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.

John Barrett

 

 

 

 

 

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, Daniel, and their life-changing visit to the Mifne Clinic in Israel. This turned Daniel's life around and opened Guy's eyes to the true nature of autism and to the most helpful and effective ways to bring out the best in young autistic children.

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 to make this treatment available to families here.

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

Marghaid Howie

Digital Marketing

Marghaid has been working in marketing for 12 years, and is a specialist in content and social media in the B2B and services industries. She also has experience in translation and interpreting (Spanish, French and Portuguese).

Originally from the Isle of Man, Marghaid now lives in Greater London. Outside of work, she plays badminton, and has helped a number of charities with their digital marketing.

Rosa Burles

Social Media

Rosa recently graduated from the University of Exeter with a BA in Sociology, and is currently working towards certification in Professional Marketing with the Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM).

She has since worked in various marketing roles, most recently as a Marketing Assistant to the Children’s Books department of Oxford University Press.

She is excited to apply her knowledge of social media in particular to help raise awareness for the Transforming Autism Project and its vital goals.

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.

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.

 

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.

 

Kendall Cygan

Therapist

Kendall has been working with children with an autism diagnosis since 2016. She is passionate about working and helping children and their families. She started as a therapeutic teacher for a preschool in the USA where she worked with children who had multiple behavioural and developmental issues. Her primary role as their teacher was to teach the young children coping skills, help them understand their emotions, and engage in free play with them.

Kendall currently works to help children with autism achieve their highest potential. Her job is something that she feels such a great reward from doing and so she chose to expand her expertise and begin working as a counsellor for families and parents who have children with an ASD diagnosis. She strongly believes in developing the entirety of the child and to do this, she ensures that the child along with the family are being fully supported.

With her two master degrees, Kendall hopes to pursue a doctorate degree in the near future to help extend autism awareness worldwide. She believes that each child deserves the best possible care, regardless of their financial status. Kendall has seen first hand the impact of therapeutic work with children and is a true supporter of providing early interventions to children with autism.

IT

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.

 

Bianca Dorling

HR  Assistant Lead

Bianca or 'Bee' is an experienced HR Project Manager, with comprehensive experience coordinating employees and management of HR specialisms, while ensuring stringent compliance to industry and legal obligations. She enjoys studying whilst working, having completed her Masters in 2017, and is currently completing a Diploma in Coaching and Mentoring.

This is Bianca's first time volunteering with a charity but she is very excited to be part of the growth and development of the charity. She has a keen interest in gaining a deeper understanding of Autism and acting as a true support to the charity.

 

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.

 

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.

 

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.