Many people make the Fund possible!
Our core team
Our core team is a group of autistic people of color and otherwise negatively racialized autistic people with diverse backgrounds, identities, and experiences.
Lydia X. Z. Brown is the founder and volunteer Director of the Fund. They are an advocate, organizer, educator, writer, and attorney whose work focuses on interpersonal and state violence targeting disabled people at the margins of the margins, especially at the intersections of race, gender, class, and sexuality. They were visionary and lead editor of All the Weight of Our Dreams: On Living Racialized Autism, along with Morénike Giwa Onaiwu and E. Ashkenazy. They were formerly a longtime board member of the Autistic Women and Nonbinary Network, serving from 2014 – 2020.
[Photo: Young East Asian person with short black hair and glasses, smiling and laughing a little as they look to the side. They are wearing all black, and the photo is black and white. Credit to Colin Pieters.]
Morénike Giwa Onaiwu is Grants Selection Chair for the Fund, representing the Autistic Women and Nonbinary Network. They are also a nationally recognized HIV advocate, and currently lead the Committee on Autism, Race, and Ethnicity at AWN and co-edited the anthology All the Weight of Our Dreams: On Living Racialized Autism. Morénike serves as a board member of the Autistic Self Advocacy Network and Foundations for Divergent Minds, and as an advisory board member for Felicity House and the National Research Center for Parents with Disabilities. chairperson of both a large HRSA-funded local planning body and an international NIH-funded community research network. They are the founder of Advocacy Without Borders, a grassroots education, community advocacy, and self-empowerment initiative. American-born to immigrant parents, Morénike is a community advocate and social justice activist living in Texas. Their wonderful children – biological, foster, and adopted – who range in age from 9 to 18 years old, are Morénike’s greatest accomplishment. As a Black Autistic person in a multicultural, neurodiverse, sero-different family of color, Morénike is a firm supporter of human rights and involved in a myriad of social justice activism endeavors including HIV-related advocacy, disability rights, learning via technology, research, refugee and minority youth outreach, gender and racial justice, and inclusion promotion. They hold a master’s of special education with a concentration in autism and developmental delays from the University of Texas of the Permian Basin, and a bachelor’s degree in international relations and affairs from the United States International University, San Diego. They are currently a doctoral student in an educational leadership program, and teach developmental education courses as full-time faculty.
[Photo: A head and shoulders selfie of a dark-skinned Black (Yoruba Caboverdiano American) female presenting adult smiling at the camera. Their hair is in black medium sized locs that are pulled back except for a few chin length twists on either side of their face, and they have on glittery eye shadow and shiny lip gloss. They are wearing a sleeveless black shirt and a silver oval pendant. In the background there are various individuals seated in a dimly lit room wearing traditional West African formal attire.]
Sharon daVanport is Founder and Executive Director of the Autistic Women and Nonbinary Network. They provide general administrative and financial support for the Fund, since AWN is the fiscal sponsor and partner organization of the Fund. Sharon is also a steering committee member of the National Disability Leadership Alliance, represents AWN on the Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities, and serves on the advisory board for Felicity House. They have spoken before the United Nations and the White House, and received recognition from the Autistic Self Advocacy Network and the Autism Society. Sharon is also co-editor along with Emily Paige Ballou and Kristina Thomas of What Every Autistic Girl Wishes Her Parents Knew, published by AWN. Outside of Sharon’s work in autistic advocacy, they have nearly a decade of experience as a social worker, and they are a parent of four diversely neurodivergent adults.
[Photo: A mixed Native and white person with large square glasses and long, flowing brown hair, looking directly at the camera and smiling widely and warmly. They are wearing a light pink collared shirt.]
Adie Baez is volunteer Operations Assistant for the Fund. She is a disability rights advocate, social sciences researcher, and longtime volunteer for the Osteogenesis Imperfecta Foundation. She has also completed policy fellowships with two other D.C.-area disability nonprofit organizations. Adie holds a master’s of social and personality psychology from American University, and a bachelor’s in psychology from Butler University. Her research interests include health psychology and coping in the realm of disability, and her master’s thesis, Body Image as a Moderator of Disability and Resilience, investigated the role body image has on coping and resilience factors in those with congenital conditions.
[Photo: Small, white Hispanic woman sitting in a wheelchair, smiling. She’s wearing a black blazer and slacks with a purple sweater and has short, undercut hair and narrow glasses.]
Past team members and community members in solidarity
Sara María Acevedo is a disability justice activist who was formerly Disability Organizing and Research Fellow, and provided critical support to the Fund in Spring 2019. She is now Assistant Professor of Disability Studies in the Department of Educational Psychology at the Miami University in Ohio. She also serves on the board of directors for the Society for Disability Studies and the editorial board of Ought: The Journal of Autistic Culture.
[Photo: Selfie of a Mestiza woman with curly brown hair just below her chin and bangs and big brown eyes. She wears a collared blouse with a flowered scarf tied at the collar and large cat-eye glasses with cat print frames. She gazes pensively to the camera. Behind her a Frida Kahlo poster showing a portrait of the artist and text in Spanish: Recuerdos de Frida (Frida’s Memories)]
We’ve also received support in various ways from many other broader community members, and from many other people among AWN’s leadership, staff, and volunteers.
Among the many, many others whose work has helped the fund grow, we particularly appreciate the support and solidarity of Deepinder K. Goraya (Deepa), Shain M. Neumeier, Anna McClain, and Lori Berkowitz.