About us

Our History

Our history is one rich in education, advocacy, support and an unwavering dedication to improving the lives of individuals on the autism spectrum and their families.

In 2015, two of Canada’s largest, leading autism organizations — Autism Society Canada (established in 1976) and Autism Canada Foundation (established in 2002) – amalgamated to form Autism Canada. 

Members realized that by joining together, they could build one strong organization to support the Canadian autism community. 

Autism Canada is the only Canadian autism advocacy organization with a national perspective on the issues currently facing those with ASD, their families and other stakeholders. 

Contact Us

Autism Canada
140 Yonge St., Suite 200
Toronto, Ontario M5C 1X6

Local:  647-362-5610
Toll-free:  1-800-983-1795
info@autismcanada.org

Family Support & Media Relations:

Dominique Chabot
dominique@autismcanada.org

1-800-983-1795  ext. #1

Family Support Coordinator:

familysupport@autismcanada.org

Donations and Office Administration:

Mariana Curic

mariana@autismcanada.org

1-800-983-1795  ext. #2

Social Media & Events:

Julie Purkis
1-800-983-1795  ext. #3

Sponsorship & Fundraising:

Barbara Patten 
1-800-983-1795  ext. #4

Search and Rescue for Autism Program (SARA):

Shanyn Silinski
1-800-983-1795  ext. #5

General Inquiries:

Mariana Curic
1-800-983-1795  ext. #6
e: info@autismcanada.org

Meet Our Team

Management:

Barbara Patten

Executive Director

With more than 25 years of business and community experience gained through fundraising, leading teams, marketing, branding, volunteering and project delivery Barbara is a natural fit for Autism Canada.  She is an energetic team player who loves to build relationships and make a difference in the lives of others.   

Beginning her career with a decade at Nike Canada then spending many years as a National Account Executive with the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation Barbara has the passion and skills to bring awareness to the autism cause and to advocate for those on the spectrum, their families and caregivers.   

Dominque Chabot

Family Services Manager

Prior to joining Autism Canada, Dominique has worked in the non-profit sector as a consultant for families and individuals from vulnerable communities needing support and services. She has experience offering early intervention strategies as well as connecting people to local community resources. Dominique also has personal experience with autism. Dominique comes to us with a background in Psychology, Autism Behavioural Science,  Human Resources, ManufacturingLeadership and Talent Acquisition.

Dominique is passionate about volunteering with her family to support causes that are near and dear to their hearts.

Jamie McCleary

Business Administration

Prior to joining Autism Canada, Jamie has worked with the Pregnancy and Infant Loss Network, as both a volunteer and administrator.  During that time, she participated in the legislative process of bill 141, into the “Pregnancy and Infant Loss” Act, recognizing the impact of this loss under Ontario law.   Jamie completed certification training in 2017 to become a certified birth and bereavement doula, in order to offer pro bono support services to families experiencing a stillbirth or other birth related loss.

Jamie comes to us with a background in accounting, human resources, health and safety, business administration and management, with an educational background in sociology, psychology and childhood development.  In her spare time, she enjoys creative work, both musically, and in designing, crafting, building and creating, but the best days are spent with her family, in front of a board game or a puzzle.

Jamie has personal experience with Autism, and after a number of years in the private sector, is thrilled to be returning to non-profit work, with Autism Canada.

Tyler Cox

Strategic Alignment Manager

Prior to joining Autism Canada, Tyler worked in the non-profit sector as a community development manager. He has completed a master’s degree in peace and conflict studies and has worked in various roles as an educator, researcher, facilitator and leader. Tyler has both personal and work-related experience with autism.

Tyler is motivated by merging deep, empathetic thinking with the social courage required to help the world become a better place. He enjoys spending time with his family, engaging in meaningful conversations, reading and spending time outdoors.

 

Julie Purkis

Social Media & Event Coordinator

After spending the greater part of her career working in the “music biz”, Julie is returning to work after spending time at home with her two boys.

Along with a keen desire to make a difference, she brings a wealth of experience in project management, creative management and event planning to the team.

In her spare time, Julie has volunteered with the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation, Scouts Canada and her kids’ schools. She loves music, skiing, spending time outdoors, hanging out with her family and their dog, Ruby, and doing CrossFit.

Peter Meier

Fund Development Manager

Peter has spent the last decade-plus working as a fundraiser in the non-profit sector. His fundraising experience includes the arts & culture and social services sectors. Peter has successfully developed and implemented Individual and Corporate Giving programs and has experience cultivating and securing donations in excess of $100,000. In his most recent position with United Way Waterloo Region Communities, Peter was responsible for overseeing all organizational fundraising activities and leading the philanthropy team.

Peter began his career working in the finance industry where held a number of sales positions. During this time he developed and honed his sales and relationship-building skills.

In his spare time, Peter enjoys spending time with his children and family.

Staff:

Christian Awad

Summer Jobs

Christian is an undergraduate health science student.

During his time at university, Christian launched and continues to steer an autism awareness club that hosts events for university students and staff to help educate community members and students about autism and aid in taking down stigmas.

Christian works as the market researcher and is working to help develop a peer program to advance accessibility programs in post-secondary institutions across Canada. 

Brooklyn Bujara

Summer Jobs

Brooklyn recently graduated with her Bachelor of Science in Psychology from Trent University. She will be attending Durham College in September for their Addictions and Mental Health program in hopes of becoming a counsellor. Brooklyn is passionate about helping others and gains joy from putting a smile on others’ faces. In her spare time, Brooklyn is a volunteer for Crisis Text Line and has experience providing support for individuals experiencing many diverse situations. She also loves reading mystery books and being in nature.

Hannah Coo

Summer Jobs

Hannah is a Master’s of Speech-Language Pathology candidate at the University of British Columbia. 

She has experience working as a Speech-Language Pathologist Assistant and Behaviour Interventionist. She started working with Autism Canada to help build and execute the launch of the Resource Library with visual supports and PECS. 

In her spare time, Hannah enjoys playing hockey and soccer. She also enjoys camping in BC provincial parks. 

Kevin Zuccherato

Summer Jobs

 Kevin Zuccherato is a York University sociology undergraduate who has a rich history of volunteering and high school co-op work, which has taught him the importance of taking initiative. He is passionate about research, which is a big part of his job as Fundraising Coordinator, and hopes to find a permanent job doing research once he graduates.

Previously, Kevin has done professional work as an office assistant at Tribunals Ontario in summer 2019. This job had him organizing files into boxes, binding books, scanning documents, and much more.

Tafari Davis

Technical Support

In 2010, Tafari graduated from Cambrian College (Sudbury, ON) with a diploma in Graphic Design. Upon graduating, he started working with Autism Canada to develop and implement the visual language of the organization. Since then, he has worked on numerous projects including revamping the Autism Canada website, designing annual reports and creating the website for their national fundraiser Inside Out For Autism. He continues to freelance with various not-for-profit companies while also pursuing a career in music as a singer/songwriter

Bruce Petherick

Family Services / Autistic Advocate

Bruce Petherick is an autistic advocate, a sound designer and musician. Born in Melbourne, Australia and now living in Vancouver, Bruce spent many years recording and touring throughout the world. 

After his later-in-life discovery of his autism, he has decided to concentrate on being an active advocate for Autism and especially Neurodivergent education. He has written articles about his autistic experience throughout the world, and has presented at conferences in Scotland, Australia and in Canada.

Bruce continues to create music and his work has recently been nominated for several theatre awards.

Shanyn Silinski

Search and Rescue for Autism (SARA) Program Manager

As a former Captain of a local volunteer fire department and training officer, Shanyn is no stranger to emergency planning and response. She spent a number of years working on a joint research and development project between the Department of Defense and Public Safety as a Senior Advisor heading a national working group with a focus on emergency planning. Her over twenty years in communications and public relations experience will complement her lived experience when developing these education resources and will without a doubt be an asset when engaging stakeholders across the country.

Christina Parker

Business Administrator

After spending many years working in film, television and theatre Christina was thrilled to go back to school so she can focus on the next phase of her career. Christina has had many unique experiences in her career, but her number one passion has always been focused on helping people. As a recent MBA graduate from The Australian Institute of Business Christina is excited take what she has learned and work with with Autism Canada, a cause very dear to her heart.

In her spare time Christina loves to spend time with her two children and her menagerie of pets.

Julie Purkis

Social Media & Event Coordinator

After spending the greater part of her career working in the “music biz”, Julie is returning to work after spending time at home with her two boys.

Along with a keen desire to make a difference, she brings a wealth of experience in project management, creative management and event planning to the team.

In her spare time, Julie has volunteered with the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation, Scouts Canada and her kids’ schools. She loves music, skiing, spending time outdoors, hanging out with her family and their dog, Ruby, and doing CrossFit.

Mariana Curic

Donations / Office coordinator

Mariana is a recent graduate from the University of Guelph-Humber’s Business Administration program with a specialization in Marketing. She has worked in a multitude of industries such as NFPs and Real Estate.  

Throughout her life, she has become an advocate for Women’s Rights, and has personal experience with Autism. 

Mariana runs her own online bake shop on the side where she provides dietary options. In the future, Mariana wants to pursue her bake shop full time.