WHAT WE DO
Autism Society of Colorado serves as a resource and bridge to connections for the autism community. We are advancing the conversation about equal access and inclusion through policy engagement and partnerships. We provide trainings to local businesses and organizations in order to facilitate long-term, fulfilling employment opportunities. We believe that if we work together, we can contribute lasting advocacy efforts and meaningful connections for autistic individuals and their supporters.
WHO WE ARE
Autism Society of Colorado was founded in 1970 by parents fighting for the right for their children to receive an education in public schools. In 1975, ASC spearheaded passage at the state and national level of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. For over 50 years, ASC has positively impacted thousands of Coloradans and strives to provide innovative services, educational events, and policy initiatives to serve individuals with disabilities living in Colorado.
ASC's Board and Staff is comprised of professionals with various talents and expertise. We know that with our life experiences, insights, and dedication—we can work towards a bright future and help serve our community.
Interim Board President
Mark originally grew up in New Jersey and graduated from the University of Colorado at Boulder with an undergraduate degree in Business Management. His first involvement with the autism community was when he was 12 years old, working with a family near and dear to his heart, helping their child get through Sunday School. Mark remembers this as one of the most rewarding experiences and often thinks back on all of the fond times and memories he made with them. In 2015, he joined Team Select Home Care in Denver, CO, as one of the first employees in the Denver office helping the special needs community gain access to important and vital community resources. It was the best decision of his life. In his spare time, he enjoys skiing, hiking, playing golf, watching sports, and going on long walks with his amazing wife and incredible dog. Being a part of the Autism Society of Colorado is a dream come true, and he hopes he can help this great organization make a difference statewide.
Board Vice President
Dick is founder and President of a startup organization that is focused on impacting the lives of people that are on the Spectrum and others with disabilities. His passion for helping people with autism was developed when he worked as the executive director at the STAR Institute, from early 2016 until late 2018 . STAR provides Research, Education and Treatment for children and adults that have a Sensory Processing Disorder. Dick has a strong desire to help autistic adults find employment. He has a fourteen year old granddaughter in Florida who was diagnosed when she was about 5 and since her mom and dad found the “right school” for her she is doing well. Dick’s education includes engineering, operations research and computer science. He also worked as an adjunct professor in the School of Business at Colorado Christian University from 2007 until 2016.
Dr. Jennifer "Jenn" Paz-Ryan
Dr. Jennifer “Jenn” Paz-Ryan, is the co-founder of Elevated Insights Assessment, specializing in Psychological Assessments for Children, Adolescents, and Young Adults. As a graduate with her doctorate in Clinical Psychology from the University of Denver’s Graduate School of Professional Psychology (GSPP), Jenn specializes in bilingual (English/Spanish) assessment and treatment of children/adolescents and their families. Jenn earned her Master of Education through Regis University and taught for five years within DPS. There she dedicated herself to providing a culturally responsive classroom, formed strong relationships with her students and their families that continue today, and was awarded Mile High Teacher of the Year 2009/2010. Commitment and admiration for underserved populations led to volunteering with AmeriCorps and Jenn was awarded with the 2014 Mountain West Engagement Award for Excellence and honored by the University of Denver Magazine. In 2015, Jenn began working on program development for the Latinx Psychology Specialty (LPS) at DU and in 2017-2019 was appointed as the Senior Program Associate, bridging the Latinx and Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health (IECMH) Specialties. Jenn’s passion for community partnerships and collaboration has led to presenting at national conferences (ZTT 2018; NLPA 2018 & 2019) and to cocreating a professional development workshop for practitioners- Diversity Informed Practice: Infusing Multicultural Awareness into Your Work. In an effort to increase access to services, Jenn created a consultation group for bilingual (English/Spanish) psychologists who provide assessment with a specialization in diagnosing autism spectrum disorder (ASD). This group’s goal is to enhance provider’s ability to ensure evaluations are culturally and linguistically responsive. Jenn is excited to join the Autism Society of Colorado to assist the organization in expanding its services for Spanish-speaking autistic individuals and their families in a linguistically and culturally appropriate way.
Jon Garson, LCSW
Jon is a licensed clinical social worker in private practice, serving Boulder and outlying counties, with thirty-five years experience working with individuals and their families. He has worked with teenagers in summer programs, led bicycle trips for teens throughout the U.S. and Europe, raced bicycles for 12 years in New England, taught school in Vermont and New York Cityʼs South Bronx, Lower East Side and Brooklyn.
Jon started his social work/therapist career in 1983 after completing a Masterʼs degree in Social Work from Columbia University. He has worked in residential and day treatment programs, psychiatric hospitals, the juvenile criminal justice system treating adolescent sexual aggression and victimization, chemical dependency, and program development for teen pregnancy prevention in urban and rural settings.
He started his private practice while living in Vermont specializing in AD/HD and other behavioral issues in adolescence. Jon has developed a specialization in Autism Spectrum Disorder over the past fifteen years.
Jon moved to Boulder, Colorado from Vermont with his wife Page in 1993. They have two sons, Max and Will. In addition to being fortunate to love his work, Jon is addicted to bluegrass, honky tonk music and biking.
Dennis is co-founder of Tuck’s Tooques, an innovative self-employment and advocacy business model formed with his son, Tucker, in 2012. In 2016 the pair traveled the US in their minivan, promoting their company, which imports winter hats from Nepal, and advocating for neurodiversity as a lifestyle for autistic children and adults. During their trip, he and Tucker found the Front Range of Colorado to be a progressive, supportive environment for autistic people and vowed they would become active in it. They hatched a 5-year plan to relocate their company from Michigan to Colorado, where they could pursue their passions for wilderness adventure and neurodiversity by launching a hiking and adventure initiative for autistic people.
Dennis served ten years in military electronic intelligence analysis with the National Security Agency, ten years in customer service and project coordination with The Dow Chemical Company, and currently works for the Veterans Affairs Health Administration Center in Denver. He has a BS Degree in Journalism/Public Relations from Central Michigan University and has published hundreds of articles. He has spoken on neurodiversity and self-employment at universities, corporations, autism conferences, and most recently at National Institute for Mental Health’s Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee (IACC) in Washington, DC. Dennis is an avid hiker, backpacker, and wanderlusty road-tripper.
Sarah moved with her husband and two daughters to Denver from the Chicago area in August of 2020. Sarah has several years of experience as a volunteer, board member as well as president of a volunteer organization in Barrington, IL. Sarah also has a daughter who was diagnosed with Asperger’s at age nine and who is currently a senior at the University of Denver. Her experience as the parent of a child on the Autism Spectrum has developed her passion for and belief in the importance of autism awareness and acceptance.
Sarah graduated from Boston College in 1990 with a degree in history. She received her J.D. from Loyola University of Chicago School of Law and practiced law in Chicago for four years. Subsequently, she received her Master’s in Education from DePaul University and taught in the Chicago area full time and as a substitute. She currently teaches as a substitute teacher in the Denver area. Sarah is excited and honored to be a part of The Autism Society of Colorado and to assist in developing and implementing Autism 101 trainings.
Lea Anne Paskvalich
Executive Director firstname.lastname@example.org
Lea Anne is originally from Chicago, Illinois and moved to Colorado with her family in 1998. When one of her children was diagnosed on the autism spectrum in 2000, she founded a support group for parents of special needs children. For the next 17 years, she led support groups for parents, and later, adults on the autism spectrum. At the same time, she became deeply involved in her childrens' school district advocating for special needs children. Throughout her lengthy tenure at the Temple Grandin School in Boulder, she collaborated with dozens of professionals and organizations in Boulder County and across the Front Range to ensure student success. Lea Anne created signature fundraising and community events to advance the school's mission including "Meeting of the Minds" with Dr. Temple Grandin, TGS Talks, TGS Shuffle 5K and Entrepreneurial Thursdays. Her volunteer and board involvement with the Autism Society of Boulder County, Autism Society of Colorado and Children's Hospital Colorado have deepened her understanding of the autism resources available and the systems in place to help children and adults on the spectrum in Colorado.
Director of Communications & Outreach email@example.com
Stephanie is originally from Florida and a mom of 2 kiddos, 8 & 11. After her oldest daughter's autism diagnosis in 2012, she hit the ground running, soaking up every bit of information she could find. A self-described conference fanatic, she will attend a lecture or webinar on just about any topic but is incredibly passionate about autism, disability rights and holistic health. Stephanie comes to ASC after almost four years at the Autism Community Store as the Marketing and Community Outreach Coordinator, planning events, providing resource navigation and building community relationships. In her spare time, she enjoys camping and going to festivals & farmer's markets with her husband and children. She is thrilled to join ASC as Director of Communications & Outreach and excited to use her skills and go-getter attitude to help grow the Autism Society of Colorado alongside an amazing team!
Bev Weiler, MA, LPCC, NCC
Support Group Facilitator
Bev is a mental health counselor who works primarily with children and adolescents, LGBTQ individuals, and people with autism spectrum disorder. She has worked with at-risk youth in a variety of situations, ranging from day cares and schools to a free theater program for underserved adolescents. She was instrumental in the founding of two charter schools in the Adams 12 school district and is the parent of a son and daughter, each on the spectrum, as well as a neurotypical daughter.
Cari Merritt, PhD.
Support Group Facilitator
Cari is a medical and psychological anthropologist who is passionate about supporting people in learning and building meaningful relationships. Her doctoral research at UCLA was based on a humanistic, person-centered approach. While living in Sweden for a year, she examined how young adults with mental health and social challenges created community at a Swedish “folk high school.” As an anthropology instructor, she enjoys seeing students deepen their understandings of society, each other, and themselves. Cari is enthusiastic about joining ASC and contributing to its mission of fostering connection, inclusion and advocacy among individuals in the Autistic community.
Beth Wolf, M.S., CCC-SLP
Support Group Facilitator
Beth is the founder of Gather and Grow Therapy Services. Through her practice, she provides social-communication therapy and employment coaching for people across the spectrum. Beth is also a 200-hr yoga instructor through Kindness Collective and has found deep personal healing through the integration of breath and movement.
Hanna Griffin, OTR/L
Support Group Facilitator
Hanna was born and raised in the St. Louis Area and attended the University of Missouri, where she earned her Bachelor’s in Health Sciences and Master’s in Occupational Therapy. Hanna has experience working with people of all ages and abilities and is currently working in home health for kids ages 3-21. Along with experience with people on the autism spectrum, she has also worked with people experiencing chronic homelessness, substance abuse disorders, and mental health disorders. Hanna has a passion for mental health, life skills, social skills, and holistic wellness, which lead to her involvement with ASC as a support group facilitator. She loves meeting new people and is grateful for the opportunity to serve ASC and adults on the autism spectrum in Colorado!