Our Volunteer Team

Leadership 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, 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.

 

Lucas Bunnetat

Trustee, Fundraiser

Lucas is an experienced fundraising campaigns manager with on focus on generating philanthropic income for higher education projects. He has multiple years'experience managing fundraisers, building teams, and empowering volunteers. He is currently a senior fundraiser for University College, Oxford and spends his time working with supporters both in the UK and overseas.

He lives with his partner and cat in Oxford, and volunteers for a number of sports clubs in the local area as a coach and publicity specialist.

 

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.

Vickie Priest

Strategy

Vickie has spent her career working in health and social care and has led a range of national strategy and policy projects in complex and continuously changing environments. Although recently working across other aspects of health and social care policy, Vickie started working in children's healthcare strategy and joined Transforming Autism to continue working to improve lives for children and their families.

Vickie grew up in Dorset but has been living in London since graduating in 2005. She recently moved from central London to the outskirts of South West London with her husband and two young children. She is enjoying exploring South West London and the many parks and green spaces as well as being able to go back into London regularly for many reasons, but particularly the great restaurants.

 

Catherine Bunting

Recruitment Lead

My name is Catherine and I’ve been working within recruitment for nearly 20 years! It’s not what I left school thinking I would do, but I love it. I enjoy working with people, and seeing how the right mix of personality, soft skills and technical ability in people can make an organisation come alive.

I live with my husband, son, stepson, and 2 rescue dogs. I’m very lucky that they all indulge me in my love for walking around the beautiful Chiltern Hills, and are very polite about my sometimes dubious cooking experiments.

I’m delighted to have joined TAP and to be able to give something back within an area that I am very passionate about, supporting families to be the best and happiest that they can be.

 

Harriet Fletcher

Digital Marketing 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.

Currently Seeking: 

TRUSTEES,  Strategy & Improvement Pioneers

 

Therapists

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.

 

Dhakshini Patel

Therapist

Dhakshini is a Child Psychotherapist and has been working with children, adolescents and parents for over seven years. Working both in her own private practice and in schools she is a member of the BACP & BAATN. She is also a mindfulness practitioner and is currently training in EFT (Tapping).

As a skilled empathetic therapist, she works sensitively and collaboratively with her clients using an integrated approach where she is able to provide each child a unique treatment that fits them and their families. Relationships are at the heart of Dhakshini’s therapeutic practice as she places strong emphasis in working both in a therapist-child alliance and a therapist-parent alliance, and is especially passionate about in developing the connection, healing and growth within the parent-child relationship.

A mother of three, she lives in West London with her family where she spends her spare time gardening, painting and finding alternative ways of self-healing.

 

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.

Currently seeking

Child therapists with an interest in autism.

Services

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.  In the meantime, she is helping in other areas.

 

Currently seeking

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

Marketing

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.

 

Anna Lewis

Social Media Specialist

When Anna's husband's job moved to Singapore Anna decided it was her time to embark upon her Master in Counselling.  Anna spent time working as a School Counsellor at an Integrated School and it was here that she started working with autistic children and their families.  She became especially interested in the role of anxiety in autism.  Anna found this time in her career truly inspirational, loved and learned so much from all the children she worked with. Anna wanted to continue her work in helping autistic children and their families.

Anna now lives in Devon and helps us with all of our social media content bringing together her counselling background to help share content that will hopefully help more children, parents, carers and families

 

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.

 

Currently seeking:

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

 

IT

David Preece

Team Support Specialist

Bio coming soon.

 

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

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.

 

Hannah Ahmed

Assistant Recruitment Lead

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.

 

Ritu Kapur

Recruitment Admin

Ritu has diverse experience in the fields of market research, project management, customer services, education and marketing. She attained certification in digital marketing in 2019.

She enjoys making pottery, visiting new places and doing meditation. Ritu is really enthusiastic to work with Transforming Autism and support children with Autism.

 

Wendy Dill

HR Admin

Hi my name is Wendy originally from Bermuda, moved Manchester over a year ago...I know who does that you may ask!

Well I have three little boys (4yr twins + almost 2yr old) again..I know..who does that.
Anyhow, one of my twins is on the Autism spectrum and relocating to the UK offered better early intervention services.

I work part time as a Training Administrator and also working towards my HR certification.  Volunteering is something that I enjoy so combination of my personal interest within the Autism world and career growth within HR, I believe this is ideal position to be in.

I look forward to learning and developing in all areas and becoming an asset to the team.

 

Currently seeking:

Recruiters,