WELCOME TO HOPE GROWS FOR AUTISM

Board of Directors

Erica Daniels – President

Erica is the mother of a child with severe autism who is determined to give her son and family the highest quality of life possible.  Her life changed and gained new purpose when her son was diagnosed with autism in 2007.  After years of traveling the country seeing specialists, exasperating dozens of treatments for years with little or no success, Erica eventually discovered that natural treatments such as diet and medical cannabis dramatically improved the quality of life for her son and her entire family as a result.

Erica is an internationally recognized medical cannabis activist, autism advocate, author, public speaker and devoted mother.   She is compelled to help as many families as she can and continues to make waves in the autism community.

Keri Akkawi – Community Outreach Coordinator

Keri is a dedicated mom to sons Girius, age 9, and Crosby, age 7.  They were diagnosed with a rare genetic condition called Fragile X Syndrome (FXS) which is identified as the only genetic link to autism, and is caused due to a deficient protein essential for brain development resulting in a lifetime of intellectual disabilities and behavioral challenges. Keri was introduced to holistic and natural treatments after her sons suffered severe negative side effects as a result of using pharmaceutical medication.  It was then that she began treating her sons naturally and the results were positive.  Overall, both of her sons experienced an increase in speech, decrease in self-injurious behaviors/aggression and an increase in attention to tasks.

Keri studied Criminal Justice at Temple University and graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree 2005.  She continued her education and earned an ABA Certified Paralegal Certificate from Villanova University in 2007.  Keri spent 10 years as a paralegal and, ultimately, sacrificed her career to better accommodate the wide range of challenging behaviors her sons have to face on a day to day basis. She is a thriving medical cannabis activist and advocate for FXS and autism.

Adam Landau – Treasurer

Adam is responsible for overseeing the formulation and implementation of Permit Capital Advisors, LLC’s investment strategy.He covers a rigorous process focused primarily on the various aspects of investment due diligence along with working to optimize the structure of client portfolios to maximize the expected level of risk adjusted return.

Prior to joining Permit, Adam served as Managing Director at McCabe Capital Managers, Ltd., where he oversaw the integration of McCabe Capital’s advisory efforts, as well as served as one of two portfolio managers on three-investment fund of funds products, including a hedge fund of funds and a socially responsible investment fund of funds, offered to clients of a number of major insurance carriers through Private Placement structures.Prior to joining McCabe, Adam spent four years at Donaldson, Lufkin and Jenrette where he worked with both retail and institutional clients to develop asset allocation plans and construct appropriate equity and fixed income portfolios.

Adam received his MBA (Finance) from St. Joseph’s University and a BA (Economics) from Rutgers University.He holds the Chartered Alternative Investment Analyst designation and is a member of the CFA Institute and the CFA Society of Philadelphia.He serves as Chair of the Board of Trustees at C.B. Community School, a private high school in Philadelphia dedicated to students from foster care.Adam is also on the Board of Directors of Bancroft, which is an organization serving children and adults with developmental disabilities, as well as Women’s Way.He is also on the Advisory Board of the Field Center for Children’s Policy, Practice and Research at the University of Pennsylvania, an interdisciplinary effort of Penn’s Schools of Social Policy & Practice, Law, Medicine, and Nursing and the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, focused on child welfare reform.

Adam has a son on the spectrum and is very active in supporting the autism community.

Roger Braunfeld – Secretary

Roger is the founder and partner of Royer Cooper Cohen Braunfeld LLC.His firm contains team players that appreciate how combined strengths can build pathways where obstacles once stood.Roger has a natural entrepreneurial spirit and that is the driving force behind his approach in assisting and supporting clients in matters pertaining to Business and Corporate Law.

His heart beats for family, the community, for camaraderie, and for the values that bring deeper meaning into focus.Roger’s ability to wade through the minutiae and evaluate the truth named him in Philadelphia Business Journal’s 40 Under 40.He empowers ambition by enabling his colleagues to achieve their goals and become great, and in the end benefiting themselves, their clients and the firm.

Prior to his current successes, Roger earned his law degree from Villanova University School of Law in 1999 and became a Corporate and Securities Attorney with Blank Rome LLP.He then became a Managing Director and General Counsel of XShares Group, LLC, and was directly involved with launching 31 exchange traded funds on the NYSE. He was also General Counsel and COO of Clear Asset Management after building experience as Mergers & Acquisitions and Securities and Corporate Finance. He also served as Managing Member of RJB Ventures LLC, Partner for Laurel Capital Partners and General Counsel for ConceptONE, LLC.

Jaime Gordon – Secretary

Jaime’s role as an autism advocate began when her son Dylan was diagnosed with autism. She is currently self-employed as a Securities & Anti-Trust Attorney and Legal Business Advisor.Jaime earned her law degree from Widener University School of Law and shortly after became a litigation partner for the law firm of Margolis Edelstein where she practiced for over 16 years.

When she isn’t managing her family or legal tasks, she is volunteering her time as a member of the Board of Directors for The Philly Friendship Circle, which is a non-profit organization connecting teens and young adults with special needs and their families through a full range of social offerings.Additionally, Jaime spends time as a Board Member of Lower Merion School District’s Committee for Special Education.

Jaime continues to remain an active member in the autism and special needs community.

Brooke Goodspeed – Board Member

Brooke has been involved with the disability community since the birth of her second child in 2010.She contributed to the development of the New Parent Support Group for the Trisomy 21 Program at CHOP in 2011, and has served as a parent support member of Parent-to-Parent of Pennsylvania. She is an active member of the Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates.

After graduating from the University of Pittsburg while earning a BA in History and Philosophy of Science, as well as a BS in Psychology, Brooke received a BSN and MSN from the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing in 2005.She worked as a project manager at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center in the Behavioral Medicine and Oncology Department before beginning her nursing career.Brooke has participated as an Oncology Nurse Practitioner for over 12 years, tailoring her clinical practices to focus on the integration of the medical, emotional, psychosocial, and spiritual needs of her patients.She is currently employed at the Abramson Cancer Center of the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania.

In September of 2017, Brooke began the next phase of her advocacy work by pursuing her doctoral degree.She is presently a second year PhD student at the University of Pennsylvania where she is focusing her research on health disparities for adults with Autism Spectrum Disorder.

Shortly after the birth of their second child, Brooke and her husband, Jon, designed a community space that fosters diverse and inclusive programs to support successful community and social inclusion for individuals of ALL AGES and ALL ABILITIES! The goal at Great Expectations, Inc. is to provide each community member the opportunity to live and experience social and community involvement in an enjoyable, enriching and inclusive way.

Brooke is committed to serving the most vulnerable members of the disability community, specifically, those with limited to no resources or support.She strives to eliminate the stigma.

Marisa Liuzzi – Board Member

Marisa has a niche for helping people.  She studied Psychology at Florida Atlantic University earning a Bachelor’s Degree in 2005 and then continued her education earning a Master’s Degree in Vocational Rehabilitation from Boston University in 2008.

Marisa worked as a Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor and Program Manager for the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs for seven years and dedicated her career to providing lifestyle counseling to service members and veterans with disabilities.  She then held a position in the District of Columbia as the Event Co-Chair for Women Grow building community relationships, leading monthly events and maintaining medical cannabis state and national regulations.  Marisa has managed the number one grossing dispensary in the Nation’s Capital when she worked for National Holistic Center as a Dispensary Tech and Manager adhering to DOH and NHHC policies, procedures and operating standards of procedures.  Marisa is currently the Director of Dispensary Engagement at Ilera Healthcare.

Marisa began as a volunteer at Hope Grows for Autism by directly supporting and making an impact on families affected by autism.  Marisa’s compassion and dedication to the autism community is what led her to our board.  Marisa’s mother works with children with autism, so this has always been close to Marisa’s heart.

Andi Moritz – Board Member

Andi is the inventory manager and former lead herbologist at Herbology Lebanon, where she also has the role of developing and implementing continuing education for the location’s herbologists. Prior to working in the cannabis industry she was employed by the Humane Society of Harrisburg Area, helping find forever families for homeless animals. Andi is on the spectrum herself and has experienced firsthand the life improving qualities of cannabis for individuals with autism. The most rewarding part of her job is helping parents of children with autism navigate the world of medical cannabis. Her goal is for caregivers to leave the dispensary with the knowledge they need to feel comfortable and confident about administering medical marijuana. In her free time she enjoys hiking, kayaking, line dancing, and spending time with her cat, Sagwa.

Vikki Gitlin Smith – Board Member

Vikki is the Owner of Out of The Blue Productions specializing in traditional and digital media for healthcare and life sciences.She is also Executive Producer and commonly referred to as “Producer Woman.” You see, she has a super power…. It’s the ability to mind meld with her clients!Vikki has over 20 years of experience and claims to be able to get into the client’s head, channeling their thoughts and desires for a project.

Vikki creates stories that truly connect, and make memorable impressions – beautifully, on time and on budget.She does whatever it takes to get it all done right.Her talents exceed her client’s expectations because she can take even the most complicated concepts and transform them into incredibly engaging content for your audience.

She also enjoys challenging herself at Soul Cycle, where she’s been known to sing loudly to the hits of Rihanna and Hamilton.

Vikki became involved and passionate about autism advocacy when she began to spend time with her teenage cousin who is severely affected by autism.  Vikki remains active in supporting the disability community.

Carrie Spotmal – Board Member

Carrie has been an accomplished and innovative marketing, business development and production executive with over 20 years of unique experiences in the entertainment, media and marketing fields.

Carrie has been involved in the disability community since the birth of her son Jack in 2002.Thrust into advocacy by Jack’s complicated medical and developmental history, Carrie has been committed to learning; forgoing a new a path and being part of the solution that helps Jack live his fullest life.As Jack’s world has expanded, so has Carrie’s and her commitment to bringing opportunities and solutions to the greater neurodiverse community is now steadfast.

In 2017, fueled by her discovery of limited work opportunities for people who are neurodiverse, Carrie began applying her talents to developing businesses that support people of all abilities.Combining her love for animals and her desire to provide employment for people of all abilities, PETacular Pet Sitting is Carrie’s first effort to create employment experiences and opportunities for people with neurodiversity.PETacular employees are caring for pets on the Main Line while simultaneously learning the skills and building confidence that are necessary for individual growth.It offers opportunities for career development and increased responsibility.

She is deeply committed to creating opportunities for growth in the workplace for individuals of all abilities.Ears and eyes wide open, Carrie is growing her existing businesses while seeking innovative models so that she may continue to make an impact.

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