Who We Are

The Autism Society of Mahoning Valley was founded by local families in 1989 to support local families affected by autism. We are an affiliate of the Autism Society of America and serve Mahoning, Trumbull, and Columbiana counties

We create connections, empowering everyone in the Autism community with the resources needed to live fully.

What We Believe

Each individual with autism is a unique and important member of society deserving dignity, respect, and an equal opportunity to achieve the highest possible quality of life.

As the Autism Society of Mahoning Valley continues to grow we have put a bigger emphasis on the needs of teens and young adults in our community, while continuing to serve children with autism and the entire family. Our board and staff work hard every day to create programs that help connect individuals in the autism community and their families. 

We are creating connections by:

  • Answering calls and emails daily from families and area professionals needing resources.  We are for many families the start to helping them navigate how to get a diagnosis for their child (or as adults for themselves), to county services, to schools, to therapy providers, to social/recreational opportunities and more.
  • Organizing over 50 events per year to help with social and support needs of individuals, their siblings and their parents and grandparents. We know that having a village of community and support makes a big difference not only on event day but to keep families moving in a positive direction all year long. Our monthly events include our Family Outing Group, Social Connections for Teens and Adults, Morning Support Group and Moms Night Out.  We also offer our summer day camp, Camp FRIEND, quarterly Dads Night Out, Seasonal Events – Special Bunny, Family Portraits and Special Santa, Mini Grant Programs including our Holiday Grant Program and more.
  • We partner with and attend various community events throughout the year.  Helping our friends in the community with their programs helps our families with more connections.
  • Our Mahoning Valley Warrior event is our annual celebration of our amazing individuals with autism and their families.  While celebrating we are also working to raise much-needed funds to help us continue and grow our support and program needs.  


We will continue to serve the needs of the Mahoning Valley autism population.  Click HERE to check our current calendar of events and follow us on social media to keep up to date on our programs and resources, as well as all in the community.  We work hard to partner and connect with other nonprofit organizations and county organizations to learn and share all that our families need.

Attend our events, volunteer, donate or be a sponsor of our programs!

Help us be the connection that Mahoning Valley autism families need and deserve.

The Autism Society of Mahoning Valley continues to be dedicated to serve all members of the Autism community, in our mission to create connections, empowering and connect others with the resources needed to live fully. The ASMV’s staff, Board of Directors, committees, and volunteers are passionate, hard working, and celebrate the diversity of thoughts and experiences within its members.

Robin Suzelis



Robin stepped up as Director of the Autism Society of Mahoning Valley in 2021 to help further lead programs and services for the Autism Society of Mahoning Valley. She organizes all programs and is the Information & Referral Specialist for the organization helping families and local professionals find resources needed to help their families.

Robin is also co-owner of Ohio Naturopathic Wellness Center in Boardman and assists with marketing and customer service. Previously, she has worked in the real estate and technology industries in communications and marketing. She received a Bachelors of Science in Communications at Clarion University in 1996. 

She has two beautiful boys that are on the autism spectrum and has lived in the Valley for more than 15 years with her husband. She is an advocate for families and continuously expands her knowledge through online seminars and international conferences. Robin wants to help expand local programs and connect various organizations and businesses to help provide the best opportunities for Mahoning Valley autism families.

Mary Brown

Camp Facilitator

Jessica Hyde

Family Outing Facilitator

Jennifer Groce

Social Connections Facilitator

Our Board of Directors

The Autism Society of Mahoning Valley continues to be dedicated to serve all members of the Autism community, in our mission to create connections, empowering and connect others with the resources needed to live fully. The ASMV’s staff, Board of Directors, committees, and volunteers are passionate, hard working, and celebrate the diversity of thoughts and experiences within its members.

Aundréa Cika

Board Chair

Aundréa is the president of Marquee, a boutique strategic communications and special events firm. She is a former director of ASMV and serves as its current representative on the board of the Autism Society of Ohio.

A native of the Youngstown area and a graduate of the former Alliance College in Cambridge Springs, PA., Heschmeyer started her career as a journalist on television, for newspapers, and as a magazine editor in Ohio, South Dakota, Connecticut, and Washington, DC. She later worked in public and media relations agencies for firms in Washington, DC, and Ohio.

Upon returning to the Youngstown area, she felt compelled to invigorate the Polish-American community in the Mahoning Valley in order to share some of her childhood experiences with her children. To this end, she founded PolishYoungstown in 2008. As executive director of this active nonprofit, she has developed, promoted, and supported a wide variety of classes, workshops, and events that have raised awareness of the culture throughout the region. A second organization and festival, Simply Slavic, for the larger Slavic community, was created soon after.

In addition to her Polish and Slavic activities, Heschmeyer is active with the Rotary Club of Youngstown, the Youngstown Press Club, and Youngstown Business & Professional Women. She has been married to her husband, Mark, for more than 30 years and together they have five children, any number of beloved exchange students and a houseful of spoiled pets.

Jodi Glass

Vice Chair

Jodi is currently the Recruiting and Marketing Coordinator for MCCTC Adult Career Center in Canfield, OH. Her responsibilities include community outreach, social media, advertising, and speaking engagements. She has an extensive background in sales, marketing and also as on-air radio talent.


Jodi received her Bachelor of Arts from Youngstown State University in 1998.

Jodi currently resides in Hubbard with her husband Dan and their son Liam. Liam was diagnosed with autism at age 3, as well as being designated twice gifted. Jodi and her husband have never stopped learning and advocating for their son.

Looking to the future, her passions for the Autism Society include working with local and state officials and local schools to help them understand more of what the organization does, as well as how the schools can direct families to us for support. “I remember what it was like to be the mom who had no answers about how to help my son thrive, and I want our organization to be the place that parents of newly diagnosed children can go to find support and direction.” Jodi also feels passionately about inclusion. She believes all autistic individuals deserve to live a life where they feel valued, loved, accepted and have endless opportunities to grow, flourish and participate in activities in their school and community!

Stefanie Hill


Stefanie is currently a special educator at Potential Development Elementary and Middle School for Students with Autism. She has been a special educator for four years working with students on the autism spectrum.

Stefanie received her Bachelor’s degrees in Early Childhood Education and Special Education from Slippery Rock University in 2020. Her current academic pursuit is the finalization of her Master’s degree in Special Education: Applied Behavioral Analysis from Slippery Rock University. She looks forward to her graduation in May 2024. 

Stefanie currently resides in Austintown with her partner, Mia, and their cat, June. Growing up, Stefanie lived in Struthers with her mother, father, and two younger siblings. Her passion for the autistic community and the disability community as a whole began with her brother’s diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder nearly two decades ago. 

As the Secretary of the Autism Society of the Mahoning Valley, Stefanie enthusiastically pursues her passion for advocacy of disability rights and inclusion. Through her work with the Autism Society, Stefanie hopes to continue to advocate for autism education, inclusion and acceptance throughout the community, and awareness of autistic supports for those impacted in the area. Stefanie prides herself on her volunteer involvement in the community and is excited for the new opportunities that present themselves through her efforts as a member of the Board.

Katie DeGennaro


Katie is a Vice President and Senior Banking Advisor for PNC Private Bank based out of Youngstown, Ohio. Katie works with high net worth individuals and their families. She delivers insightful banking solutions whether for complex lending needs or day to day banking needs. Katie has over 18 years of banking experience and has held various roles in both commercial banking and personal banking.

Katie was born and raised in Warren, Ohio. She spent the majority of her childhood working in the family business at Gilmore’s Greenhouse. This sparked her interest in finance and developed her creative side. Her hobbies include crafting, making centerpieces and event planning.


Katie attended John F. Kennedy Catholic Highschool where she met her husband Sam. She graduated from John Carroll University with a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration and from Case Western Reserve University with a Master of Business Administration. She currently resides in Howland with Sam and their two sons, Dante and John Marco. Dante is on the Autism Spectrum and is a Rich Center student who attends the St. Charles program. Katie is very passionate about helping families navigate their own personal experiences with children with autism and wants to be an advocate for better diagnosis, programming, education and careers for children, teens and adults with Autism. Katie is also currently on the Advisory Board for the Rich Center for Autism

Sean Barron

Sean is a journalist for The Youngstown Vindicator and is the co-author of two books about autism. He is the co-author of two books about autism. There’s a Boy in Here: Emerging from the Bonds of Autism was written with his mother, Judy Barron. With Temple Grandin he co-authored Unwritten Rules of Social Relationships: Decoding Social Mysteries Through the Unique Perspectives of Autism. He met his girlfriend, Barbara Protopapa, at one of his book signings. Although diagnosed autistic at the age of 4, in 1965, he considers himself “healed” from autism, because it no longer adversely affects his day-to-day life. In 1992 he began to speak publicly at autism conferences about his experiences.

Stephanie Gilchrist

Stephanie, is the Regional Director of The Minority Business Assistance Center (MBAC) hosted at the Youngstown Business Incubator (YBI).

Gilchrist joined the YBI in 2014 and served as the Project Coordinator for Tech Block Building 5, overseeing the $5.7 million project. In 2016 and 2021, respectively, Gilchrist along with the YBI team developed two programs, Women in Entrepreneurship (WE) and Youth in Entrepreneurship Programs. She changed roles October 2021 to become the Regional Director of The Minority Business Assistance Center- Youngstown Region serving 7 counties.

In late 2017, Gilchrist decided to take a leap of faith and move into the role as Executive Director for Inspiring Minds Youngstown. This is a nonprofit outreach organization that works with under-represented youth in our community and aims to engage, inspire and empower students through education and exposure to new experiences. In 2020, she and her students were featured on NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt for the Inspiring America Segment.

After three years at Inspiring Minds Youngstown, Gilchrist decided to develop alongside her colleagues, another program but this time it would include youth. In 2021, the YBI kicked off the Youth in Entrepreneurship Program, which was listed in December 2021 as an honoree in Inc. Magazine’s Best in Business.

Gilchrist, alongside her husband, owns Ryan’s Chair Barber and Beauty Salon which has been in the community for over 25 years. Together they are proud parents of two sons, grandparents. Their youngest son, Ian, who is now 15 was diagnosed with Autism at age 3 and she and her husband have been an advocate ever since.

Gilchrist earned her bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from Youngstown State University in 2005. In 2017, she completed the Executive MBA program through Strayer University. Currently, she is enrolled in the Certified Business Advisor Program at Kent State University.

She was recognized has been recognized as the 2018 Youngstown Business and Professional Women’s Business Woman of the Year, recognized by her Alma Mater, Youngstown State University, as a 2020 Penguin Woman on the Move, and one of the Honorees for the 2020 League of Women Voters of Greater Youngstown Women’s Hall of Fame.

Gilchrist serves on the Community Foundation of the Mahoning Valley’s Fund for Women and Girls Guiding Circle, The Valley Economic Development Partner’s Board of Directors & Loan Fund Committee, and on the Choffin Career Center Entrepreneurship Advisory Committee.

Kelly Long

Kelly is a Parent Advocate in the tristate area. Long studied Special Education Law and has a bachelor’s degree in Psychology. She started out as an IEP Specialist for Psycare before leaving to become an Independent Consultant. Long advocates for services/accommodations for special needs students in the classroom.

Long is a founding board member of the Walnut Grove, an all inclusive special needs playground in Canfield, Ohio. Long served as a speaker who traveled around speaking to groups about the importance of having a playground for children of all abilities. Long served as a fundraiser who raised funds to design, create, and purchase equipment for the playground. Long volunteered physical labor to clear the land, prepare the site, build the equipment and maintain the property. Long is the mother of three children. She has twin daughters with Autism, and a son. Long resides in Canfield, where she enjoys spending time with her family, and cheering on her children in multiple sports and special needs sports

Dr. Laura McBride

Laura is currently the Director of Special Services for the Springfield Local School District in Mahoning County. Laura is responsible for overseeing all special education and gifted services and also for all Section 504 Plans and English Learner Services. Laura also works to ensure that students can access mental health supports within the school district by coordinating services with outside agencies working to build supports that can be accessed by all students and families in need. Laura is a former Intervention Specialist who has experience working with students with varying needs, including students with autism.

Laura received her Bachelor’s degrees in Early Childhood Education and Special Education from Youngstown State University in 2002. She received a Master’s Degree in Special Education from Youngstown State University in 2008 and another Master’s Degree in Educational Administration from Ashland University in 2014. Laura earned her Doctoral Degree in Educational Leadership and Administration from Slippery Rock University in 2023.

Laura lives in Poland with her husband Ryan and the sons, Colin (17), Patrick (14), and Ethan (12), and her aussiedoodles, Finn and Fiona.

Laura’s interest in joining the Autism Society of the Valley stems from her dedication to fostering supportive relationships with families of students with disabilities, including autism. She believes that establishing meaningful connections with families can significantly benefit students with special needs. By becoming a part of the Autism Society, Laura aims to contribute her insights from the school perspective while also learning additional ways to support families of students with autism. As a school leader, she emphasizes the importance of engaging with the broader community and connecting them to various resources

Mary Mihalopoulos

Mary is the Director of the Adult Career Center, Mahoning County Career and Technical Center. She has over twenty years of experience in higher education and the development and implementation of higher education training programs. She is actively involved in workforce development within the community.

As Director, she oversees the operations of the Adult Career Center to maintain the

requirements of an Ohio Technical Center, including but not limited to accreditation, financial management, programming, and staffing. The importance of maintaining innovative and current programming is essential in her responsibilities to meet the demands of business and industry and to serve all community members.

As a proud graduate of Youngstown State University, Mary started her career and made her home in Boardman, Ohio in 1989. She worked in the world of business and management before she began her journey in a career in education in 2002. She began as a faculty member for Mahoning County Career and Technical Center and then served as the Transition Coordinator for Student Services, then as the Curriculum and Assessment Supervisor to her role today as the Director of the MCCTC, Ohio Technical Center. She is passionate about education and workforce training and helping others achieve their goals. She is an active member of workforce and technical education boards and other community organizations.

Mary along with her two brothers, Joseph and Emil Bruno, are first-generation family members born in the United States with their parents arriving in the United States from Italy where they were born and raised and then proudly becoming citizens of the United States. Mary is proud of her heritage and the value of her family.

Mary resides in Boardman with her husband of almost 30 years and is a proud mother of her son who is currently pursuing his Doctorate.

Mary is passionate about helping members of the community and is proud to be part of the Autism Society of Mahoning Valley and is looking forward to the opportunity to make contributions to the Autism Community.

Michael Mock

Michael is a lifelong resident of Youngstown and a graduate of Chaney High School. He currently serves as Branch Manager II for the Boardman office of Premier Bank. With 12+ years of industry experience assisting his clients in various communities across the valley. Michael’s greatest passion in life is simply being a father and a resource within his community. His three children mark his greatest accomplishment. Michael’s son, Connor was diagnosed with Autism at the age of 5. Michael believes that being an advocate for those with autism is essential. In his free time, Michael enjoys biking, attending concerts and volunteering.

David Moliterno

David is the owner of Moliterno Insurance & Financial Services LLC. The agency has a passion for helping families with insurance and financial planning specific to households with special needs. Having a sibling with autism has shed some light on the difficulties and concerns that can arise, in order to plan for a secure financial future for yourself and your loved ones.

David has previously served on other area boards including, The American Red Cross, Mahoning Valley Young Professionals, and Poland Rotary. A lifelong resident of the Valley David strives to give back and help support the community through volunteering and charitable work.

Chelsea Munroe

Chelsea Munroe is currently a Project Specialist II for Dominion Energy where she provides support for Transmission and Distribution Live Gas Operations projects from planning to post project. Chelsea supports company environmental initiatives on their goal towards net zero by avidly tracking and reporting methane emissions reduction efforts by utilizing hot tapping and stopping procedures in conjunction with portable compression to reduce blow downs.

Chelsea is a graduate of Youngstown State University earning both a Bachelor’s and Master’s of Business Administration and is currently working on Civil Engineering coursework.

Chelsea currently lives in her hometown of Cortland with her 3 beautiful children and soon to be husband, Tyler. She has always cultivated a desire for volunteering and helping the community. Chelsea is the founding Chapter President of Sleep in Heavenly Peace Trumbull Co chapter, a nonprofit that provides beds to children in need. She has also held an advisory board position with Big Brothers Big Sisters and volunteers often with many local organizations. As a new Board Member of the Autism Society of the Mahoning Valley, Chelsea hopes to be a champion for inclusion of all special needs individuals by spreading awareness and understanding to the community.

Ronald Seese M.D., Ph.D.

Dr. Seese is a developmental neurologist at the Beeghly Campus of Akron Children’s Hospital. He obtained his baccalaureate degree in neuroscience at UCLA. He then obtained M.D. and Ph.D. degrees at University of California, Irvine. His Ph.D. dissertation work, entitled Memory Encoding: Impairment and Rescue in Mouse Models of Autism, helped him discover his own interests in childhood conditions affecting neurodevelopment.

Dr. Seese then moved east to complete clinical training in pediatrics, child neurology, and neurodevelopmental disabilities at UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh. Now, in addition to seeing patients at Akron Children’s, he conducts research to better understand autism and other developmental disorders. He is a passionate community advocate of children with autism, which is what prompted his interest in serving as a board member of the Autism Society.