MAC 2017 Speaker List

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Jed Baker, Ph.D.

Jed Baker, Ph.D. is the director of the Social Skills Training Project, an organization serving individuals with autism and related social communication problems.  He is on the professional advisory board of Autism Today, ASPEN, ANSWER, YAI, the Kelberman Center and several other autism organizations. In addition, he writes, lectures, and provides training internationally on the topic of social skills training and managing challenging behaviors.  He is an award winning author of 8 books, including Social Skills Training for Children and Adolescents with Aspergers Syndrome and Social Communication Problems; Preparing for Life: The Complete Handbook for the Transition to Adulthood for Those with Autism and Aspergers Syndrome; The Social Skills Picture Book; The Social Skills Picture Book for High School and Beyond; No More Meltdowns: Positive Strategies for Managing and Preventing Out-of-Control Behavior; No More Victims: Protecting those with Autism from Cyber Bullying, Internet Predators & Scams; Overcoming Anxiety in Children and Teens; and School Shadow Guidelines. His work has also been featured on ABC World News, Nightline, Fox News, the CBS Early Show, and the Discovery Health Channel.   

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Carol Kranowitz

As a music, movement and drama teacher for 25 years (1976-2001), Carol observed many out-of-sync preschoolers. To help them become more competent in their work and play, she began to study sensory processing and sensory integration (“SI”) theory. She learned to help identify her young students’ needs and to steer them into early intervention. In writings and workshops, she explains to parents, educators, and other early childhood professionals how sensory issues play out – and provides fun and functional techniques for addressing them at home and school. She is best-known for her book, The Out-of-Sync Child, which has sold more than 600,000 copies (September 2013).

Derek and Dylan Volk

DEREK VOLK

Derek Volk is the author of the internationally acclaimed Amazon best seller, Chasing the Rabbit: A Dad’s Life Raising a Son on the Spectrum.  Derek is a Maine businessman, supporter of Autism awareness, volunteer and philanthropist who, along with his family, was recently named the 2015 Spurwink “Humanitarian of the Year.”   He is currently the president and co-owner of Volk Packaging Corporation, a third generation, family owned, corrugated box manufacturer in Biddeford, Maine. Derek actively participates on the Maine Business Leadership Network (BLN), a national organization that focuses on connecting employers with potential employees who have disabilities. His own company currently employs those who are deaf, blind and on the autism spectrum.

A speech communications major at the University of Maine at Orono, Derek has always been comfortable speaking to an audience. Since 2012, Derek has hosted a Saturday morning radio talk show on WLOB 1310AM in Portland, Maine. His show can be heard online at www.derekvolkshow.com and through podcasts available on iTunes and Stitcher.

Derek has been happily married to his high school sweetheart, Amy Volk, for 27 years. State Senator Amy Volk is currently serving her third term in the Maine Legislature.  Amy and Derek are the proud parents of four children. Their son, Dylan, is 25-years-old and the inspiration behind Chasing the Rabbit. They also have three daughters, Mariah (22), Lilly (18) and Serena (12).  

Derek’s book and more information is available at www.chasingtherabbit.org

DYLAN VOLK

After years of what his parents called “the diagnosis of the month club,” Dylan was diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome at the age of eight. Life has always been challenging for Dylan. When he was little, he struggled with how to learn the rules and follow directions that often did not make sense to him. As he got older, he was challenged, especially socially, by a world that often seemed to go too fast for him to keep up. Even today, Dylan works hard to figure out what he needs to do in order to get through each day as a 25-year-old adult in a very fast-paced society.

Dylan graduated from Scarborough High School in 2010.  Dylan is currently pursuing his goal of earning a living making people laugh. He is also has produced a series of satirical videos for his YouTube channel. You can watch them by searching Dielawn Comedy.  

Dylan hopes his work helping his father write “Chasing the Rabbit: A Dad’s Life Raising a Son on the Autism Spectrum” will help families as they navigate through the difficulties of living life on the spectrum.

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Valerie Hu, Professor, Biochemistry and Molecular Medicine

Dr. Valerie Hu, Ph.D. is a Professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Medicine at The George Washington University School of Medicine & Health Sciences, and the Chair of the Autism and Neurodevelopmental Disorders Initiative Faculty Committee.  A mother of a son with autism spectrum disorders (ASD), Dr. Hu redirected her research focus towards autism in 2005 and has since published 10 papers on the genes and biological pathways associated with ASD. “The long-term goals of my laboratory are personalized diagnosis and treatment of autism spectrum disorders (ASD). We aim to achieve these goals by developing a better understanding of the underlying biology giving rise to different manifestations of autism through the identification of altered genes, pathways, and gene regulatory mechanisms specific to the different subtypes of ASD.” Dr. Hu received her Ph.D. in Chemistry from California Institute of Technology and did her postdoctoral research in Membrane Biochemistry and Immunology at UCLA.

Michael Beloff, CFP®, ChFC®, CAP®

Michael has over ten years of financial services experience. He began his career at UBS and worked at Morgan Stanley before joining Barnum Financial Group. At Barnum, Michael is supported by a team of internal and external resources, enabling him to look at complex issues from different perspectives to create strategies and tactics personalized for your specific opportunities, issues, needs, and goals.

Prior to becoming a financial services representative, Michael practiced corporate law at a major international law firm in New York and as a business developer in the technology industry. Michael earned a law degree from Columbia University in New York and has undergraduate degrees in business and math from the State University of New York at Albany.

Michael has a life-long commitment to continuous education and has earned numerous professional credentials including earning the CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNERTM certification, the recognized standard of excellence for competent and ethical personal financial planning. He has also earned the Chartered Financial Consultant® (ChFC®) designation, gaining in-depth knowledge of the key financial planning disciplines including insurance, income taxation, retirement planning, investments and estate planning, the Chartered Advisor for Senior Living (CASL®) designation which prepares financial professionals to lead clients from middle age through retirement and assist them with the management, preservation and transfer of wealth and the Chartered Advisor in Philanthropy (CAP®) designation, helping clients to you maximize their philanthropic goals by guiding them through important life questions during the decision making process.

Michael Tolleson, Artist

Michael Tolleson is an autistic savant artist living the in the Seattle metro area. He paints full sized paintings in less than 30 minutes during events and benefits. At this date he has painted over 600 paintings in 4 1/2 years. He speaks of the light within autism.

“I have Aspergers, which accounts for my ability to paint proficiently and effectively without formal training. June 2013 marked 2 years of me actively painting and of 350 gallery worthy paintings being created (no mistakes including my first painting). My first 5 paintings were displayed and sold in art galleries in 3 states. With each new painting, I continue to evolve, develop my own style and progress because of an aptitude that I attribute to my Aspergers. While I can paint as an artistic savant, I have other deficits such as face blindness (inability to remember faces if they are “out of location context” or if clothing or hairstyle has significantly changed). I can do complex math in my head, but cannot fill out forms, reports, schedules, or balance a checkbook. Aspergers has its pluses and minuses… Oh and I have the tendency to be very, very, very verbal (I talk a lot).” ~ Michael Tolleson