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Leadership

The Autism Society the Heartland received the National Autism Society Affiliate of The Year for 2015 as well as receiving the Midwest Regional EMMY for the film Just Like You Autism

Staff
 
Office Manager
 
Event Coordinator
 
Board of Directors 2018
 
President
LaKrystal McKnight
LaKrystal McKnight is currently a Special Education teacher in the Shawnee Mission School District. She teaches students with all different needs and abilities. LaKrystal is taking classes and working on her supervision practicum experience in the field of behavior analysis. Her journey and experience with autism began when her cousin was diagnosed about 16 years at age 2. He is now 18 and growing and learning more everyday. She has always wanted to teach and help ALL children learn, and because of her cousin Xavier Khoury, she developed a passion to impact and better the lives of children specifically with Autism or related diagnoses. She loves what she does and feels so blessed to be able to watch all of the children she has worked with, in both the school and home therapy setting, grow and learn to develop skills to be successful and interactive, contributing members of society. Volunteering with the Autism Society the Heartland has been a great opportunity for LaKrystal to give back to the autism community and allows her the opportunity to help many families just as many other families have helped and contributed to her cousin’s life.
 
Vice President
Kandis Cranmer
Kandis and her husband, Brandon, have been blessed with three adventurous and amazing little boys (Brandon II, Ethan and Gavin). All of her children have unique special needs -- her middle son Ethan received an Autism diagnosis October 2011. Although she is currently a stay at home mom to be able to meet the needs of her family; Kandis previously worked in the nursing field with a focus in pediatric care. Kandis believes - "Special needs families need to come together to support each-other on our journeys. I believe it is necessary for the success of our children that we share our experiences, knowledge and empower other families to do the same." She has devoted her time in researching evidence based programs, therapies, nutrition, supplementation and biomedical approaches to helping her own child reach his fullest potential. With a passion of learning from other families and sharing information she has learned... Kandis is very excited to have the opportunity to be involved with Autism Society of the Heartland.
 
Secretary
Nan Perrin
Nan Perrin is a Doctoral level Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA-D) and has graduate degrees in Human Development and Special Education from the University of Kansas. She has worked with individuals with autism since 1990. Nan currently works
for an insurance company as a director of a program to support members with IDD
and Autism to achieve their highest quality of life. Nan’s passion continues to be working with
children, families, schools and providers to reach the best outcome for individuals
on the spectrum. Her primary areas of focus are autism, positive behavior
support for individuals and families, as well as policy and systems change.
Nan is also appointed to the Kansas Governor’s Commission on Autism as
the BCBA member.
 
Treasurer
Maria Paez
Maria Paez is born and raised in Kansas City, KS, currently a resident in Kansas City, MO (in the Northland area). She’s 46 years old and a proud mother of a beautiful 12 year little girl. Although her daughter doesn’t have the autism diagnosis, Maria is one the biggest supporter in children foundation due to her family members children (parents of another board member Lorena Mendoza) diagnosed with high/Medium autism spectrum. She’s currently employed with North Kansas City Schools in the finance department, although not a teacher but very well educated in the education field of 9 years. Maria, has volunteered in many non-profit organizations to give back to the community. She also, volunteers in children fundraiser, IE, St. Jude’s, Children’s Mercy, ETC. Her passion is to give back and pay it forward and hopes to impact her daughter and others in the community to follow in her footsteps. She’s a Spanish descent who is also bilingual and supports her Spanish heritage.  Her moto – Live life to the fullest because tomorrow is not promised.
 
Board Members
 
Lorena Mendoza
I'm 34 yrs.old, born and raised in K.C.K I have two wonderful children on the spectrum my son is 10yrs. old he is a high risk of non verbal my daughter is 6yrs. old, She is mild risk. I can also say I'm a very out going person once you get to know me, you can say that I'm that person that people come to when they need help with a gathering. I'm also bilingual in Spanish, I love spending time with my family, I have volunteered several times at the soup kitchen in my neighborhood. I do know this is my next step in life to help others in my community and my heritage.You have to live life to the fullest..... my families quote Santos "Believe"
 
Tammy Scherer
Tammy is the mother of 3 children; the youngest is diagnosed on the Autism Spectrum. She was a Foster Parent from 2000 to 2013. She volunteers as an Education Advocate for the state of Kansas through Families Together, Inc., serving children currently in the State’s custody in Johnson and Wyandotte County. She is an active Member in the PTA and in ABATE. (ABATE is a motorcycle rights organization that brings attention to issues affecting riders. They are also involved in safety training and charity work. The acronym ABATE stands for American Bikers Aimed Toward Education.) Tammy is also instrumental in organizing several fundraisers a year, with the largest being Rattlesnake’s Ride for Autism, a benefit for Autism Society – The Heartland. Her family has two mottos they try to follow. “Be Silly - Be Honest – Be Kind” and “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all”.  
 
Joys Lind
Joys Lind is a currently a 5th grade teacher at a local school district. As a general classroom teacher she is able to interact with students at all different levels and with their families.
She just completed her Masters in Educational Leadership and hopes to use the
skills learned both in and out of the classroom to help students and families
succeed. Joys has a 10 year old son who struggles with sensory processing and
has ADHD. They spend most of their free time on a baseball field, he plays
while she cheers him on in his passion.
 
Frances Mendoza
Frances is currently a first year graphic design student at Johnson County Community College. Two of her younger siblings, Maricio (14) and Amaya (11) are on the spectrum. Frances is also in the process of learning American Sign Language. She feels that it is important to communicate with others through not only language but art and music as well.
 
Brooke VanHouran
Brooke VanHoutan has her bachelor in science in business administration from Missouri Southern State University in Joplin, MO.  She has been in the Insurance Industry for 13 years primarily specializing and advocating for the human and social services industry.  She has been married to her husband, Todd, for 13 years and they have two wonderful children who are 10 and 7 (the oldest has high functioning autism).  Her family has two mottos, everyone is dealing with something so pick yourself up and get on with it and second if you mess up today start fresh tomorrow!
 
Kathleen Carlson
Kathleen is a fifth grade teacher in a local Kansas school district. Originally she is from Illinois, which is where her parents and younger sister (with mild cerebral palsy) still live. She has been teaching for four years and spent one year teaching abroad in Mexico. Kathleen finished her undergraduate degree at KU and finished her masters in Literacy Studies at UTA. Kathleen works with students from all backgrounds and abilities in her classroom, and strives to help all students succeed. In her spare time, Kathleen loves to travel, eat out with good company, and plan her upcoming wedding.
 
Rhonda Mason
Rhonda K. Mason grew up in Kansas City, Kansas and graduated from Washington High School. She then attended Oakwood University in Huntsville, Alabama and received a B.A. in History and a minor in Communications. After college, she attended Washburn Law School in Topeka, Kansas where she obtained a law degree. Rhonda has worked over 20 years in the legal field and in many different areas of the law. She has worked as a Jackson County Prosecutor, a Solo Practitioner running her own law office and as a managing attorney for a Fortune 500 insurance company.  She now works at the Johnson County Court House. Rhonda is married and has two sons, one of which is on the spectrum. It is her passion and desire to promote inclusion for those children on the spectrum. She loves mentoring children on the spectrum and hopes to provide a positive safe environment for them to be themselves.
 
Kimberly Kirk
 

 

A special THANK YOU to our all of our past Volunteer Board Members and past paid staff members. We truly thank you for your service to the Autism Community.  

The Board is currently looking for members of the community to fill vacant spots. If you are interested in finding out how to contribute please contact president@asaheartland.org.