ASO Officers and Board Members
Tobi Burch Rates, Executive Director
Tobi has been the Executive Director of the Autism Society of Oregon since October 2011. Prior to becoming Executive Director, she served on the Board of Directors for ASO as a volunteer. She previously practiced law in the Washington, DC metro area and in Boulder, Colorado.Tobi and her husband are the proud parents of two children, both of whom are on the autism spectrum. Her older son has a relatively mild form of autism, while her younger son is more severely impacted by autism. Tobi has been involved with the autism community since moving to Oregon in 2008. Having contacts in the community was invaluable to learning 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 supporting self-advocacy for people on the autism spectrum are areas of particular interest.
Board of Directors
Jeffrey Cox, 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.
Ryan Lockard, Vice President
Ryan Lockard is the head trainer and co-owner of Specialty Athletic Training. He grew up being active and was a three sport athlete in high school. He went on to play football at Lewis and Clark College. After graduating he turned his passion for football into a career and played professionally overseas for 3 years.
Ryan has worked with children with special needs since 2007 and has over 7,000 hours of 1:1 instruction. He is a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (NSCA) and is a Board Member on the Autism Society of Oregon's Board of Directors. Ryan is also a very active volunteer for the Portland Aspergers Network as the Young Adult Group Facilitator.
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 been a generous sponsor of the Autism Society of Oregon's programs.
Since the diagnosis of her oldest son, 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 are avid Montana Grizzly football fans.
Brad Volchok, Treasurer
Brad Volchok is a Vice President and Manager with Premier 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. Brad's his free time is spent with his wife and three children. His older son is on the autism spectrum. Brad is a long time fan of the Portland Trail Blazers and enjoys golfing, running and attending his kids' sporting events.
Leigh Ann Chapman, Immediate Past President
Dr. Leigh Ann Chapman provides integrative healthcare in Portland, Oregon. She has a special focus in pediatric developmental disorders and utilizes both natural and conventional therapies in the treatment of children and adults with autism spectrum disorders, sensory integration disorders and ADHD. Leigh Ann is an advocate and activist for the autism community. She also serves on the editorial review committee for the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders.
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.
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.
Jonathan discovered a 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 served on the Board of Directors and Program Supervisor of ACAP (Autistic Children's Activity Program) until 2013. She has conducted many speaking engagements about ASD through PSU, PCC and Linfield College.
My depth and knowledge of experience with Autism comes from within my own family, as my son was diagnosed with Autism six years ago. Through this course I have diligently worked with the public school system, navigating the legal aspects that effect our children with special needs, as well as working to get the appropriate therapies and services for my child and others that are affected by Autism. My professional background as a marketing representative for a National insurance organization provides me with the experience in fund raising, marketing and communication. Currently I contribute as a freelance writer for the education of Autism. I share personal experiences with others to bring awareness to those struggling, to navigate through the challenging aspect of Autism in our society, this advocate work has been featured in local and National publications, introducing me to our local politicians. This experience has brought a face to those unfamiliar with Autism introducing my son, and sharing the struggles as well as the magnificence of a child with Autism. My goal in working with the Autism society is to help others that are on this journey, bring awareness, educate, and be an advocate for Autism. Our family is active in our community supporting the needs and growth of our schools, our family shares a passion for sports and opportunities for our children.
Barbara is the owner of Synergy Autism Center. She is a social, behavior, and autism consultant for parents locally and internationally. Synergy Autism Center serves families and individuals through parent support, providing small group opportunities, and training. Barbara has been in the field of autism for over 25 years in many different capacities. She proudly serves on the Autism Society of Oregon board of directors and has been involved with ASO since 2001.
Board of Ambassador Members:
Krystel is autistic. She 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 science and majored in Scientific Communications and minored in the Health Sciences. She then went on to pursue her M.S. in Homeland Security and Emergency Management. Blending her passion for science and technology, Krystel works as interviewer for a startup company. She enjoys topics on ethics, philosophy, religious history and languages. Krystel has worked in both technical and social service fields. Krystel was born in Europe and raised in Nevada, New Mexico and Washington state. She currently resides in Portland, Oregon. She is passionate about teaching, technology and advocating a safe space for autistic individuals and their families.
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.
Bakulesh "Buggsi" Patel
Lucas is an Applied Linguist and Speech-Language Pathologist based out of Portland, OR. He is the CEO of LanguageCraft, a pediatric therapy clinic and think tank near Portland State University. In his capacity as researcher and clinician, Lucas has published on topics as diverse as language disorders in Schizophrenia to the importance of child-centered curriculum. Lucas specializes in language and social thinking in pervasive developmental disorders such as Autism Spectrum Disorder as well as Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC). He is also a consultant and curriculum author in the areas of social language development and educational technology for special populations. In addition, he serves as the technology chair for the Autism Society of Oregon, sits on the Strategic Planning Committee of the Autism Society of America, and owns way too many LEGOs.