominately white schools. A true tribute to his mother, Ruth, an academic who instilled in Gyasi a love of learning and always encouraged him to think and advocate for himself. Gyasi also, published a journal entry, “Autism in Adulthood”, and appeared as a guest on Areva Martin’s radio show, discussing growing up Black and autistic. His character and achievements are nothing short of inspirational!
Meet Dr. Kerry Magro, effectively hosts trainings with companies titled “ROI Benefits of Hiring Talented Autistic People”, where he spreads awareness and often creates hiring opportunities for adults with autism. He also hosts annual sensory-friendly events in his hometown, which supports individuals affected by autism and special needs. Dr. Magro has published 4 Autism-centered books where he amplifies the stories of adults with autism that were pursuing post-secondary education, often giving the proceeds to organizations that support autism. He also gives grants to small business owned by individuals with disabilities. In addition, Kerry has shared over 150 self-advocate videos of individuals impacted by an autism diagnosis, where he nurtures their self-advocacy and provides a platform for empowerment. Also, Dr. Magro’s personal education endeavors have not stopped after receiving a PhD by age 25, he is currently working towards a doctorate in education. He hopes to teach at the college level to educate, break down barriers, and reduce biases around those in the disability community.
A sincere thank you to all the 2022 nominees and those who submitted nominations. We can’t wait to see what the next year brings!
To learn more about the Els for Autism Spectrum Award, see qualifications below: