The Team

Trustees

Gilles Pelenc

Co-Founder, Interim 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 AS specialist nursery and went on to be admitted to an AS 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.

 

Dani Giles

Recruitment Lead

Dani earnt her place on the board after more than a year of creating, shaping and leading the Transforming Recruitment team (which she still leads) and also our wider HR team.

She has proven herself to be an effective charity leader and a consistent and passionate champion of the charity.

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

She has over 10 years' recruitment experience and specialises in practically all areas of recruitment.

Dani has a passion for working with non profit organisations.

 

Hema Parmar

Safeguarding Specialist

Hema is an experienced solicitor, driven by purpose and passion to make a real difference to people’s lives. She established a 20-year legal career in the public sector to protect the most vulnerable children and adults. Hema has advised at all levels from social workers to Board level on an extensive range of proposals, policies, statutory duties and litigation in child law, education law and adult social care law. She has a strong focus on lawful decision-making, compliance and good governance to avoid legal challenges and has overseen cases from the Magistrates Court to the Supreme Court.

Being driven by the same core values as Transforming Autism, Hema was motivated to join our growing team. Keen to apply her knowledge and experience, she is committed to ensuring our charity grows and develops and achieves its purpose to transform the lives of children with autism.

Hema’s legal career currently focuses on public sector consultancy roles and as Head of a niche law firm working closely with Outer Temple Chambers, a renowned and leading set of barristers.

Hema’s main passions outside of work are her young family in London, health and wellbeing, yoga and meditation and mentoring her children in their academic and numerous sports commitments.

 

Currently seeking:

Experienced & Dynamic Chair and a passionate Fundraising Trustee.  See our Trustee page for more details.

 

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.

 

Suzanne Cockerham

Marketing Lead

Suzanne has over twenty years' experience in consumer marketing, mainly in the fragrance and beauty industry. During this time, she has been involved in all aspects of marketing campaigns from strategy to activation, experiential to digital. She is looking forward to applying her knowledge with the rest of the team, to raise awareness for TAP.

Suzanne lives in Berkshire with her husband, Kieran and labrador, Mycroft. When not working she enjoys being in the great outdoors, be that on foot or on her bike.

 

Tim George

IT Lead

Tim has been working within Technology for over 20 years across Europe, the US and Asia. He is the founder of an IT Support company, a keen innovator, with an real appetite to blend business and Technology. He is keen to use his knowledge and network to raise awareness for the Transforming Autism project.

Outside of work, he is a keen motorcyclist and spends his spare time with his young family in Buckinghamshire.  As the father of a premature daughter, he also raises awareness for the charity Bliss.  He will be running the 2019 London Marathon.

Chi Azubike

Finance Manager

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.

 

Currently Seeking:

Charity Development Pioneer, Fundraising Lead/Strategist and External Affairs Lead

Marketing

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.

 

Jaxey Lewis

Social Media Manager

Jaxey is the Social Media Manager for The Transforming Autism Project. He is passionate about how storytelling and targeted messaging can create business-changing content. He has eight years' experience in implementing digital marketing strategies, building online communities, and creating social media marketing plans, across a range of industries. When he isn’t working, you’ll find Jaxey in the music studio, hunting down mono vinyl, and learning the guitar.

 

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.

 

Jonathan Harty

Campaigns & Communications

Jonathan is a dedicated activist who has managed a variety of political and charitable campaigns. He specialises in developing grassroots networks, strategic messaging and digital communications. As a campaign manager for the Labour Party he oversaw several successful campaigns in Oxford and London and is an active member of Amnesty International and the Fabian Society.

In his current role, Jonathan works for a national charity as a campaign manager building grassroots networks to achieve meaningful change across the country. He excited to be joining the Transforming Autism project on its journey to empower the families and carers of children with autism.

 

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.

 

Currently seeking:

Communications, Crowdfunding, PR, Campaigns, SEO/Analytics, Web-design, Graphic-design. Videographers

 

External Affairs

Currently seeking:

External Affairs Lead, and specialists in Networking, Research, Events, Policy

 

Therapists

Andrew Shahan

Therapist

Andrew Shahan, MA has spent the last 30 years working with and learning from children with autism and their families in early intervention programs, healthcare organizations, schools and university-based research programs.  He holds a Master’s Degree in Early Childhood Special Education from San Francisco State University and served on the first California State Legislative Blue Ribbon Commission on Autism.

Andrew’s years of direct work with children and adolescents with challenging behavior inspired him to learn everything he possibly could about child development, autism and intervention from leading experts. Recognizing the widening gap between research and practice, Andrew focused his work on coaching parents and professionals to use simple strategies to promote children’s communication, social and emotional development.  Andrew is incredibly excited to bring his knowledge, experience, enthusiasm and deep trust in the power of families to impact their children’s development to The Transforming Autism Project.

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.

 

Currently seeking child therapists with an interest in autism.

 

IT

Randy Perkins-Smart

Assistant IT Lead, Team Support

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.

 

Ato Abraham

IT Support

 

 

 

 

 

Currently seeking:

Infrastructure, Website Management

 

Human Resources

Bianca Dorling

Assistant HR Lead, HR Governance

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.

 

Kimberly Calayag

Recruiter

Kim is an experienced recruiter from Canada and is currently travelling and volunteering in Europe. Most recently Kim worked at the University of Glasgow and was part of the effort to streamline the university's recruitment process. Prior to that Kim was at Mayfair Diagnostics where she and her colleagues took the company through a transformative period of rebranding and new management.

Kim has personally experienced the challenges of autism in her family and is engaged with the issue everyday. The Transforming Autism Project is an unique opportunity for her to join a start-up team in pursuit of a great cause.

 

Paula McInally

Recruiter

Paula is an experienced internal recruiter who loves matching the right person to their dream job.

She has worked in a variety of different sectors including construction, facilities management, healthcare and professional services. She has a keen interest in using social media, direct sourcing and providing a great candidate experience.

She is excited to support The Transforming Autism Project to achieve it's aims and goals.

 

Shambhavi (Sam) Pathak

Recruiter

Shambhavi (Sam) has over 5 years of experience in HR and Recruitment in the charity sector. After her Masters from Warwick University, she joined Save the Children and worked in their HR department contributing in recruitment, HR advising and HR systems integration.

Sam took a career break to take care of her twins but is now back in full time employment working within a care sector charity. She is very enthusiastic to join the Transform Autism Project and be part of the start up team. Sam is looking to build on her current skills and experience by working with like minded people and contribute to the wonderful cause of this project.

 

Sharon Siqueira

Recruiter

Sharon is an experienced HR professional and recruiter. Her interest also lies in the area of career counselling.

She is excited to join and support the Transforming Autism Project.

 

 

Derek Sims

Team 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.

 

Caroline Berlyn

HR Advisor

Caroline is an HR professional with ten years experience developing and managing an effective HR Department in a Special Needs School.

She has a passion for working in child centred organisations, believing in the necessity to ensure that every child has the right to fulfil their potential.

With expertise in safeguarding, HR policies and procedures, recruitment planning, and leading an HR team, Caroline is pleased to be able to use her skills to help support a well run, compliant and responsive HR Department for TAP.

She has a particular interest in autism and is thrilled to be part of the Transforming Autism Project.

 

Atlanta Mansfield

HR Administrator

Atlanta is an experienced HR Professional with a proven history of employment in the not-for-profit/ charity industry. She is highly skilled in HR Information Systems, Data Analysis, Recruitment, Training and other HR processes. Atlanta is currently in the process of completing the CIPD Human Resources Management Level 5 Qualification and enjoys being involved and assisting in new HR projects. Atlanta is excited to be a part of the current HR Team at The Transforming Autism Project and gaining an understanding of Autism and how the charity supports young children.

 

Other

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’.

 

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.