Patricia Herrera M.S.,
Patricia is a trained Marriage Family Therapist (MFT) with a career dedicated to the development of innovative, cost-effective models of care coordination to improve health outcomes for children and youth with special health care needs. In her role as the Program Director for the 211 LA Developmental Screening and Care Coordination Program, Patricia has fundraised over $5,200,000 in foundation support, and created dozens of unique partnerships with community-based service organizations.
Patricia has extensive experience in program design, project implementation and contract administration, as well as, experience involving personnel management and new systems and process development. Patricia has also worked with a variety of populations including severely “at risk” children, youth and their families, individuals with developmental disabilities, senior citizens and caregivers tackling service access disparities and inequities.
Previously, Patricia was at the forefront of the development of Family Resource Centers statewide during nearly 20 years at the Frank D. Lanterman Regional Center. She assisted FAA in forming their non-profit organization and obtaining funding from Lanterman Regional Center for the “Autism Power Pak”, the first autism resource directory developed by parents for parents with children on the autism spectrum.
Patricia has a Masters Degree in Counseling from California State University Northridge and a Clinical Psychology Degree from Colombia, South America. When Patricia is not busy rocking the world of those in her programs, she can be found rock climbing with her son David and husband Jonathan.
Patricia Herrera M.S.,
Yudi Bennett – Founder/Emeritus President
Yudi Bennett is a passionate advocate for all those with special needs, especially young adults with autism. She is the co-founder and past director of Exceptional Minds, an innovative visual effects and animation school and studio for artists on the Autism Spectrum.
Yudi comes from the motion picture world. She has been a member of the Directors Guild of America since 1978 and received their Frank Capra Lifetime Achievement Award in 2003. She is also a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences with credits in over 30 movies, including “Broadcast News” and “Kramer vs. Kramer.” Yudi is the co-founder and past president of Foothill Autism Alliance and currently serves on the FAA board. She has also served on the board of the Uniquely Abled Project, a vocational program that trains adults with autism to work in manufacturing.
Yudi is inspired everyday by her son, Noah Schneider, a young animator who was diagnosed with ASD in 1997. She is fond of quoting Margaret Mead: “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” Her dream is to see all young adults with autism in meaningful jobs, leading independent and productive lives.
John Schook JD, CFO/Treasurer
John and Margaret Schock have been involved in the Autism community since their five year old daughter Marian “Ginger” was diagnosed in 1999 as being on the Autism Spectrum. John and Margaret had their own law firm in the Glendale area, Schock & Schock, alc, since 1982, although today Margaret is retired, and John winding up the business. Ginger despite her physical limitations, with the help of her teachers, was able to graduate from La Canada High School. John has been a member of the Foothill Autism Alliance Board since March of 1999, when Bob Schneider recruited him to complete the incorporation of the Foothill Autism Alliance. Since then, John has served as, in addition to a member of the Board, the Chief Financial Officer.
John Schock, JD.
With a BA degree in political science from UC Santa Barbara, Sandy Graham-Jones spent her entire career at the ACLU of Southern California working to protect constitutional rights. She directed the philanthropy department’s efforts to raise funds for the ACLU’s defense of civil liberties and civil rights here in Southern California and nationwide.
Since retiring, Sandy has helped her son and his friends form a social club for young adults on the autism spectrum, which they call Spectrum League. They meet monthly and participate in activities together, all the while enjoying fellowship with friends in a supportive environment.
As a member and secretary of the FAA Board of Directors, Sandy has taken the lead in planning and implementing a series of workshops for adults on the spectrum. The workshops have covered a range of topics, such as: communication and social skills, employment, dating and romance, and life skills leading to self-fulfillment and independence.
Dan Alba is a retired Los Angeles Unified School District history/social studies teacher after teaching for 16 years and working 24 years as Senior Program Associate and Los Angeles Program Director with Facing History and Ourselves. In addition to his extensive experience with academic institutions, Dan established and directed the first High School Extension Program for At-Risk Students at East Los Angeles College as well as the first Los Angeles office for Facing History and Ourselves. He has facilitated countless professional development opportunities for educators throughout Southern California.
Dan received his Bachelor’s degree in history from the University of Southern California in 1977. He furthered his education and received his Masters degree from California State University, Los Angeles in 1979. To add to his impressive work and accomplishments, Dan has served with various volunteer organizations that support causes he finds valuable. Such positions include being a member of the University of Southern California Circle K, a church orchestra conductor, a faculty advisor to various middle school and high school clubs, and a member of the LAUSD Commission of Human Relations-Diversity and Equity.
Dan has one child, Diego Andujo Alba, who was diagnosed with Autism in 1994. When Dan is not making humorous jokes or with his family, he is most likely reading, cartooning, discovering new restaurants, or playing his clarinet.
Ann Brazil is a retired Marketing Consultant for Fortune 500 companies (30 yrs). She is also the multi-award-winning producer, director and writer of “TimeOut Tot to the Rescue” — a children’s program that stands in the winners’ circle with Disney’s Finding Nemo.” (TimeOut Tot is a puppet, made by a Jim Henson puppet-maker who rescues (real) children from timeout and teaches them right from wrong.) Her program has proven effective in improving the behavior of preschool-age children.
Ann is also happily married (38 yrs) and a mother of three: a son who is I/DD son (34) with mild autism and expressive language disorder, living in a home of his own with a caregiver in a Section 8 Voucher house, working at VONS (11 yrs), volunteering at Huntington Hospital (6 yrs) and volunteering at My Pet Garden’s doggy day care (5 yrs), traveling to and from his work sites using public transportation; a daughter (29) who is a UC Berkeley grad, recently married and working as Strategic Business and Marketing Manager for CBRE’s LA industrial and commercial real estate brokers; another son (27) who is a leukemia survivor and NEU grad, working as Account Manager for Viacom/Pluto TV’s ad sales division.
While raising her children and juggling a career, Ann managed to carve out time in her busy schedule for her local community. She has been honored by the School District and City of San Marino for her volunteerism and asked to serve as a Recreation Commissioner.
Faustino will be receiving his Cinema and TV certificate from Los Angeles City College in 2020. Though he is young, he has lots of experience within the media field such as interning at KLCS TV station and PBS. In addition, he has done extensive volunteer work with the Professional Child Development Center from 2012-2017.
Faustino himself is on the spectrum and is a valuable member to the FAA board because he is able to provide a first hand opinion from a young adult with Autism. He also films and takes photos at various Foothill Autism Alliance events.
Wendi has been an admitting clerk for twenty three years. She has been working at Huntington Hospital for the last thirteen years as well. She received her medical secretary certificate from a vocational college for admitting through a specialized program.
Although Wendi is a very accomplished woman, she is most proud of her seven children. She is also the administer of the gospel at her church, a Foothill Autism Alliance board member and a Door of Hope board member. Through these organizations, she volunteers much of her time and has found communities that have helped her and her son Emmanuel, who is on the Autism spectrum, feel accepted and loved.
She loves being around people and thrive in social environments. Religion and philanthropy is a guiding factor throughout her life, which bleeds into her music taste: she enjoys Christian rap, Toni Braxton, and Whitney Houston. Wendi always makes time to watch movies, especially Finding Nemo and Princess and the Frog
Lareka Killebrew is a native of Louisville, KY where she graduated from the Youth Performing Arts School. She went on to earn a Bachelor’s degree in Business Management and Religious Studies. Lareka has applied her knowledge and expertise in several areas of life, including but not limited to, touring Switzerland with with one of America’s most requested touring groups, mentoring and advocating for/with parents of special needs children, mentoring and advising individuals with ideas for start up businesses, a Parent Ambassador and Member of the Parent Advocacy Counsel for Special Needs Network, a Parent Ambassador for Families in Schools, Parent Academy Graduate of the Urban League Parent initiative, National ARC Member for Equity and Justice Coalition, District Advisory Committee Member to support GUSD, Self-Determination Committee Member and Peer Support Partner for Frank Lanterman Regional Center, volunteering at homeless missions, as well as working as a night manager for a domestic violence shelter.
Lareka has a passion for people and a need to see those around her succeed and enjoy the fruits of life. She assisted in developing a pilot program at Rancho Los Domingos for special needs participants of all disabilities as a one stop shop for all ages, including therapies, job skills, dental and health services. Her life experiences and paths she’s crossed has taught her that life is never about us, it’s always about others.
Name: William Marston
FAA Board Member Biography Questionnaire
For those of you who do not have a biography or would like a new one please fill out the questions below. You do not have to answer all of them. Please include all the information you would like to be featured in your biography. Concise descriptions and facts are sufficient answers. Natalie Slim will contact you once the first draft of your biography is composed to get your consent to publish it on the FAA website and make any changes, if any, you feel necessary. Please hand this to Natalie before you leave today. Remember, this is about you. Do not overthink this and be yourself!
What is your current occupation(s)? How long have been working there? Are you retired? What are your past occupations?
- Current occupation: General laborer for 3M-Since May
- Past Occupations: a store associate, bagger, disassembler at a recycling facility
List some accomplishments you are proud of. (Do not skip this one because you do not think you have any. You have many!!)
- Living on his own since january
- Got his driver’s license at 17
- Made honor roll in 8th grade
What volunteer work have you done?
- Counselor in training at ymca
- Rose parade
- FAA board
Elisabetta Taffoni Burke
Elisabetta Burke was born and raised in Rome, Italy, where she earned her master’s degree in Art History at the University “La Sapienza.” Before coming to the U.S., Elisabetta worked as a researcher in the Scientific Museums of the University of Bologna and as an art restorer. In recent years, she has taught college-level Italian at a Language Institute and worked as a tutor.
Elisabetta is married to Robert, a Los Angeles native, and has a daughter Bianca who is a young adult with autism. Bianca is a happy, social person, who has difficulty in her expressive and receptive language and lives at home with her parents. She still needs some support but is working toward independence.
Elisabetta has been an invaluable member of FAA for almost 20 years. She volunteers her time because “FAA is a wonderful organization where I learned a lot about autism, had a chance to meet incredible people, and feel supported in this difficult path of autism. Being a member and volunteer gives me the chance to give back to others the kind of help that has been a great support to me and my family.”
Elisabetta Taffoni Burke
Aida Tarverdian has been an active FAA Board Member for the past ten years. She has been instrumental in planning FAA social activities and assisting with fundraising. Aida is currently employed as Administrative Assistant for Corporate Properties Group International at Wells Fargo Bank where she has worked for 30 years. In addition to her role in FAA, Aida is active in the Armenian Autism Outreach Program (AAOP) and serves on their Advisory Group.
Aida is the proud mother of Allen, who is 26 and has autism. Allen has a great sense of humor and loves technology, especially Apple products and how they work. His goal is to work for Apple one day. He also enjoys traveling and loves to party. Aida’s hobbies are photography, traveling, and eating good food!
Michael currently serves as the Senior Vice President of Member Services at First City Credit Union. He’s been in this job for just under three years. Previously, he has held various positions with other institutions such as SVP Retail Services, Vice President Retail Services, VP Branch Manager and Banking Officer. Michael received his Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration / Accounting from California State University, Long Beach.
In addition to his work as Senior VP, Michael has also volunteered for the Los Angeles Unified School District Academic Decathlon as a Student Interviewer, Speech Judge and Super Quiz Proctor. He is quite accomplished in all aspects of his life. He has been in the Financial Services industry for over 30 years and was an Executive for $700MM with 130+ employees. Michael and his wife just celebrated their 25th anniversary and bought their dream home.
Michael is an FAA board member who joined because of his son Brandon who is on the spectrum. Brandon is 16 years old and was diagnosed when he was close to
two years old. He is a sweet and intelligent young man who is thriving at school where he has made many friends. Michael and his family feel that FAA is very helpful and he was honored to volunteer as a board member.
In his free time, Michael enjoys playing golf, cooking, and visiting museums.