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 2012-2013:
James Ball, Ed.D., BCBA-D, Executive Chair
Ron E. Simmons, Vice Chair
Sergio Mariaca, Treasurer
Lars Perner, Ph.D., Secretary, PSA Chair
Scott Badesch, President/COO
Donna G. Andrus, P.E.
Michael J. Brown, Esq.
Denise Sawan Caruso
Catherine Purple Cherry, AIA, LEED AP
Linda Walder Fiddle, Esq.
Anne Holmes, M.S.,CCC, BCBA
Joseph P. Joyce, CPCU, CWCA
Honorary Board Members:
Temple Grandin, Ph.D.
Ruth Christ Sullivan, Ph.D.
James 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 over twenty-five 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 of 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 5 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.
Ron Simmons is the co-founder of investment advising firm Retirement Advisors of America (RAA), and continues to serve as its chairman and largest shareholder. Ron was recently named one of the top financial advisors in the Dallas/Fort Worth area by D Magazine, 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 recently led conferences for Equip in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil; Bucharest, Romania; and Soweto, South Africa. Locally, Ron and his wife Lisa are active in their church, serving in the ministry to young married couples. Proudly, Ron and Lisa serve on the Parents Council and Parents Campaign Committee for Furman University.
Sergio Mariaca, Treasurer
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 15, and Mia, 6. He 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.
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 M.B.A. 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, non-profit 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 web sites, including www.consumerpsychologist.com, which is top ranked in major search engines under the terms “consumer psychology” and “consumer marketing,” as well as several autism web sites focusing on such issues as college preparation for people on the autism spectrum.
A father of a young adult with autism, Badesch led his local Autism Society chapter before joining the national office in 2010 as Senior Vice President of Development and Operations. Badesch 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, 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 6 years as President and CEO of the United Way of South Carolina. Badesch lives in Silver Spring, Maryland, and has four children.
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. Currently, she 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, La. They have two daughters, one with Asperger’s syndrome, and four grandchildren. Free time is filled with family, church, gardening and travel.
Jon Basinger is a business broker based in Atlanta where he helps people to 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 for 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 children, ages 21, 24 and 26.
Michael Brown is the principal at Michael J Brown Law Office LLC, a law firm based in Livingston, NJ, 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 home town advisory committee for individuals with disabilities.
Denise Sawan Caruso is a licensed speech/language pathologist in the state of Ohio. She has over 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 has also 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 20 years and served three terms as president. She has also 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 has also served on the Professional Advisory Board and as a professional consultant for the Ohio Center for Autism and Low Incidence (OCALI). She also serves as chair of the Autism Society Chapter Relations Committee.
Catherine 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 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.
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.
George G. Daly has been the Dean of the McDonough School of Business at Georgetown University since November 1, 2005. Previously, he served as the Albert Fingerhut Professor of Business at the Stern School of Business at New York University from 1993 to 2002. During that time, he markedly advanced the school’s reputation, achieved top ten rankings for all of its degree programs for the first time and raised more than $150 million in private donations. Daly also served as the chief economist in the Office of Energy Research and Development in the White House and a consultant to the National Football League.
Linda Walder Fiddle is the Founder and Executive Director of The Daniel Jordan Fiddle Foundation (DJF), a national autism organization focused on adults. The mission of the volunteer-run organization is to develop, advocate for and fund programs that create innovative ways for the diverse population of adults living with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) to participate in and contribute to community life. The Daniel Jordan Fiddle Foundation Signature Programs developed and funded by the DJF Foundation can be found throughout the United States and include residential, vocational/employment, educational and recreational opportunities that are blueprints for replication in grassroots communities throughout the world.
Linda has received numerous honors for her accomplishments on behalf of the autism community including a Russ Berrie Award for Making a Difference, the Jefferson Award for Public Service, Autism Family Services of NJ’s Community Service Award, and was honored by the New Jersey Coalition of Inclusive Ministries. Linda also received Redbook magazine’s 2009 “Strength & Spirit” Award and was featured as one of the five most inspirational women in the United States. In September 2011 Walder Fiddle received the Seeds of Hope Award from NJ Monthly magazine and was featured in that issue. Linda has been recognized by the New Jersey Legislature for her humanitarian efforts that “exemplify a standard of excellence towards which others should strive,” and she is the recipient of citations from the United States Senate for her work on behalf of the autism community.
In addition to Linda’s efforts directing the DJF Foundation, she served on the New Jersey Adults with Autism Task Force. She is currently a member of the Steering Committee of Advancing Futures for Adults with Autism, a national consortium of autism organizations focusing on adult issues, and also serves on the advisory board of Autism Family Services of New Jersey.
Anne Holmes, M.S., CCC, BCBA
Anne Holmes received her master’s degree in speech pathology from Douglass College and 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 on the Autism Society’s Panel of Professional Advisors. Ms. Holmes has worked in the field of autism for over 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’s curriculum. Her current focus is aging and medical needs of individuals with autism.
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.
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 over 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 frequently quoted 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.