Debra Muzikar, President
Debra Muzikar is co-founder of the Art of Autism nonprofit. Debra is author of two books – The Art of Autism: Shattering Myths and The Art of Autism: Shifting Perceptions. For many years, Debra wrote a regular column “The Mind’s Eye” for the Autism File magazine which focused on the creativity of those on the autism spectrum. Debra has been a member of many boards which focus on disabilities and autism in the past including the Coalition for Housing Accessibility, Needs, and Equality (CHANCE Inc.), The Rhythmic Arts Project, ASA Santa Barbara, and Angels Bearing Gifts. She was a founding member of the California Autism Coalition. For the last few years Debra has been working as support group liaison and publicist for the nonprofit Jeremiah’s Ranch in Fallbrook, CA and curating art exhibits for the Art of Autism. Debra was a former IT professional and has a degree in accounting. Debra is the parent of 3 children. Her youngest Kevin is an artist on the autism spectrum.
See blog posts on the Art of Autism by Debra Muzikar here.
Kimberly Gerry-Tucker, Vice President
Kimberly, a freelance writer since 1999, has published in dozens of literary journals, anthologies and books. She ghostwrote the book Reborn Through Fire, for Glendale California burn survivor Tony Yarijanian. Kim is author of the memoir Under The Banana Moon. Her artwork has appeared in many books and on the cover of three: The Art Of Autism Shattering Myths, Sutton and Forrester’s Selective Mutism In Our Own Words. Kim mostly works from home; at art, writing, and software usability. Kim has led a collage workshop in Lee, Mass. and has done several unique video-taped presentations at Lesley College, Boston, and Hynes Center, Cambridge; where she answered audience questions through keyboard typing. Having dual Aspergers and Selective Mutism diagnoses, it is sometimes hard for Kim to speak aloud in certain environments. Her passions include dignity and acceptance for all autistics, being with her grandkids, raising insects, spirituality, peace, and care of the environment. Her artwork reflects these passions. She has three grown children (one of whom is autistic). Send message(firstname.lastname@example.org)
Greg Jones, Secretary
Greg Jones is the grateful husband of his wife of 33 years, Karen, and the proud father of two sons, Matthew and Austin. Austin, identified in pre-K as on the autism spectrum, and later classified as Asperger’s, is a 28-year old graduate of ArtCenter College for Design, Pasadena, and a professional art teacher, painter, and graphic designer, as well as a passionate, competitive gamer. Greg, a former college English and writer instructor, is a professional writer with publications in fiction writing, play writing, sports writing, and technical writing (computer software documentation and website design and build for Microsoft and Intuit). His short stories have appeared in magazines and his story, “The Man on the Moon,” is included in the literary anthology, The Conscious Reader (Prentice-Hall/Simon & Schuster). Greg earned a BA in English & Communications from UC San Diego and an MFA in Fiction Writing from UC Irvine.
Keri Bowers, Co-Founder
Founder of Normal Films, and co-founder of The Art of Autism, Keri’s work as an advocate, key note presenter, workshop leader, and social skills facilitator has touched the lives of thousands of people over the past two decades. The core of Keri’s work began when her son, Taylor, was diagnosed with autism. Taylor, now 23, and Keri have made 4 films together and have traveled all over the world to present their talks and workshops. Past clients include The Army, Marines, Autism Society of America, The ARC, United Cerebral Palsy, Centers for Disease Control, numerous universities and colleges, and more. Keri’s highly charged and inspirational talks get participants up on their feet with highly interactive and innovative approaches to utilizing the arts as key “power tools” for interventions. Keri is founder of the nonprofit Pause4Kids in Thousand Oaks, California.
Tom Iland’s achievements include graduating from Cal State University Northridge, becoming a Certified Public Accountant, and working in corporate America. Tom is now pursuing a professional career as a speaker and trainer sharing insights and practical advice with the Autism community. Tom has written a book (soon to be published) with his mother Emily Iland titled Come to Life. He is a frequent blogger on the Art of Autism website sharing insights on autism.
See blog posts on the Art of Autism by Tom Iland here.
Carly Ott is a proud autistic writer, artist and self-advocate who graduated from the University of Iowa in three years with honors. She is Autism Society Ventura County’s first board president with an autism diagnosis and is a founding member of the Autism Society of America’s Public Policy and Advocacy Committee. She also serves the Autism Society of America’s Panel of People on the Spectrum of Autism Advisors. Carly addresses mortgage correspondence strategy for national bank and is passionate about the inclusive workplace. She didn’t get her diagnosis until after a breakdown in her mid-20s and credits that moment with changing her life for the better.
See blog posts on the Art of Autism by Carly Ott here.
Nancy LaTurno is the CEO of the Mainly Mozart nonprofit. Nancy co-founded Mainly Mozart in 1988. Under Laturno’s leadership, Mainly Mozart has grown from a two week festival into a year-round producer of world-class orchestral and chamber music concerts, youth orchestra, outreach for students and adults, and innovative programs such as Mozart & the Mind. She is responsible for all aspects of the organization’s strategic, artistic and operational planning and implementation.
Visit Mainly Mozart here.
Angela N. Weddle is a professional visual artist who is autistic , has cerebral palsy, and congenital right hemisphere brain damage. She is originally from New Orleans, LA and has lived in San Antonio, Texas for a decade. She is 36 years old.
Weddle is a neurological anomaly and savant, who is not supposed to have any artistic ability but always has. She has mentored students about poetry and art and participated as a mentor for Summer on the Hill, a program for autistic and intellectually disabled young adults. She has also read and performed slam poetry at PuroSlam and with the San Antonio Jazz Poets. She has taught students ranging from young children to adults art privately in San Antonio, TX. She is also a published poet in the journal Barking Sycamores Year One; Edited by V. Solomon Maday & N.I. Nicholson. Weddle has blogged and is a contributing blogger for the international blog The Art of Autism. Weddle also lectures about autism awareness and advocacy to local organizations and corporations such as H.E.B. Weddle is known for her sketchbooks, in particular, and has been mentioned in the San Antonio Current, as well as, interviewed by the local arts magazine, Arts United San Antonio, major online magazine PopSugar for her digital art along with partnering with Apple, and has contributed animation to exciting upcoming projects.
See blog posts on the Art of Autism by Angela Weddle here.