Dean Svoboda- Founder and Executive Director of AAFS
Dean has spent the last 12 years working with children, youth and adults with Autism all over the city. AAFS was founded by Dean and a small group of parents when they saw a gap in service in the ASD Social/Recreation world. It was noticed that although ASD kids largest deficit was in the social/Recreation world, there were no programs available that focused on social/recreational development. Dean saw too many kids struggling through a day of school, going to Speech Therapy after school and more therapies and doctors throughout the week. A simple question was asked, "When do they get to be kids and just enjoy life and is anybody teaching them to enjoy life?"
Dean has completed the prestigious Executive Directions Program and continues his lifetime of learning at conferences/ seminars and classes whenever available. As a recipient of the Beth Drews Scholarship for 2011, he will continue his education at the Andy Goodman Center (www.thegoodmancenter.com) this spring. He is the 2009 Winner of the Donald Norman Memorial Award for Outstanding Contribution to Disability Arts and Culture.
Lauren McGuinness - Family and Community Coordinator (403.608.5651)
Lauren joined the AAFS team as Office Manager in the Fall of 2010. She is currently completing her Bachelor of Applied Child Studies at Mount Royal University. She has been intrigued by the Autism community since she was just 9 years old, and has become more involved in the last couple of years through private respite, classes, conferences and now her position at AAFS. She is very passionate about the Autism Spectrum as a whole, and specifically to providing well rounded support to the entire family. She enjoys rock climbing, travelling, hanging out with friends and family, meeting new people and families, and going to school!
Michelle (Mitch) Allen- Specialized Program Coordinator (403.477.7694)Mitch (also known as Michelle Allen) has worked with individuals on the spectrum for 15 years. She began at Janus Academy as a Behavioural Therapist and from there has worked at schools such as Calgary Quest as well as Third Academy. She has now been working with AAFS for over 4 years and is committed to AAFS because of the agency's drive to foster friendships within the ASD community and commitment to value and accept all of our community for the wonderful people they are. Mitch has also been a professional dancer for over 10 years, teaches dance classes as well as self- esteem workshops through dance in schools.
Raewyn Reid- Program Coordinator BIO TBA
Anton Robert Smith Gasper -Volunteer Coordinator BIO TBA
Kyla McPhee - Social Recreational Companion
Kyla has been with AAFS since 2008. She is currently completing her Honours degree in Psychology at the University of Calgary. Her favourite part of AAFS is getting to know the members, who enjoy her silly and energetic nature. On her spare time, Kyla loves to try new sports, but mostly does gymnastics, read, run and dance.
Tanya Hutchinson -Social Recreational Companion
Tanya has been with AAFS since October 2010. She graduated last spring (2010) with her BSc in Psychology from the University of Victoria. She is currently taking a Masters of Science in Counselling Psychology through the University of Calgary. In the past, Tanya has volunteered with adults with disabilities and has been a developmental aid worker for young children with Autism. Tanya is outgoing, sociable, and committed. She has joined AAFS because she is passionate about supporting independence, interpersonal growth, and providing support in the community to individuals with special needs. Tanya enjoys playing/watching hockey, football, dancing, reading, camping, meeting new people, and spending time with her family and friends.
Michael Hetherington - Social Recreational Companion
Mike originally came to us from our GO program and started volunteering - he was so wonderful that we had to have him as staff. Mike is extremely thoughtful and always takes the time to get to know each of the AAFS youth. He is the first person to help, and is dedicated to make sure everyone has fun. In his spare time Mike enjoys working out, movies, anime, poker and computers.
Addison Roy - Social Recreational Companion
Addison has been working at AAFS since 2010. Prior to his employment, he was originally introduced to the organization as a participant. His willingness to take a leadership role with the other members of AAFS often proved invaluable in many of the activities he participated in, especially amongst our adolescents. We were happy to learn that he was interested in volunteering with us, and we quickly asked him if he was willing to become a regular respite worker. Addison is currently attending open studies at Mount Royal University. He is an occasional rock climber and an advanced level skier who is more than willing to help others learn these hobbies. Addison is also an avid video gamer, and probably the only staff member who can keep up with the AAFS members in that regard.
Matt Cho- Social Recreational Companion
Matt has been with AAFS almost since the beginning - his brother is one of our oldest members. Matt is currently lives in Ontario and is completing a degree in Psychology. Every summer we are excited to have Matt back with the group!
Danae Dobbs Social Recreational Companion
Hiiii!!! My name is Danae Dobbs – Pronounced daa-nay! I am almost a quarter of a century old and am currently going to Mount Royal University. I will be completing the disability studies diploma program in April of next year. I love the career path I’ve chosen; although it took me a while to figure out exactly what I wanted to do with my life. However, now that I am not only studying but working in the field, I know I’ve picked the perfect thing for me! I am a super outdoorsy person: camping, hiking, biking, anything that keeps me busy and outside is what makes me most happy.!
Joel Houston-Social Recreational Companion
Joel began working with AAFS around 2007 and keenly recalls a component of his first interview:playing video games with a few participants on a quiet tuesday night. Believing a better people couldn't be had in Calgary, Joel was on board. Finding friendship, community and camaraderie. Joel values highly the chance to create art, engage in discussion and enjoy life with the AAFS crew. Since 2007 Joel has taken time off for music in his band, mid atlantic, screen printing With Burnt Toast Studio, reading or maybe just riding his bike.
lsaac Hashman- Social Recreational Companion
lsaac was born and raised in Calgary but has spent a significant amount of time in Israel which has solidified his Jewish identity. He wide range of music from Micheal Jackson to Pavarotti. He enjoys all kinds of sports including swimming Jil Jitsu and Judo. Socializing and finding out all the ways that people communicate are his passion. lsaac cares deeply about maintaining a positive atmosphere and therefore he strives to create an environment in which everyone can thrive.
Cici Ye- Social Recreational Companion
Cici initially started out as a Volunteer with AAFS until she fell in love with the program and transitioned to being a staff. She currently attends University of Calgary with major in psychology with hopes of pursuing even higher education and perhaps obtaning a doctorate in Psychology as well! Cici loves dancing which includes professional work, teaching classes and trying new dance forms: anything active, hanging out with interesting new people and don't forget forget eating as well! Who doesn't love eating?! Her best friends include her two little brothers as she truly believes in forming a good relationship with siblings, besides being a big sister is awesome!
Asta Gregory - Social Recreational Companion
Asta was recruited into the wonderful community of AAFS in the summer 2012. She recently completed her Honours degree in Psychology at Mount Royal University in 2012, with a aspirations of continuing her education further by ultimately obtaining her PhD. Asta discovered her interest in Autism Spectrum Disorders after volunteering in programs for individuals with various disabilities. Asta loves music festivals,camping,playing the piano and guitar, family vacations, and animals (cats in particular).
Amy Homer- Relief Social Recreational Companion
Amy has been with AAFS since July 2010. She is currently attending the University of Alberta and is going into her third year of nursing. She loves being around kids and young adults and is hoping to work with them once she graduates. She enjoys being active and having fun so all the great activities and trips that AAFS has to offer are right up her alley!! Amy is outgoing, likes to try new things and absolutely loves making new friends so she can’t wait to get back into the AAFS community and continue to meet all of its awesome members.!!
Riley Ogilvey- Relief Social Recreational Companion
Riley has been with AAFS since June 2011. She has recently completed a BSc in Psychology from the University of Victoria. The things she loves the most about AAFS are the friendships, the accepting environment, and how much everyone learns from each other. Riley also loves traveling, camping, biking, knitting, baking, photography, and meeting new people.!
Michelle Au- Social Recreational Companion
Michelle joined the awesome AAFS team in December 2012! She absolutely enjoys forming new friendships and what better place to do that than at AAFS? She is currently completing a Bachelor of Health Sciences, majoring in Biomedical Science and minoring in Piano Performance. Piano has been an integral part of her life and she hopes that she can incorporate that into many other people’s lives as well. In her spare time, she loves to read and watch Victorian period dramas, volunteer, travel, cook, decorate cakes, eat, meet new people, and try weird things! Fun fact: She’s eaten bee larvae before, as well as rode an ostrich.
Crystal Roberts- LAAFS Facilitator
Crystal took a more concrete roll at AAFS in September 2012, but was a part of the Art programs in years past. She has always been kept in the loop of AAFS activities via Dean whom she has known from years spent at Society for Treatment of Autism ‘Margaret House’. For the past eight or more years she has been involved in the Autism/Asperger community where she has learnt a lot about herself and people. As part of a diverse group of individuals at AAFS Crystals background is in the arts with a BFA in painting as well as hours and certificates in Yoga training. She is relentless on learning new things and always evolving. Her interest’s are in people, nature, bikes (motorized and manual pedaling), art , music, animals and so much more. Her favorite part about the community she is part of is in the various ways in which youth view the world.
Kaley Hutchinson- Social Recreational Companion
Kaley joined AAFS in April 2013. Currently, she is in the process of completing her Kinesiology degree majoring in Pedagogy and Exercise Physiology through the University of Calgary. Kaley has joined AAFS because she loves meeting new people, building new friendships, and enjoys playing a role in a supportive environment. Kaley is friendly, committed, and thrives on challenges. She is extremely passionate about sports and living healthy lifestyles, spending her spare time playing hockey, swimming, and enjoying the outdoors. Also, she absolutely loves animals - especially dogs.