Board of Directors

The Autism Society’s Board of Directors is composed of dedicated volunteer representatives, many of whom are parents of persons with autism. The Board, chaired by James Ball, Ed.D., BCBA-D, serves as the governing body of the organization and sets the vision for the Society’s future. Through active use of standing and ad hoc committees, the national Board carries out its goal of fulfilling the Autism Society’s mission while also being responsive to the needs of its members and the autism community.

Click here for an application to join the Autism Society’s Board of Directors.

Board of Directors 2014-2015:

James Ball, Ed.D., BCBA-D, Executive Chair
Sergio Mariaca, Chair Elect
Anne Holmes, M.S.,CCC, BCBA, Vice Chair
Joseph P. Joyce, CPCU, CWCA, Treasurer
Lars Perner, Ph.D., Secretary, PSA Chair
Scott Badesch, President/CEO
Donna G. Andrus, P.E.
Jon Basinger
Michael J. Brown, Esq.
Denise Sawan Caruso
Catherine Purple Cherry, AIA, LEED AP
Scott Colclasure
Kevin Custer
Andres Filippi
John Hussman, Ph.D.
Lori A. Ireland
Terry Murphy
Ron E. Simmons
Tracey Staley
Richard Wolf


Honorary Board Members:
Temple Grandin, Ph.D.
Ruth Christ Sullivan, Ph.D.


 jimballJames Ball, Ed.D., BCBA-D, Executive Chair

Dr. James Ball, a Board Certified Behavior Analyst-Doctoral, is the President/Chief Executive Officer of JB Autism Consulting. He has been in the field of autism for more than 25 years, providing behavioral, educational, residential and employment services to children and adults affected by autism. Dr. Ball is an appointed community member to the Interagency Autism Collaborating Committee (IACC), a federal advisory committee established by the Combating Autism Act of 2006. He is also the director of clinical services for New York Families for Autistic Children (NYFAC), sits on the advisory board for the Autism Asperger’s Digest magazine and has been a featured author for the magazine for the past several years. Dr. Ball has lectured nationally and internationally on various topics related to autism, such as early intervention, inclusion services, functional behavior assessment, social skills training, behavior management, direct instruction, sensory issues and accountability. He has published in many of the above areas and authored the book Early Intervention and Autism: Real-life Questions, Real-life Answers.

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sergiomariacaSergio Mariaca, Chair Elect

Sergio Mariaca is an independent financial advisor with LPL Financial who focuses on the preservation of wealth, investment growth and maintaining income through retirement.  He is a Registered Securities Principal and Registered Investment Advisor Representative. His professional credentials include membership in the Financial Planning Association, Investment Management Consultants Association, and National Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors. Sergio has been interviewed and/or cited by Good Morning America, the Los Angeles Times, the Women’s Financial Network and other news organizations.

Sergio believes in giving back to the community and is a strong advocate for families and education. He serves on the governing boards of the following nonprofit organizations: United Way of Palm Beach County, Education Foundation of Palm Beach County, Area Agency on Aging of the Palm Beaches and Treasure Coast, SunFest, and the Girl Scouts of America.

Sergio and his wife, Andrea, have two wonderful children, Dean and Mia.  Sergio looks forward to his involvement with the Autism Society and will do his very best to help further the organization’s mission and support the staff and volunteers.

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ann-holmesAnne Holmes, M.S., CCC, BCBA, Vice Chair, Panel of Professional Advisors Chair

Anne Holmes received her master’s degree in speech pathology from Douglass College, holds a Certificate of Clinical Competence as well as New Jersey licensure, and is a Board Certified Behavior Analyst. She is also an adjunct faculty member of the College of New Jersey. In addition, Ms. Holmes is the chairperson of the Autism Society’s Panel of Professional Advisors. Ms. Holmes has worked in the field of autism for more than 30 years and is responsible for oversight for monitoring standards of care, including staff development and student/participant outcomes by means of a comprehensive quality management system, as well as supervision of outreach diagnostic, evaluative and consultative services. In addition, she is the primary consultant to families, schools and agencies, locally and nationwide.

Ms. Holmes has written numerous papers and articles and is the primary editor of Eden Autism Services’ curriculum. Her current focus is aging and medical needs of individuals with autism.

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 joejoyceJoseph P. Joyce, CPCU, CWCA, Treasurer

Joseph P. Joyce is currently the executive vice president of property & casualty insurance for Keystone Insurers Group Inc. (KIG), a franchisor of independent insurance agencies and the fifth-largest privately held independent insurance agency in the United States. Mr. Joyce has been with KIG since 2000, during which time he has also served on the Board of Directors of Keystone National Insurance Company and the American Society of Environmental Professionals.

Mr. Joyce’s experience in his 30-year career in the insurance industry includes tenure as vice president of commercial lines underwriting for W.R. Berkley Mid-Atlantic Group, Richmond, Va, and various marketing, underwriting and management positions for the Ohio Casualty Group in Southern California and Pennsylvania.

Mr. Joyce graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in economics and finance from LaSalle University, and received his Master of Business Administration from Penn State University. Mr. Joyce holds the CPCU and CWCA professional insurance designations.

Mr. Joyce and his wife, Elise, reside in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, and have one daughter and two sons. Daughter Tara is a vocational rehabilitation counselor for the State of Pennsylvania.  Sons Matthew and David are both teens with special needs. Matthew has Down syndrome and David is significantly affected by autism.

Mr. Joyce and his wife are very proud that David has been the source of inspiration for Keystone Insurers Group to adopt autism awareness and acceptance as its corporate cause. The company has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for autism charities in Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Virginia, Ohio, Indiana and Kentucky.

In his spare time, Mr. Joyce is a tennis enthusiast, serving as an officer of the Harrisburg Capital Area Tennis League and playing in United States Tennis Association-sanctioned leagues.

Mr. Joyce is honored to serve on the Board of Directors of the Autism Society and will work hard to help make a difference in the lives of people and families affected by autism.

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larspernerLars Perner, Ph.D., Secretary, Panel of People on the Spectrum of Autism Chair
Past Board Member, Autism Society of Los Angeles

Lars Perner is an assistant professor of clinical marketing at the Marshall School of Business of the University of Southern California. He holds a Ph.D. in marketing from USC and an MBA and B.A. in political science and psychology from the California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo.

His main research interests center on consumer behavior, nonprofit fundraising and “win-win” deals. Dr. Perner became interested in the autism spectrum after being diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome in 1996 and has since written extensively on this topic. He maintains several websites, including, which is top-ranked in major search engines under the terms “consumer psychology” and “consumer marketing,” as well as several autism websites focusing on such issues as college preparation for people on the autism spectrum.

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scottbadeschScott Badesch, President & CEO

A father of a young adult with autism, Scott Badesch led his local Autism Society affiliate before joining the national office in 2010 as senior vice president of development and operations. He has more than 30 years of experience in nonprofit organizations, particularly in fundraising, chapter outreach, advocacy and public policy, and transformation of organizations.

Before joining the Autism Society national office, Mr. Badesch served as president and CEO of the Autism Society of North Carolina. Other experience includes 14 years as president and CEO of the United Way of Palm Beach County, and six years as president and CEO of the United Way of South Carolina. Mr. Badesch lives in Silver Spring, Maryland, and has four children.

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 donnaandrusDonna G. Andrus, P.E.

Donna Andrus is a registered petroleum engineer with 30 years’ experience in the areas of reservoir engineering and acquisition and disposition analysis. Her career has been spent working in the Gulf of Mexico, onshore in Louisiana, Texas, Oklahoma and Wyoming. She is an active member of the Autism Society of Acadiana, and has served on its Board of Directors, holding the positions of treasurer and president. She currently sits on its advisory board. Ms. Andrus also serves on the Lafayette City-Parish Mayor’s Committee for Citizens with Disabilities and the WorkPays Job Fair Committee. In 2010, she was awarded the Disability Awareness Committee’s Volunteer of the Year Award. Ms. Andrus and her husband, Buddy, live in Lafayette, Louisiana. They have two daughters, one with Asperger’s syndrome, and four grandchildren. Their free time is filled with family, church, gardening and travel.
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jonbasingerJon Basinger
Board Member, Autism Society of Greater Georgia

Jon Basinger is a business broker based in Atlanta, where he helps people buy and sell businesses. Previously, he was the owner of an advertising, marketing and public relations firm for 18 years. Before joining the Autism Society national Board, Jon sat on the advisory and national boards of the Devereux Foundation, a nonprofit behavioral health organization. He also served with the Atlanta chapter of the Multiple Sclerosis Society.

Jon likes to swim and hike in addition to his other favorite pastimes of golf and cooking. He also likes to spend time with his family. He has three adult children.

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 michael-j-brownMichael J. Brown         

Michael Brown is the principal at Michael J Brown Law Office LLC, a law firm based in Livingston, New Jersey, focusing on intellectual property issues, including patents, trademarks, copyrights and licensing. Michael is a registered patent attorney and assists individuals and companies of all sizes in registering and protecting their creative works, inventions and brand identities. He is an active member of the International Trademark Association and is on a subcommittee team studying design rights around the world.

Michael has been providing pro bono legal advice to the Autism Society of America since 2002. He also provides pro bono legal advice to The Glaucoma Foundation. Michael’s children are student representatives on their hometown advisory committee for individuals with disabilities.

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Denise Sawan Caruso
Board Member, Autism Society of Ohio

Denise Sawan Caruso is a licensed speech/language pathologist in Ohio. She has more than 30 years’ experience working with children and adults with challenging behaviors, including those with autism spectrum disorder. She owned and operated a private practice for 20 years, providing communication supports for children and adults with special needs. She currently provides consultations, inservices and workshops to schools and families living and working with individuals with autism and other developmental disabilities. She also has presented nationally on behavior, autism and parent/professional collaboration. She is an adjunct instructor at both Ashland University and Akron University/Wayne College. With a parent of a child with autism, she developed a statewide training implemented for more than 15 years in Ohio. She has served as a member of the Autism Society of Ohio board of directors for more than 20 years and served three terms as president. She also has been a member of several task forces in the state of Ohio to address the needs of individuals with autism and low incidence. This resulted in chairing a committee that developed the Autism Service Guidelines used in the state of Ohio by families and professionals. She also has served on the Professional Advisory Board and as a professional consultant for the Ohio Center for Autism and Low Incidence (OCALI). She  serves as chair of the Autism Society Chapter Relations Committee.

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 cathypurplecherryCatherine Purple Cherry, AIA, LEED AP

Cathy Purple Cherry, principal of Purposeful Architecture and Purple Cherry Architects, began her architectural studio in 1995. Based in Annapolis, Maryland, the firm provides commercial and residential design services with a dedication to the enhancement of daily life and community through architecture. Mrs. Cherry’s passion for Purposeful Architecture® has set her apart in the field and made her the leader in designing spaces that foster thoughtful learning and peaceful living environments for children and adults with special needs. She is personally connected to the special needs community by her life experiences with her adult autistic son and Down Syndrome brother, and she strives to connect these experiences with the incredible design skills of her firm. Mrs. Cherry currently works as a Special Needs Architect on many projects being designed and constructed nationally to better serve the special needs population. In addition, she has lectured nationally on the topics of environmental design and the impact architecture has on individuals with special needs. Mrs. Cherry has written several articles that have been published in a variety of books and magazines.

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Scott Colclasure, M.D.scolclasure

Scott Colclasure works as an anesthesiologist in Decatur, Indiana, where he also practices pain management. After earning a degree in biology from Purdue University, Scott went on to medical school with a concentration in anesthesia at the prestigious Indiana University School of Medicine. After living in Indianapolis and Louisville, Kentucky, Scott and his wife Jill felt the pull to go back to his hometown where his entire family remains and to practice at the newly built hospital. In 2008, just before the birth of their second boy, their 2-year-old son Austin was diagnosed with autism.

Scott and Jill later founded the North Adams Special Education-Autism fund, which has been successful in bringing programs, technology and many supplies into the classrooms to aid in the education of those on the spectrum throughout the entire school district.

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 kevin-custerKevin Custer
President, Autism Society of Colorado

Kevin Custer has more than 20 years of experience launching and growing successful education and technology companies. He is a founding principal of Arc Capital Development, a private equity and advisory firm that invests in and operates companies that serve school districts. His products have been installed in more than half of the K-12 schools in the United States and are enjoyed by more than 10 million weekly online users. As the former CEO of AutismPro, a company providing resources and training for schools, he raised several million in capital, launched the international brand and led the company to a successful acquisition in 19 months. In 2009, Custer participated in Colorado’s Autism Commission and helped to develop the state’s 10-year strategic plan for autism. He currently serves on the board of directors for the Autism Society of Colorado.

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Andres Filippi
MITRE Corporation

Andres Filippi is a results-oriented program manager with proven leadership in business transformational change, strategic planning, developing program management capabilities for IT capital investment portfolios, and enterprise integration for large scale systems utilizing multi-tier architectures.

MITRE is a not-for-profit 501(c)(3) corporation chartered by the United States Congress to apply systems engineering and advanced technology in addressing issues of critical national importance. MITRE serves the public interest as a trusted advisor to government executives, industry and academia. As a nonprofit, MITRE operates federally funded research and development centers (FFRDCs) in strategic partnership with government agencies. FFRDCs allow MITRE to provide a body of scientific, technical, and management expertise in an environment free from conflict of interest (no commercial or vested interest in any specific technology or solution).

Current – Enterprise Services Program Manager for the Center for Veterans Enterprise Transformation (CVET), U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs. Direct a cadre of senior information system technologists, management advisors, and subject matter experts providing strategy, program management, systems engineering, organization transformation and thought leadership to senior VA executives implementing VA Enterprise Transformation programs and Major Initiatives.

Prior, Center for Enterprise Modernization – Responsible for improving federal agency programs focused on stability of the financial services industry, security, transparency, taxation, revenue and effective use of federal resources. Agencies: Security & Exchange Commission, Federal Reserve Board, Department of Treasury’s Office of the Comptroller of the Currency & the Office of Financial Stability; U.S. Internal Revenue Service; Office of Management and Budget, Public Company Accounting Oversight Board, the White House Recovery Accountability and Transparency Board, and the U.S. Department of Energy.

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John_HussmanJohn P. Hussman, Ph.D.

John P. Hussman, Ph.D., is one of the largest private funders of autism research in the country. Since the 1990s, Dr. Hussman has helped to establish the Hussman Institute for Human Genomics at the University of Miami, the Hussman Center for Adults with Autism at Towson University, projects on communication and inclusion at Syracuse University, and a major program to advance inclusive education in the Howard County Public School System. He established the Hussman Institute for Autism, located adjacent to the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, in 2014.

As a researcher and advocate for autism, Dr. Hussman has authored and co-authored research on the genetics and neuroscience of autism while encouraging an approach toward autism that embraces differences, presumes competence and emphasizes improving lives rather than finding “cures.”

In his mission to provide life-changing assistance to vulnerable populations, Dr. Hussman is active in numerous philanthropic projects both in the U.S. and internationally. He has provided major support to the Carter Center, working to eradicate Guinea worm, prevent blindness for thousands suffering from trachoma and establish new programs to address mental health issues in Africa. He has also provided education and community support for tens of thousands of migrant children on the Thai-Myanmar border, aided the growth of the Light House of Annapolis in its efforts to break the cycle of homelessness; expanded access to mobile food pantries through Feeding America; and strengthened the Howard County Autism Society’s support of families.

Dr. Hussman is president of Hussman Strategic Advisors and director of the Hussman Foundation. He and his wife, Terri, are parents of four young adults: Christina, Michael, J.P. and Julianne.

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Lori IrelandLori A. Ireland

Lori A. Ireland earned an MBA from the University of California, Berkeley. She was vice president of Capital Research Company and president of The Arc of Orange County and the local affiliate of the Autism Society of North Carolina. She was co-chair of the Advisory Board of FPG Child Development Institute and executive board member of The Educational Foundation and Rams Club (University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill). She is a founding board member at Extraordinary Ventures. She is on the Autism Society of America Board of Directors, the UNC-Chapel Hill Board of Visitors, the CESA Advisory Board and the Arc Housing Board in Orange County, North Carolina.

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Terry Murphy photo from LinkedInTerry Murphy

Terry Murphy is the founder and CEO of Monarch Teaching Technologies, the developer of VizZle® software for interactive visual learning for autism education. His company is an affiliate of the Monarch Center for Autism in Cleveland, a not-for-profit specialty charter school with more than 100 full-time pre-K-12 students with autism. He secured capital from investors and government grants, including the National Institutes of Health, to develop and bring VizZle to market. Designed to bring the efficiencies of technology to special education classrooms, VizZle has been widely adopted by specialty schools, autism providers and public school systems, including the three largest districts in the country. Terry is the Principal Investigator on two NIH R&D grants related to the software. He has authored articles and is quoted frequently in industry publications such as Autism Spectrum Quarterly and Scholastic’s District Administrator.

Previously, Terry founded three health-care companies and co-authored a book on collaboration strategies in health care published by the American Hospital Association. He received his MBA in finance and health services administration from Cornell University and serves on the Alumni Board of Advisors of Cornell University’s Sloan Graduate Program in Health Services. He lives in Shaker Heights, Ohio, with his wife and two children. He has a brother with autism.

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ronsimmonsRon E. Simmons

Ron Simmons is the co-founder of investment advising firm Retirement Advisors of America (RAA), and he continues to serve as its chairman and largest shareholder. Ron was named one of the top financial advisors in the Dallas/Fort Worth area by D Magazine in 2010, and RAA was named one of the top 30 financial advisors in the country by Investment News. Ron also makes presentations and holds training sessions nationally and internationally on leadership topics through Equip, the charitable arm of author John Maxwell’s organization. Ron has led conferences for Equip in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil; Bucharest, Romania; and Soweto, South Africa. In 2012, he was elected to the Texas House of Representatives for Texas’ District 65 (Carrollton). Locally, Ron and his wife Lisa are active in their church, serving in the ministry to young married couples. Ron and Lisa proudly serve on the Parents Council and Parents Campaign Committee for Furman University.

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Tracey_StaleyTracey Staley

Tracey Staley is a business focused Human Resources leader with a track record of success based on solid problem-solving skills, a collaborative leadership approach, strong relationship development skills and a proven ability to effectively lead organizations during periods of dramatic change. Currently she is General Manager – Corporate HR and Global Operations for U. S. Steel. In this role, she is responsible for strategically partnering with the business to create value in all aspects of the human resources function including compensation, benefits, talent acquisition and development, strategic talent management, employee engagement, international HR, HRIS, and HR business partner support. Ms. Staley earned a Bachelor of Science in business administration from American University in Washington, DC and a Master of Science degree in human resources leadership from Rutgers University in New Brunswick, NJ.

Throughout her career, Ms. Staley has been a leader in many non-profit organizations, including serving as the chair of the board for the Prince William County, VA chapter of the American Red Cross. She currently is an active supporter of the Autism Society of America affiliate in Pittsburgh, PA. Ms. Staley and her husband, Mike, live in Sewickley, PA and have one son. Their son, Jeff, who has Asperger’s syndrome, is a sophomore at Marshal University.

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Richard Wolfrichard_wolf_small

Richard Wolf has been a USA TODAY reporter and editor for more than 25 years, specializing in government and domestic policy. He has covered the Supreme Court and the federal judiciary since 2012; he covered the White House during the Bush and Obama administrations; and he spent a decade reporting on Congress. His specialties have included the federal budget and economics, health care and welfare policy, state and local governments, and national politics. Before joining USA TODAY, he was a Washington correspondent for Gannett News Service and a reporter and editor at Gannett newspapers in New York. He and his wife, Mary, have two grown children, Jonathan and Juli.

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