Autism Alliance of Canada’s Board of Directors is made of representatives from across Canada who bring to the table a range of experiences and expertise.

Board members

Rebekah Kintzinger
Co-Chair

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Rebekah, diagnosed Autistic in 2012, is a prominent Autistic advocate from Kelowna, British Columbia (BC), Canada. Since her diagnosis, her advocacy has included writing extensively about autism in the context of health and policy, which has led her to be featured in a multitude of mediums including magazines, news articles, webinars, the radio, and she has been quoted at the Senate of Canada. 

In addition to presenting her work at conferences, Rebekah is also a Director at Autism Alliance of Canada, where she has published documents on language and autism. She spoke at the United Nations Conference Side Event on the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) and is a founding member of the Canadian Journal of Autism Equity where she continues her advocacy in championing the voices of Autistic Canadians. Rebekah is also an Okanagan Advisor for the Pacific Family Autism Network’s Voices of Autism program

Rebekah is very creative. Aside from loving to draw and write, she also appreciates cooking for her two boys, acting out scenes from Monty Python with them and singing karaoke together.

Karen D. Bopp, PhD
Co-Chair

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Dr. Karen Bopp has worked extensively in the disability sector and with Autistic and neurodivergent individuals of all ages and their families for over 28 years. She has a Master’s degree in Speech-Language Pathology and a Ph.D. in Special Education from the University of British Columbia (UBC). Following her studies, she completed a 2-year interdisciplinary post-doctoral fellowship in the UBC Faculties of Medicine and Education. 

Karen is currently on a 4 year secondement from the BC Ministry of Children and Family Development until September 2022 and is now the Director of Provincial Outreach at the Centre for Interdisciplinary Research and Collaboration in Autism (CIRCA) at UBC. At CIRCA she is leading the creation of FREE on-line, self-paced pro-d opportunities for employers; primary care providers; dental professionals; and early childcare providers in order to improve access to effective, evidence-based services and promote acceptance and inclusion for Autistic individuals and their families.

Maddy Dever
Co-Vice Chair

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Maddy Dever (they/them) is a non-binary, wheelchair user with a spinal cord injury and an Autistic adult and parent of five children with four who are also Autistic living in Carleton Place. They advocate at both provincial and federal governments for inclusion and acceptance of Autistic individuals and other people with disabilities and for people with disabilities to have their own voice in policy decisions. Maddy is a former member of the Ontario Autism Program Advisory Panel and Ontario Autism Program Implementation Working Group, and a current member of the Children’s Mental Health Ontario ASD Working Group.

Maddy is the founder of Autistic Bridge Inc., and a leader in the National Disability Strategy movement to build a nationwide coalition of disability organizations advocating for a barrier-free Canada that meets all needs of all disabilities at all ages. They are on the Board of Directors of ConnectWell Community Health. They are a member of ECHO Ontario Autism where they are part of the Expert Hub, which works to educate and inform health professionals on issues related to autism.
Maddy has also led workshops, panels and is a featured speaker on topics surrounding Autism, education, gender identity intersections and disability rights. They have spoken at many businesses, organizations and institutions as well as at national and international conferences and the UN Human Rights Commission.  

Maddy writes and shares their speaking engagements at autisticrambler.com.

Shino Nakane
Co-Vice Chair

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Shino has a passion for helping non-profit groups that strive to meet the unique needs of families like hers. She is currently the Provincial Director for Autism Society Alberta. She also works with Autism Calgary in helping to develop multiple project initiatives. 

She has volunteered on a variety of boards and committees over the past decade for organizations like the Alberta Children’s Hospital. She is the Vice-Chair for the Premier’s Council on the Status of Persons with Disabilities, an advisory body for the Government of Alberta

Shino is the mother of a young adult who is on the autism spectrum who communicates uniquely without words to the people he loves and the world around him. She enjoys walking and listening to music with her son. Shino continually strives to spearhead efforts so that all people are able to live in accessible and inclusive communities.

Kimberley Ward, PhD
Board Secretary

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Kimberley Ward completed her Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology in 1995 at the University of Calgary. One of the requirements associated with her doctoral program was the completion of a one-year clinical internship at the Alberta Children’s Hospital. During her years in graduate school, her research focused specifically on the social-cognitive differences associated with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Kimberley became a Registered Psychologist in 1996 and joined the clinical team at Society for Treatment of Autism (STA). After serving as the Clinical Director for nine years, she transitioned to the role of Executive Director in 2018. STA provides an array of services to enhance lives across the Spectrum, including early intervention, out-of-home placements for complex youth, community consultation and life skills and employment supports for adolescents and adults. She has also worked with the Government of Alberta to develop a resource manual for teachers (i.e., Teaching Students with Autism Spectrum Disorders) and draft recommendations for service delivery (i.e., A System of Care for Children with Autism: Expert Panel Report). Finally, as a Sessional Instructor Kimberley developed and taught a course that focused on “ASD across the Life Span” at the University of Calgary as part of Graduate Certificate program.

Arshad Zaver
Treasurer

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Arshad Zaver graduated from the University of Toronto with a Bachelor of Business Administration and a Specialization in Accounting. Upon completion, he decided to pursue the Chartered Accountancy designation.

He has held several roles with a variety of not-for-profit organizations, some of which include the University of Toronto, the Multiple Sclerosis Society of Canada and The Canadian Council on Rehabilitation and Work. Arshad was appointed to the Board in June 2020. He is excited to make a positive contribution towards the autism community, while adding some flavour and spice to the finances.

Gail Francis
Director

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I was born and raised in Neqotkok (Tobique First Nation) in New Brunswick. My formal education consists of a Bachelor’s  Degree in Education and a double Masters in Education (Adult Education & Curriculum Design). Since 2010 I have worked in the Autism field. I have been trained in ABA, developing plans, implementing plans and assessments. I was an Autism Consultant for the three largest First Nation communities for a couple of years. I was also a Resource Teacher in a Band Operated School for 20 years where I worked with autistic children the last ten years I was there.

I joined the Board of Autism Resource Miramichi in 2018. I was subsequently elected president in 2019 which is the position I still occupy. Admittedly, my Board and non-profit experience is not extensive, however I enjoy it immensely.

In my current employment, I am an Indigenous Early Learning Child Care Coordinator. I work with the three largest First Nation communities in New Brunswick. As an IELCC coordinator, my focus is on the early years from 0-6 years old, utilizing the IELCC Framework, which encompasses 15 priorities. I work with the communities through engagement, networking, and coordinating to provide support for staff and children for each of the Early Years Centers.

I am also an award-winning children’s author. My book, Moonbeam, is culturally based. This book explores the tradition of naming children. I am presently in the process of self-publishing my second book in the Moonbeam series.

Tanya McLeod
Director

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Tanya McLeod is President of The Sinneave Family Foundation in Calgary, Alberta; an organization committed to coordinating and investing in a portfolio of purposeful initiatives and projects aimed at removing barriers and enhancing opportunities for autistic youth and adults to live, learn, work and thrive in their communities and realize their desired futures.

Tanya is committed to contributing to the alliance’s collaborative work, and brings decades of experience working with the federal government as well as skills and experience in governance, teamwork, strategy, risk management and stakeholder engagement. Tanya is also a member of the Board of Directors of PolicyWise for Children and Families, an Alberta-based non-profit that exists to inform, identify and promote effective social policy to improve the well-being of children, families and communities and to contribute to respectful, safe and supportive environments shaped by wise decisions.

Jill Farber
Director

Pascale Castonguay
Director

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Pascale Castonguay, M.A. ÉD did her undergraduate studies at the Université du Québec à Rimouski in special education (2001-2005) and continued her studies at the graduate level. She finally obtained a master’s degree in education in 2011. She taught for nearly ten years, mainly at the secondary level in Montreal, with deaf students, students with intellectual disabilities and autistic students. From 2015 to 2021, she worked for the Special Education Department of the Quebec Ministry of Education as the person in charge of issues related to intellectual disabilities, autism and deafness. In this capacity, she was able to participate in the development and follow-up of the implementation of the Quebec Ministry of Health and Social Services’ Action Plan on Autism Spectrum Disorder between 2016 and 2021.

She is the coordinator of the Réseau national d’expertise en trouble du spectre de l’autisme (stands for National Network of Expertise on Autism Spectrum Disorder) since August 2021. She has been a member of Autism Alliance of Canada since September 2021 and a member of the CALS2022 organizing committee since November 2021. Prior to serving on the Autism Alliance of Canada Board of Directors, Pascale has been a member of two other boards. She still is president of a non-profit organization in Quebec City. In the past years, she has organized training sessions on the governance of non-profit organizations to support the development of the organization and to ensure sound management practices. She believes these different experiences will make her a good member of Autism Alliance of Canada’s Board of Directors.

Anne Kresta
Director

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Anne Kresta, MSc., is President/CEO of Level IT Up, a board member of Asperger Manitoba Inc., and Chair of Neurowrx (www.neurowrx.org), an international alliance of organizations and businesses dedicated to increasing the employment of those with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math.  Anne has worked for many years at the local, provincial, national, and international levels to develop and advance inclusive and diverse communities. This has included work in inclusive childcare, inclusive K-12 and post-secondary education and training opportunities, and workplace diversity. In her outreach work Anne highlights both the autism advantage and the many straightforward accommodations and strategies that can be implemented to create welcoming and empowering environments. In her spare time, Anne enjoys gardening, travelling, reading, and drawing inspiration from time spent with her amazing family.

Priscilla Burnham Riosa, PhD
Director

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Priscilla Burnham Riosa is an Associate Professor in the Department of Applied Disability Studies at Brock University. She earned her PhD in Human Development at the University of Guelph and MSc at Western University in Developmental Psychology.

She subsequently completed a postdoctoral fellowship with Dr. Jonathan Weiss at York University, where Priscilla conducted clinical research in mental health and autism. Priscilla is a Doctoral-level Board Certified Behaviour Analyst and has worked in the disability field for approximately 19 years. 

Corey Walker
Director

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Corey Walker is an autistic self-advocate from Prince George, BC. Diagnosed with Asperger’s in 2001, while in his early 20’s, Corey’s life mission is to empower autistics to live the best life possible, and to educate others about what makes autistics such wonderful, unique people with proper supports.

Corey bas worked for several autism organizations in the past. His most recent position was with the Pacific Autism Family Network as a Program Facilitator for their EmploymentWorks program. Corey formerly served as the Project Lead for Sinneave Family Foundation on the Success in the Workplace: Strategies from Autistic Employees toolkit project. He also worked for the Canucks Autism Network as a Hub and Spoke Coordinator, where he led some panel discussions on innovative strategies to support employment agencies during COVID-19.

Corey is also an engaging and dynamic public speaker/trainer who is available to hire.

Sue VanDeVelde-Coke, PhD
Director

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Sue VanDeVelde-Coke is the President & CEO of Kerry’s Place Autism Services, the largest provider of congregate living and community support for autistic children and adults in Canada. Dr. Coke served as Executive VP &Chief Professions/Nursing Executive, Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre; VP, VON National Canada; Senior VP, Winnipeg Health Sciences Centre;  Executive Director of CARE, Centre for Internationally Educated Nurses.  She practices as a health care consultant focusing on Professional Practice reorganization, senior leadership team building, organizational reviews of organizations, HR planning, staffing and budget realignment.

She has served on numerous federal, provincial and local task forces/committees, investigating health care restructuring, human resource management and more effective ways to manage health care resources. Her research includes the National Nursing Quality Report, a set of structure, process, outcome nurse-sensitive quality indicators; as well, “The Effectiveness and Efficiency of providing Home Care Visits in Nursing Clinics versus the Traditional Home Setting” focused on home care delivery methods, providing the empirical evidence to support the change in home care regulations to permit community nursing clinics.

She has served on Boards of the Canadian Nurses Association, the Academy of Canadian Executive Nurses, the VON National, and is currently a Director on the Habitat for Humanity, GTA, the Canadian Nurses Foundation Board, Autism Alliance Canada, and the Ontario Association of Developmental Disabilities.

Dr. Coke earned an MA from the University of Washington, MBA from McGill University and PhD from McMaster University. She has served on the faculties of the Bloomberg Faculty of Nursing, University of Toronto; University of Manitoba; Ottawa University, and Rush University (Chicago, Illinois) She is a Certified Health Executive and a Director of Institute of Corporate Directors.