Council of Administration

The WAO Council of Administration has 26 members, 14 of whom are elected as the Executive Committee.  The Council is elected for
4 years, with the election of the president-elect after two years into the term.  Regular meetings are held by electronic means,
or by combined face-to-face and electronic means.

We strive to have members from the 7 geographic regions in the World, namely :  Africa, East Asia, Europe, North Americas,
South Americas, Oceania, and West Asia.

For safety and privacy reasons we only use one email address.  If you’d like to contact any member,
feel welcome to send an email to the Hon Secretary at  info@worldautismorganisation.com
with the name of the person and their country in the subject line and we will forward your email.

The Council of Administration
incorporating the Executive Committee

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Dr Samira Al-Saad – Kuwait
President:  2018 – 2022

  • Mother of a daughter with autism.
  •   Founder & Director of Kuwait Center for Autism (1994). Founder & President  of Gulf Autism Union (2002).  Founder & Editor of the first specialized periodical in Autism & Special needs – “Silent Scream” newsletter distributed in the whole Middle East since 2002.  Founder & the Head of Kuwait Autism Society (2006).
  •  Her research was published in International Scientific Journals and in more than 20 books about Autism in Arabic.
  • Member of many national & international societies.
  •  Has been awarded many prizes, e.g. Princess Haya award for S.E (United Arab Emirates), Prince Salman award (Saudi Arabia), Ideal Mother award (2006), Best establishment run by a lady (2007). Jan Amos Comenius Medal From UNESCO to acknowledge her work as an educator, who has made a significant contribution to the development of education in field of Autism (2009).
  •   She brought the 4th World Autism Organisation Congress in 2014 to Kuwait and was the chairperson of the conference and made it a grand success inviting more than 100 professionals in autism field from all over the world for presenting sessions and posters under the auspices of the Humanitarian Leader HH The Amir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah.
  • Since 2009 Samira has been with WAO as Executive committee member, and from November 2018 as President.

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Jill Stacey – South Africa
Immediate Past President

  • Jill is the mother of Michael, a man with Classic Autism.
  •  She was National Director of Autism South Africa for 16 years.
  • She has represented Autism South Africa at several international conferences, as well as presenting to varying professional groups as at a selection of conferences.
  • In 2006, Jill with a team of staff and a professional congress organiser, arranged the hosting of the 2nd World Autism Organisation World Congress in Cape Town which was attended by just under 1000 delegates from 52 countries, sharing knowledge from over 130 speakers and just under 100 poster presenters.

Autism Related Achievements:

  • 1993 – Chairman of Society for Children and Adults with Autism.
  • 1996 – Awarded Paul Harris Fellowship by Rotary Club of Parktown.
  • 1996 – Chairman of Autism South Africa.
  • 1998 – First female Rotarian of the Rotary Club of Johannesburg North Central. (Member 1998 – 2003).
  • 2001 – 2002. President of the Rotary Club of Johannesburg North Central.
  • 2006 – Joint winner of The Hamlet Award for Services to people with disabilities.
  • 2006 – 2008. Chairman Management Committee of the Children’s Memorial Institute. Johannesburg.
  • 2002 – Elected onto the Council of Administration of the World Autism Organisation.
  • 2005 – Elected onto the Executive Committee of the World Autism Organisation.
  • 2010 – As a parent, presented at United Nations World Autism Awareness Day celebrations at their headquarters in New York.
  • 2011 – 2014 Honorary General Secretary for World Autism Organisation.
  • 2012 – 2014 President Elect World Autism Organisation.
  • 2014 – 2018 President of the World Autism Organisation.

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Paul Shattock OBE – UK
Past President

  • Father of a son with Autism.
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Petra Dillmann – Namibia
Honorary Secretary

  • Mother of two sons, one of whom has Autism.
  • Jack of all trades, master of none and still learning.
  • She has been involved in the Autism and Disability sector in South Africa and Namibia since 1993.  Founder member and director of the Autism Association of Namibia.
  • Member and/or office holder in various local and international Autism and Disability Organisations.
  • Recipient of the Rotary International Paul Harris Fellowship award from Rotary Club Windhoek, Namibia.
  • Joined WAO as a Council of Administration member in 2002.
  • Presented at the 1st WAO Congress in Melbourne in 2002.
  • Assisted in organising the 2nd WAO Congress in Cape Town in 2006.
  • WAO Honorary Secretary since 2014.
  • She gained knowledge on Autism by reading and researching about Autism from persons with Autism and from many professional publication, as well as by attending and/or presenting at many conferences, webinars and courses on all aspects of Autism and related conditions.
  • Attended workshops and seminars on child development, intervention programmes, Gestalt play therapy, TEACCH, START, Augmentative & Alternative Communication, Facilitated Communication, Sensory Integration and many, many more.
  • She has built up a huge library of relevant books, the most important ones being the ones written by persons with Autism.  For many years, she has been sharing her knowledge with parents, teachers and professionals, and up-skilling those interested in learning how the autistic mind functions and how Autistics can be assisted.
  • She continues to network and learn from Autistics, reading and webinars, searching for best practice programmes and ideas to use as a base for autism services in Namibia.
  • Besides the Autism Namibia FB page, she is the administrator of the WAO (World Autism Organisation) FB page.

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Isabel Bayonas – Spain
WAO Founder Member and Honorary Adviser

  • Mother of a son with Autism.
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Pat Matthews – Ireland
WAO Founder Member and Honorary Adviser

  • Father of a son with Autism.
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Stephen Shore – USA
Executive Committee

  • Assistant Professor –> Special Education at Adelphi University.
  • Author –> Beyond the Wall: Personal Experiences with Autism and Asperger Syndrome.
  • Author and Contributor –> Ask and Tell: Self-Advocacy and Disclosure for people on the Autism Spectrum.
  • Coauthor –> College for Students with Disabilities.
  • Coauthor –> Understanding Autism for Dummies.
  • Co-featured —> Living along the Autism Spectrum: What it means to have Autism or Asperger Syndrome (DVD)..

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Pierangelo Cappai  –  Sardinia, Italy
Executive Committee

  • Born in Cagliari on August 1, 1972 married and father of three children of 17, 13 and 2 years. Caregiver of Federico, eldest, adolescent with autism.
  • Employee at the Italian Government as a teacher at the public high school.
  • Since the diagnosis of Federico has decided to devote himself to the concrete promotion of the rights of people with autism and the improvement of the quality of their lives. In 2007 he founded the Association Diversamente Onlus, association at regional level with headquarters in Sardinia and holds the office of President.  In 2012 he took first contacts with autism Europe and worked to become part of it. In May 2016 in San Sébastian in Spain, on the occasion of the annual General Assembly, the request is welcomed and Diversamente Onlus becomes an effective member of Autism Europe.
  • In 2013 he created the International Festival of short films dedicated to the theme of autism called Autismovie.  In 2014 he founded the ASD Progetto Filippide Cagliari e Sud Sardegna, sports association for people with autism and is elected President, still loaded.
  • In 2016 organizes in Cagliari the annual General Assembly of Autism Europe, he is elected unanimously on the board of directors, which is still covered.
  • In 2016, at the Congress of Autism Europe in Edinburgh, he first contacted the World Autism Organisation and in 2017 joined them as an individual member.
  • He was a guest at thematic tables and study groups both for the European Union and for the European Parliament.

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Timo Heiskala – Finland
Executive Committee
  • Motivated, motivating, experienced.
  • Speaker, listener, leader. Interested in Life, people and getting things done. World citizen. Music, photographing and lively discussions make me tick.
  • Father-of-two, daughter (6) and son (8).
  • Relevant Education University of Jyväskylä, School of Business and Economics EXECUTIVE MASTER OF BUSINESS ADMINISTRATION (eMBA), 2015. The Academy of Pohjois-Savo (Pohjois-Savon opisto) DIPLOMA OF SIGN LANGUAGE INTERPRETER, 1999. I was also named ”The Student of the Year” by the Finnish Association of Sign Language Interpreters in 1999.
  • University of Jyväskylä, Department of LInguistics BASIC STUDIES (approbatur) IN FINNISH SIGN LANGUAGE, 1998.
  • Relevant Work Experience AUTISM FOUNDATION FINLAND CEO (3/2018 à) – EVANTIA GROUP CEO (7/2009 – 3/2018) – ETEVA JOINT MUNICIPALITY SERVICE DIRECTOR (4/2004 – 7/2009)

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Birgit Fisher – USA
Executive Committee

  • Mother of twins with Autism.
  • Birgit grew up in Hannover, Germany where she graduated from High School.
  • She met her husband in the San Francisco Bay Area of California, USA where she attended Foothill College.
  • Now living in the Houston, Texas area with him and her twin sons, she is a professional procrastinator and bacon enthusiast who advocates for inclusion of and equal opportunities for all individuals.
  •  She was part of the Texas team who helped make the WAO Congress in Houston a success.

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Samira Al Hashmi – Oman
Executive Committee

  • Holds a PhD in psychology, specializing in psychological guidance. Dissertation title: “The Impact of a psycho- pedagogical counseling program for the development of safety sense among students under “academic observation” at Sultan Qaboos University.”
  • She is psychological guidance specialist, as well as being assistant professor at the Faculty of Education, Sultan Qaboos University.
  • She taught and supervised higher diploma student in vocational guidance, Faculty of Education, Sultan Qaboos University. She taught psychology courses at the University of Tunis.
  • Previously, she has been a researcher at the Omani Studies Center.
  • She is an active member and a volunteer in the field of autism and she is the first representative of the Sultanate in the Gulf Association and the World Autism Organisation.
  •   In addition, she prepared scientific researches and studies and evaluated a number of measurement tools. She gave developmental lectures and prepared academic, professional and social workshops inside and outside the Sultanate.
  • She participated in many media programs in newspapers, radio and television.
  • She has many other skills such as the ability to manage, lead, develop professional and community work in various scientific and practical ways; also she manages and solves psychological, social, professional and family problems.

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Cheryl Widman – USA
Executive Committee

  • Cheryl Widman holds a PhD in Special Education from the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) where she teaches and conducts research.
  • Inspired by her own experiences as a parent of college student, Cheryl hopes her research will improve outcomes for autistic students as they advance through college to careers.
  • A former Chicago Public Schools math and Special Education teacher, Cheryl has a keen interest in public policy.
  • As an Illinois Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental and Related Disabilities (LEND) predoctoral training fellow, Cheryl was selected to attend the Association on University Centers on Disabilities (AUCD) Disability Policy Seminar in Washington, DC where she presented a policy paper in support of the Autism Cares Act in 2014.
  • She has presented at US and international Autism conferences since 2003, most recently at Autism-Europe in Nice, France in September 2019 where she presented the preliminary results from her doctoral dissertation, Understanding Parent Participation in the Postsecondary Education of Students with Autism Spectrum Disorder.
  • As parent of an autistic adult (who also holds a PhD), Cheryl is a Board Member of The Arc of Illinois, a partner of the Illinois Autism Task Force, and a member of the Think College Affinity Credentials Committee, a group that focuses on the college needs of students with Intellectual Disability who attend college transition programs for students with Developmental Disabilities in the U.S.
  • Cheryl also holds a BA in Economics (French minor) from UIC and is fluent in Danish, Swedish, and is able to read/understand Norwegian.
  • At UIC, she is continuing to develop the instrument that she developed for her dissertation: Understanding Parent Participation in the Postsecondary Education of Students with Autism Spectrum Disorder (pending publication), through an expansion of participants.

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Dr. Necip Cem KINACI, MD – Turkey
Executive Committee

  • Specialist in Nuclear Medicine, Theranostic Nuclear Oncology, Nuclear Neuropsychiatry
  • Director of Nuclear Medicine Department at Irmet Hospital, Tekirdag
  • Member of The Advisory Board of Federation of Autism Associations,
  • Consultant Physician at Hiper B HBOT Clinic, Ankara, Turkey
  • Dr. Kinaci was born in Istanbul in 1958. He graduated from Istanbul University Faculty of Medicine in 1984 and completed his specialty education in 1990 at Gulhane Military Medical Academy Nuclear Medicine Department. He served as the Head of Nuclear Medicine Department at Atatürk University and Mersin University Faculty of Medicine.
  • After his son “Ata” was diagnosed with autism, 2002 was the year for Kinaci family started to fight with autism. In particular, the intensive support of his wife directed Dr. Kinaci to specialize in this field. He has participated in many national and international conferences as a researcher, invited speaker, chairman or trainer. So far, it has been the occasion for the citizens of 78 countries of 6 continents to come to his office in order to “find a solution” for autism.
  • He is Co-Author of the book ”There is a Solution to Autism” was published in 2013 (10th Edition 2019).
  • Dr. Kınacı is the founder of Autism Medical Institute (AutisMedi) and he is the president and Medical Director since 2015. This institute is currently supported by 67 valuable scientists (medicine, special education, sports, music, law) from 23 countries of 5 continents.
  • E-Mail: cemkinaci@gmail.com
  • WEB: www.cemkinaci.com

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Stacy Badon – USA / Puerto Rico
Executive Committee

  • Connection to  Autism.
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Johnna Scheuerman – USA

  • Married and has two sons.
  • Communication, Language, and Social Skills Instructor. (CLASS).
  • As a Teacher, has taught for 31 years all with students on the Autism Spectrum and taught  in Illinois, California, and now Texas.
  • Is an Advocate for her students and for parents who are fighting for their students in the public schools.
  • Recently joined the Professional Organization of Women of Excellence in Education. and is a member of The Council for Exceptional Children (CEC)
  • Has been a speaker at several conferences to speak about Autism and Inclusion, as well as Autism in the public school.
  • Is also a teacher of adult’s with Autism Spectrum Disorders, at her church.

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Nilda Shattock

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Tara Matthews – Ireland

  • Has an autistic brother.
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Ricardo Saldañha – Argentina

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William Lane – USA

  • Doctor of Education, Higher Education Administration, Widener University (1994).
  • Masters, Educational Leadership (K-12), University of Delaware (1980).
  • Worked as a teacher, special education teacher, assistant school principal and associate professor for many years.
  • 2014 – Present:   Special Education Consultant, International Speaker & Author.
  • Member of the following Organizations:
            • National Association of Secondary School Principals
            • Delaware Association of School Administrators
            • Association for Gifted and Talented
            • Council for Exceptional Child
  •  Community Involvement:
      • Member Bay Health Junior Board
      • Board Member YMCA Resource Board
      • Director Delaware Special Olympics Summer Games 1985 -1989
      • Member Dover Jaycees President 1989-1990
      • Member Capital Grange
      • Georgetown Return Day Volunteer
      • Judge at State and National level for Future Farmers of America (FFA)
      • Judge at the Business Professional Association (BPA) State Convention
  •   Education Areas of Specialization:
      • Special Education
      • Practicum/Student Teaching Supervision (Special Education)
      • School Leadership
      • History & Philosophy of Education
      • Instructional Delivery
      • Special Education Law
      • Classroom Management
  • Professional Goal:
    To work collaboratively, with all parties involved, to create an environment that facilitates learning and
    encourages educational development/success for all stakeholders.

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Khazna Hadrami – Kuwait

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Guillermo Vela – Mexico

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Horacio Joffre Galiberto – Argentina

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Silvia Gottstein – Germany

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Nuala Matthews – Ireland

  • Has an autistic son.
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Natalia Blanco – Spain

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Jennifer Lynn Kerwin  – USA

  • Mother of a teenage son with Autism Spectrum Disorder, ADHD, Anxiety Disorder, Mood Disorder NOS, Executive Function Disorder.
  • She is passionate about helping families and community members dealing with Autism.
  • Ms. Lynn strives to educate, enrich, and empower parents and community members by sharing what she’s learned from years of first-hand behavior training
    at the Kennedy Krieger Institute, her work in special education (public/private schools), 2 years as an ABA technician, experience with PBIS training and
    her current job with special needs adults.
  • Ms. Lynn and her son train police and law enforcement officials about respectful and careful treatment of adults living with autism, through
    her LLC Empowering Autism Caregivers. (EmpoweringAutismCaregivers.com).  So far, more 2500 have been trained by Jenn and Jake
    in Maryland, Virginia, Washington D.C. and North Carolina.
  • Currently, she serves on the Commission for People with Disabilities in Montgomery County, Maryland and works as the Executive Director of Upcounty Community Resources. The nonprofit group in Maryland serves fitness, social, vocational and therapeutic needs of adults with special needs.
  • The former TV news producer collaborates with special needs professionals and doctors, as well as advises Humana Behavioral Health on the development of a new Center of Autism Excellence.  She speaks and writes uplifting and encouraging stories of living on the spectrum at theworldaccordingtojake.com, is a contributor to the Organization for Autism Research newsletter/blog, published author, adoption advocate, active in special needs ministry and performs professionally as a flute/piccolo player.

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Emma Donaldson – Australia

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Charlotte Nyatanga Chipangura

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Feilina Feisol – Malaysia

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