I am honored, humbled, and incredibly excited for this opportunity to serve as the Executive Director of the Doug Flutie, Jr. Foundation for Autism. Thanks to the Flutie family, founding Executive Director Lisa Borges, and an army of partners, donors, volunteers, and staff, this tremendous organization has accomplished so much over the last 19 years. Now, in our 20th year, we find ourselves in a unique position, ready to build upon the foundation we have established and eager to explore new ground. It goes without saying that the autism landscape has changed dramatically between 1998 and 2018. With almost two decades of experience working in this field to empower people with disabilities, I am eager to join forces with all of you tohelp build a wonderful future for individuals and families with autism and their communities.
Thanks to all of your hard work and support, we are now in a new era: people with autism own businesses, earn paychecks, score game-winning goals, rock out on guitars, and volunteer in our communities. But not everyone with autism has equal access to these opportunities. Both these employees, musicians, and athletes and those in more disadvantaged circumstances still face incredible barriers and have unique needs as they navigate a world that certainly doesn’t cater to them.
As a relatively small organization, we at the Flutie Foundation know there is far too much work ahead to go at it alone. We’ll be looking to you to build with us. Please reach out to us if you (or anyone you know!) want to collaborate, are looking for support, have some out of the box idea you want to explore, or simply want to share your story. We are looking to learn as much as we can and make as many constructive connections as possible. We plan to listen and learn while also acting boldly and collaboratively to address the needs of people with autism, their families, and our communities. Some of the questions that will guide us moving forward:
- How can we help create more employment and business ownership opportunities for people with autism?
- Can we move from autism “acceptance” —a passive word in my opinion-- to “respect”?
- Can we find ways to meet more and more individuals and families with autism where they are and help them get to their “next level,” whatever that is?
- Can we develop more strategic partnerships with families, organizations, businesses, and others?
We already have a few new projects cooking here at the Flutie Foundation, and we look forward to sharing these with you all very soon. And I know there are plenty of other opportunities ahead. I’m sure not every idea will pan out as we hope, but we will take every success, every flop, and everything in between as a learning opportunity. I can promise you we will be action-oriented and our decisions and direction will be guided by the response and feedback from the individuals with autism we serve and their families. We’ll have some fun along the way, too.
Now LET’S GOOOO!