Ausome Team

The Ausome Team

Liisa Vexler
Interim Executive Director
Alix Alldridge
Director of Programs

Alix has been apart of our Ausome Ottawa Team from the beginning. She started out as an Ausome Volunteer, supporting the children and the volunteers during every event.

Her understanding and encouragement of our Ausome kids helped her advance to one of our Program Directors over the last year. She brings with her 9 years of experience working with children with Autism in clinics, at home and in schools. Her dedication to our programs along with her energy and enthusiasm for each child is demonstrated at all of our events. Alix is looking forward to meeting each child and watching them grow and succeed within our programs!

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Julia Albert
Director of Communications

Julia, a graphic designer and former teacher, joined Ausome in 2016 to develop and grow the Ausome brand.

Mom to 3 humans and 2 feline furbabies, Julia is passionate about all things design, and is committed to sharing stories of the Ausome athletes, families, and community members who make Ausome programs possible.

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Amal Al Ahmad
Manager, Donor + Sponsor Relations
Anna Whyte
Co–founder and Director of Operations and Training (maternity leave)

Anna is a caring, energetic, and 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.

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Rachelle Jessome
Program and Training Manager

Rachelle first got involved with Ausome as a volunteer in early 2016. She has held various roles with Ausome over the last 7 years.

Rachelle brings with her years of experience and education working with children and adults with autism to the team. She loves helping individuals with autism achieve their full potential and is passionate about the benefits that Ausome programs and training brings to the Ottawa community and its families.

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Kayla Villalta
Program and Volunteer Manager

Kayla has a diploma in Social Service Work and has been working with individuals on the spectrum for 6 years.

She loves to play soccer and paddle board in her free time. Kayla is dedicated to enhancing the lives of children and youth through sport.

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Kit Emily Smith
Communications Coordinator

Neurodiverse and transgender, Kit graduated with their Bachelor of Arts in Gender Studies and a minor in Environmental Studies from the University of Victoria.

Kit is excited to bring their own lived experience and professional skills to Ausome. They hope to pursue a Master’s in Social Work and become a counselor. In their free time, Kit loves watching cartoons, frequenting the gym, volunteering and hanging out with their friends and family.

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Adrianna Wilson
Administrative Coordinator

Adrianna has a Developmental Services Worker Diploma and has been supporting children and adults on the autism spectrum in their homes and in the community for over seven years.

She is an animal lover and a farm girl with two large dogs at home. In her spare time she loves to walk, paddle board, skate, and create. Adrianna is excited to contribute her experience and education to the Ausome team and help in creating engaging sports programs for children to enjoy. 

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Jennifer Stewart
Program Supervisor

Jen Stewart has been working with individuals on the autism spectrum for fifteen years. After graduating from the University of Ottawa in 2008, she continued to work in ABA in a variety of capacities.

Her specialty is working with teens and young adults in a community setting. She is currently completing her Bachelor of Education at the University of Ottawa to become a high school teacher. She also loves film photography and spending time at her cottage! She joined the Ausome team as Program Supervisor in the spring of 2020.

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Alannah Webber
Program Supervisor

Alannah was first connected with Ausome Ottawa though her placement as an Occupational Therapy and Physiotherapy Assistant student in March, 2018.

She loved the experience of pairing and working with children, and was thrilled to joined the Ausome team with their programs and summer camps. A Carleton grad and a current Algonquin College student, Alannah hopes to one day work with children as an Occupational Therapist. Alannah is passionate about helping children reach their goals and build their confidence, and having fun! When she’s not studying or working, Alannah likes hiking, singing in the car (badly & loudly), baking, and adventuring!

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Michael Sutherland
Program Supervisor

Michael is a Masters student in the Counselling and Spirituality program at Saint Paul University.

Since graduating with a degree in Psychology, Michael has worked with kids on the spectrum and their families. This along with his passion for sports has helped him find a home here at Ausome. Sports have been a big part of Michael’s life since he was a little kid. He has had a basketball in his hands since he could walk and will always cheer for the Raptors. Outside of work and his studies, Michael enjoys spending time with his wife and their puppy Remy.

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Cece Van Aert
Program Supervisor

Selena, commonly known as Cece, is a University of Ottawa graduate with a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology.

 Originally from British Columbia, Cece enjoys a large range of sports, including figure skating, skiing, yoga, rock climbing, and dancing! She also loves playing with her adorable dog, Maggie. Fun Fact: Before moving to Ottawa, Cece was a professional figure skater for Disney on Ice. Throughout her career, she hopes to make a difference in children’s lives and help them reach their full potential. 

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Ofosu Adjei-Afriyie
Program Support

Ofosu is a Translational and Molecular Medicine student at the University of Ottawa.

 He started volunteering for Ausome back in early 2020 for his genetics class and came to realize that he really loves working with the children at Ausome. Not only has he had plenty of fun volunteering with these children, but the sheer determination and drive that these children can display are truly inspiring.

In his free time away from work and school, he loves spending time with family and friends. He makes sure to watch the Toronto Raptors basketball games on TV, and also really likes playing basketball and ultimate frisbee for fun! During covid, he decided to rewatch all of the movies in the MCU, and eagerly looks forward to watching all the future MCU movies and shows. 

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Trina Nguyen
Program Support

 Trina is currently a student at the University of Ottawa studying Translational and Molecular Medicine.

 She first heard about Ausome through uOttawa’s community service-learning program. With two younger cousins on the spectrum, she knew how essential Ausome programs are and that she would love to help young athletes be successful in the sport. She began as a volunteer with Ausome in September 2020 and she was thrilled to have the opportunity to have a larger role in the Ausome organization as a program support staff member. Trina also grew up playing volleyball and she still plays it to this day. As such, she understands how empowering and motivating sports can be.

In her free time, she also enjoys binge-watching the newest Netflix series, trying out new restaurants, and spending time with her friends and family.  

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James Shaheen
Program Support

James is currently at Carleton University, pursuing a Bachelors of music with a minor in Community Engagement with the goal of becoming a professional musician.

 James first discovered Ausome through the I Love to Ski program while working at the ski shop that provided equipment for the athletes. He was enamoured by the youths’ determination, and the staff’s ability to support participants in reaching their individual success goals. After helping out with the program whenever possible, he was hooked.

James loves all things outdoors and tries to go camping as much as possible (yes, even in the winter). He also likes to ski, bike and play hockey. In 2021, James earned his 1st degree blackbelt in Wado Kai Karate.

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Arvin Vahidi
Program Support

Arvin, a health science major at the University of Ottawa, began as a volunteer with Ausome Ottawa in 2019 through the Fitness with Friends program.

Then, as a 12th-grade leadership student at Nepean High School, he partnered with an Ausome athlete that brought a smile to his day. After that, he was brought on board as a PD day staff and eventually as Program Support in more Ausome programming. He loves working with the athletes, seeing the smiles on their faces and watching them grow throughout the program.

Arvin loves all sports but especially has a passion for soccer and basketball!

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Mick Pratt
Program Support

Mick is an Instructor Therapist who completed a post-graduate certificate in Autism and Behavioural Sciences (2022) and a B.A. in Psychology (2017).

Sport has been a positive force in Mick’s life since he was young and he hopes he can help facilitate the same for others. Beyond his work as an Instructor Therapist, he has worked with children of varying needs and abilities in a number of roles, including: occupational therapy volunteer, integration counselor, ultimate frisbee coach, and as a snowboard instructor. In his spare time, Mick is usually found outside running, hiking, snowboarding, cross-country skiing, or on an ultimate frisbee field. After any of which he is usually found cooking.

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Laura Carpio Molina
Program Support

Laura, originally from El Salvador, is pursuing her bachelor’s degree in psychology at the University of Ottawa. Her passion for working with children led her to volunteer through uOttawa’s CSL program.

  Impressed by the organization’s mission to support children on the autism spectrum in sports, she joined the Ausome team in 2023 as a program support staff member. With her kind and caring personality, Laura is deeply committed to making a meaningful and lasting difference in the lives of Ausome athletes, helping them reach their fullest potential. She genuinely enjoys spending time with them, finding it fulfilling, and she is grateful for the opportunity to be part of the team!

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Sara Acharya
Program Support

Sara is a high school student at Ashbury College and found out about Ausome through her high school volunteer program; she wants study education and become a school teacher.

Sara loves to ski and have been a competitive skier since she was 5. She also loves drama and theatre and has been in numerous plays and musicals at Ashbury College.

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Jade Todd
Program Support

Jade is currently pursuing a Bachelor of Education at the University of Ottawa. Beginning as an uOttawa CSL student volunteer, Jade quickly learned how fun Ausome programs are.

When she is not busy with school or Ausome, you can find her playing on the uOttawa Varsity Women’s Hockey team! Jade is experienced in coaching children as a skating and hockey coach and loves empowering youth through movement and sports. She enjoys spending time with athletes and watching them improve week by week.

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Interested in joining our Ausome Board?

Ausome Ottawa is always looking for energetic, committed members who believe in sport and recreation for all.

To learn more, send us a message.

Get in touch

Our Ausome Board of Directors

Jennifer Wright

Jennifer believes strongly in the value of sport and physical activity (having grown up playing hockey, baseball and swimming) and has shared this passion as a kids’ hockey coach for the past 12 years.

When Jennifer is not at the rink coaching or cheering her own kids on, she is spending time on her other passions: cooking, traveling, being outside and spending time with friends and family.

Professionally, Jennifer is a non-profit leader and has worked more than 20 years in the field of human resource management, developing and executing HR strategies around attraction and retention, work integrated learning, labour market research, skills development, inclusion and diversity. She holds a Master’s of Business Administration from Royal Roads University, an Honours Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from Wilfrid Laurier University.

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Shannon Glenn

Shannon is the mother of a beautiful, brave and fun-loving boy on the spectrum, as well as a long-time civil servant working on economic issues.

Currently working in government relations for a bank dedicated to serving entrepreneurs, earlier responsibilities in government have included science and technology and innovation policy, automotive industrial support, as well as climate change and clean air, serving in three economic departments and the Privy Council Office. Prior to joining government, Shannon was a Senior Manager at Deloitte, working on environmental risk management with clients in the resources and financial sectors. She has enjoyed contributing to Boards for organizations dedicated to water management, sustainable transportation and conservation.
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Derek Firth

Derek, along with his wife Liisa Vexler, founded Ausome in 2015. As the father of two boys, Derek spends most of his leisure time coaching his sons in basketball, playing basketball, or spending time with his family.

He has been an internet entrepreneur since 2000 and specializes in working with large data sets to help clients find solutions to their problems.
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Cindy Harrison

Cindy is mom to two young adults, one of whom is on the autism spectrum. She has been a practicing speech language pathologist for over 30 years and is a founder of ACT Learning Centre, CommuniCare Therapy and Kaymar Rehabilitation.

Cindy is very active in the Ottawa Community and is a long-time advocate for autistic children, youth, and adults. She was recently awarded the Honours of the Association of Speech Language Pathologists and Audiologists of Ontario for her work in the field of autism. Cindy believes in opportunities that allow families to have fun, engage and connect in an inclusive and supportive environment.

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Todd Luckasavitch

Todd is an executive level Human Resources leader with over 23 years of experience in all facets of HR in both the private, public and not-for-profit sector.

Todd has a B.A. in Economics from Carleton University and a B.Comm. from Ryerson University in Human Resource. His experience spans across recruitment system and process design, succession planning, career and leadership development, compensation, as well as organization design and change management. Todd has strong leadership experience having managed numerous large-scale HR programs, initiatives and system related projects at a country and global level. He is currently the General Manager of Business Sherpa Group, a business management solutions firm that brings together virtualized resources and teams to support Small and Mid-sized Enterprises.
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Katie Russell

With a background in research and fundraising in the non-profit sector, Katie Russell believes in inclusive communities that allow for the full development of all children.

As a parent with four children, Katie also knows that achieving that full development begins at home with a loving, supportive family environment for children on the autism spectrum. A vital link between support at home and support in the community are organizations that can work with families, educational and health professionals as well as policymakers to build programs and support initiatives that focus on the child and their future.
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Paul Sammut

Paul is a Senior Manager in KPMG’s Risk Consulting practice, based in Ottawa, working with a range of clients including the Tech sector, Crown Corporations and Non-Profit organizations.

Paul moved to Canada with his family in 2018 as part of a global transfer. Paul has previously volunteered for organizations such as the Brownlee Foundation in the UK, helping to enable school children to take part in mini-triathlons.
Paul’s passions include music, cycling, snowboarding and soccer, whilst also learning to like ice hockey.
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Sandra Saric

Sandra is an inclusion advocate who works with industry, education, government, and not-for-profits. She offers strategic insights and solutions on business development and growth.

As a Senior Executive with 20+ years private sector and not-for-profit experience, Sandra is passionate about diversity, equity and inclusion, and breaking down barriers for youth. She believes in the importance of nurturing the potential in every child.

Prior to founding Inclusive Path, as a technology council executive, Sandra worked to accelerate education pathways and career opportunities for youth, women, newcomers and refugees, persons with disabilities and Indigenous persons into the digital economy. 

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