Our board of directors.
Interim Board President
Mark 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 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. Serving on the Autism Society of Colorado board is a dream come true, and he is passionate about helping this great organization make a difference statewide.
Board Vice President
Dick is the founder and president of a startup organization focused on impacting the lives of people with Autism and other disabilities. His passion for helping people with Autism 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 with Sensory Processing Disorder. Dick has a strong desire to help adults with Autism find employment. He has a fourteen-year-old granddaughter in Florida who was diagnosed when she was about five, 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. 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 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. 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 co-creating 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 assessments with a specialization in diagnosing autism spectrum disorder (ASD). This group aims to enhance providers’ 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.
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 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 and president of a volunteer organization in Barrington, IL. Sarah also has a daughter who was diagnosed with Asperger’s at age nine and is a recent graduate of 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.
Bill is currently Chief Consulting Officer for Esrock Partners, a Food activation agency and Managing Director for Sellside Group, a full-service omni-channel consulting agency. He is the past President and CEO of the Dawn Frozen Business Unit, leading its successful sale to Rise Baking in 2020. Bill brought a wealth of omni-channel marketing, sales, operations, and product innovation experience to Dawn Foods and other brands that he represented. As a board member for ASC he’ll leverage those leadership skills to support our future growth, helping shape our fundraising, profit and loss oversight, and marketing.
Bill has worked with Walmart and McDonalds on key award-winning product initiatives, and worked with other industry leaders at the International Foodservice Manufacturing Association. Bill has served on boards for IFMA, Briess Industries, and on the Foodservice Executive committee for GS1. He was awarded in 2020 a Doctorate of Foodservice by the North American Food Equipment Manufacturers. He also worked at Swift & Company/JBS, Con Agra, Tyson and H.J. Heinz. He is a graduate of Michigan State and with graduate studies at the University of Washington and Boise State. Bill and his wife, Laurel, and their two daughters, Meredith, and Claire, live in Ft. Collins, Colorado.
Michel joined the Autism Society of Colorado’s board in September 2021. She had several years of experience as a board member in the roles of President, Treasurer and Secretary. She also serves on the Colorado Special Education Advisory Committee.
Michel originally grew up in California and while attending the University of Colorado at Boulder, fell in love with the state. While attending the university she started working for nonprofits and for the past 20 years, she has worked in Development in several nonprofits throughout Colorado.
Michel has a twice exceptional daughter that was diagnosed with autism in 2017. Knowing the challenges parents face upon diagnosis and the issues that come up while navigating services and the school systems, she is looking forward to working with families on their journeys.
Understanding the importance of autism awareness and acceptance, Michel will work with the board and community to help bring about programs and support for families.
Jenn was born and raised in New Jersey, and she traded the beach for the mountains in 2004 in search of new adventures here in Colorado. Jenn was first introduced to the Autism community when her son was diagnosed at the age of four. She immediately sought all the information, resources and support she could find. Jenn is passionate about maximizing employment opportunities for the Autism community and believes inclusive employment should be the norm. Jenn has also worked with the foster and adoption communities and strives to get Autism resources to prospective foster and adoptive parents in need. In her spare time, Jenn loves road trips, camping, hiking, and seeing live music with her son and their silly pup, Scruffy. Jenn is excited about the future direction of the Autism Society of Colorado and is proud to be a part of the positive changes to come.
Matt is an autistic nerd living his dream quest; writing code that gets launched into space for a satellite telecommunications company. His personal mission statement is to not just do the job before him; but instead to serve and look for ways to provide value, make connections, enrich the lives of those he interacts with, wear a smile, and incorporate humor. He enjoys living an active lifestyle in Colorado which means getting outside to climb mountains, ride bikes, ski, fly-fish...basically if REI sells it -- it’s in his garage.
As an autistic, Matt has found success professionally, and leads multiple neurodiverse teams while attentively helping them navigate life and explore strategies to foster happiness, striking a near-ideal work/life balance. He moved to Denver in 2001 and enjoys spending time with his wife, teenage daughter, and dog. Being a life-long learner, Matt is enthusiastic about joining ASC and encouraging fellow neurodivergent individuals to discover and unlock fresh approaches to level-up and find meaningful connections in their adult lives.
Katherine (Katie) Vahey Gaebler
Katie is a downtown Chicago native, calling Colorado home since 2003. Originally relocating for a Masters program at University of Colorado Boulder, Katie went on to earn a PhD in Education Leadership from the University of Northern Colorado in 2011. For nearly 20 years she worked on college campuses throughout the Denver area, primarily in Program Administration, Academic Planning/Advising, and Faculty roles. Passionate about young adult student development, and personal growth through continuing education, Katie built a career being drawn to opportunities for learning - for herself and others - through immersive and narrative experience.
Katie’s cumulative career leads to her current and (so far) ultimate learning experience, parenting two beautiful young boys who identify on the Autism Spectrum. Her oldest son is 9 and a 3rd grader in a dedicated ASD Center program within Jefferson County school district. Katie started her platform, AutismNERD.com – the Neurodiverse Education Resources of Denver- to chronicle and connect about living with and parenting for Autism in the Denver area. She currently works with local schools, therapy providers, and families as a communication conduit for increased understanding and executing tailored strategies in support of her community. Katie is thrilled to join the Board for the Autism Society of Colorado to increase her network and reach for those who may need her counsel. When not living/reading/breathing life with Autism at home in Golden, you can find her in a vinyasa flow on a yoga mat, (un)packing for a hot springs road trip, and enjoying the companionship of her spouse and partner, John.