The Team

 

Trustees

Gilles Pelenc

Founder, Trustee Chair

In 2007-8, both Gilles’ sons were diagnosed with Autism (at 2 years and 18 months respectively). As a family, they decided to do everything they could to provide the boys early professional and specialist intervention at all cost. Both boys went to a private pre-school ASD specialist nursery and went on to be admitted to an ASD specific state school at Reception. Alongside having to deal with a double dose of the usual every day Autism challenges - on virtually zero sleep for the first 5 years - Gilles' and his wife went on to become a school governor in an ASD school and to take on the local authorities in an successful attempt to a change of setting. They also embarked on a never-ending research for positive therapies that could help the boys with their development.

Having built a great network of resources and an even greater circle of influence within the world of Autism, it has now become a mission, to bring this experience to bear to help and support as many families as possible so their battles become easier, their limited resources can be optimised and their children's lives are improved beyond what would otherwise be possible.

Guided by this passion, he brings with him a pioneering vision for a comprehensive online hub that will act as a one-stop shop of high-quality resources and recommendations for any parent needing support for their autistic child in any area, and which will be one of the cornerstones of The Transforming Autism Project.

Rob Baillie

Clinical Advisor

Rob a qualified nurse has more than 30 years experience working within the health and social care sectors supporting both children and adults with learning disabilities and/or autism and has undertaken many Strategic, Clinical and Senior Operational roles His experience spans concept, design, development and service delivery. In 2006, at the age of 4, his son was diagnosed with ASD and ADHD.

Rob is driven by supporting individuals to experience ‘quality lifestyles’. He became Clinical Advisor to the Transforming Autism Project in August 2017 where his clear intentions are to support the Project in achievement of its mission and vision.  He was appointed to the Trustee Board in June 2018.

 

Teresa Cameron

Treasurer

A Qualified Corporate Treasurer with over 20 years’ experience Leading Finance Teams across Financial Services, Media, Not for Profit and FinTech industries. Also Treasurer for a local Scouts group who have recently completed a Hut Redevelopment project after securing finance through Fundraising and Grants.

Having a son Joe, now 16, who was diagnosed with Asperger’s at the age of 9 after a very long diagnostic process I am passionate about helping Children and Families with early intervention and support by being part of this exciting new charity.

When I am not working I like to spend time with my husband, 2 teenagers & 3 pugs and running in 10k & ½ Marathon events.

John Barrett

Advisor

John was a key member of the team that set up and developed the Small Charities Coalition; an organisation supporting and advocating the UK small charity sector. He was CEO at the charity from 2014-17.

John has over 10 years experience in all aspects of charity management, operations and leadership. In this - his first Chair role - he is relishing the opportunity to further develop his skills and support the setting up and growth of this exciting and important start-up.

Leadership

Guy Shahar

Founder, CEO

Guy grew up in Wolverhampton in the 1980s. As a child and young adult, he had many undiagnosed autistic traits, especially affecting his social awareness and understanding. This continued into his 20s, but after he began practising Heartfulness meditation aged 27, many of the adverse effects of these traits began to recede and he gained more command of his life and direction.

Now married with his own son of 8 years, who himself has autism, he has worked as a radio broadcaster, a TEFL teacher and teacher trainer, and most recently as a project manager in IT, a role he left in 2016 to establish this charity.

Early in 2016, he unexpectedly found himself writing a book, (Transforming Autism), which describes his family’s remarkable quest to support his son and transform his quality of life. Through this quest, they found some truly remarkable therapies, which have opened their eyes to the true nature of autism and to effective ways to behave towards autistic children – especially young ones – to be able to bring out the best in them.

The book was written in little more than 6 weeks, and shortly following its completion, Guy launched the Transforming Autism Project as a means of raising awareness of the true potential inherent in autism and equipping parents and carers with the tools to bring out the best in their autistic children. A major step forward in this will be taken with the establishment of a UK Mifne Clinic by 2020.

As well as meditation, Guy loves to write, and as well as his 2 books (the other - a collection of short stories - is called Leaving Town), he has also written a 6-part TV comedy series and 2 films. He also enjoys music, playing the piano (and formerly the guitar), though not to any level of technical mastery, and only his own compositions.

Andy Hunt

Strategy & Improvement

Andy is semi retired after a 35 year career in Business Management and Consultancy, principally in IT.  He has travelled extensively, working with teams around the world, coaching and consulting in Business Improvement with leaders from Strategy through to Operational Delivery. Andy continues to practice as a Personal and Business Coach and is also a Trustee for an educational charity working with Children in Uganda. 

His interest in TAP arises from a personal experience of what can be achieved with young people through focusing on their needs and recognising their many gifts.

For fun, Andy enjoys practicing and teaching Karate and sailing. 

To Be Appointed

Directors for our 4 divisions: Delivery, Outreach, Operations and Strategy and Improvement.

Marketing

Daniel Weatherhead

Social Media

Daniel is the founder Abundance Digital Marketing, an award winning business based at the Business Technology Centre.

MBA graduate from Ashridge Business School; U.S Equity Sales Trader and Futures Trader using market profile technical analysis;  Start up Investor, Yourself Store, DW Futures and Abundance Digital Marketing.

Passionate about education, and a great believer in the power of digital marketing and increasing website visibility, reach, engagement and conversion of visitors into leads and sales.

 

Deborah Mondella

Branding

Debora is a Brand Marketing Specialist and Creative Director with extensive international experience.

Currently in London; she has also worked in Dubai and Italy and has led projects in Asia, Europe, Africa and Middle East.

For 12 years, she has been driving the brand and digital strategy of companies from various sectors, including non-profit organizations, by launching, nurturing and revitalising their brands.

When not working, she enjoys creating visual arts, such as painting and photography. She is keen to use her creative and branding skills for Transforming Autism and help achieve the global awareness it deserves.

 

Amanda Sampson

Campaigns

Amanda has worked in marketing and communications for many years for a broad range of industries including the third sector (The Dogs Trust, HFMA) as well as global organisations (Virgin, Axa) and currently enjoying a specialist customer experience role within the energy industry. Amanda is really proud to be offering all the skills and experience gained from her career to date to support Transforming Autism make a difference and flourish.

 

Aicha Kassoul

Campaigns

Aicha has worked in Communications for over 10 years, working for a range of organisations including housing, education and financial regulation. Her main areas of specialism are corporate and employee engagement, strategy, change management and internal communications. She is keen to use her skills to help make a difference and raise awareness of the importance of early intervention.

 

 

Richard Excell

Graphic Design

Richard has run his own company, Excell Design & Marketing, since 2005 helping SMEs to plan and implement marketing and visual communications. He has also worked closely with several charities, including Grassroots Suicide Prevention creating their branding and several successful campaigns.

With wide-ranging experience in creating organisations' identities, websites, advertising and digital campaigns, exhibition and event, as well as marketing strategy and planning, Richard is passionate about his work and the results for his clients.

Having a family member with Aspergers, he recognises and champions the importance of raising awareness of The Transforming Autism Project and promoting its goals as a charity.

External Affairs

Aoife O'Mahoney

Researcher

Aoife has previously worked in clinical healthcare in Ireland, and has experience caring for both adults and children. She has also worked in academic nursing research at University College Cork, which focused on nursing and healthcare services, with an emphasis on ensuring best practice and evidence-based care. She subsequently studied neuroscience and psychopathology in the Netherlands, and is currently conducting experimental empathy research at the University of Reading.

 

Oliver Buckley-Mellor

Policy Specialist

Oliver is an MA student at the University of York working in public policy. He holds a BA in History from the University of Warwick and was the President and Chair of the Warwick and York student think tanks respectively.

 

 

 

Despina Biri

Researcher

Despina is a researcher and editor. She has worked at UCL, King's College London, and as a consultant at the World Health Organization. As a freelancer, she supports effective public engagement for academia, policy, and charities.

An experienced academic and literary translator, she speaks Greek, Dutch, German and French, in addition to English. Her role in Transforming Autism is to gather evidence on early intervention,and to help raise awareness of emerging approaches to the treatment of autism.

 

 

Projects (Mifne & Hub)

Stephen Morris

Project Manager

Passionate and creative project management and marketing professional with broad experience.

I have always wanted to improve the lives of others, particularly through education. In volunteering with Transforming Autism, I am motivated to help transform the lives of autistic children and their parents to secure a brighter, happier and more fulfilling future by providing them with the resources and support they need.

 

Jessica Olive

Therapist

Jessica is training as an Integrative Child Psychotherapist and working towards UKCP registration through study and a clinical placement within a North London based primary school. Jessica is currently working with a number of children with ASD diagnosis and will be specialising in this area upon completing her studies.

She is passionate about helping children and their families to bear the pain that can result when children are in distress and need support in understanding and managing overwhelming emotions.

Jessica works using the arts to facilitate expression of emotion and to deepen understanding. Her work extends beyond individual sessions to working closely with parents, the school and external agencies to provide a holistic approach to supporting each child.

Claudio de Soussa

Therapist

I am a child/young person’s counsellor, specialist educator and trainer in autism and special needs with 27 years experience working in schools (from primary to further education), charities and privately.

I am passionate about facilitating a therapeutic process for healing and positively changing the lives of autistic people and their families to discover the great potential within themselves. In therapy I work integrative and creatively, the main media of exploration and experience of healing is done with the use of the Arts. I am also skilled in managing ‘challenging behaviour’ and in non-verbal requirements,

Ruth Israel

Therapist

Ruth has been working as a psychotherapist since 2009. She is an avid supporter of "the earlier the better" when working therapeutically with autism; as real change can occur when children's brains are developing.

Ruth works as a therapist with children and young people in schools, charities and privately. Her work is very diverse and she is passionate about working to help children, young people and families to feel better about themselves and in relation to others and the outside world. This is done in the context of an empathic therapeutic relationship: in a safe, caring and confidential space. She works using image, metaphor, play, the arts, the body and more, to facilitate self-awareness and healing in children and young people with various issues. She is UKCP registered and a member of BACP.

Yasmin Gal

Therapist

People and dance have always been a significant part of Yasmin’s life. She finds great joy in working with people and share with them meaningful moments through dance and movement.

Previously a special needs teacher (mainly autism), Yasmin is now a qualified dance-movement psychotherapist (MA) from Goldsmiths, University of London with vast experience in working with children, young people and adults. She holds a private practice in north London and works in Special needs schools around London and charities, using a holistic, dynamic and person-centred approach combining dance, play, art and music.

Respect for the children and young people she works with, their families, background and needs is a core value in her life and work.

IT

Hesan David Yousif

IT Lead

Coming Soon

Randy Perkins-Smart

Assistant IT Lead

Randy is Interim IT Lead for The Transforming Autism Project.

He is an accomplished Microsoft Certified Technology Specialist / Professional, BCS Chartered IT Professional and Prince 2 Practitioner specialising in SharePoint and web based information systems. He has over 15 years’ experience working in and managing teams within various sectors.

 

Human Resources

Dani Giles

HR Lead & Recruitment Lead

Dani is an experienced recruitment operations manager who has worked within the welfare to work sector and with private and public sector clients.

Dani has over 10 years recruitment experience and specialises in:

360 recruitment process

Attraction and campaign management

Engagement & selection process

Headhunting

Relationship Management

Strategic planning and budgeting

Dani has a passion for working with non profit organisations.

 

Paul Harding

Organisational Development Specialist

I am an Organisation development professional, with over 20 year’s experience of global companies, professional services, public sector and start ups in the UK, Europe and the US. I’m passionate about making a difference through leading projects in organisation design, culture change, leadership development, and change management, and feel very excited about bringing this experience to Transforming Autism

I am also a script writer and budding film maker and like to bring my grasp of narrative and story-telling to my work life too.

 

Derek Sims

Employee Engagement

Derek, an experienced HR specialist initially worked in the private sector but the majority of his experience has been in the public sector with the NHS and the charitable sector with Oxfam.

Derek's initial experience was with Learning and Development before enjoying a comprehensive role as a HR Director. Finally with Oxfam Derek developed a major enthusiasm for volunteering and its power to change peoples lives.

For many years Derek has been aware of the inadequate services available for autistic children and their families and is delighted to have an opportunity to work with the Transforming Autism Project.

 

Laura Cabantous

Employee Engagement

Laura has recently returned to Europe and has made London her new home after a short stint living and working in Australia, and before that in Thailand and Singapore.

Curious about people’s behaviours, needs and values, Laura is also passionate about understanding the drivers of employee engagement, retention and organisational culture.

She hopes her contribution will help Transforming Autism to make a positive impact on lives.

Jane Marron

HR Governance

I have worked within HR both at a strategic and operational level in various sectors such as not for profit, education & manufacturing.  I hope through my experiences I can provide a positive aspect to the charity.

Throughout my working life I have volunteered both with homeless charities and within education.  I have also worked with young people as a mentor and as a trainee youth worker.  I have a passion for giving back to society, and believe that all children from whatever background, should be given the best opportunity to fulfil their potential..

 

Lulu Bates

Recruiter

Lulu has been working in Recruitment since 2016. She has well-rounded experience in directly sourcing and screening candidates, scheduling interviews, issuing paperwork and contributing to process improvements.

As a previous volunteer for Streetlink and Crisis at Christmas, Lulu is raring to jump back into volunteering again and make her biggest and most positive impact yet. Her sister was diagnosed with severe Autism aged 2 and a half. Hiring people who want to give their own unique contribution to the goals of TAP is also a big motivator to her commitment.

Lulu has previously lived in Scotland and England, and is planning a trip to Canada for 2018 to pursue her outdoor passions (like hiking and kayaking).

Cassandra Casey-Clothier

Recruitment Admin

Coming soon

Sugandha Agnani

HR Advisor

Sugandha is an HR Professional with eight years experience in Banking and FMCG industry. She has worked in India and the UAE and recently relocated to London. She has experience across an array of HR Functions including Manpower, Talent, Performance Management, Training and Development, and plans to use her skills and expertise to provide HR Support to TAP. She has previously volunteered with two NGOs in India, where she used to teach English to underprivileged kids.

Sugandha is a certified Hatha Vinayasa yoga teacher and in her spare time loves to practice and teach yoga.

Morwenna McNeil

Volunteer Manager

Morwenna has worked in charities as an employee and volunteer for over ten years. After graduating from Cambridge, she completed an internship at The Stroke Association and a traineeship in Marketing & Administration. Morwenna ran her own business for two years, tutoring and mentoring young people.

In 2016 she began work at Teenage Cancer Trust delivering motivating and inspiring presentations on cancer awareness in schools and to professional audiences. Morwenna is an experienced stake-holder manager and builds and maintains supporter networks.

At TAP, Morwenna helps us work better as a team, delivering internal communications and constantly looking for new ways to support volunteers as our charity grows.

Agata Kozlowska

HR Advisor - Governance

Agata is fully qualified HR professional with many years experience working for third sector organisations such as Save the Children and The Children's Trust. She is skilled in delivering commercial solutions and process improvements; and coordinating and developing high-performance teams. For the last two years, Agata has worked as an ER Specialist and Employment Law consultant and her work included representation at Employment Tribunals, ACAS Early Conciliation, settlement negotiations ect. Currently studying MSc in International Human Resources Management at Kingston University, Agata will use her expertise, skills and knowledge to help develop TAP’s key HR policies and functions.

 

Finance

Chi Azubike

Finance Lead

Chi a Fellow of Chartered Association of Certified Accountants – (FCCA) has 20 years post qualification experience in corporate finance, eleven of which were spent in the BBC and five in Capita.  Chi’s extensive finance experience cut across statutory, management, project and contract accounting.  Most of all, she is motivated both by the values shared within Transforming Autism Project team as well as a keen desire to contribute towards improving the lives and wellbeing of children with autism and their families.

External Support

Andrew Bourke

Employment HR Consultant

Absolutely HR have a passion for protecting our clients, and ensuring that they get the best possible advice whatever the employee issues, on anything that impacts HR or Employment Law. We are business people in the people business.

We provide our clients with 24/7 HR and Employment Law support and advice, and where possible, we are onsite to help and assist with the issues at hand.

We offer a free initial HR Healthcheck to any potential client, which includes a review of their Contracts of Employment and Company Handbook.