Meet Our Team

Leadership & Trustees

Tracy Pepper

Chief Executive Officer

Originally from the Northeast, Tracy is an experienced Charity leader, and Coach. She joined Transforming Autism in February 2024 from the young people’s Charity” Fight for Peace” where she was CEO.

Previously she worked as Education Director for Catch22 , where she developed and launched the Charities Alternative Education Schools network for children and young people excluded from mainstream schools including those with special education needs and with Education and Health Care Plans. She later became CEO of the Multi Academies Trust. She also worked with the Youth Development Charity Skills force.

Before that, she worked in the commercial sector in senior Operational, People and Customer Service roles.

Driven by strong personal values, enabling social change, people development and service quality she is passionate about working and advocating on behalf of children and young people (and their families) to ensure they can receive the support they need to live full and happy lives.

 

Guy Shahar

Founder

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 slowly gained more command of his life and direction.  His own autism was confirmed in 2018 at the age of 46.

Now married with his own son of 8 years, who is himself autistic, he has worked as a radio broadcaster, a TEFL teacher and teacher trainer, an IT Project Manage, but is now an energy healer at his company, Heartful Healing.

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 Centre 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, which was written in little more than 6 weeks, led to Guy's aclaimed TED talk, The Beautiful Reality of Autism, later that year, and to the launch of 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.

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 large selection of articles for Transforming Autism, 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.

 


Carla McLuskie

Board Chair

Meet Carla, our Board Chair at the Transforming Autism Project since 2023. With over a decade of experience in both startup businesses and the non-profit world, Carla is a seasoned leader dedicated to making a difference.

Carla's journey in the world of autism support began in Ireland, where she spent six years working with a small autism charity. Her remarkable fundraising and leadership skills earned her numerous awards, and she played a pivotal role in transforming the charity into a nationally recognised, leading provider, of autism assistance dogs.

Carla is not just about accolades; she's passionate about non-profit causes. She previously served on the board of PayPal Giving Fund in Ireland and chaired two forums for the Charities Institute of Ireland.

Now back in her homeland, the UK, Carla leads the Digital Fundraising Academy. But her heart remains committed to improving early intervention support for autism as a Trustee of the Transforming Autism Project.

Carla's dedication, experience, and passion help drive us forward in our mission to make a positive impact in the world of autism.

 


Ed Kamm

Trustee, Treasurer

Ed is an experienced international executive with 25+ years experience covering multiple sectors including energy, broadband, travel and technology. He is currently a strategic advisor at Homely, a digital real estate start-up, and a trustee at the charity Words Matter.

Ed has significant experience and accomplishments in driving growth, digital transformation, implementing customer focused change, business scale-ups and turn-arounds. He most recently was CEO at Shell Energy Retail, the household gas and electricity retailer, which was created from the acquisition of the digital disrupter First Utility, which he helped build from 50k to 1m customers. Previously, he spent 18 years at Sabre Holdings, including 9 years at online travel specialists Travelocity and lastminute.com.

Ed is originally from Chicago, moving to the UK in 2005 with his wife and two children. Ed has called time on his full time career and is now focused on giving back through charity and doing a bit of advisory work. Autism is close to his heart as a result of friends and family. Ed enjoys sports of all kinds, travelling, and challenging himself to learn new things.


Amy Evans

Trustee, Recruitment 

Amy is a Board Partner in a leading recruitment company, where she has worked for over 10 years based first in Leeds, then London and now works nationally throughout the UK.

Her family instantly grew when she met and married her husband and she is now a very happy StepMum to his daughter Clara and StepMum to Alfie who was diagnosed in his early years with Asperger’s Syndrome. Amy felt drawn to get involved and to support this worthwhile charity after she experienced at first hand the challenges the world throws at him.

When she’s not eating Haribo on the sofa with the family, Amy loves swimming, laughing with friends and still finds time in her busy working day to juggle a million other things. She loves to be active and is always looking for new avenues of learning.


Gilles Pelenc

Trustee, Co-Founder

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 costs. 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 a 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.


Faye Long

Trustee, HR

Faye is a Human Resources Business Partner for a financial services organisation with over 15 years' experience in the field. She studied Mathematics with Business Studies at university and also went on to achieve her CIPD qualification.

She has 3 children and 2 step children and her two boys are both autistic. Having received lots of professional help at a very early age Faye's youngest son has been able to go to mainstream school thanks to the support he received.

As a result of this experience Faye would like to help other families get the support they need.

In her free time Faye loves to go running and also during lock-down has developed a passion for gardening.


Our Therapists

Arianna Pulsoni

Lead Therapist

Arianna Pulsoni is a Lecturer at the Department of Psychosocial and Psychoanalytic Studies at University of Essex. She works as a seminar leader, teaching infant observation and work discussion at the Anna Freud National Centre for children and families. She has conducted consultancy for Aflatoun and UNICEF on adolescent mental health and she has developed early childhood courses and trainings for trainers. She is a child and adolescent psychoanalytic psychotherapist. She has worked in NHS and in schools. She is the head of the counselling service at an international school. She is currently researching on intergenerational family difficulties and parent work at the Tavistock Clinic, on child psychotherapy and virtual reality at University of Essex and on multilingualism Emotion and cognition in multilingual development across the lifespan.


Zuzana Camm

Therapist

Zuzana Camm, MA, is a therapeutic play coach and child psychotherapist. Zuzana is passionate about sharing her knowledge about the therapeutic potential of child-led and developmentally sensitive play.

Zuzana sees play as a wonderful tool for cultivating personal and interpersonal wellbeing and more satisfying functioning in everyday life. Her work is anchored in over 20 years of experience of supporting children from 0 – 16 years old in a variety of care, educational and therapeutic settings and also in homes.

She has been mentored by senior psychotherapists and occupational therapists to deepen and widen her understanding of the fascinating connection between the emotions and sensory integration. Zuzana’s enthusiasm for her work is fuelled by witnessing the growing connection between the children and their parents as the therapeutic process unfolds.


Jan Forwood

Pediatric Occupational Therapist

Jan has been a paediatric Occupational Therapist for 35 years, working with children and families in school and at home to ensure children reach their potential and remove barriers to learning and play. Jan is a sensory integration trained therapist with a passionate belief that early intervention and support improves lives and outcomes for the child and the family. Jan believes that child and family centred intervention is essential to making therapy practical and deliverable and must be mutually agreed, with meaningful and achievable goals.

Jan also works in the SEND system in Essex supporting children and families in education with Education, health and care plans as well as preparing assessments for tribunal. She knows and understands the power of the environment in making life manageable for children with ASD and passionately believes in the importance of empowering parents with the knowledge and confidence to support their child.

Jan has four grown up sons and two beautiful grandchildren but after raising 4 wonderful boys acknowledges that the world is equipped for the neurotypical, accessing the right help and support for a child with ASD is a challenge. For any parent life can be a challenge but for children with additional needs getting the right support is key to a happy, successful family life.


Kate Beckwith

Therapist

I am very pleased to be part of the Transforming Autism Project team as Child Psychotherapist for the Colchester area.

I am a practising Psychotherapist, fully qualified, and registered member of the BACP. I run my own private psychotherapy practice specialising in working with children & adolescents utilising the outdoors, nature, animals, art, and play. Parent work forms a central part of this work. Containing, supporting and empowering parents through helping them notice and understand their child’s communications helps enhance the bond between them, reducing anxiety by better understanding the child’s needs.

My approach takes into consideration realistic external pressures faced by families when assessing the best form of intervention. I am particularly passionate about supporting the parents of infants and young children as early interventions can have a significant long-term impact.


Amanda Hitchin

Psychodynamic Counsellor

My name is Amanda Hitchin and I hold an MA is Child and Adolescent Psychodynamic Counselling and a BA in therapeutic practice. I am the owner of Colchester Children’s Counselling. I also support youth groups, schools, and run the podcast ‘The New Therapist in Town’.

I have a keen interest in early parent / infant work, and I have completed additional CPD in infant Observation. My previous experience has been in education, social care and the NHS.

I am a proud advocate for neurodiverse individuals, and I enjoy supporting this client group in developing and understanding themselves in the areas that they feel that they are struggling.


Helen Viana

Psychodynamic Counsellor

Helen Viana is a passionate Psychodynamic Counsellor, with over 20 years of experience, specialises in supporting individuals, especially children and their families, on their journey to emotional well-being.

She began her career as a clinical psychologist in Brazil, focusing on early childhood and parent support. Currently pursuing a master’s degree in counselling children and adults at the University of Essex, her approach is deeply rooted in psychodynamic principles, acknowledging the profound impact of early experiences on emotional development.

Helen collaborates closely with parents to create a nurturing home environment. Beyond her practice, she's dedicated to raising awareness of children's mental health through workshops and seminars.


Julia Beech

Occupational Therapist

Since qualifying as an occupational therapist in 1985, Julia has worked with a broad range of children, assessing and treating a wide range of conditions. She has worked in a variety of settings, including the NHS, social services, private clinics, mainstream and special schools. Voluntary work as a school governor, also provided her with a valuable insight into the education system.

She is particularly interested in sensory processing and completed her Post Graduate Certificate in Sensory Integration from Ulster University in 2013. In her role as a placement educator, she has enjoyed mentoring occupational therapy students from Brunel university.

She loves being outdoors; kayaking in the sea or riding through the woods on her bike.


Nicolas Krueckeberg

Senior Clinical Adviser

Nicolas Krueckeberg is an experienced Autism Early Intervention Specialist with a 30-year professional journey in various education and mental health care settings across the UK, Europe, and Switzerland. He holds degrees from Aberdeen University, Anglia Ruskin University Cambridge, and the University of East London. Further, he has trained at the International Institute of Video Intervention Therapy in Paris, the Tavistock Institute in London, the MIFNE Center in Israel, and the Maria-Meierhofer-Institute in Zürich.

In 2010, Nicolas joined the initiative to launch the FIAS-Therapy Centre for Early Intervention in Autism at the University Psychiatric Clinics in Basel. He is also the founder of PER:SPECTRUM, specialising in providing online consultancy, supervision, and training.

Combining approaches from systemic psychotherapy, video intervention, and reciprocal play therapy, Nicolas promotes a comprehensive, relational, and collaborative stance in his early intervention methodology. Driven by his passion for helping families receive timely and flexible support while navigating the challenges of an autism diagnosis, he is dedicated to advancing online interventions and researching new remote coaching methods.


Our Volunteers

Family Services

 

Angélica Madrid Fernández

Family Services Coordinator

Angelica brings over 12 years of experience in project management and events organization, with a strong background in customer service in the hospitality industry.

After living more than 14 years in Singapore, she moved to the UK with her family and took a break in her corporate career to take care of her loved ones and learn new skills.

Volunteering enables her to pursue one of her passions: to improve the lives of those around her. She is an empathetic, enthusiastic individual whose good sense of humour gets her through difficult times. In her spare time, she loves swimming, reading, drawing, travelling, and spending time with family and friends.


Currently seeking

Project Managers and Delivery Leaders to oversee and drive our activities.


Fundraising

Alex Westbrook

Strategy and Development Volunteer

Alex is a Partner and the Chief Operating Officer of a global investment firm supporting category defining Internet and technology companies. Previously Alex was a corporate lawyer at a leading US law firm in London, advising private equity and venture capital firms on the structuring of their funds.

Alex has significant experience in helping and operating high growth businesses and works closely with the board of Trustees at TAP to help with forming and executing the strategic vision for the Charity. Alex is also actively involved in the fundraising side of the charity and is always looking for new ways to raise funds (provided it doesn’t involve him having to run a marathon).

Until recently, Alex was living in Paris with his family and now splits his time between his home in the Cotswolds and his job in London.


Marketing

Jayne Pooley

Marketing Volunteer

Jayne Pooley is a marketing professional holding senior leadership positions in corporate businesses, leading, developing and transforming large marketing teams. She’s worked across marketing, from brand development and product/ growth marketing to business development. She’s been supporting smaller businesses and community-focused charities for several years, where educational outreach programmes have aided in building awareness/ support/funding/ volunteers and helping those most in need.

Jayne is married and moving to Wiltshire. She’s mum to twins with Autism and ADHD/Dyslexia, and Dyspraxia. She and her husband, over the last 6 years, have had to push hard to get the twins diagnosed and the right support. It’s been a challenging journey, and she’s keen to help others avoid the challenges and get the proper support much earlier.

Jayne will be bringing her marketing expertise to help shape how The Transforming Autism Project markets and engages with people who need support.  In her spare time, she sings in an Abbey choir and helps with school fundraising.

 

Araceli Kou

Digital Marketing Lead

I'm Araceli, a seasoned digital marketer originally from Peru, and a firm believer in creating positive change for autistic children.

With extensive experience in global sales strategy and marketing analytics within the beauty industry, I am currently pursuing an MBA in London and leading my own start-up venture.

I am fuelled by my passion for travel and discovering new destinations. I’m excited to join as the Digital Marketing Lead at the Transforming Autism Project and leverage my expertise to optimize reach and impact, connecting families in need, attracting donors, and inspiring new volunteers to join us on this transformative journey.

 

Becky Harkins

Communications & Branding Manager

Becky Harkins has over 15 years experience in all areas of branding, communications and marketing. With a real passion for PR, Becky's role is to get people talking about the amazing work we do at the Transforming Autism Project and sharing our advice and insights with those who need it
With two sons with Autism and ADHD, Becky truly understands the journey for families in the diagnosis process and beyond, and is passionate about helping people find a path that works for their family.
In her spare time, Becky loves reading, trying new board games and she makes a rather good coffee cake.

IT

Neil Cary - IT ManagerNeil Cary

IT Manager

Neil Cary has joined our team to look after our IT needs. He has a career spanning 30+ years in IT and Telecommunications, delivering business transformation programmes worldwide.

Neil holds a degree in Electronic Systems Engineering and is a Chartered Engineer with IET. His first computer was a BBC Micro which certainly dates him. A self-confessed propeller-head and nerd, he builds websites in his free time when he's not working for Salesforce. He is delighted to be able to offer these skills to Transforming Autism.

Married with two grown-up sons, Neil is a dedicated rugby supporter and has not been known to miss an England game. The Six Nations is his happiest time of year.


Finance


Human Resources

 

Vicky Thirkell

HR Lead

My professional background is in HR and Leadership and I now own a HR consultancy that provides professional services to a variety of businesses.

In my spare time, now our house renovation is complete, you will find me walking/trying to run with our dog, Willis, who is a very energetic 3 year old Hungarian Vizsla!

I am excited to be joining the Transforming Autism Project and look forward to helping build and grow this amazing charity that provides support and services to the families and children who need us most.


Shilpy Mahajan

HR Volunteer

Human Resources Generalist with 6 years of experience in Hospitality, IT and Retail industry, with maximum experience in India and a brief experience in Singapore. Recently moved to London with family and now part of TAP team. Always learning something new and amazing from my daughters. Always passionate to learn something new and enhance my skills.

 


Sandi Haigh

HR Volunteer

Christmas 2022 marked the turning point for a new venture in Sandi's life, with her and her husband's move to the UK, leaving sunny South Africa behind. Her desire to assist the Transforming Autism Project stems from her vast experience of more than 20 years in the HR field and her desire to give back to the community. After leaving school, Sandi completed a Bachelor of Social Science degree, majoring in Industrial Psychology, and went on to complete an Honours degree in Human Resources Management.  She has worked in the private and corporate sectors for companies in the wholesale, retail, manufacturing, food, beauty and pharmaceutical industries.

Sandi is a regular volunteer and participant at the weekly parkruns, having completed more than 250 runs herself.  Although not fast, she is committed. She also volunteers on a weekly basis at a charity for paraplegics and quadriplegics where she helps the residents with art classes and plays board games with them. In her spare time, Sandi also enjoys art and has done quite a few mosaics and paintings. She loves nature and conservation and even has her own earthworm farm! During the Covid-19 pandemic, Sandi volunteered on weekends at a seabird sanctuary assisting injured and distressed seabirds, in particular African penguins which are on the extinct list within the next 10 years.

Sandi is married and has two adult children.  She is a keen traveler and has been to the Far East and several island countries, like Mauritius, Zanzibar, Thailand and Bali, enjoying their traditions and beautiful beaches. She enjoys photography and meeting new people.


Gabriella Mercuri

HR Business Partner

Gabriella lives in the Midlands and has worked in financial services (FT and Barclays) and most recently in local government as a senior manager. With over 20 year’s experience in HR and Organisational Learning & Development she has extensive knowledge of adults and children’s social services HR & OD, training design/delivery, apprenticeships, and employee engagement.

Gabriella has volunteered in the past before having children and now they are teenagers she is keen to make a difference again. She is very excited about having the opportunity to share her experience and skills whilst working in a frontline HR capacity as a volunteer, especially in an area she has a personal and professional interest in.

In her spare time Gabriella enjoys cooking and is an avid football Mum driving to various locations in the region to watch lots of games in lots of different weathers.

 


Recruitment

Lisa Hulford

Recruiting Lead

Hello! After gaining my Psychology degree, I took a leap into a career in Recruitment and Human Resources and never looked back.

I’m excited to share these skills and experiences with TAP to help build the teams and support functions that deliver a difference to autistic children and their families.

Outside of work, I enjoy learning, reading good books and taking long walks with my four-legged friend - Charlie the Chihuahua.


Zoe Bryan

Recruiting Lead

I grew up in the UK and received a Bachelor's Degree in Cruise Management from Plymouth. I traveled for four years while working in the cruise industry and now live in Switzerland. I have worked as a recruiting manager for a large cruise industry organisation for the last four years and received a Level 5 HR Certificate from the CIPD. I have been a member of the Transforming Autism Project in September 2021 and I enjoy building the TAP volunteer team and seeing the charity grow.


Elif Yeloglu
Recruiting
​I have over 20 years experiences in hospitality industry. I am from Turkey and I have hospitality management degree from Glion Hotel School in Switzerland. I previously worked in luxury hotel chains in North America, Europe and Turkey. Currently, I am living in London and I have been recruiter for about 2 years and really enjoying finding the right candidate to their dream job. I am excited to be part of the TAP volunteer recruitment team and I look forward to helping the charity to grow.

Brigitte McKenna
Recruiter
A dynamic, results-driven and passionate Senior Talent Acquisition Partner, fluent in English and French. A former Marketing Director, with 12 years’ recruitment experience helping large but mainly
fast-growing, disruptive technology vendors land and expand in Europe. I am also a qualified psychotherapist but currently non-practising. That's the business side.On a personal side, I am the lucky mother of three wonderful daughters all incredibly different. Our youngest daughter who is now 15 was recently diagnosed with ADHD. We faced a long road (4 years) to get the diagnosis. My husband is also autistic, hence my interest in supporting the Transforming Autism Project. We since benefited from a 10 week parental ADHD awareness course which was life changing. I wished we had had the knowledge a long time ago.In my spare time, I love to cycle, run, play tennis, paddle boarding, cook and my favourite is catching crabs and lobster in our pots at sea.