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Board of Directors

The Board of Directors is the governing body of the Autism Society of Greater Phoenix. Our Board consists of passionate parents, family members, and professionals dedicated to our mission of creating connections, empowering everyone in the Autism Community with the resources needed to live fully.

Cynthia Macluskie

President

Cynthia Macluskie is a licensed health insurance agent in the State of Arizona. She speaks nationally and locally on healthcare, Medicaid, Medicare, the dually eligible and navigating systems of care for the developmentally disabled. Cynthia has been an active member of the Autism community for over 20 years. She has been an active member of the Autism Society of Greater Phoenix, serving as the Vice President and now the President of the Board. She has served on many community and government committees, including being appointed to the Governor’s Committee on ASD, the governance and member committees for United Health Care, Phoenix Children’s Family and Patient Counsel and the District West IOC (Human Rights Committee). She is passionate about improving access to care, integration of medical and mental health, and making the crisis system more responsive to those with developmental disabilities. Cynthia has worked with other stakeholders in the developmental disability community to craft and run legislation to successfully pass Autism Insurance Legislation that changed the way healthcare covered Autism services. She also assisted with the successful passage of several restraint and seclusion bills and helped update the Silver Alert to include those with developmental disabilities. She is also a trainer and champion for the Be Safe Program that trains those with developmental disabilities, their families and law enforcement on how to interact safely and build understanding and connection to keep everyone safe. Cynthia has been a grant reviewer for Autism Speakers and First Things First. She has been interviewed by local news organizations including: New York Times Magazine, Good Morning America and Lifetime TV. Cynthia was the 2023 recipient of the Dream to Achieve Award presented by the Arizona Coyotes Foundation for her advocacy efforts and leadership for the Autism Society of Greater Phoenix.

Kerrie Mallory-Thompson Profile Picture

Kerrie Mallory Thompson

VICE-PRESIDENT

Besides being a proud Autism Mom, Kerrie Mallory Thompson is Co-Owner of ThelmaLou Creations, LLC a personalization small business with a big mission. She is also a full time employee of MUTOH America where she leads the Marketing Department.  

Over the years, Kerrie has also volunteered and dedicated her time to helping with a variety of autism organizations. May of 2015, Kerrie along with another Autism mom, formed a local Autism advocacy organization called “Arizona Autism Network of the West Valley”. Her goal with this organization was to assist families in the West Valley of Phoenix to seek answers about services, provide networking opportunities, education and resources and community events. In 2018, Kerrie and her board chose to merge the Arizona Autism Network of the West Valley with the Autism Society of Greater Phoenix allowing for a stronger Autism community. In addition to serving the Autism community for the Autism Society of Greater Phoenix, Kerrie has been serving as the Arizona Autism Charter School PTA President since 2018.

Kerrie is a single mom whose Autism journey started in 2012 when her then, 2 year old son was diagnosed with Autism. She has been documenting her Autism journey with her son since 2012 and shares everything they deal with on a daily basis, both good and bad. Kerrie believes knowledge is power and having the power to spread awareness, in turn creates knowledge. Her life with her son is an open book for that very reason. You can follow Kerrie and her son Conor along their autism journey on their Facebook page, “Autism Will Not Define My Son.” 

Regina Flint

treasurer

Regina Flint retired from teaching after 32 years. She has worked and taught all grade levels from preschool through seniors in high school and finds that her favorite grade level of students is the one she is currently teaching! Every grade is exciting to her. Regina always had a desire to find out what the next level of education or the transition for a child from elementary, high school, college and eventually work place really entailed in the success of a child. 

Regina has a love for learning and researching new methods, materials and books to assist her with her work with children, teens and adults. As a result, Regina has taken and attended hundreds of hours of workshops and classes plus has participated on numerous curricula writing committees, worked on transition issues and writing assessments for the school district along with being a special education department lead for over 14 years working directly to train and assist other teachers at the schools. In addition to the school setting, Regina was a caretaker for 30 years for a woman with both intellectual and mental issues which gave her exposure to the world of support services for those with disabilities and numerous medical field treatment plans available to those in need.

Regina holds many certifications and endorsements in both elementary education and special education with an emphasis on learning disabled and emotionally handicapped students. Regina was a board member for the Arizona Professional Education Association/Peoria Classroom Teachers Association for 15 years, taught Sunday School at her church for 15 years, conducted Marriage Preparation classes with her husband for 20 years and was the founding president for a high school football booster club for 6 years.

Dana Woods

Secretary

Dana Woods is the mother of an Autistic child and has over 30 years of experience caring and advocating for those with physical and developmental disabilities. She is passionate about the power of networking in the service of her goal – to improve the quality of life for individuals on the spectrum and their families. To that end, she has volunteered with numerous Autism non-profits in various capacities for the past 12 years. Dana interviews experts on social media for the Autism Research Coalition and she has been interviewed by several notable publications including Smithsonian Magazine and Discover Magazine. Additionally, she has made an appearance on PBS and on Patricia Lemer Spear’s radio show, The Autism Detectives. The subjects of these interviews are wide-ranging, some include information about her son’s remarkable results in Arizona State University’s Microbial Transplant Therapy study. In her free time, Dana is an amateur photographer and videographer who dreams of perfecting her skills someday.

Jim Adams

Board Member

Jim Adams is the proud father of an adult daughter with Autism. He is a professor at Arizona State University, where he directs the ASU Autism/Asperger’s Research Program focused on understanding the biomedical causes of autism and how to treat it.

Crystal Benzing

board member

Crystal Benzing is from Arizona. Her husband is currently a Captain with the Fire Department. Crystal “retired” from the full-time corporate world and is currently a part-time habilitation provider. In 2021, she decided to create “Roasting Beans,” an LLC, with the goal of being able to provide life and employment skills for her teenage son. Crystal is a college graduate and continues her education through a plethora of opportunities. She enjoys earning CEU’s in a variety of topics including therapies such as Challenging Behaviors, Applied Behavior Therapy, Acceptance and Commitment Therapy and Social/Critical Thinking Skills. She also attends conferences about Epilepsy, Autism, Type one Diabetes and Tourettes. In 2016, she completed the Partners in Policymaking training. She has run a variety of support groups within the East Valley. Crystal loves Legos, roasting and drinking coffee, painting and gardening. She also has social anxiety and sensory processing challenges. In 2014, her youngest son was diagnosed with Autism, in 2015- Type 1 Diabetes, in 2016- Tourettes, in 2018- Hashimoto Thyroid Disease, and in 2020 Insomnia. Her daughter has her own medical challenges. After years of struggling with the school system with METs/IEPs trying to get support for her children, Crystal now homeschools her daughter and educates her son at home. You can find Crystal drinking coffee and being her unique self at a variety of events around the Valley.

Sarah Blank

board member

Sarah Blank and her husband, Levi, have three sons. Two of their children are on the spectrum. Sarah‘s oldest son was diagnosed with Autism in 2009. Sarah has an M.Ed and taught English at Estrella Mountain and Phoenix Community Colleges. She now works for the Gentry Foundation as a Family Liaison. She is passionate about helping guide families with a recent Autism diagnosis. 

Jessica Bolaños

board member

Jessica Bolaños’ engagement with the Autism community began in 2013, embarking on a path of diverse roles that emphasized her passion for the community. In 2021, she received her bachelor’s degree in Family and Human Development from Arizona State University and is currently pursuing her master’s degree in social work at ASU.

Beyond her academic and professional pursuits, Jessica is a widowed mother to a daughter who was diagnosed with Autism in 2022. When not focused on school or her child’s needs, Jessica is a support at her local American Legion in various capacities. Jessica belongs to a large extended Mexican family and enjoys gatherings with them as often as possible.

Jessica’s advocacy is particularly towards Spanish-speaking families, with a concentrated effort on early intervention to ensure that support services are both accessible and individually tailored.

Erica Smith

board member

Erica Smith is an Arizona native, born and raised in Yuma, Arizona. She and her husband have been happily married for over 13 years and are the proud parents of five beautiful children: Enoch, Elijah, Emmitt, Ean and Elliana. Her family and Jesus have her heart. Her eldest son, Enoch, is on the Autism Spectrum and is non-speaking. He was diagnosed at 2 years of age with regressive Autism. He lost all speech and many motor skills. He now utilizes spelling to communicate on both a letter board and an augmentative communication device. Along with ASD, Enoch has many other medical conditions that keep mom and dad on their toes.

Erica enjoys spending time with her family, traveling, volunteering at church and for many special needs organizations, coaching youth soccer, being outdoors running, hiking, biking, and trying new foods! She also loves all things Disney! Fun fact about Erica, during her senior year of college, Erica interned at Walt Disney World as part of their College Program at Animal Kingdom and Epcot. She worked as a veterinary assistant at Animal Kingdom and an event coordinator at Epcot.

Erica holds a bachelor’s degree in science with an emphasis in Biology from Northern Arizona University, a master’s degree in Secondary Education with an emphasis in Biology from Grand Canyon University, and a master’s degree in Nursing with an emphasis in Public Health, also from Grand Canyon University. Erica served as a special education high school teacher for three years prior to becoming a Registered Nurse. In years past, Erica worked as a LDRP nurse (labor, delivery, recovery, and postpartum.) In 2018, Erica was called to active duty with the United States Public Health Services and is currently stationed with the Department of Homeland Security Immigration Customs Enforcement, in Florence, Arizona and works as the Clinic Coordinator for an ICE medical clinic.

Erica is a certified BLS, Basic Life Support, Instructor through the American Heart Association, Partners in Leadership graduate, and was an Executive Committee Member of the Arizona Autism Network of the West Valley for three years. Erica is dedicated to serving Autism families and the special needs community.