2024 Milestones National Autism Conference
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Milestones Autism Resources

4853 Galaxy Parkway, Suite A
Warrensville Heights, OH 44128

Phone: (216) 464-7600

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Meet our Founders and Staff

Eileen Saffran, LISW-S is stepping in as Milestones interim Executive Director. Eileen was the Founder and CEO of The Gathering Place for 21 years, and brings a keen eye to the needs and contributions of the local nonprofit community. Eileen knows Milestones well as she consulted with the organization from 2020-2023.

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Mia Buchwald Gelles, Operations Director and Co-founder of Milestones, makes sure everything runs smoothly. She oversees daily operations, finance, technology and HR. Mia uses her expertise in nonprofit management and project planning so Milestones can effectively serve the community. Her technical skills have enabled Milestones to develop and evolve the website and database as the organization has grown. Prior to Milestones, Mia provided 20 years of lead program management and data solutions for nonprofits and governmental agencies. Mia serves on the executive board for the Ohio Coalition for the Education of Children with Disabilities (OCECD).

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Eira Yates, MSSA has over 20 years of experience in healthcare and social services. She has served in leadership roles for the Cleveland Department of Public Health, HRSA (Health Resources & Services Administration) in Washington, DC, Fatherhood Initiative, Invest in Children of Cuyahoga County, Black Professionals Association Charitable Foundation, and OhioGuidestone Organization. She has served in a variety of roles at OhioGuidestone over the past 16 years, including most recently as Director of Family Support and Community Programs, with special emphasis on low-income and underserved populations. Her expertise lies in program planning/management locally and nationally, minority infant mortality education and prevention, healthy pregnancy, Lactation training and advocacy, Maternal and Child Health, Healthy Fathering, and community-based participatory research. She has created innovative programming to fill gaps in services, such as creating programs and an assessment tool specifically for fathers. Eira has collaborated with mental health departments across a variety of public and private local and state agencies and Health Departments, neighborhood centers and community resources to achieve solutions for families. She has leveraged in kind services, grant funding resources and fundraising dollars to sustain programming

Eira is a Family and Schools Together Trainer through the Children and Family First Council of Cleveland. She has been a lecturer at MSASS and Ursuline College and a presenter at numerous locations. Eira has a BA in Social Work and MS in Social Administration from Case Mandel School of Applied Social Sciences. Eira is working toward her PhD in Interdisciplinary Studies.

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As Helpdesk Director, Estee Ezinski supports individuals and families in finding resources in their communities. Estee has a professional background in pediatric patient care and is a mother to an autistic child. As a mom, she is dedicated to serving families while being able to utilizes her own child’s and family’s experiences to help guide other families. Estee has completed COPAA training and has a strong interest in special education advocacy. 

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Nathan Morgan, MSSA, LSW, Director of Autistic Supports has a professional background in childhood development, early intervention, and childhood mental health. Nathan is also an autistic self-advocate who uses their own lived experiences to support causes important to the autistic community. They are one of the moderators for the Milestones Self-Advocate Social group where they work to support fellow autistic individuals with creating friendships and building community.

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Bradley Wyner, NAAD-DDS, Director of Education, first became involved with Milestones as a conference presenter and member of the Executive Conference Committee, before joining the organization full-time in 2023. With a background in intellectual & developmental disabilities, autism, foster care, and residential treatment, Bradley combines best practices regarding mental health, trauma, and autism for an approach that is positive and person-centered, with an acute interest in the intersection of autism and trauma, and support for people who present with severe to profound disabilities. As a trainer and consultant, Bradley frequently presents on trauma-informed approaches to behavior support, person-centered thinking for people with complex needs, and practical training approaches for direct support staff. A NADD-certified specialist in the support of mental wellness for people with disabilities (thenadd.org), Bradley has been recognized with the 2017 Ed Comer award from the Ohio Mental Illness/Intellectual Disabilities Coordinating Center of Excellence, and as NADD’s 2022 Member of the Year.

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Gay Baker, LISW-S, MSSA, M.Ed. retired from Metrohealth Medical Center, having worked as a supervisor of medical social workers in the Ambulatory clinics throughout the Cleveland Metropolitan area. Prior to becoming a supervisor, Gay was the primary social worker in the Pediatric Clinic and OB/GYN clinic at the main campus of Metrohealth Medical Center. Gay also brings past experience working with the families of children, ages 0-5, who are at risk of, or experiencing delayed development. She has provided parents and caregivers with direct support as they consider and evaluate concerns about their child and embark on the journey to access medical, educational and mental health programming and support.

Gay has extensive experience working with community resources and attending community based meetings on behalf of our most vulnerable populations. Of special importance is working with parents and other caregivers to become strong advocates for their children, in multiple settings including medical and educational. Gay has a Masters of Education from Erikson Institute in Chicago and a Masters of Applied Social Science from Case Western Reserve University. 

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Monique Burgdorf joins Milestones after working 20+ years in higher education, where she served college students in all of their beautiful and complex ways. She has a special place in her heart for young people who identify as neurodivergent students of color. During her time in higher education she served as an administrator, educator, mentor, advisor and advocate.

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Kara Foote, M.Ed. has served children with disabilities and their families for nearly a decade in a variety of capacities as an Intervention Specialist, Case Manager, Autism Therapist and Advocate. She also holds a Masters degree in Special Education from Roosevelt University with additional certifications in trauma informed care and behavior support interventions. Milestones’ mission and vision to address the needs of the autistic individuals and their families while empowering  community voices resonates with her both personally and professionally. In her role as the Early Intervention and School Age Coordinator, Kara serves with the helpdesk as a support, coach, resource and guide for the autistic community.

Kara is a lifelong learner who continues to hone her skills to provide the best service possible. She aims to continue to provide support to underserved communities while continuing to augment the strengths and value this community provides to those around them.

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Nikki Grimes, Autism Education Project Coordinator, is an Educator, Speaker, and Multi-Instrumentalist with 10+ years of experience in child & adolescent behavioral health, community development, and marketing. She attended Berklee College of Music, Cuyahoga Community College, and the University of Hartford, as a double major in Jazz Studies and Music Production & Engineering. Her artistry incorporates a combination of Jazz with elements from many other genres, specifically shining a light on communication through the arts, and how this kind of treatment can aid in physical & mental rehabilitation, allowing individuals who have difficulty expressing themselves verbally, a way to communicate. Nikki’s specialty interest include diagnostic evaluations & strategies, treatment of Autism Spectrum Disorder, and social skills interventions.

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Linda Hile, M.Ed, TTW has assisted individuals and their families throughout her career in job development, job coaching, mobility training, advocating and transitioning students from high school to adult services for the past 37 years. She has worked at Kevin Coleman Mental Health Center, Cuyahoga County Board of Developmental Disabilities and with various public schools. 

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Ruth James-Dickens, M.Ed. has worked with students with disabilities for 36 years. She served as a Transition Coordinator for 20 years with Cleveland Metropolitan School District and has supported many students and families through middle and high school get linked to post-secondary opportunities. Prior to being a Transition Coordinator, she served as an Intervention Specialist for 10 years and taught students with a range of disabilities which included autism.

Ruth is a board member for Ohio Sister Circle Inc., where they support and empower youth and families to build brighter futures and better lives. Ruth is passionate about supporting children and families find resources to help them reach goals.

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Michelle Mejia has had experience working with the Hispanic community since 2017 by advocating for their needs and providing Spanish interpretation and translation services. She has also worked with families in the school environment as an interpreter during IEP meetings. She is very proud to be Hispanic and is looking forward to using that passion as she helps the autistic community find the resources and assistance that families need.

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Vanetta Perry, Development Director is a seasoned development professional with over 20 years of experience. As a certified event planner, she brings to Milestones expertise in planning and executing corporate, community and major fundraising events. Vanetta is passionate about many causes, including premature birth and low birth-weight babies, healthy pregnancies and health disparities in urban communities. During her time with the Solon School System, Vanetta spent time working with special needs children. In that capacity, she worked with many autistic children. She has a bachelor’s of science degree in marketing & computer information systems.

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KayLyn Garrett, Special Events Development Manager, enjoys using her experience in community development when creating impactful events for Milestones.  Kaylyn has a master's degree in Nonprofit Administration and Leadership from Cleveland State, and organizes fundraising events for the Cleveland State Young Alumni club. she is committed to promoting social stability through advancing Milestones Autism Resources' mission through development and event management.

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Lizzie Irragorry, CRM Database/Donor Specialist is bilingual in English and Spanish and is studying German. She has an Associate of Arts in Liberal Arts from Queensborough Community College.

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Anne Muskin, Associate Director of Communications, has 16+ years of experience in marketing, communication, and events. A marketing agency owner for the last ten years, she has served in strategic roles both client-facing and internally, and in agency, business, and non-profit settings. Anne is passionate about identifying and creating AHA moments that serve as the foundation for data-driven branding, websites, and digital marketing campaigns. Additionally, she values and has meaningful experience in team building, collaboration, process conception and maintenance, and company culture.

Anne is an avid reader who loves connecting with people, learning about different cultures, traveling, swimming, and playing with her kids and dog.

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Jill Lipman oversees the day-to-day maintenance of Milestones’ websites and the Milestones Autism Planning (MAP) Tool. With over 30 years of project management experience, she supports the Communications team through print production management, and using her creative skills to assist with marketing materials. She also spearheads website redesign projects, resource center management and video editing for the organization. Jill has two children, one of whom is autistic and was her inspiration for joining the Milestones team.

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Ilana Hoffer Skoff, Executive Director, co-founded Milestones Autism Resources with Mia Buchwald Gelles, over 20 years ago, out of the need the two mothers experienced themselves. Milestones celebrated its 20th anniversary in 2022.

Ilana has worked tirelessly to improve the lives of autistic individuals and their families and help the community realize and appreciate the unique contributions of autistic individuals. She has taken the Milestones organization from two volunteers to a professional staff of about 20, building a diverse team of passionate, dedicated professionals, which includes autistic employees and interns.

Ilana’s strategic focus on community building, volunteer engagement, and partnership with funders, has led Milestones to expand community education for first responders, medical students, and other professionals on how they can better support and interact with the autistic community. Recognizing the varied needs of individuals from different ethnic, social, and neurodiverse backgrounds, Ilana has prioritized the organization’s DEIA initiatives adding resources and capacity to better connect with marginalized communities in order to help bridge the gap in diagnosis and services for autistic individuals of color.

Previously, Ilana worked for almost 20 years with nonprofit agencies, including consulting in the areas of development, strategic planning and grant writing.

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Autumn Ziemba McKenzie brings more than 20 years of journalism and media relations experience to the Milestones team. She has won regional Emmy and Associated Press awards for her work in television reporting and anchoring across the state of Ohio. She received the Milestones Community Leader award in 2021 for her work to increase autism education, awareness, and the Milestones mission.

Autumn is the proud mom of two kids, including an autistic son who is also a leukemia survivor. It was her son's diagnoses that spawned her advocacy for children with special and medical needs. Autumn serves on the advisory board for the Akron Municipal Court’s Connect Program, which helps people with developmental disabilities navigate the criminal justice system. She and her husband also founded and run the Operation SiFi holiday toy drive for patients at Cleveland Clinic Children’s Hospital. Autumn received a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Ohio University. Autumn is a storyteller at heart, and is honored to highlight the unique stories of autistic individuals and those who love and support them.

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Kim Bell has over 15 years of experience in non-profit organizations with professional office administrative assistant positions and a track record of strong performance in high-volume, high-pressure environments. Kim skillfully manages administrative duties and client relations for her colleagues at Milestone Autism Resources. Kim has two sons, one of whom is autistic and was her motivation for joining the Milestones team.

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