MEET THE TEAM
Hi! I’m Abbey! I’m a teacher, trainer, sister, educator, mother, and advocate – but most importantly – I’m a sibling. I’m the proud sister of Christopher. He’s been my muse, my reason, and my motivation for 21 years now! I work as an autism researcher professionally, and while I dabble in a number of different topics, my main goal is to promote the education of first responders about autism. I founded PACT to share the resources my team and I have come up with, help support the training of first responders, and connect others to the research we have done. I’ve got a PhD from the University of Kentucky (Go Cats!), was born and raised in Cincinnati (Skyline Chili!) and am now living in Melbourne, Australia (G’day mate!). The education of first responders about autism is now an international topic, and I’m excited to be a part of the growth and eagerness our community has for this topic. Thanks for stopping by, and please reach out if PACT can support any of your initiates.
CO-FOUNDER & LEAD ACTIVIST
Meet Suzannah and her son George! Suzannah and I cooked up the idea of PACT when we were working together to ensure George and the rest of Kentucky's Autistic Community knew what to do when interacting with law enforcement. After watching media take over negative interactions between individuals with autism and police officers in other states, we approached our local police department to see if they would be willing to go through a training opportunity aimed at educating the department about autism. Lexington Police Department was incredibly supportive, joined on, and became our pilot training opportunity. From there, we expanded through the state and world. We do our best to think through everything with George in mind - how can we improve his quality of life and keep him safe and happy? George loves planes, drawing, and Dora the Explorer. PACT is better thanks to the influence of Suzannah and George!
This is Kirsten! Kirsten and I met as graduate students at the University of Kentucky when we were working on our doctorates. Her passion for autism research was originally ignited when she conducted an undergraduate thesis examining bullying and cyber bullying experiences among adolescents with autism. During research, clinical, and volunteer experiences with members of the autism community, she learned about a few incidents where first responders unintentionally misinterpreted behaviors displayed by individuals with autism. Inspired to support first responders and the autism community, she joined the PACT team to seek solutions within our local community and across the state. Currently, she lives in Atlanta, Georgia where she works at Emory University’s Marcus Autism Center. As you can see, PACT team members live (quite literally!) across the world. Our shared goal is to continue to educate first responders about autism, support the autism community, and conduct research on this topic. We’re so happy you’re here and thrilled to connect with others who are interested in this work!