Board of Directors

Message From the Directors

Our Board of Directors provides strategic oversight and counsel to guide Autism Partnership Foundation (APF) in its mission to advance professional standards and treatment of individuals diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) through research and training.  APF accomplishes this through innovative research, training, consultation, treatment, and education.  ​Most importantly, APF strives to increase the availability of effective treatment to children diagnosed with ASD and their families.

The prevalence of ASD is at an all-time high. The CDC’s latest data shows about 1 in every 54 children is diagnosed with ASD. As a result, it is likely your family or someone you know is impacted by autism. It also means an increasing number of parents are overwhelmed by the challenges they face in coming to terms with their child’s diagnosis.

Imagine learning your child has been diagnosed with ASD. While still coping with the shock of the diagnosis, you begin searching for answers. As you search, you grow increasingly frightened and confused as you discover there are literally hundreds of treatment options, all of which claim to be effective. Hopefully, your research leads you to Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA), a scientifically proven treatment to help children diagnosed with ASD thrive and reach their full potential. Your hours and days of research also lead you to discover that intensive ABA therapy is expensive, and your insurance carrier may not cover the cost. Unfortunately, this is a story with which we have become all too familiar. APF was founded on the passion and belief that every child with ASD deserves the chance to live the happiest, most fulfilling life possible. To achieve that, we are committed to scientific research, rigorous training, and evidence-based treatment.

Please email us if you are interested in learning more about APF. Thank you!

Board of Directors

Douglas Erber

President

Doug Erber has more than three decades of leadership experience in nonprofit organizations.  He is a strong advocate for early intervention for children diagnosed with autism and other developmental challenges.  From 2010 to 2017, he served on the board of the Harbor Regional Center, one of California’s 21 nonprofit regional centers that contract with the state for the provision of services to persons with developmental challenges.  In 2014, California Governor Jerry Brown appointed Doug to the state’s Interagency Coordinating Council (ICC) on Early Intervention, which promotes and enhances a coordinated family service system for infants and toddlers who have, or are at risk for having, a disability, and their families.  In 2019 he was elected co-chair of the ICC.  Doug earned his Bachelor of Arts degree at CSU, Long Beach.

_medium_apfoundation_95531BJ Freeman

Board Member

Dr. Freeman is a pioneer in the field of autism and intellectual disability. She began working in the field of autism and related developmental disorders nearly forty years ago, before the medical community had even identified autism as a separate disorder. Since that time, she has been a thought leader in the fields of autism and developmental disabilities in both her role of Professor at the University of California, Los Angeles, and the Director of Autism Services in the Department of Psychiatry at the UCLA School of Medicine. She is an internationally recognized expert who has researched, advised and lectured extensively on the etiology, assessment and treatment of individuals with autism and developmental disabilities. Throughout her nearly four decades working in the field of autism and developmental disabilities, she has evaluated approximately 10,000 children for autism.

Arun Gupta

Board Member

Arun Gupta is the Founder and Executive Chairman of Quartet, a mission-driven technology company that partners with insurers and health systems to make mental healthcare more accessible and integrated into primary care.

Prior to founding Quartet in 2014, Arun serially built and invested in technology companies as a General Partner at Accretive. Accretive launched several industry changing companies such as Accolade, R1, Fandango and others. He has also held roles at Palantir Technologies, McKinsey & Company, and The World Bank.

Arun received a Masters from the Harvard Kennedy School where he was a Reynolds Fellow for Social Entrepreneurship and graduated with honors from Duke University. He has been active in development efforts in India, including launching a social enterprise to improve value capture to farmers and creating a program within the Government of India to improve quality in the public healthcare delivery system. He is passionate about technology’s uses to fix our society’s biggest problems. He serves on the Board of IDinsight, a fast-growing non-profit delivering innovative data and field testing solutions that inform the design of large-scale development programs. Arun and his wife, Dr. Mrinali Patel Gupta, are the proud parents of two boys.

Lewis Holding

Treasurer

Lewis Holding is a Business Services Representative at First Citizens Bank. A graduate of Wake Forest University, Lewis received a B.S. in Politics and International Affairs. In 1991, his brother was diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome (now part of Autism Spectrum Disorder) at 3 years old. After discovering the research, training, and treatment methods at AP and APF, Lewis realized there were far better options available and began volunteering for APF. “I was completely oblivious that some of the milestones so many of these children accomplished were even obtainable,” he said. “It lights a fire in me to help APF fight for families that would otherwise not get that support, knowing that a child can get the type of scientifically-backed, intensive and intentional treatment that APF orchestrates..” Lewis is serving as Treasurer of the Board and hopes to help APF achieve its financial goals and ensure its funds go as far as possible in accomplishing these goals. Lewis lives in Santa Ana California after spending most of his life in North Carolina and enjoys his weekly bible studies, deep sea fishing, and spending time with his fiancé.

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Ron Leaf

Board Member

Dr. Ronald Leaf is a licensed clinical psychologist and the Co-Director of Autism Partnership. He has over forty years of experience in the field of ASD, receiving his doctoral degree at UCLA under the direction of Dr. Lovaas. During his professional training at UCLA, Dr. Leaf served as Clinic Supervisor, Research Psychologist, Lecturer, and Interim Director of the Young Autism Project. Ron continued his work in the field of Autism over the next 4 decades, consulting nationally and internationally to families, school districts, and service providers world-wide. He is co-author of several key works in the field of Autism and behavioral treatment, including A Work in Progress; It’s Time for School! Building Quality ABA Educational Programs For Students With Autism Spectrum Disorders; Sense And Nonsense In The Behavioral Treatment of Autism: It Has To Be Said; and Crafting Connections: Contemporary Applied Behavior Analysis for Enriching the Social Lives of Persons with Autism Spectrum Disorder. Along with Dr. John McEachin, Dr. Leaf’s commitment to the continued evolution of behavioral treatment through research and quality training led to the founding of the Autism Partnership Foundation.

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Ling Shao

Board Member

Ling Shao has extensive experience in the healthcare profession and a passion for advancing the quality of treatment available for all children with Autism Spectrum Disorder. She is the Chief Commercial Officer of Buoy Health. Started by a team of doctors and computer scientists working at the Harvard Innovation Laboratory, Buoy builds a free digital health tool that helps people navigate their health care. Prior to this role, Ling was the National Vice President of Optum, a UnitedHealth Group company. In this role, Ling was responsible for working with leaders to diagnose and provide innovative and efficient healthcare solutions. Ling initially joined UnitedHealth Group in 2004, where she worked with the Chief Medical Officer to manage the design and implementation of clinical programs. She went on to become the Director of Clinical Business Development for Evercare, which provides clinical management for the frail elderly population under Evercare’s Medicare Advantage and Medicaid Plans. Prior to joining UnitedHealth Group, Ling was a senior consultant with Booz Allen Hamilton and a research nurse as Massachusetts General Hospital. Ling also served in the U.S. Army as a sergeant and a nurse. Ling holds an MBA from Harvard University and BS in Nuclear Engineering from MIT. Ling and her husband are the proud parents of four boys.

SYDNEY SHAPIRO

Board Member

Sydney (Syd) Shapiro is the mother of twin boys on the autism spectrum. Following the diagnosis, Syd sought out various therapy options only to be told that instead of working on the boys’ speech, behavioral therapists were going to teach them sign language and PECS (Picture Exchange Communication System). Refusing to believe the prognosis, Syd did extensive research on ABA methodologies and found Autism Partnership. She moved her family to Long Beach and began intensive therapy for her sons. Today, her sons attend a mainstream elementary school. They are avid readers and excellent conversationalists, readily sharing knowledge about topics ranging from prehistoric eras to cars to geography. With a background in education, health, and the arts, Syd says “I don’t believe it best serves my children to create a world in which they are most comfortable. In my opinion, they need to learn the skills necessary to thrive in the world as it is. Thanks to APF’s researchers and therapists, my sons learned and continue to develop these indispensable skills.” Syd and her husband live in San Francisco with their children.

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Andi Waks

Secretary

Andi Waks is the Site Director and Director of Client Services at Autism Partnership. She began working with children with autism in the late 1970s at UCLA on the Young Autism Project, where she served as a Senior Therapist, Research Assistant, and Teaching Assistant. Andi has worked with Drs. Leaf and McEachin on the Young Autism Project, the Behavior Therapy and Learning Center, Straight Talk, and Autism Partnership. She earned her Masters Degree in General Psychology at Pepperdine University in 1983 and returned to school in 1993 to pursue a law degree. She practiced special education law, representing families of children with autism, before returning to Autism Partnership full-time. She consults with families and school districts both locally and nationally.

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