Our Volunteer Team

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 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 himself has autism, he has worked as a radio broadcaster, a TEFL teacher and teacher trainer, and most recently 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 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 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 Clentre 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.

 

Jessica Badley

Trustee, HR Lead

Jessica has worked in the charity, education and voluntary sectors for over 15 years, and has a strong commitment to improving the lives and experiences of young people, especially those from disadvantaged and challenging backgrounds. She is MCIPD qualified and has particular interests in volunteer engagement and wellbeing as well as building organisational culture.  Outside of work, Jessica is an independent expert workplace verifier for the London Healthy Workplace Award, and enjoys travelling, playing netball and dancing. She is excited to be joining the Transforming Autism Project on its journey to unlock potential through early intervention.

 

Rob Manning

Trustee, Digital Marketing Specialist

Rob began his career in marketing communications in 2000, joining award-winning brand and direct response agency Jacob Bailey in 2003 where he is now a Managing Partner and has been responsible for setting up the London Office in 2005, and the New York Office in 2015.

Rob sits on the board and heads up strategy across the Jacob Bailey group, which comprises of 5 agencies whose expertise spans across, digital, shopper, ecommerce and web development, direct marketing and advertising. At board level, Rob has been involved with acquisition and mergers of agencies to join the group as well as setting up Joint Ventures and wholly owned subsidiaries.

 

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 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.

Currently Seeking: 

TRUSTEES, Delivery Leader, Fundraising Leaders, Marketing Lead, External Affairs LeadIT LeadCOO,

 

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 Willems-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.

 

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.

 

Currently seeking

Child therapists with an interest in autism.

Delivery

Shahin Din

Project Manager

Coming Soon

 

Debra Barrett

Project Manager, Testing

My name is Debra Barrett and I have been an IT professional for the last 18 years. The way I run my business has allowed to find time to persue my travel dreams and to give back to good causes. I believe that a balance is important for my personal health and well being. I live in London with my partner Mark and we enjoy cooking healthy food and outdoor pursuits.

Debra will kick into action when our Hub or other projects are ready to be tested before launch.

 

Currently seeking

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

Partnerships

Cyrielle Fleurence

Digital Strategic Advisor (Accenture, The Hub)

Cyrielle is a proven leader and innovator in developing and executing successful digital growth strategies. Working for a digital consultancy, she is passionate about influencing health clients to become truly user-centric, driving deep and profound organisational and cultural changes.

Being a mum of a little boy, she is passionate about advancing the cause of autism with children, creating and executing step-changing digital experiences for Transforming Autism.

 

Fundraising

Tania Khan

Researcher

Having worked in a child care environment for many years and having a child of my own has made me incredibly aware of how we need to do better as a society for this generation of children and of all the generations to come. I have experience working in the charity sector, specifically in fundraising, I love working for amazing causes that help give people the support and voice they require.

Coming from a minority background, I am extremely excited to join an organisation that outlines kindness and unconditional respect as its values.

Aside from work, I am an avid reader, I love alternative therapies and I hope to one day qualify as a clinical psychologist.

 

Marketing

Harriet Fletcher

Digital Lead

Harriet began her career in marketing in 1999 and over the years has specialised in Digital Marketing.  Working predominantly in the tech space, Harriet has worked for the likes of Rackspace, Brightpearl and RichRelevance. Now a digital marketing consultant, Harriet helps businesses improve their digital marketing efforts.

Harriet is delighted to be supporting the Transforming Autism Project and playing a part in helping families and children with Autism.

 

Amanda Sampson

Assistant Marketing Lead

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.

 

Fabia Tate

Social Media

Fabia has over seven years experience in communications, campaigning and PR. She has extensive experience in managing social media profiles and creating communication strategies for a variety of clients. She has run several election campaigns and recently returned from Australia where she was working for an independent MP.

Fabia is excited about working for the Transforming Autism Project and supporting children with Autism and their families.

 

Natalie Tack

Digital Content Manager

Natalie is an experienced Content Manager who loves to read, write and edit. She has qualifications in Creative Writing, Journalism and Fashion Management (MSc), and
has previously held positions at Amazon and Samsung.

The passionate content creator is driven by the desire to develop new creative ideas and fluent in thinking outside the box.

Natalie believes that we are not limited to one path or audience; we simply need to tell stories that connect.

 

Sophie Lorford

Google Ads Specialist

With a background in digital marketing for start-up businesses, Sophie has a wealth of experience in creating marketing strategies, team processes and mentoring marketing teams. Currently working as a freelance digital marketing consultant, Sophie regularly works with SMEs to help and implement digital strategies.

Sophie has been certified by Google since 2017 and specialises in Google Ads, and is looking forward to using her skills working with Transforming Autism to raise their digital profile; ultimately supporting parents and children with autism.

 

Mia Asante

Videographer

Mia Asante is a highly passionate and enthusiastic video editor for Big Door who over the past five years has taken every opportunity to study and produce films.

Mia loves exploring the world around her through filmmaking and skateboards in her free time.

 

Currently seeking:

Web-Developer, Communications, Communications Lead (with keen understanding of autism parenting), Crowdfunding

 

IT

Kartik Raturi

Assistant IT Lead

“We can choose to throw stones, stumble on them, climb over them, or build with them.” I love this quote by William Arthur because Technology led us to develop a diverse culture within societies and organizations.

I was born in Delhi, India and have lived across 4 countries in different cities, finally landed in Swindon, Wiltshire. I have more than 18 years experience in Information Technology & Security and witnessed the technological revolution, still, I would say its just a beginning. I have served large multinational organizations globally working with global clients and developing Technical Assistance Centers and IT infrastructure for customers as well as organizations needs.

I love the challenge to work with diverse people as it gives me an opportunity to develop myself according to different mindsets and thoughts. I am a very optimistic person who believes that the future is bright and charity is the best part of life to do something for society with unconditional love.

 

Currently seeking:

IT Lead, Infrastructure, Website Management

 

Finance

Paddy Stafford

Finance Manager

Paddy is a recently qualified management accountant who is a founding employee of a Fintech lending start-up. He now heads up the whole technical operations side of the company, encompassing the Tech and Finance.

Paddy studied Maths and Middle Politics at university and in his free time likes to cook, play/watch any sport and read.

 

Human Resources

Isabel Howson

Culture & Engagement Lead

An HR professional with international board level experience, I focus on team and organisational development. Working in a variety of sectors, and cultures provides an ability to contribute to delivering the strategy, with people at the centre.

I live in Scotland and love outdoors. Running is my sport and my meditation.

 

Amelia Mullins

HR Governance Lead

Amelia is an MCIPD qualified HR professional with extensive HR generalist experience in a range of sectors including the Construction, Travel, Charity, PR and Rail sectors.  She is particularly interested in the field of Equality, Diversity and Inclusion and co-wrote the Driver Academy D&I Recruitment Toolkit aimed at promoting diversity and inclusion within the rail industry.  Amelia is also a member of the Rail Industry D&I steering committee and an active member of the Women In Rail London steering committee.

In her spare time Amelia enjoys travel, running, being a book worm and making the most of her Tastecard in the many restaurants London has to offer!

Amelia is delighted to have the opportunity to be a volunteer for The Transforming Autism Project and is looking forward to working with the team to support positive change and to raise awareness of the vision and goals of the charity.

 

Richard Riche

Culture & Engagement

Richard is an MBA qualified Communication, Culture & Engagement specialist. He has been helping people communicate more effectively for more than 20 years. He is passionate about helping positively change the culture of organisations, building high performance teams and creating great places to work.

Richard is a Distinguished Toastmaster (DTM) and through Toastmasters discovered the joy in helping people grow and become more confident.

As a husband and father Richard wants to help make the world a better place for his family. In his spare time he loves reading, baking with his daughter, cooking and is a die-hard Terry Pratchett fan. Richard is delighted to be part of the Transforming Autism team.

Rakhi Sen

Culture & Engagement

Rakhi has worked as a HR professional in the FMCG and Tech sectors for 7 years with an interest in developing organisational culture and leadership.

She is CIPD qualified and in her spare time enjoys spending time with family and friends, fitness and learning languages.

She is thrilled to be joining the Transforming Autism Project and raising awareness about Autism.

Katarzyna Sikorska

Culture & Engagement

Bio coming soon

 

 

 

 

Danuta Oussanaa

HR Advisor

Danuta is an experienced HR professional, with over 10 years of HR admin and advisory experience. She is CIPD qualified (Level 5 in HRM) and an associate member of CIPD since 2009. She lives in Cheam, Surrey with her young family.

She has keen interests in corporate social responsibility and promoting diversity and inclusion in the workplace. She enjoys working for organisations that share ethical values, especially by supporting disadvantaged people as well as the environment. She is an enthusiast of living sustainably by trying hard to adopt a zero-waste, plastic-free and frugal approach to life.

Danuta experienced some difficulties early in life and believes that this contributed to her positive psychological growth such as an increased capacity for altruism, empathy and desire to act for the greater good. Therefore she is excited to be joining the Transforming Autism Project to be able to get involved in a fulfilling project where she can make a difference. Danuta is happy that the Transforming Autism Project promotes neurodiversity, a new concept that she is interested in learning more about.

 

Anne Asuquo

HR Advisor

Anne is an HR professional with over 10 years experience. she has proven expertise in creating and implementing HR programs to improve business operations. She is MCIPD qualified and holds a Masters degree in HR from the University of Westminster.

She has recently relocated back to the UK from Dubai where she worked for the last 5 years to seek help for her daughter who was diagnosed with Autism at age 6. .

She is therefore excited to join the Transforming Autism Project team; first to learn and have a clear understanding of autism and to see its uniqueness in the life of her daughter as well as to be part of a team that brings a positive and dynamic approach to the way autism is perceived and understood as it affects younger children.

 

Ellen Henderson

Recruiter

Ellen is an established and passionate Recruitment professional working for a Not for Profit organisation based in Liverpool, recruiting care and support staff of all levels and specialising in redeployment; supporting at risk colleagues find alternative employment and mitigating redundancies. Focused on providing an excellent candidate experience and championing charity values and ethos.

 

Hannah Ahmed

Recruiter

I am MCIPD qualified and hold a degree in History of Art. I have had the role of stand alone HR Manager in various not-for-profits, trade associations and charities. More recently, I spent nearly nine years as part of the Senior Management team at DACS, an extremely busy SME that advocates and works for artists.

I have lived in London for over 30 years and whilst I enjoy London's vibrancy I really look forward to escaping to go on long walks in neighbouring counties, or, when possible travelling further afield on long weekends to Europe.

 

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 its aims and goals.

 

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.

 

 

Karina Upton

Recruitment Admin

My name is Karina, I am 37 years old with 2 children. I have worked as a Team Manager with a successful Gifts company for 18 years. I have recently graduated and now hold my Level 3 and 5 in CIPD HR.

I am looking forward to learning more and doing work for a fantastic Charity who do amazing work for families and children with Autism.

 

 

Derek Sims

HR Governance

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.

 

Tanu Joshi

HR Governance

Tanu Joshi is seasoned HR Professional with over 16 years of experience in IT/ITES, Engineering and Automobile sectors in all facets of HR. Through sound decision making and leadership, she has aided past employers, including Accenture Solutions India Pvt Limited, Schneider Electric, and Gale Technologies and Yamaha Motors in achieving short- and long-range goals.

Tanu has been closely associated with organizations which support women and child welfare and is delighted to have an opportunity to work with Transforming Autism Project.

 

Emily Laflin

HR Admin

Having always worked within the childcare sector in one way or another from being a nursery worker to owning a nanny recruitment agency, I am passionate about children receiving the best possible care to help them build the right foundations in order that they can achieve their full potential in life regardless of each child's individual needs and abilities. I retrained in HR last year and I am now CIPD qualified. I am very excited to start my journey with TAP and I hope to make a difference no matter how small.

 

Currently seeking:

Recruiters,