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 improving the lives of all affected with autism in our area.
James is the proud father of an 26-year-old 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.
Cynthia is the mother of a wonderful twenty year old son who has recovered from autism. She is actively involved in the autism community. She is the Vice-President of the Autism Society of Greater Phoenix. Cynthia sat on a variety of committee’s including the APIPA (Medicaid provider) Parent Advisory Committee, the Department of Economic Security Autism Workgroup and currently serves on the Governor’s Committee on ASD. Cynthia was one of the seven mom’s who lobbied successfully for Steven’s Law that requires insurance companies to cover autism in the state of Arizona. Cynthia received The Autism Service Award for her work on Steven’s Law. She also worked on and helped pass Restraint and Seclusion Legislation as well. Cynthia has also served as a grant reviewer for First Things First and Autism Speaks. She has written articles for Autism File and spoken nationally on autism.. She has been interviewed by local news organization, The New York Times Magazine, Good Morning America and Lifetime TV as parent and autism expert.
Katie received her Bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education in 1996 from Brigham Young University. She taught second grade in Utah before returning home to the East Valley with her husband to raise their family. She has four children, her oldest son has Autism. Katie has been active in the Autism community for many years. She is currently the Community Director and Treasurer for the Autism Society of Greater Phoenix. She also co-founded a parent support group called E.V.A.N. (East Valley Autism Network). Katie also volunteers each week at her church, and helps train and educate in the community on autism awareness.
Kerrie is an employee of LaserBits, now part of the Rowmark family, where she is the Director of Marketing/Webmaster. She loves her job! Since February 2012, Kerrie has been writing a blog/Facebook page called “Autism WIll Not Define My Son” which chronicles the crazy autism journey that she and her son are on and everything they deal with on a daily basis, both good and bad. She believes knowledge is power and having the power to spread awareness creates knowledge. Her life with her son is an open book for that reason. Kerrie has also dedicated her time to helping a variety of autism organizations including Autism Society of Greater Phoenix. In May of 2015, Kerrie along with another autism mom, formed a local Autism Advocacy Organization called “Arizona Autism Network of the West Valley”. Our mission is to assist families in the West Valley seek answers about services, provide networking opportunities, education and resources, as well as organize community events which will allow for a stronger and more knowledgeable autism community. Autism Society of Greater Phoenix is proud to partner with her organization.
Trisha is the proud mother of twins, a boy and a girl. Her son was diagnosed with Autism in 2009. After a professional dance career Trisha became the Artistic Director of Arizona Dance Theatre for 14 years. She is currently a performing and fine arts teacher as well as presenter and researcher for the National Arts Education of America. Her focus now is on Autism Spectrum Disorder program development with an emphasis on enrichment programs, first responder’s safety projects and arts based, environmental learning for specials needs education.
Susan has a teenage son on the spectrum. She currently chairs the Phoenix Children’s Hospital’s Family Advisory Council for the Children’s Neurosciences Institute, and is a board member for the Autism Society of Greater Phoenix. She has personal experience in the fair hearing process for both DDD and AHCCCS. She is an active advocate for the national law center known as EBCALA: the Elizabeth Birt Center for Autism Law and Advocacy. Her special interest is in the federal entitlement for disabled children known as EPSDT: Early and Periodic Screening Diagnosis and Treatment. Susan credits her son’s success to a combination of her decision to homeschool; intensive therapies achieved through the program known in Arizona as Habilitation Masters; specific biomedical treatments that have been helpful; and her son’s augmentative and alternative communication device.
Regina has been married for 32 years and has two adult sons. She recently 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. Sometimes her students would say, “Mrs. Flint, I think you are having way too much fun!” 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 curriculum writing committees, worked on transition issues and writing assessments for the school district along with being a special education department lead for the last 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.
Karen practices Financial Planning with MassMutual Financial Services. Providing financial advice has become Karen’s passion because she enjoys helping people and their families.Karen has completed her SpecialCare Planning designation, ChSNC which allows her to use her financial planning passion to assist families who have loved ones with special needs. She now leads the Team for MassMutual Arizona. The MassMutual Arizona SpecialCare Planning Team’s mission is to help make a positive difference in the lives of individuals with special needs, their caregivers and other family members. The SpecialCare Planning Team has developed a unique network of professionals within the Special Needs community. This devoted network assists families, not only with their financial planning, but also provides a wide range of expertise to fit the diverse concerns of Special Needs families. Karen Starbowski was born and raised in Michigan and has been living in Arizona since 1999. She received her BS in Mathematics from Eastern Michigan University. In addition to being involved with many of the Special Needs organizations, she is also involved with the Ahwatukee Chamber of Commerce. When Karen has free time, she enjoys watching her beloved Red Wings or hiking in the Superstition Mountains.
Crystal Benzing and her husband are both Arizona natives. She “retired” from the corporate world to raise the children and her husband is currently a Captain with the Fire Department. Crystal is a graduate of Partners in Policymakers and continues to learn earning many CEU’S in a variety of topics such as Challenging Behaviors, Applied Behavior Therapy, Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, and Social Thinking Skills. In 2014 her youngest son was diagnosed with Autism, in 2015 Type 1 Diabetes, in 2016 Tourettes, and in 2018 Hashimoto Thyroid Disease. After years of stuggling with the school system with MET’s/IEP’s trying to get support for her children Crystal now homeschools her daughter and educates her son at home. You can find Crystal at a variety of events around the valley.
Olivia Fryer holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology from the University of Akron. She is an Executive Committee Member of the Arizona Autism Network of the West Valley and is a Board Member of the Autism Society of Greater Phoenix. Olivia is also a certified BE SAFE instructor and has participated in community advisory boards with respect to autism. Olivia is employed by Arizona Autism United. Before her position at AZA United, Olivia worked as a Family Support Specialist for children in foster care.
Olivia has lived in the West Valley for over ten years. She and her husband are the proud parents of two children. Their oldest son is diagnosed with autism and utilizes an augmentative communication device. Her youngest son is neurotypical and is his brother’s best friend and supporter. Her sons are her pride and joy. Olivia enjoys assisting families affected by autism, as she understands the struggles families can endure on their autism journey. Olivia loves spending time with her family and likes to travel, garden, read, bake (mostly cookies), and is an avid Arizona Coyotes hockey fan.
My name is Rebecca Adams. I’m a single Phx Native that has lived in Avondale, Buckeye, Glendale, Phoenix, Prescott and Mesa. I have also lived in Guam, California and Texas, with 4 special needs kids. I have two daughters who are 26 & 20 and my twins boys who are 8 1/2 years old. I retired from being a Forensic Accountant after my boys were both diagnosed with Autism in 2012. I have been involved in the California and Arizona Special Needs Community for almost 20 years after oldest daughter received her diagnosis.
Between volunteering my time with the Arizona Autism Network of the West Valley, Autism Society of Greater Phoenix, and working part-time, I love to read, play at the beach and swim.
Angie is the mother of a son and a daughter, both in their twenties. Her son was diagnosed with autism in 1995 and she has been a fierce advocate ever since. Angie is a Navy veteran and was a Navy wife and has lived in several states and locations (Including Antarctica!) She has dealt with many different service organizations and school districts in her role as her son’s advocate. While living in California she was the parent liaison between her son’s school district and the Ventura County Special Education Local Plan Area. She also represented the Autism Society of Ventura County on the Community Advisory Committee of the SELPA. In Nebraska, California, Arizona and North Carolina she volunteered in her children’s classrooms and could always be counted on to chaperone field trips and organize book fairs. Although most of her adult life she was a stay at home mother and volunteer, while living in NC, Angie joined up with the Autism Society of North Carolina, the state’s preeminent non-profit service provider and support organization for individuals on the autism spectrum and their families. In her accounting role with ASNC, Angie learned the ins and outs of Medicaid funding, service delivery and bureaucratic red tape, a role in which Angie thrives and excels. When she decided to move back to Arizona in November of 2017 to be near family, ASNC allowed her to continue in her position and work remotely from a home office in Gilbert.
In addition to being on the ASGP Board of Directors, Angie is also a member of the AZ ASSIST committee. In her free time, she enjoys hanging out with her niece and nephews, embroidery, and going to concerts. She travels back to the east coast to see her favorite band play in multiple concerts throughout the southeast.
Michele Thorne is the mother of two children who have been diagnosed with autism. After her son was diagnosed with autism she left her career in genetics and teaching and founded D.A.M.E.S. (Differently Abled Mothers Empowerment Society). Michele facilitates the Central Phoenix mom’s meet up and support group. Michele is very excited to connect and engage with other families who are affected by autism and share her experiences in the hope of helping others.
Stacy Strombeck-Goodrich is an Arizona native. She lives in south Scottsdale, with her husband, Bob. Their boys are ten and twelve, and are both diagnosed with autism. Stacy’s career experience includes sales and marketing, special event production, and fundraising for companies such as Club Med, The Mills Corporation, Shea Homes, and Arizona Autism United. She’s a graduate of Partners in Policymaking, and the American Express Leadership Academy at ASU Lodestar. Stacy enjoys seeing movies, reading, and spending time with her family, although in reality, she finds herself doing laundry, attending IEP meetings, and driving to therapy. Her favorite place in Arizona is Greer, in the White Mountains. Stacy’s personal mission is to support families with autism, as she has been supported.