Donna’s career started in 1968, while studying psychology at Sauk Valley College and Behavior Management. She worked at the Dixon State School, Dixon, Illinois. After moving to the Chicago area, she worked for 22 years at one of the largest non-profit agencies in Illinois. There, she served as a member of the behavior management team. The team worked to development plans and methods to achieve positive behaviors by using the least restrictive means. After moving to Missouri in 2007, she worked for the Rivendale Institute of Learning where she worked with children with autism. Recently Donna has worked at Springfield Public Schools in a classroom with children with autism. At the same time, she served as transportation coordinator for the early childhood special education department. Donna is now retired and lives in Springfield, Missouri
Angel Haun, Ambassadors for Northern Counties
Angel Haun is the mother of two children, one of which is on the spectrum. She is the founder of Autism Awareness Polk County Missouri-AAPCO and is an Ambassador of the Northern Counties for STARS for Autism. She is a trainer for the STARS Autism Friendly Program and will graduate in May with an Associates in Behavioral Sciences
Mary Vest, Ambassadors for Northern Counties
Mary Vest is a passionate autism advocate, public speaker, and educator. Mary has spent over 20 years advocating for her own son. Mary is an ambassador for Northern counties for STARS for Autism in Bolivar, Missouri, and public relations liaison for Autism Awareness Polk County. Her degree is in English education, and she taught at Weaubleau School District. Mary worked at Burrell Behavioral Health in Bolivar with children and adults with mental health diagnoses often complicated by physical health needs. Mary’s experience at Burrell included supervising and managing the sheltered workshop for Polk County, Burrell Working Solutions. The workshop employed individuals with developmental disabilities and those on the autism spectrum. Mary also volunteers for House of Hope, the domestic violence/sexual assault shelter in Bolivar, Missouri. Mary lives in rural Southwest Missouri on a cattle farm with her husband, Ed, who is a school superintendent. They have two grown sons
JR Reed, Outreach Ambassador
J.R. Reed is an author, adult autism advocate, blogger, speaker, nerd, owner of an award-winning purple goatee and proud Aspie. Diagnosed at age forty-six, he grew up most of his life, “Off the Spectrum.” as he talks about in his blog, Not Weird, Just Autistic.
The author of An Asperger’s Guide To Dating Neurotypicals, J.R. works with those high school age through adult to help them live better lives as well as educates NT’s on who we really are. He’s currently working on the books, Autism Isn’t Contagious, and Asperger’s is My Superpower.
Debra Hickey, Amassador for Autism Friendly Cities
Mayor Hickey has been the mayor of Battlefield, MO for several years. She led the first Autism Friendly proclamation in Missouri. She is leading the way for many more autism friendly city proclamations.
Christina Beard, University Ambassador
Christina is a college student at Drury University in Springfield, MO. She is Miss River City who is an Ambassador for Stars for Autism.