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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.

Board of Directors 2019
President
LaKrystal McKnight
LaKrystal 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.
 
Secretary
Nan Perrin
Nan 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.
 
Board Members
Lorena Mendoza
Lorena is 34 years old and was born and raised in Kansas City, KS. She has two wonderful children on the spectrum. Her son is 10 years old and he is high risk and non verbal. Her daughter is 6 years old and mild risk. Lorena is a very outgoing person and once you get to know her, you know why she's that person that people come to when they need help with a gathering or event. She is bilingual in Spanish and loves spending time with her family. She has volunteered several times at the soup kitchen in her neighborhood. Lorena says, "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." Her families' quote is 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 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 while he plays and she cheers him on in his passion.
Kathleen Carlson Livingston
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 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.
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.
Samantha Shehan

My name is Samantha Shehan. I am 41 years old and the mother of two beautiful boys both of whom are on the autism spectrum. Michael is 13 years old and he is on the high end of the spectrum. Isaac is 8 years old, but is on the lower end of the spectrum. I have over 13 years’ experience in the financial industry. I have my Bachelor of Arts in Music from Missouri Western State University. I also have my MBA with an emphasis in Finance from Park University. I think it would be a great honor to serve on the board for such a great cause. I am good at accounting and finance so I could be a great contributor there. I also would not mind assisting with the planning of the fundraisers. I want to be a part of advocating for children and adults with autism. I see my children with autism as miracles because of what intervention and support has done for them. I want other parents to know their child having autism isn’t the end, it isn’t a disability. It’s just who they are, and there is help out there to work with them in making the world less overwhelming.

Samantha "Sam" Silvey

I am so glad to be a part of such a wonderful organization!  I am touched by autism in that our youngest son, Brooks (6), is on the spectrum.  He’s such a special and awesome boy and I love to be a part of associations that help the autism community with support, awareness, and camaraderie.   My husband Jason and I also have a NT son, Barrett (8) who is such a great big brother to Brooksie. We live in Olathe and I work in the non-profit sector for the local Greater KC Dental Society.  It is my honor to be on the ASH board.

Brooke Van Houtan
Brooke 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!
 

 A special THANK YOU to 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.