Our Volunteer Team

Core Team

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 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.

 

Amy Evans

Trustee, HR & 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.

 

Heather Rendell

Trustee, Individual Giving Fundraiser

Heather has over thirteen years fundraising experience. Passionate about making meaningful change for future generations, she is keen to be part of the team working toward Transforming Autism's key values.

After graduating from the University of Adelaide (Australia) with a degree in Education, Heather worked as a music teacher. While teaching, Heather volunteered at children's charities and discovered an interest in Fundraising, eventually shifting focus into working as a career fundraiser.

Heather moved to the UK in 2019 with her partner (and their dog) and likes to travel, cook, paint, and is currently trying her hand at growing vegetables in the greenhouse.

 

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.

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.

 

 

Jane Yates

Therapist

I am a creative and dedicated Integrative Child and Adolescent Psychotherapeutic Counsellor, part of the wonderful therapist team at Transforming Autism.

My role is to work therapeutically with the family and young person, this requires me to be respectful and work with a high degree of trust and integrity. The basis of my work is to contain the child’s anxiety through playful engagement. I use a developmentally informed technique (particularly in responding to any pre-verbal behaviours). I notice when I am working with a much younger internal state of the child, which helps me to think about particular developmental deficits they may have experienced through their development and I meet the child there (through play) to repair and build the child’s sense of self.

 

 

Mary Denman

Pediatric Occupational Therapist

Mary has been a paediatric Occupational Therapist for 15 years, working with children and families in their homes and education settings, helping them to achieve their potential and remove barriers to learning and play. The children and caregivers are always at the heart of her therapy interventions, to ensure mutually agreed, meaningful and achievable goals are set.

She also has personal experience of the complex and exciting journey that is Autism, having a beautiful daughter who has a diagnosis of Autism, ADHD and severe anxiety. This has helped in her professional work as she can empathise with caregivers as they navigate the journey with their own children.

Mary can’t wait to watch the charity grow and to work with the team to support families across Oxfordshire.

 

Services

Ira Bhattacharya

Service Design & Safeguarding

I completed my PhD in Environmental Science from India and my post doc from in the USA. I lived and worked in Australia before moving to the UK. I decided on a career change and worked in Children Services in two Local Authorities - in Education Welfare Service, Fostering & Adoption and Children Service Commissioning for 18 years.

Alongside my job I served as a Grammar school Governor for 10 years, a Board member of Buckinghamshire Mind, a Trustee at Aylesbury Multicultural Centre, and held positions in community groups /social interest organisations. I recently moved to London and currently serve as a Trustee and life member in two organisations.

I like to travel, grow houseplants and meet new people.

Currently seeking

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

 

Fundraising

Currently seeking

Fundraisers in all areas, especially Trusts, Individual Giving and Corporates.

 

Marketing

Elizabeth Oldfield

Marketing Volunteer

My name is Elizabeth and I have several years’ experience in marketing, I hold an MSc in Digital Marketing Communications and a BA (Hons) in Photography and Moving Image.

I have 3 children, and one of my sons, who is 8, is autistic. Having very recently been through the process of the diagnosis and seeking support for him I would like to contribute to helping other families get the support they need through the Transforming Autism Project and use both my marketing skills and experience with autism together to make a difference.

 

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 a Wasps game. The Six Nations is his happiest time of year.

 

Finance

Margaret Oso

Finance Manager

Details coming soon

 

Human Resources

Michael Dellapina

Human Resources

Michael is a Human Resources professional with HR experience spanning two decades.

He is a native of New York City and has extensive international experience, having lived and worked in Germany, Greece, Poland and the United States. In 2009, Michael moved to live and work in London.

In addition to holding both Bachelor of Science and Master of Business Administration degrees, Michael is fully certificated by the Human Resources Certification Institute (HRCI®) as a Senior Professional in Human Resources (SPHR®).

He has a keen passion for helping organisations harness the power of their people by establishing forward-thinking HR agendas to enable growth.

Michael delights in being physically active and has a passion for HIIT workouts, running as well as hiking to explore the beauty of the English countryside.

 

Faye Long

Human Resources

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.

 

Maurine Yeung

HR Volunteer

Originated from Hong Kong, Maurine has just moved to the UK in late 2021. She is enjoying her new home and is extremely excited to be a member of The Transforming Autism Project.

Maurine is a passionate and engaging People practitioner with over 20 years of human resources experience. Prior to moving to the UK, she worked in multinational corporations across various sectors (e.g., hospitality, luxury retail, gaming and property) in Asia Pacific. She holds a BA (Hons) in Hospitality Management and a Master of Business Administration.

Maurine loves art and culture, so reading and travelling are her favourite pastimes. She has also recently developed a strong interest in Pilates and home cooking!

 

 

 

Recruitment

 

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.

 

 

Stevie Robertson

Recruiter

I have been working in recruitment since I graduated university in 2014. I hold a level 5 CIPD qualification and am currently studying towards an NVQ level 5 in Leadership and Management.

In my spare time I play football for a local ladies team and I also love to travel with a purpose, including a trip to Thailand to teach English and spending 2 months at a summer camp in the USA.

I love what TAP sets out to achieve and look forward to bringing my skills and knowledge to the team.