Ari Ne’eman, President
Ari Ne’eman is the President and co-founder of the Autistic Self Advocacy Network, an advocacy organization run by and for Autistic adults seeking to increase the representation of Autistic people across society. In 2009, President Obama nominated Ari to the National Council on Disability, a federal agency charged with advising Congress and the President on disability policy issues. He was confirmed by the Senate in July 2010 and currently chairs the Council’s Entitlements Committee. From 2010 to 2012, he served as a public member to the Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee, a Federal advisory committee that coordinates all efforts within the Department of Health and Human Services concerning autism. Ari also served as an adviser to the DSM-5 Neurodevelopmental Disorders Workgroup convened by the American Psychiatric Association.
Appointed by Governor Jon Corzine, Ari served as Vice Chair of the New Jersey Adults with Autism Task Force, where he represented autistic adults in reviewing the state’s autism services. He also previously served on the New Jersey Special Education Review Commission, where he authored a minority report on the topic of aversives, restraint and seclusion. He is also a board member of TASH, an advocacy organization focusing on advancing social justice for people with significant disabilities. In addition, he was named by the New York Jewish Week as one of their “36 by 36″ in 2010. He has a bachelor’s degree from the University of Maryland-Baltimore County, where he studied political science in the Sondheim Public Affairs Scholars Program.
Julia Bascom, Director of Programs
Julia Bascom serves as Director of Programs at the Autistic Self Advocacy Network. As Director of Programs, Julia’s work focuses on technical assistance for self-advocates and state-level policy advocacy efforts, with an emphasis on leadership development, rights-based models of education, services, and supports, and bridging the gap between theory vs. praxis. In addition, Julia develops projects which look at standards for cognitive accessibility, the creation of independent living supports and the potential of natural supports, and ensuring meaningful, authentic, and respectful representation of the Autistic and disability communities throughout our society. Julia served on the New Hampshire DD council as well on as her state’s team for revitalizing state-wide self-advocacy, and is the founder of The Loud Hands Project. She writes about autistic identity, community, and language; disability rights; theory vs. praxis; and autism acceptance on her website, Just Stimming…
Samantha Crane, Director of Public Policy
Samantha Crane is Director of Public Policy at ASAN’s national office. A graduate of Harvard Law School, Samantha previously served as staff attorney at the Bazelon Center of Mental Health Law, focusing on enforcing the right to community integration as established by the Supreme Court in Olmstead v. L.C., and as an associate at the litigation firm Quinn Emanuel Urquhart, & Sullivan, L.L.P., where she focused on patent and securities litigation. From 2009 to 2010, Samantha served as law clerk to the Honorable Judge William H. Yohn at the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.
Ianthe Belisle Dempsey, Publications & Communications Coordinator
Ianthe is an Autistic self-advocate living in Chicago. She has been an outspoken anti-oppression activist for the past decade and has a degree in theatre/film studies and history from Illinois State University. Her current independent research projects include the theory and development of a unique body of Autistic theatre performance, among other topics. She previously served as ASAN’s representative on the Autism NOW Advisory Board and currently holds a seat on the National Center for Cultural Competence’s Wisdom Council. Ianthe has had pink hair for the past 5 or 6 years and has no intentions of changing that anytime soon.
Natalia M. Rivera Morales, Leadership Programs Coordinator
In her capacity as Leadership Programs Coordinator, Natalia organizes advocacy training programs for Autistic college students and self-advocates with Intellectual and/or Developmental Disabilities (I/DD). Natalia is originally from Bayamón, Puerto Rico and has resided in the U.S. mainland since the age of seven. She obtained her bachelor’s degree in 2011 from Loyola University Maryland, where she pursued majors in Global Studies and Spanish and a minor in History. She graduated from Georgetown University in 2013 with a master’s degree in Latin American Studies. Her interests comprise feminist philosophy, Latin American cultural history and literature, critical disability theory, and Cuban gastronomy.
Kris Guin, Technical Assistance Coordinator
Kris is a proud Autistic person with ADD and bipolar depression who identifies as genderfluid and queer. Prior to becoming ASAN’s Technical Assistance Coordinator, they led an ASAN chapter at Western Kentucky University where they studied business. Additionally, they are the president and founder of Queerability, an LGBTQ and disability rights advocacy organization run by and for LGBTQ people with disabilities that works to ensure that the voices of LGBTQ people with disabilities are included in discussions regarding the LGBTQ and disability communities. Before becoming an advocate, Kris worked in the music industry assisting bands with their social media and marketing.
Savannah Logsdon-Breakstone, Social Media Coordinator
Savannah Logsdon-Breakstone is an Autistic adult with multiple disabilities. She started out doing children’s mental health advocacy in Pennsylvania at the age of 12, and has since been involved at both state and national levels in multiple advocacy areas including class, rural, and ID/DD advocacy. In addition to this work she writes multiple places, including her personal advocacy blog Cracked Mirror in Shalott. She lives in rural PA with her dog, and enjoys doing social media work for disability non-profits. Her non-advocacy interests include Anthropology, Victorian romanticism, and history of oppression, including the history of the ID/DD institution systems in the US.
Lydia Brown, Policy Analyst
Lydia Brown works as a policy analyst for ASAN. In this capacity, Lydia assists with research and writing on various public policy projects on healthcare, criminal justice, and service delivery that impact people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Previously, Lydia was a project assistant for ASAN, and supported ASAN’s community engagement activities and other grant projects on employment services and healthcare access. Outside of ASAN, Lydia is president and co-founder of the Washington Metro Disabled Students Collective, co-president of TASH New England, and a board member of the Autism Women’s Network. Lydia is also a member of the Massachusetts Developmental Disabilities Council. Additionally, Lydia is serving a second term as Undersecretary for Disability Affairs with the Georgetown University Students Association. Lydia was the 2012 Patricia Morrissey Disability Policy Fellow at the Institute for Educational Leadership, and an alumni of the American Association of People with Disabilities internship program. In 2013, Lydia was honored by the White House as a Champion of Change for disability rights. Lydia’s work has been published in the Criptiques anthology, human rights compilation Torture in Healthcare Settings, Tikkun, Black Girl Dangerous, and the Washington Post. Lydia blogs at Autistic Hoya.
Finn Gardiner, Boston Community Coordinator
Finn Gardiner is a graduating senior at Tufts University in Boston, concentrating in Sociology, and a community activist who has worked with various groups, primarily regarding LGBT rights and disability advocacy. He has a personal interest in visual communication, primarily graphic design, web design and typography. He combines this interest in social science, community activism and visual design through creating publicity materials, websites and educational documents for various non-profit advocacy groups and government agencies, including the Office of Public Health Preparedness at the Boston Health Commission and Health Initiatives for Youth in San Francisco, and is excited to bring his experience and passion for fusing creativity with social justice at ASAN as the Boston Community Coordinator.