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Dr. Marlene Sotelo Named Executive Director of Els for Autism Foundation

Jupiter, FL (May 4, 2021)—Dr. Marlene Sotelo, BCBA-D, MT-BC, has been promoted to Executive Director of the Els for Autism Foundation from her previous role as Chief Operating Officer, a title she has held since 2018. She joined the organization as Director of Programs in 2014. The announcement was made by Marvin R. Shanken, Founder and Chairman of the Board, Els for Autism Foundation, and Publisher and Founder, M. Shanken Communications.


“Marlene’s contributions to the growth, expansion and overall reach of the Foundation—from international programming to educational conferences, research initiatives and numerous partnerships—have been instrumental in making a profound and positive impact in advancing educational resources for autism spectrum disorder,” said Shanken. “We are honored to have Marlene as our new Executive Director and look forward to her continued achievements.”


Among her numerous contributions at the Els for Autism Foundation, Dr. Sotelo oversees The Els Center of Excellence ™, a 26-acre state-of-the art facility in Jupiter, Florida for onsite education for over 250 students ages 3-21, The Center provides therapeutic and professional services, recreation programs, research, transition processes for adult living, and job training.  In addition, she provides operational and programmatic support of the Ernie Els Centre for Autism South Africa and is the co-director of The Seaver Els Institute, a research partnership with the Seaver Autism Center at Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York. Dr. Sotelo’s work around the world as an international consultant and speaker, along with the Foundation’s mission to serve the global community led to the development of the Global Outreach Autism Learning Services (GOALS) at the Center.


“We are very excited for the future with Marlene as our new Executive Director,” said Founders Liezl and Ernie Els. “She has been with us for seven years and has been part of the growth of the foundation and the dream of the Center from day one. She was there when we had only a piece of dirt and has been in the trenches ever since. Her passion and dedication will be a great asset in her new role. We look forward to continue our journey of making the world a better place for those on the spectrum with her leading the way.”


Dr. Sotelo has been working with individuals of all ages with autism spectrum disorder and other developmental disorders for over 25 years. Prior to joining the Els for Autism Foundation staff, she worked for the University of Miami-Nova Southeastern University Center for Autism and Related Disabilities for 12 years as the Director of Education and Training. She earned her Doctorate in Special Education from Nova Southeastern University where she is an adjunct faculty member. She is a certified special education teacher, board-certified music therapist, and doctoral level board-certified behavior analyst.


About Els for Autism Foundation
Els for Autism Foundation was established in 2009 by Liezl and Ernie Els. The Els’ son, Ben, is impacted by autism spectrum disorder, which affects 1 in 54 children in the United States. The Foundation offers innovative, evidence-based programs for individuals across the life-span in six focus areas: Education, Research, Global Support, Recreation Services, Adult Services and Therapy Services. The Els for Autism Foundation serves families around the world, and offers in-person programs and services at The Els Center of Excellence, a 26-acre campus in Jupiter, Florida. For more information about Els for Autism, visit