Gillian Leek

Chief Executive Officer

GILLIAN LEEK, Chief Executive Officer, guides the organization’s vision to positively impact the lives of the estimated 5.4 million adults with autism nationwide, especially in the critical areas of home, work, social, and overall health and wellbeing. Gillian has been with the organization for more than twelve years, conceptualizing and building state-of-the-art initiatives as a key member of the NEXT for AUTISM team. Most recently, Gillian served as Senior Vice President of Operations. Gillian has consistently been at the forefront of NEXT for AUTISM’s success, whether heading the coordination of the televised benefit Night of Too Many Stars, which has raised over $30 million or supporting the launch of The Center for Autism and The Developing Brain. During her tenure, she has implemented key programmatic, brand awareness and fundraising efforts and has cultivated a multitude of national corporate partnerships to benefit NEXT for AUTISM and its grantee and partner organizations. Together with the NEXT for AUTISM team, she will focus on building meaningful collaborations with like-minded nonprofits, policy makers, media, corporations, and the community at large. Gillian holds a J.D. from New York Law School and an undergraduate degree from Elon University. She lives in New Jersey with her husband and daughter.

Ilene Lainer

Co-Founder and President

ILENE LAINER, Co-Founder and President, co-founded NEXT for AUTISM, because she is committed to transforming the system of services and pursuing the latest innovations, so that all families living with autism would have access to the educational, social, recreational and support services they need. Formerly a partner at the law firm of Grotta, Glassman & Hoffman, P.A., Ilene practiced labor and employment law on behalf of management for nearly two decades, developing a strong interest in working with clients that were in the midst of internal structural change. Ilene has published and spoken widely about autism topics, and is currently on the Board of Trustees of the NYC Autism Charter School and on Advisory Committees for Felicity House and the Center for Autism and the Developing Brain.

Amy Wallace

Senior Vice President, Finance and Administration

AMY WALLACE, Senior Vice President, Finance and Administration, oversees the finance and general operating functions at NEXT for AUTISM.  Her responsibilities include managing our accounting, finance, and human resource functions, risk management, overseeing operation of our facilities, and providing financial analysis and insights to support strategic planning efforts and partnerships. Amy brings decades of experience from The New York Times Company, where most recently, she was the Executive Director of NYTLive, an international live-conference and events business with a budget of $20 million. Previously, as Executive Director of Strategic Planning at The New York Times, Amy was responsible for analyzing revenue-generating businesses and partnerships as well as creating strategic and business plans for those initiatives.  Amy also held positions at The Times within operating groups and the corporate suite, where she was responsible for product development, resource allocation, budgeting, forecasting, pricing, compensation and expense control She holds an undergraduate degree and an MBA from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.

Patricia Wright

Senior Vice President, Strategic Initiatives

PATRICIA WRIGHT PhD, MPH, Senior Vice President, Strategic Initiatives, provides leadership and oversight for program development and implementation.  Patricia supports strategic partnerships on behalf of NEXT for AUTISM by networking, profiling, and collaborating externally with organizations active in autism services, supports, and research. Patricia’s commitment to, and advocacy for, services and resources for the autism community has guided her work over the past 30 years. She has managed the design of a statewide system of support for children with autism for Hawaii, served as the National Director of Autism Services for Easter Seals, developed and delivered coursework in higher education, and held industry positions that leveraged technology to improve life outcomes for people living with disabilities. Patricia has held advisory roles on the Organization for Autism Research’s Scientific Council, the Executive Committee for the Friends of the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, the Board of Directors for the Association of Professional Behavior Analysts and the Autism Society Panel of Professional Advisors. She has provided expert testimony at Congressional Hearings and is a frequent contributor in the media, raising awareness of effective intervention for those living with autism. Patricia completed her Ph.D. in Education and Master of Public Health at the University of Hawaii and her Master of Special Education at San Francisco State University. Her research focuses on the delivery of evidence-based interventions in community settings and healthcare access for people with disabilities.

Maggie Boyd

Associate, Development and Marketing

MAGGIE BOYD, Associate, Development and Marketing, supports fundraising initiatives and events for NEXT for AUTISM. From assisting in planning events to organizing social media and online fundraisers, Maggie works to spread NEXT’s mission and goals. A graduate of the University of Dayton, where she studied political science and marketing, Maggie previously interned at the Montgomery County Department of Economic and Community Development, where she worked to increase the capabilities and reach of local organizations such as homeless shelters and food pantries. She also interned with the nonprofit World Central Kitchen, where she assisted in planning the annual Dine-N-Dash event and World Food Day. With an older sister on the autism spectrum, Maggie loves knowing that her understanding of her sister will grow with each work day.

John Bryson

Senior Manager, Strategic Workforce Initiatives

JOHN BRYSON, Senior Manager, Corporate Consulting, creates partnerships with businesses and school districts to develop employment services at NEXT for AUTISM. As a consultant at ViaQuest Foundation, John specialized in school-to-work transition services and implemented innovative strategies to develop career pathways for workers with disabilities.  Prior to ViaQuest, John was an educator and public sector leader for ten years, where he supported students and adults with disabilities and other barriers to employment.  His use of direct instruction and cooperative learning strategies led to consistently successful outcomes. He is committed to exploring innovative strategies and using his experience in education to help companies work with individuals with ASD. John holds a Bachelor of Arts, Communications degree and a Master of Science, Education degree from The University of Akron.

Alison Bush

Senior Manager, Strategic Initiatives

ALISON BUSH, Senior Manager, Program Development, supports program development and design, as well as ongoing program evaluation and management at NEXT for AUTISM. She has been working in the field of disability services and supports for nearly 10 years, beginning her career as a therapist and supervisor providing in-school and in-home ABA services to children.  Alison then supported the creation and implementation of programs for young children at First Leap, an ABA-based clinical therapy center, where she oversaw the day-to-day operations and supervised staff.  Prior to NEXT for AUTISM, Alison was the Professional Services Director of an educational software company, Rethink First. She supported the professional development of special education teachers with digital products that offered research-based teaching practices, digitization of data collection and data-based teaching decisions. In this role,  she worked with a range of educators, from paraprofessionals to superintendents.  Alison is a Board Certified Behavior Analyst with a Master’s degree in Marriage and Family Therapy and an ABA Certificate from Nova Southeastern University.  She received her Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from the University of Tampa.

Anjula Duggal

Vice President, Marketing

ANJULA DUGGAL, Vice President, Marketing, oversees NEXT for AUTISM’s brand and marketing strategy with the goal of driving broader awareness, national recognition, and donor engagement for the organization. She is responsible for managing marketing activities that promote, enhance and protect the organization’s brand reputation. Her experience in marketing extends over 25 years, from working with larger-scale companies like Sony Music, Universal Records, Frommer’s Travel, to startups and nonprofits alike. With a strong focus on evaluating the effectiveness of outreach strategies, Anjula has expertise in developing brand awareness, generating inbound traffic and building strategic partnerships. Anjula holds a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from New York University.

Kelly Fleming

Senior Manager, Development and Events

KELLY FLEMING, Senior Manager, Development and Events, plays a key role in overseeing and implementing a portfolio of annual revenue generating events and development efforts at NEXT for AUTISM. Prior to joining the team, Kelly was part of an international, public-health nongovernmental organization, Malaria No More, where she oversaw enterprise events such as the annual gala, high-level dinner series, and panel discussions. She also was responsible for development initiatives, overseeing donor engagement and retention, and leading international, donor stewardship trips to Cameroon and Kenya. Kelly received her bachelor’s degree in childhood education from The College of Saint Rose.

Coleif Holte

Associate, Finance and Administrative

COLEIF HOLTE, Associate, Finance and Administrative, supports the finance and general operating functions at NEXT for AUTISM. Her responsibilities include assisting with accounts payable and receivable, the processing of financial reports, tracking grants, annual audits, and contract administration.  Prior to joining NEXT for AUTISM, she worked as a Bookkeeping Assistant for a restaurant, before going on to intern in the finance departments of a real estate firm and then a non-profit policy think tank committed to reducing economic inequalities. Coleif prefers to work in the non-profit field and contribute to NEXT for AUTISM’s mission to help improve the lives of people on the autism spectrum. Coleif holds an MBA in Finance from Molloy College.

Leah Spindell

Manager, Office and Administration

LEAH SPINDELL, Manager, Office and Administration, provides support for all departments, employees, and board members as needed. She manages the organization’s general email and phones in addition to maintaining the development database, providing HR assistance, and handling the day-to-day compliance and general office functions of the organization. Leah began her career in non-profit administration during her senior year of high school at the Friedberg JCC which continued throughout her college years. She then worked as the Registrar at Sunrise Day Camp which gives children with cancer and their siblings summer and year-round experiences. After a brief stint in the for-profit sector, she immediately realized it was not the right path for her and joined the NEXT for AUTISM team in 2016. Leah holds a B.A. in Television & Radio Broadcasting from Queens College, City University of New York.

Lauren Todd Steinbacher

Director, Strategic Workforce Initiatives

LAUREN TODD STEINBACHER, Director, Corporate Consulting, is responsible for implementation of corporate consulting efforts at NEXT for AUTISM. Lauren oversaw operations and was lead consultant for the Disability Inclusion division at ViaQuest Foundation.  She led the national, corporate consulting division, as well as the transition to employment teams in schools across the country. For the past 15 years, Lauren has helped individuals with disabilities become meaningful partners in their communities. She began her career working with individuals with developmental disabilities in residential settings, then in employment services where she has helped hundreds of individuals with disabilities gain employment.  As an active member of the national disability community, Lauren has served multiple terms as a Board Member of the Ohio Chapter of the Association of People Supporting EmploymentFirst (APSE). She holds a Bachelors of Arts, Psychology degree from the University of Akron.

Brad Walker

Vice President, Strategic Adult Initiatives

 BRAD WALKER, Vice President, Community Living Supports, leads the community living efforts of NEXT for AUTISM, including the development and expansion of NEXT for NEIGHBORS, a program created by NEXT for AUTISM and CLO, in partnership with the Arc Westchester. Brad brings expertise in the Professional Family Teaching Model (PFTM), a model that provides immersive supports to individuals with autism using family-style living, behavioral and teaching competencies for staff, comprehensive training, crisis intervention strategies, and certification.  Brad has worked with individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities since 1990 across the United States. His professional roles have included direct support, management, behavior consultant, quality assurance, and administration. He holds a Bachelor of Sciences in Organizational Management and Leadership from Friends University in Wichita, KS, and is currently pursuing graduate studies in Applied Behavioral Science at the University of Kansas.  


Website photography primarily by Eric Vitale Photography.