Our volunteer leadership & support team
Sharon daVanport, Grants Selection Chair & Fiscal Sponsor Representative
Sharon daVanport is Founder and Executive Director of the Autistic Women and Nonbinary Network. They are currently Grants Selection Chair for the Fund. They also 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.]
Anthony “Tony” Alexander, Director of Policy & Advocacy
Tony currently serves as the Director of Policy & Advocacy for the fund. A graduate of Northeastern University School of Law, he has spent the last several years working with nonprofit and community-based organizations, assisting with their advocacy, community engagement, and policy analysis needs. He believes using collective organizing and policy advocacy, through an intersectional lens, as necessary drivers for bringing about a radical imagination and transformation of liberation. Tony is excited to help the Fund in its mission-driven efforts to empower other multiply-marginalized individuals.
[Photo: A young, Black man with short loc’d hair almost reaching his shoulders. He has a stern facial expression. He’s wearing: black, square glasses; a light, gray suit; a white shirt; and a navy blue tie that has light blue dots all over the tie. He’s sitting in a room with plenty of natural light and he’s sitting on a white, faux fur blanket that’s laid across a black leather sofa.]
Oluwatobi Maeyen Odugunwa, Program Coordinator
Oluwatobi Maeyen Odugunwa began work as part-time Program Coordinator for the Fund in 2022. They originally joined us as Movement Power Intern through the 2021 Power Up Internship Program (a project of SolidarityIs and the Building Movement Project).
Oluwatobi is a recent college graduate who currently works as an anti-bias reviewer and editor at a publishing company. As a multiply marginalized person, they have been involved in social justice work since a young age. Oluwatobi was most recently a student advocate and organizer for LGBTQ rights, and as an autistic wheelchair user, they are now looking to get involved in local disability justice work. They spend most of their days playing with their cat, listening to indie rock, knitting, playing videogames, or reading (sometimes all at the same time). Oluwatobi’s favorite stims are rocking, flapping, and echolalia.
[Photo: A smiling Black individual is pictured against a white, stone background. Their head is tilted to the left. They are wearing a silver blouse and translucent brown glasses, and have their afro in a bun with two twists framing their face. They have on shimmery green, ombré eyeshadow and are wearing feminist fist earrings in the trans flag’s colors.]
Lydia X. Z. Brown, Founder & Volunteer Director
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 formerly a longtime board member of the Autistic Women and Nonbinary Network, serving from 2014 – 2020, and are now AWN’s Director of Policy, Advocacy, & External Affairs. Currently, they are working on a project to reimagine the tarot as representing and speaking to/from sick, mad, neurodivergent, crip, and disabled people’s lives and experiences, called Disability Justice Wisdom Tarot.
[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 for I Identify As Me.]
Shreya Iyer, Policy Intern
Shreya Iyer joins us through the Fall 2021 experiential learning semester program of The CALL (Capitol Applied Learning Labs), a program of Georgetown University. She is an intern at the Fund, mainly focusing on policy. She is a sophomore at Georgetown University majoring in English and planning to minor in Justice and Peace Studies. She began her internship during the summer of 2021, doing remote work, and plans to continue interning remotely at least through the spring. She hopes that her experience volunteering for organizations with similar goals can help her contribute to the Fund.
[Photo: A young Indian woman in a white strapless dress with her hair up in a bun stands in front of a backdrop of trees. She smiles, looking down at a paper from which she is reading aloud.]
Adie Baez, Volunteer Operations Assistant
Adie Baez has been volunteer Operations Assistant for the Fund since Spring 2020. 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.]
Ngozi Alston, Movement Power Intern
Ngozi shares with us:
“I am a Black disabled community organizer based in North Jersey. My organizing experience started with electoral campaigns and now am engaged with movement based work focusing on abolition, disability justice, and Black liberation. I love coloring and dreaming about abolition.”
[Photo: A Black person standing in the middle of a sunflower patch, holding a very tall sunflower in one hand and a bunch of various colored sunflowers in the other, wearing a black shirt and blue ripped jeans, smiling, with short hair.]
Bella Carlucci, Volunteer Operations Assistant
Bella Carlucci is volunteer Operations Assistant for the Fund. She is a junior at Georgetown University studying Psychology with minors in Disability Studies and Music. She began volunteering for the APOC Fund in March 2020 after being sent home from school as as result of the COVID 19 pandemic. Although she originally started by doing remote work in her hometown, Mill Valley, California, Bella continued to work with the fund while she studied remotely in Washington DC. Aside from working with the APOC Fund, Bella is a big supporter of performing arts and enjoys singing, acting, and playing piano. Most recently she was in a live performance of The Wolves and an online performance of Man of La Mancha with Georgetown’s student run theater groups. In her free time, Bella enjoys cooking with her family, spending quality time with her friends, and taking long walks with her dog.
[Photo: A half Asian, half White young woman with straight brown hair smiles wholeheartedly as she holds a Milk Bar birthday cake to celebrate her 20th birthday! She is wearing a blue cardigan with a white shirt underneath, a couple of gold necklaces (one with a butterfly pendant) and black leggings. She is leaning toward the left against a wall near the entrance of her kitchen and on the right there is a stovetop, oven and microwave. Behind her is a living room with a coat closet and a fake bamboo plant.]
Our past volunteer leadership & support team members
Helen Kovary, Claudette Soler, and Bailey Kroner contributed Spanish language translations in Spring 2021 as part of Julia Isaac‘s course “Intro to Spanish Translation” at American University. Helen is a junior majoring in Sociology and minoring in International Studies., passionate about identity studies, Latin American affairs, and social justice. Bailey is a senior studying psychology, Spanish, and education, and an outdoor adventure enthusiast, Ice Cream lover, and food connoisseur. Claudette is a senior journalism student with a passion for news writing and truth-telling.
Anna Lehr joined us from Dr. Sara M. Acevedo’s Spring 2021 course “Allies and Activists” at Miami University.
Anna shares with us:
“I am a junior Marketing major and Supply Chain minor at Miami University. I am also the President of the Miami University Real Estate Club. I am from Charlotte, North Carolina. Some of my passions traveling, cooking, playing with my dog. I am really excited to be working with the Autistic People of Color Fund this semester!”
[Photo: A young white person with straight blonde hair smiling in front of a red brick wall. She is wearing a black blazer over a white shirt and gold necklace.]
Nyanna Williams is a Junior at Miami University studying Sociology and Spanish. Nyanna joined us from Dr. Sara M. Acevedo’s Fall 2020 course “(Dis)Ability Allies: To be or not to be? Developing Identity and Pride from Practice.”
[Photo: Nyanna sitting in a sunlit grassy field, smiling, while holding a small bouquet of roses.]
In Summer 2020, we welcomed Bella Carlucci (Georgetown University), Cass J. Sicherer (Rutgers Law School), Christiana Koch (alumn of ASAN’s Autism Campus Inclusion leadership academy), Jess L. Cowing (College of William & Mary), and Vejas Vasiliauskas (Loyola Marymount University) to our volunteer operations team.
Morénike Giwa Onaiwu was formerly Grants Selection Chair for the Fund from 2018 to 2020, representing the Autistic Women and Nonbinary Network. They are a nationally recognized HIV advocate, and previously led the Committee on Autism, Race, and Ethnicity at AWN, served as a board member of the Autistic Self Advocacy Network, and co-edited the anthology All the Weight of Our Dreams: On Living Racialized Autism. Morénike serves as a board member of 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.]
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)]
Community members in solidarity
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 past and present, we particularly appreciate the support and solidarity of Anna McClain, Deepinder K. Goraya (Deepa), Elesia Ashkenazy, Lori Berkowitz, Megan E. Kennedy, and Shain M. Neumeier.