THE AUSOME TEAM
LIISA VEXLER – Executive Director and Co-Founder
Liisa Vexler is the co-founder of Ausome Ottawa. Inspired by their son’s love of sports and the challenges he faced participating in typical community programs while on the autism spectrum, Liisa and her husband Derek Firth, set out to create what they saw was missing from the community – a place where all kids and families can experience the joys and benefits of physical activity in a supportive and sensitive environment.
Liisa holds a Bachelor of Education in Physical Education from McGill University and Master of Arts in Human Kinetics from the University of Ottawa. She worked in health research and communications for over 15 years before taking on her role with Ausome.
When not watching her kids play one sport or another, Liisa enjoys practicing yoga, running, reading or planning her family’s next adventure.
ANNA WHYTE, BA Comm, BS Psy – Program Director
Anna is a caring, energetic, skilled, autism behaviour therapist with years of clinical intervention experience. Since her youth, she has been involved with children, either babysitting, coaching, camp counselling, or volunteering around the world. Her passion to see children meet their full potential is the foundation for Anna’s involvement with children diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorders. Recently, she saw a need to expand her role beyond the clinical environment, and is currently providing a service to support children in various community settings.
Anna played competitive softball and volleyball for many years. As an athlete who still actively participates in various sports, she understands the benefits of participation in physical activity. Her love of sports, combined with her ability to teach, and her educational background in behaviour modification make her a key part of the AUSOME team.
BOARD OF DIRECTORS
DEREK FIRTH, FOUNDER
Derek, along with his wife Liisa Vexler, is the founder of Ausome Canada. He is the father of two boys, one of whom has an autism spectrum disorder. Derek spends most of his leisure time coaching his sons in basketball, playing basketball, or spending time with his family. Ausome has been a dream of Derek’s for awhile, as he believes passionately that everyone should have a chance to participate in sports.
Karen is a freelance writer and communications strategist with over ten years of marketing and communications experience. Her work focuses on helping small businesses build a comprehensive and effective web presence through content marketing. She is the current President of the Women’s Business Network of Ottawa, actively involved in helping support and promote women in the Ottawa business community. Karen and her husband, Matt, have a delightful, funny little boy who is on the autism spectrum. When she’s not working or spending time with family, Karen enjoys giving back by volunteering with QuickStart Autism, a charity that is committed to early identification and intervention for children with autism.
Suzanne is the grandmother of two young boys, Alexander and Nathan, both of whom have been diagnosed with autism. In early 2008, Suzanne founded QuickStart-Early Intervention for Autism which incorporated and became a registered Canadian Charity in 2010. Suzanne brings to Ausome a wealth of experience working with families living with autism, as well as experience building a registered charity from the ground up.