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WHO WE ARE

 

Our Mission and Vision

Come As You Are (CAYR) Connections was founded to support and empower the neurodivergent community in the greater Chicago area. Our mission is to increase the accessibility of inclusive, neurodiversity-affirming resources to families, childcare centers, schools, and organizations.

Our vision includes several projects of increasing ambition, starting with scholarships for Autistic and neurodivergent individuals to access neurodiversity-affirming care as well as funding for professional in-services to teach childcare providers and teachers about the neurodiversity paradigm. 

Board of Directors

Neurodiversity. Accessibility. Inclusion. 

We are a grassroots, volunteer-based group of parents, therapists, educators, and other professionals who are passionate about promoting neurodiversity affirming practices and improving the quality of life of neurodivergent folx in our communities. 

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Erica

President

Programming Chair

Erica is a Speech-Language Pathologist and a late-diagnosed ADHDer who lives in Oak Park with her husband Cody and their two dogs, Bowie and Mango.

Founding CAYR was a way to address her frustration with the lack of accessible, neuro-affirming resources in the Chicago area. 

In her free time, she volunteers at her favorite thrift shop and serves on the board of a local arts nonprofit, Terrain Exhibitions. 

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Christina

Secretary

Christina was born and raised in Texas and found her way up to Chicago after earning her master's degree in Speech-Language Pathology. She works in a private practice in Oak Park, where she is passionate about providing neuro-affirming care.  For fun, she loves reading, exercising, singing, cooking, and listening to podcasts.

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Gary

Treasurer

Finance Chair

 

Gary recently earned his MBA from UCLA Anderson school of management after five years in the financial services industry. He now works as a healthcare strategist with a passion for education and accessibility. His interests include cars, snowboarding, and attending concerts with friends.

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Megan

Board Member

Communications Chair

Megan is a neurodivergent mom to a neurodivergent kid in the Chicago suburbs. She's thrilled to support in CAYR’s mission and vision of providing accessible, ND affirming care for the community.

 

Her background is in teaching and HR. In her spare time, she enjoys going on walks with her daughter and rollerblading.

 

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Courtney

Board Member

Resource Group Chair

Courtney is passionate about dispelling myths and misconceptions about autism, supporting underserved populations, and advocating for neurodivergent people to live full, authentic lives with access to supports and accommodations.

 

Her interests include collecting Pokémon cards, talking about Star Wars (Jar Jar is a Sith), reading, starting (but not really finishing) art projects and playing outside with her kids. 

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Kisa

Board Member

Kisa is a Neurodivergent Childhood Advocate and founder of the Play Lab Foundation, an inclusive, play- and nature-based Early Childhood Community located in Oak Park, Illinois.

 

Committed to equity, access, and joy for all children, she advocates for the rights of children and childhood while collaborating with other educators to incorporate liberated learning into their educational settings.

 

When she is not on an adventure with her crew or fighting for the rights of children, you can find Kisa hanging with her partner and tending to her garden of adult children, pets, and plants.

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Lauren

Board Member

 

Lauren is a former educator, passionate neurodiversity advocate and the mother of a neurodivergent young adult. She knows firsthand the life-changing difference neuro-affirming spaces can make for both children and adults.  Professionally, she is the president of a small philanthropic advisory firm. Her hobbies include drawing and digital art, playing badminton, and cuddling with her two cats.

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