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Our Board

OFFICERS

LIEZL ELS (SECRETARY)
FOUNDER, ELS FOR AUTISM FOUNDATION

STUART MAKIN (TREASURER)
PARTNER, STONEHAGE LIMITED

MARVIN R. SHANKEN (CHAIRMAN)
FOUNDER, ELS FOR AUTISM FOUNDATION
PUBLISHER & FOUNDER OF M.SHANKEN COMMUNICATIONS

BOARD MEMBERS

MICHAEL ALESSANDRI
EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, UNIVERSITY OF MIAMI CENTER FOR AUTISM AND RELATED DISABILITIES

GIUSEPPE CIUCCI
CHIEF EXECUTIVE, CHAIRMAN OF THE BOARD STONEHAGE LIMITED

ERNIE ELS
FOUNDER, ELS FOR AUTISM FOUNDATION

PATRICK MCMAHON
FOUNDER, CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER
CO-CHIEF INVESTMENT OFFICER, MKP CAPITAL MANAGEMENT, LLC

PAMELA MINELLI
DEVELOPMENT AND MARKETING CONSULTANT

STEVE PECK
CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER, ELPECKO WORLDWIDE, LLC

CINDY CHRISTY-LAGENFELD

 

ADVISORY BOARD

Mission

To provide first-hand knowledge of autism and guidance to the Els for Autism Foundation on current programs and services and future initiatives on The Els Center of Excellence campus. The Advisory Board was created to ensure that the Foundation receives input and direction from people with autism.

Advisory Board Members

 

Rachel Barcellona

Rachel Barcellona received her A A. degree from St. Petersburg College and is currently attending the University of South Florida studying interdisciplinary social science with a concentration in international and women’s studies. Rachel is also studying languages and will be auditioning for vocal performance in opera this spring at the University of South Florida. Rachel won the Els for autism award in 2017 and is a spokesperson for the Center for Autism and Related Disabilities (CARD) at the University of South Florida, and also is on their advocacy board. Rachel was named an ambassador for Unicorn Children’s Foundation, a board member of Safe Minds Inc. and has traveled with the global autism project internationally. Rachel is a member of the international thespian Honor Society and an opera singer and author. Rachel also has competed in pageantry and has won local, state and national titles. She has been working on her platform Ability Beyond Disability for the past 8 years.

Andrew Blitman

Andrew Blitman, who earned his degree in Marine Conservation Science & Policy from the University of Miami, is a local from South Florida who served on the UM-NSU Center for Autism and Related Disabilities constituency board from 2011 to 2017. He currently works as a tutor and mentor for Firewall Centers. He is the author of five books: one comprehensive poetry anthology, three illustrated poetry books written and drawn from the perspective of animals, and a memoir about his December 2012 Birthright trip to Israel. To read his works, you can visit his website: andrewblitman.com.

Mike DiMauro

Mike DiMauro was diagnosed with autism at the age of 22. Mike graduated from Westfield State University in 2010 with a bachelor degree in liberal studies. Mike also has a driver’s license and has been driving since he was 17. Mike likes to spread autism awareness no matter where he goes. Mike has spoken at the Family Cafe in Orlando, Milestones Autism Conference in Cleveland Ohio, and the Nebraska ASD Network Conference in Omaha Nebraska. Mike is a former Autism Speaks walk committee member for the Central Florida walk. Mike is currently an Autism Speaks Volunteer Advocacy Ambassador for the state of Florida. When Mike is not spreading autism awareness, he likes to go camping and traveling. Mike is also an UberEats driver since January 2018 and looking at going on a cross country road trip to do UberEats deliveries in all 50 states. Mike is also an involved member of Pioneer Valley Chapter 8 of the North American Family Campers Association based in Springfield Massachusetts. The camping club is the promoters of the Springfield RV Camping & Outdoor Show which Mike and his family volunteer at yearly. Mike also threw out the first pitch at the Tampa Bay Rays game in 2012.

Merrick Egber

Merrick Egber started working with the Els for Autism Foundation just a few months before the ribbon cutting of the Els Center of Excellence in 2014! He earned his B.A. in Communication Studies from Florida Atlantic University, with specialized classes on group facilitation, management, and organizing. Currently, he is a member of two boards, APSE and our Els for Autism Advisory Board, and is also busy working as an administrative assistant, assisting all departments in their work. On the side, he is a self-published author who has written numerous works of poetry and song lyrics that are on Amazon.com and Lulu.com and managed to get a few of them recorded as actual songs, which can be found on MerrickEgber.com.

Jim Hogan

Jim Hogan is an advocate for change and a strong representative of what is possible for people on the spectrum. A self-taught Computer Scientist at the age of 16, Jim found his passion for working in leadership positions in Corporate America. Throughout his career, he has engaged in advocacy and supported HR departments to better understand the needs of neurodiverse employees.

Jim has willingly taken on the role of peer mentor and support to many young professionals with autism who are struggling to enter the workforce. With his powerful voice and advocacy for change and acceptance, he has led the way for hundreds of professionals with autism who entered the workforce behind him. Jim currently works as an Innovation Strategist at @google.

Adam Jones

Adam Jones graduated with honors from Meredith Manor in 2009 with a Riding master’s degree. He has been working at Madison Fields for over three years. At Madison Fields, Adam actively advocates for autism awareness and employing adults on the autism spectrum. He believes that people like him deserve a fighting chance and a way to find their true sense of self-worth. He continues to grow in his own riding career and aspires to show at the Washington International Horse Show.

“Horses have taught me so much about life and myself. They really inspire me to be a better person.”

Dr. Kerry Magro

Dr. Kerry Magro is an award-winning professional speaker, best-selling author, and autism consultant to the HBO series Mrs. Fletcher that aired last in Fall 2019. He started professional speaking 9 years ago via the National Speakers Association and has spoken at over 900 events during that time. In addition, Kerry is CEO & President of KFM Making A Difference, a nonprofit organization that hosts inclusion events and has provided 86 scholarships for students with autism for college and counting since 2011. In his spare time, he hosts a Facebook Page called Kerry’s Autism Journey that now has 205,000 Facebook followers where he does on-camera interviews highlighting people impacted by a diagnosis to break down barriers in our community. His videos have been watched over 35 Million times.

Kerry’s best-selling books Defining Autism From The Heart, Autism and Falling in Love, and I Will Light It Up Blue! have all reached Amazon Best-Seller Lists for Special Needs Parenting. He is based in Hoboken, New Jersey.

Paul Morris

Throughout his life, with confidence & pride, he has walked to the beat of advocacy, influencing Congress, several major universities, & has had a profound impact on his alma mater, the College Internship Program in Lee, MA, all the while raising funds for research on the science of autism. Paul is from Weston, CT, & currently resides in White Plains, NY.

Haley Moss

Haley Moss was diagnosed with autism at age 3. She received her Juris Doctor from the University of Miami School of Law in 2018 and graduated from the University of Florida in 2015 with Bachelors degrees in Psychology and Criminology.

She is a renowned visual pop artist and the author of “Middle School: The Stuff Nobody Tells You About” and “A Freshman Survival Guide for College Students with Autism Spectrum Disorders: The Stuff Nobody Tells You About.” She also illustrated and contributed to the anthology “What Every Autistic Girl Wishes Her Parents Knew.” Her writing has been featured in publications such as HuffPost, Teen Vogue, Bustle, Elite Daily, and The Mighty. Haley also co-hosts the “Spectrumly Speaking” podcast, which is dedicated to women on the autism spectrum.

Haley currently serves on the constituency board for the University of Miami – Nova Southeastern University Center for Autism and Related Disabilities and the Board of Directors for Different Brains. She previously served on the board of Unicorn Village Academy.

Ron Sandison

Ron Sandison works full time in the medical field and is a professor of theology at Destiny School of Ministry. He is an advisory board member of the Autism Society Faith Initiative of Autism Society of American. Sandison has a Master of Divinity from Oral Roberts University and is the author of A Parent’s Guide to Autism: Practical Advice, Biblical Wisdom published by Charisma House and Thought, Choice, Action. He has memorized over 10,000 Scriptures including 22 complete books of the New Testament.

He speaks at colleges, conferences, autism centers, and churches. Ron and his wife, Kristen, reside in Rochester Hills, MI, with daughter, Makayla. His website http://www.spectruminclusion.com.

Dr. Stephen Shore

Dr. Stephen Shore is from Massachusetts. A Clinical Assistant Professor of Special Education at Adelphi University, Dr. Shore has been tireless on advocacy, with his countless speeches, interviews, presentations (all over the world), and his high positions on many important organizational boards, along with working on many different projects that improve on advocacy.

For additional information:

Contact: Dr. Marlene Sotelo, Executive Director
Email: marlene.sotelo@elsforautism.org