Autism Ambassadors

In 2010 TACA established an Ambassador Group to help TACA fundraise and support our ongoing efforts of helping families living with autism.TACA Ambassador Mission:

To assemble a group of business professionals that will work with TACA as an ambassador for the foundation. The primary goal would be to garner support and awareness for TACA and autism.

Ambassador efforts will include the following:

1. Assist with event fundraising efforts (in sponsorship, attendees and auction item acquisition).
2. Assist with educational presentations on behalf of TACA in awareness and support for families affected by autism (or set them up for the Executive Director to attend).
3. Assist in helping TACA based on industry expertise or wish list needs for the TACA foundation.

Ambassadors are nominated by TACA board, key staff or other TACA Ambassadors to participate. To receive more information about TACA Ambassadors, please contact us for additional information.

Tim Adams

Tim is the President and CEO of Adams & Associates APLC, a disability rights law firm. He received his Bachelor’s degree from the University of California, Irvine and Juris Doctorate degree from Pepperdine University School of Law. He is admitted to practice as an attorney in California, in the United States District Courts—Central, Southern and Eastern Districts of California, as well as before the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. He has served as an adjunct professor and Associate Director of the Special Education Advocacy Clinic, Pepperdine University School of Law.

He was a Board member for the University of California, Irvine Child Development School and a founding board member of its successor, The Children’s School. He has also served on the Board of Advisors for an education data startup called Schoolie, Inc., (acquired by Great Schools) an online tool which helps families across the nation make informed choices on K-12 education. He is currently an Ambassador for The Autism Community in Action (TACA).

In 2017, he co-founded Walls that Unite, a non-profit that provides educational experiences in low-income communities in the United States and Mexico.

Tim serves as a founding board member, Vice President and Legislative Chair of the California Association of Lawyers for Education (CALE). CALE is dedicated to educating and empowering students, parents, advocates and a new generation of education attorneys to more effectively advocate, protect student’s rights and build a brighter future for our youth.

Tim enjoys politics, world travel, stand up paddling, winter sports, and spending time with his lovely wife, Rose and 4 daughters.

Marc Ang

Marc Ang is a Financial Planner and Advisor, currently with Prudential Financial. His practice is dedicated to serving families with special needs providing expertise in the areas of estate planning (including high net worth considerations), tax liabilities, planning for the rising costs of long term care, as well as the nuances around government benefits for special needs families. Previously, he worked as an Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) therapist and founded/operated an educational services company dedicated to children with special needs. Watching children he worked with from his previous career grow up to become adults, he got involved with TACA due to a desire to make a positive impact on infrastructure around adults with autism, and helping them live full meaningful lives. He is currently based out of Santa Monica, California, but has clients from all over the country. Previously, Marc was an Assistant Vice President at Credit Suisse in Private Banking and Wealth Management, based in New York. Marc has a Bachelors Degree from Pepperdine University and a Masters Degree from Columbia University.

Benjamin Bequer

Today, Mr. Bequer enjoys devoting most of his time and energy into a venture he co-founded with his wife Azrya Cohen Bequer called THE FFY PROCESS, which designs high-end, immersive transformational experiences and coaching packages for highly successful and influential clients who are ready to radically up-level in all areas of their personal and professional lives, by building more purpose into their future. Mr. & Mrs. Bequer are supported by a curated team of highly skilled facilitators with a wide repertoire of healing modalities, ranging from shamanic plant medicine traditions to cutting edge business strategy.

Mr. Bequer also currently oversees his family office. He utilizes a lifetime of strategic business expertise to identify and accelerate purpose-driven entrepreneurs and organizations, by mentoring and investing in their visions. He is actively sharing his blessings through purposeful work and venture philanthropy.

Julia S. Berle

Julia is an experienced non-profit leader, a nationally certified interpreter for the deaf, and is married with three children. Since the time of her oldest son’s diagnosis with autism in 2002, Julia has been working tirelessly in the fight to recover her son and other children from autism. After her son lost the diagnosis of autism in 2005, Julia helped to establish and work for two non-profit organizations to inform, educate and support families who have a child or children with this diagnosis. She is the founding coordinator for the greater Los Angeles, California chapter of TACA, an organization that helps more than 45,000 families nationwide. The mission of this organization is to provide emotional and informational support to parents of children with autism. TACA also provides tools that can be used to help and support these children and their families. Julia also served as a TACA mentor and was once honored as the top, single-person fundraiser nationwide for this organization. Julia is an international speaker on the subject of autism and has appeared in a variety of media outlets on the local, national and international levels. She is also a Parent Founder for the organization Generation Rescue, a non-profit group focused on funding and researching the cause(s) and biomedical recovery options for autism.

Chris Bull

Chris Bull serves as a Co-Founder and Managing Partner of McDermott & Bull, an executive search firm, based in Irvine California. Chris has built a significant executive search practice catering to a variety of clients, including R.D. Olson, Mattel, Kelley Blue Book, First American, Think Together, Bausch & Lomb, Vizio and, Experian, to name a few. Formerly, Chris was an Executive Vice President in the Orange County office of DHR International, the nation’s 6th largest executive search firm. Earlier in his career, Chris spent six years operating the company he founded: American Liberty Capital Corporation. American Liberty combined cutting edge technology with the standards of commercial and residential mortgage banking retail services to become one of the largest privately held consumer finance companies based in Southern California. Chris currently serves on the Board of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Orange County and the Ambassadors Board of TACA and has recently served as a Board Member for the Association for Corporate Growth. He currently resides in Coto de Caza, California with his two children. Chris received a Bachelor’s Degree in Economics and Finance from the University of Texas at Austin in 1985.

Tom Bulow

Tom Bulow is co- founder and CEO of The Bulow Group, a commercial insurance group in the Chicagoland area. He’s also the co- founder of the software program, First Stack and nutritional lifestyle bar, Dream Fuel. A visionary and entrepreneur at heart; Tom believes in dreaming big, changing the game and is drawn to serve and help others achieve their goals. Once his oldest son was diagnosed with Autism, there was a call to do more and do better. Tom and his wife, Michelle have the attitude of running towards things, not away, and that’s the mentality they take with everything in life, especially autism.  Seeking out ways to be an ally for the Autism Community led him to TACA early on. This community has shown Tom and his family that the sky is not the limit, anything is possible, and to stop at nothing. A Michigan State Alum, Tom enjoys traveling, snow skiing, water skiing, golfing and spending time up in Michigan with Michelle, four children (Tommy, Allison, Jack, Ellie), and their English bulldog, Izzo.

Barbara Cornish

As a mother of 2 diagnosed with autism, Barbara is passionate about finding the deeper cause of autism and understanding how to help her kids and all families impacted by Autism. Barbara was lucky enough to connect with TACA early on in her kids diagnosis and TACA has greatly changed the course of their lives. TACA showed me the true meaning of "challenging the status quo", "never say never" and how to be the best advocate for my family. Barbara brings 25+ years of work experience in tech and eCommerce working at Intel and ebay in various Sales and Marketing positions. Barbara's mission is to bring awareness and support to autism and to put autism in the forefront of our leaders and government. Barbara's hope is for every person on the Autism Spectrum to "Thrive" not just "Survive" and for each of them to have a quality life and be the very best they can be.

Jeff Cova

Jeff Cova is Founder and CEO of Winspire Inc. Winspire assists non-profits in the United States and Canada by providing highly sought after unique experiences and travel related packages to be used in charity auctions and fundraisers. To date, Winspire has assisted over 7,000 non-profits raise more than $11,0000,000 in net revenue. Prior to Winspire, Jeff was co-founder of The Gavel Group in 2001, a company specializing in producing charity auctions for non-profits. Jeff graduated from Fresno State University with a degree in Sports Administration, working in sponsorship sales for Fresno State Athletics, Cal State Fullerton, Anaheim Angels and Anaheim Ducks. A resident of Ladera Ranch, Jeff enjoys traveling and spending time with his wife Anne and children Shane, Sammy and Mia.

Dana Crucil, BCBA

Since 2008, Dana has worked in the field of Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA). She is currently a Board-Certified Behavior Analyst, residing in Southern California and has worked in various settings including: school districts, nonpublic agencies and insurance companies. During her time working for various funders she worked as a Senior Care Manager, coordinating care for members receiving ABA services nationwide. Dana has extensive experience presenting at national conferences such as CAL ABA discussing insurance-based services and medical necessity criteria within the ABA industry. She is personally connected to the special need’s community by her life experiences with her autistic younger sister. She strives to connect these experiences that have encouraged her to advocate for insurance-based services for her into adulthood, as well as, job skills training, and regional center-based services. Demonstrating her commitment to give back, she has worked on innovative ways to assist families with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) as well as providing education to them on what additional services they should be seeking under various funding avenues. She believes that families, providers, and all funding sources should be able to work collaboratively together to obtain best outcomes for individuals with ASD and other developmental disabilities. Dana’s goal is to continue to bridge the gap between families, ABA providers, and funders by education and research driven decisions. It is her belief that all providers and funders should be held to higher standards so that all individuals on the spectrum can achieve best outcomes. Dana is committed to helping families acquire appropriate services for their children while raising awareness and understanding for the autism community.

Instagram: @theholistic_bcba

Terri Donnelly

Terri Donnelly currently serves as Executive Assistant to the CEO and Chairman of Microsemi Corporation, a publicly traded technology company based in Aliso Viejo, California providing semiconductor and system solutions differentiated by power, security, reliability and performance. Terri has spent the majority of her career working for several leading Orange County technology companies, with more than 25 years dedicated to the semiconductor industry. In addition to her role with Microsemi, she serves as Executive Vice President for CompuVac Industries, a Costa Mesa-based technology company she founded along with her husband in 1999. After meeting Lisa Ackerman and spending over a decade supporting TACA through various fundraising and awareness activities, Terri has become a huge advocate for the organization. She also encourages friends, family and colleagues to engage with and support TACA’s wide array of programs. Terri enjoys sailing, stand-up paddle boarding and traveling. A native Californian, she currently resides in Laguna Beach with her husband Dave and Labrador Bella.

Chad Fitzsimmons

Chad is currently the Director, Music Initiatives, CBS RADIO. Before moving to Los Angeles in 2005 to launch JACK FM, Chad worked for CBS RADIO in Charlotte, NC for 3 years. Alongside his responsibilities for 93.1 JACK FM, Chad also serves in the same capacity as Marketing Director for 97.1 AMP RADIO, also based out of Los Angeles. In August of 2005, JACK FM adopted TACA as the beneficiary for JACK’s First Show. Over a decade later, Chad and the JACK FM team continue to partner with TACA on various events, awareness programs, and fundraising campaigns.Chad graduated from Winona State University in 1999. He now lives in Manhattan Beach with his wife Angie and son Kellan.

Heather Grimaldi, MS, BCBA

Heather Grimaldi, MS, BCBA is the Founder of Proof Positive ABA Therapies, an organization of highly-trained and compassionate specialists who provide treatment based on the principles of Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA), the most widely researched and scientifically validated method known for treating autism. Armed with empathy, driven by her passion for helping families, and anchored by her own experience as a devoted mother, Heather built Proof Positive ABA Therapies into one of the largest and most respected institutions of its kind in California. As a Board Certified Behavior Analyst and Clinical Director, Heather’s focus was on supporting families and team members tasked with implementing behavior-analytic interventions. Proof Positive ABA Therapies developed individualized treatment plans designed specifically to teach self-help and social skills with a family-focused approach and an emphasis on parent education, distinguishing themselves as trusted and hands-on care providers. In late 2016, the long-running Autism Learning Partners created one of the largest autism therapy platforms in the U.S. with its acquisition of Proof Positive. In 2019 Heather and Dr. Kristin Shay created Simple Spectrum Supplement a nutraceutical designed to provide the nutritional needs of the developing nervous system, with extra support for individuals with autism, by addressing potential dietary deficits. Her mission to change the supplement worlds standards and she created the kind of nutraceutical supplement she wanted to see available, based on the latest  scientific research and free from the extraneous additives packed into so many similar products on the market.

Jonathan Hallstead

Jonathan Hallstead is the Vice President, Division Manager at Cardinal Financial Company, Limited Partnership – HMG Home Loans. Jonathan has built a strong reputation for helping homeowners understand real estate and lending. In December of 2019 he joined Cardinal Financial to launch and grow their retail presence in Orange County California, located in the city of Irvine. Prior to joining Cardinal Financial, Jonathan was with Bay Equity Home Loans where he co-managed and grew a 190m a year branch, doing over one billion in production in the past 7 years. Jonathan has owned and operated numerous mortgage branches with gross loan production exceeding two billion dollars. Jonathan also serves on the board of directors for the California Association of Mortgage Professionals as well as the Advisory Board for the Salvation Army Orange County.

 

Jonathan holds a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from the University of California, Irvine and a Master's degree in Business Administration from Chapman University. He presently holds a California Real Estate Broker's License as well as a mortgage loan originator license in; California, Colorado, Washington, Hawaii, Arizona, Texas, and Oregon. He has received numerous awards and honors as a production manager and loan officer, having most recently been nominated as one of the top 300 originators in the country by Scotsman Guide. He stays active in the local community engaging with local charities and organizations to further their causes. Find Jonathan on LinkedIn

Manny Khoshbin

Manny Khoshbin arrived in the US with his family at age 14 with not much money or resources. As an entrepreneur at heart, Manny soon realized the opportunities that existed in America and started his own business in 1989 at age 18 while still attending High School. In the early 1990’s, Manny obtained his real estate license and started a realty and mortgage company so that he could invest in distressed and bank owned properties. Today Mr. Khoshbin is guiding several companies in all aspects of its business with a commercial real estate portfolio in excess of 1,500,000 square feet in 6 states. He resides in Newport Coast with his wife Leyla Milani Khoshbin, daughter Priscilla and son Enzo. Manny enjoys vacationing with his family and Philanthropy through multiple causes. Manny has generously supported TACA since 2007.

Steve Plank

Steve Plank is an executive in Allergan’s Global Information Systems organization. Steve joined Allergan in 2005 as the Director of Regulatory Information Management. In 2007, he transitioned into the I.S. organization. Since joining the I.S. organization, he has lead the introduction of numerous capabilities, transformational technology, teams, and technology governance. Steve has over 15 years of experience dedicated in the life sciences industry with roles in the business and IS functions spanning nearly all aspects of the development and commercial lifecycle. Prior to joining Allergan, Steve held positions at Baxter and Amgen as well as consulting engagements at many of the top 20 pharmaceutical companies. Steve graduated from Temple University with a B.S. in Computer Science and received his MBA from the University of Southern California. He currently resides in Irvine, California with his wife and three kids.

Vince Quitugua

Vince ‘Bear’ Quitugua founded martial arts apparel company Shoyoroll in his garage and built it into a well-respected international sports brand. Bear also serves as founder and director of Three Chief’s Brewing—one of the top new craft breweries in America. Bear’s skills as both a CEO and creative director set him apart from other executives, and he has over a decade of experience amplifying the voices of underrepresented athletes, artists, and creators through his brands. Currently living with his wife and four children in Seal Beach, California, Bear is passionate about grassroots community building, and is excited to help TACA continue to connect with other families like his own.