ASO Officers and Board Members
Tobi Burch Rates, Executive Director
Tobi is the mother of two children, both of whom are autistic. Her older son has been diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome, a relatively mild form of autism, while her younger son is more severely affected by autism. She understands that autism is a spectrum disorder, observing how her own children have very different support needs and have responded differently to different types of therapy and treatments.
Having moved to Oregon four years ago, she has had to learn how to navigate the educational, medical, governmental and community support systems available here. Mentoring parents new to the autism diagnosis and/or new to Oregon, and instilling the ability to self-advocate in her children, as well as supporting self-advocacy for everyone on the autism spectrum, are areas of particular interest.
Before becoming Executive Director of the ASO, Tobi was a volunteer Board Member for two years, and most recently Vice-President of the Board of Directors. She previously practiced law in the Washington, DC metro area and in Boulder, Colorado. She currently volunteers with the Portland Asperger's Network and was an IEP Parent-Partner volunteer.
Board of Directors
Leigh Ann Chapman, President
Dr. Leigh Ann Chapman provides comprehensive care for all aspects of family medicine. She has a special focus in pediatric developmental disorders and provides integrative management of children with Autism, Asperger syndrome, sensory integration disorders and ADHD. Dr. Chapman utilizes the Defeat Autism Now! approach and blends biomedical protocols with conventional therapies to provide the most comprehensive plan for each and every child. Dr. Chapman is currently involved in clinical research on autism as a condition that can be treated with biological therapies. Her research interests include glutathione, oxytocin and Vitamin D levels in families of children with autism. Leigh Ann is a board certified doctor of Naturopathic medicine. She received her bachelor of science from Tulane University. After working for two years with a midwife in Kauai, Hawaii, she pursued her medical degree from the National College of Naturopathic Medicine. She now lives in Portland, Oregon and enjoys teaching, surfing, cooking and gardening.
Jeffrey Cox, Vice President
Jeff is the father of three sons and has been married to his wife Kim for nearly 20 years. Their youngest child, Nathan, has been diagnosed with Autism. Jeff is the Sales and Operations Director of the Parr Cabinet Outlet, a Division of The Parr Company. He has been in the Building Material Supply Industry for 18 years, specifically in the Cabinet and Appliance arena. He and his wife have been actively involved with corporate sponsorship for the ASO Walk-A-Thon, Mt. Hood Kiwanis Camp , as well as organizing several international missions trips with their church and the San Diego based Mexican Medical Ministries. Prior to his business career, Jeff served three years in the United States Army and five years in Oregon National Guard.
Michelle Ayers, Secretary
Michelle Ayers is a Senior Disability Benefits Analyst at Standard Insurance Company ("The Standard") where she has worked since 1996. The Standard has been a strong supporter of the Autism Society of Oregon and in 2010 sponsored a media awareness campaign with the Society airing on KATU TV which featured her six year old son with high functioning autism. In past years, The Standard has also sponsored the Autism Society of Oregon's annual walk-a-thon.
Since the diagnosis of her oldest son four years ago, Michelle has been involved in a variety of volunteer activities for the Autism Society of Oregon. Both Michelle and her husband are originally from Montana and have navigated many different treatment options, educational and support systems on their own. This has led both Michelle and her husband to be more involved with mentoring families, helping with awareness and advocating for their son for treatment and educational assistance. Michelle, her husband and her two sons, ages six and four are avid Montana Grizzly football fans.
Brad Volchok, Treasurer
Brad Volchok is a Vice President and Commercial Loan Officer with Columbia Community Bank, where he enjoys his close business relationships and being a valued resource to the Bank's clients. Brad grew up in the Beaverton area and graduated from Sunset High School before getting his Marketing degree from Northern Arizona University. In addition to having a son on the autism spectrum, his free time is spent with his wife and three children. He is a long time fan of the Portland Trail Blazers and enjoys golfing, running and attending his kids' sporting events.
Jonathan Chase is a professional bassist, autism advocate and speaker who was diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome as a freshman in high school at age 14. Jonathan excels in sharing what it is like to grow up with Asperger's and his own perspective on Autism. He is also familiar to many people for his featured role in the "On the Spectrum" documentary film, produced by Strawberry Jelly Films, LLC. More information can be found at Jonathan's own website at www.jonathanchase.net.
Chase, now 29, dropped out of high school after one year but discovered his love of music and was working full time on the local blues circuit by the time he turned 16. Jonathan has studied with many great musicians, most notably bassist Victor Wooten (of Bela Fleck and The Flecktones), with whom he has also performed many times. He has also performed with other legendary musicians like Chuck Rainy and Steve Bailey. He plays in a number of local bands and is well known in the Portland music scene.
As accomplished amateur magician, Jonathan is a favorite with the kids - both those on the autism spectrum and not - as he dazzles them with disappearing coins and other magic. Jonathan has recently incorporated his magic skills into a social skills training program. Helping other people on the autism spectrum is a guiding force in Jonathan's life.
Lauren Corder, Social Cognition Specialist and a Child and Family Therapist at Childrenʼs Clinical Care, LLC, joined ASOʼs Board of Directors in 2012 and has been a member since 2011. Lauren earned a BS in Psychology (with honors) from University of Oregon, and a MA in
Counseling Psychology (specializing in child and adolescent psychology)
from Paciﬁc University. Laurenʼs graduate studies focused on the
treatment efﬁcacy of using cognitive behavioral therapy interventions with children affected by Autism. Lauren is passionate about people and
places. She loves space and all things galactic, the ocean, children,
traveling, and jigsaw puzzles. Lauren was drawn to the ﬁeld of psychology in high school, and later, while working in a pediatric residential facility, she began her work with children diagnosed with Autism. She went on to become an ABA provider in both the greater Los Angeles area and Portland before completing her graduate work. When asked what she enjoys the most about her work, Lauren replied, “Being able to directly impact the lives of others in a positive and meaningful way is the only thing I have ever really wanted to do. Spending time with kids is such a special thing as they are the purest form of themselves. I am grateful that I get to be a part of peopleʼs lives, a part of their families, their education, their characters. Being a Child & Family Therapist is my dream job.”
Marci Hammel has been an Autism Specialist since 1994, and has been the foster parent of a child with ASD since 2000. Marci has been on the Board of Directors and Program Supervisor of ACAP (Autistic Children's Activity Program) for a number of years. She has conducted many speaking engagements about ASD through PSU, PCC and Linfield College. In 2009, she spoke with Jonathan Chase, an ASO Board Member, at an ASO sponsored event for parents.
Michelle Harper is the Independent Living Manager at Abilitree in Bend, Oregon, and the mother of 2 boys (one of whom is diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome). She graduated from the University of Wisconsin Madison with a BA in English, and became involved with ASO as a volunteer Chapter Rep when she and her family moved to Central Oregon in 2010. She currently serves as the President of the Board of Directors for the Family Network non-profit Central Oregon Disability Support Network (CODSN) and the Vice Chair of the Central Oregon Health Council’s Consumer Advisory Council of Central Oregon (CACCO). In addition to being a part of Deschutes County Developmental Disabilities’s Planning Committee and the Central Oregon Employment First chapter, Michelle enjoys hiking, trivia competitions, playing pool and spending time with her family.
Andrea Muzikant has worked in the developmental disabilities field for over 15 years. She started her career as a Special Education teacher working with young adults transitioning from high school to adulthood. She worked for Multnomah County Developmental Disabilities Program for 6 years as a case manager, supervisor and program manager over the children and young adults unit. Andrea moved to Eugene in August 20111 to become the program director for Lane County Developmental Disabilities Services. She attended the University of Oregon as an undergraduate (Go Ducks!) and has a BA in Russian language. She completed her Master’s degree at Portland State University in Special Education. Andrea enjoys hanging out with her dog and traveling.
Advisory Board Members
Krystel Anderson has Asperger Syndrome, OCD, a genetic blood disorder and rare complex autoimmune diseases. Despite these challenges, Krystel obtained a technical degree in Radio Broadcasting and went on to become a radio personality and a nationally syndicated radio producer. After emergency brain surgery at the age of 25, Krystel decided to pursue her love of scientific communication and majored in Scientific Communications and minored in the Biological Sciences. Major interests include healthcare ethics, philosophy, religious history and languages. Krystel has worked in both technical and social service fields. She was born in Europe, and raised in Nevada, New Mexico and Washington state. Recently she relocated to Portland, Oregon after working with the homeless and disabled population of San Francisco, California. Krystel is passionate about teaching, technology and advocating a safe space for autistic individuals and their families. In her spare time she likes to read historical novels, hike and expand her knowledge of digital photography.
Barbara Avila, Immediate Past President
Barbara is an Autism consultant for parents both in the Portland area and internationally. She has been in the field of autism for 22 years as an aide, group home parent, teacher and consultant for ages 0 - 18 years. She has volunteered with the Autism Society of Oregon for 7 years and has started a professionals group focused on ensuring best practice and resources for autism in our Portland community.
Barbara started her work in Santa Cruz, California and received her bachelors in child psychology before moving to Oregon for her masters in Developmental Disabilities. She has worked for the county and private sector before starting her own business a few years ago.
Barbara and her son reside in Portland and enjoy the variety of activities our Northwest offers, from bouldering to perusing wonderful bookstores.
Susie is the mother of two adult children, one with a developmental disability (DD). She has been actively involved in advocacy efforts with schools, doctors, therapists and the service provider industry since her son was initially diagnosed with an anoxic brain injury at age two. Drawing from her personal experiences and those of other parents with young adult children with DD, Susie recognizes the need to reach families when their children are younger, educating and preparing them for the issues their children will face once they enter the adult world. Susie wants to be involved with other families and community resources to create solutions for adult issues - housing, employment, social venues, support services and life planning. Susie is one of the founding board members of Families Supporting Independence (FSI); and Board Secretary for Inclusion, Inc. Support Services Brokerage. Trained as a social worker, Susie has coordinated professional development conferences and workshops since 1983.
Kathy was Executive Director of the Mid-Valley Children's Guild since its inception from 1982 for fourteen years until 1996. Through this program, Kathy worked to provide physical, occupational, speech/language therapies, mental health services, preschool, summer camp and family support programs to 1,000 children and their families each year. During this time, Kathy sponsored the first Step-Up program for children with autism in concert with Threshold. The Mid-Valley Children's Guild is now operated by The Easter Seals. Kathy has continued to support information for families having a child or children with autism and has been on the Board of Directors for the Autism Society of Oregon since 1996.
Kathy's oldest son has cerebral palsy. He completed his BS degree at Oregon State University in Speech Communications and now works with computer technology as a Senior Technician. Her other children include 2 sons, and 3 stepsons, one of who survived bone marrow transplant at age 12, and another son who was diagnosed with schizophrenia/bi-polar disorder. Kathy is still learning about physical and mental challenges! While not advocating for children and families, Kathy operates a farm south of Salem raising warm-water fish and sheep.
Steve Edelson, Ph.D.
Dr. Stephen M. Edelson is the Director of the Autism Research Institute in San Diego, California, founded by Dr. Bernard Rimland. He is on the Board of Directors and on the Professional Advisory Board of the Autism Society of America. In the year 2000, he was named 'Volunteer of the Year" by the Autism Society of America.
Dr. Edelson has been studying autism for over 30 years. He began his research endeavors as an undergraduate student at U.C.L.A. under the supervision of Dr. Ivar Lovaas. He attended graduate school at the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana, where he received his M.A. and Ph.D.
Dr. Edelson's research encompasses a variety of areas in autism, including biomedical (Defeat Autism Now! approach), sensory interventions (auditory, vision, and deep pressure), aberrant behaviors (self injury, aggression, and stereotypic behaviors, and cognition (stimulus over selectivity, classification learning, perceptual discrimination).
Dr. Edelson is the editor of the Autism Research Review International newsletter; co-edited a book with Dr. Bernard Rimland, Recovering Autistic Children: Parent Stories of Hope and Success; and produced several videos on autism.
Dr. Edelson has been active in the Autism Society of Oregon for over 10 years.
Stephen C. Hall
Stephen Hall is a partner with the law firm of Stoel Rives LLP. He works in the firm's Portland, Oregon office and is a member of the firm?s Energy and Telecommunications Law section. In his law practice, Stephen works with many different companies in the electric power industry, including independent power producers building projects using renewable energy sources such as wind, solar and biomass. Before joining Stoel Rives in 1997, Stephen was a law clerk to Chief Justice James H. Brickley of the Michigan Supreme Court. Stephen graduated from the University of Notre Dame Law School in 1996. Stephen also serves on the Executive Committee of the Energy, Telecom and Utility Section of the Oregon State Bar and is a Volunteer Advisor to the Academic Support for Increased Retention in Education (ASPIRE) program. He lives in Northeast Portland with his wife and two daughters.
Tom is both a brother of a 31-year old man living with autism and an uncle of a 5-year old boy on the spectrum. Tom was one of the participants on the Sibling Panel during the Sibshop training ASO sponsored last year with Don Myers.
Thomas has over 10 years of business-to-business sales experience in the Portland area and is keen on helping raise the awareness of autism as well as participating in fund raising projects for ASO.
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Tracey is a CPA with expertise at auditing, accounting, consulting and tax services. She was Treasurer for the Autism Society of Oregon for 6 years, before transitioning to the Advisory Board in 2011. She remains an important and knowledgeable presence at ASO.