October 3, 2022, Rockville, MD — The Autism Society of America is thrilled to announce Claire Tibbetts, Russell Lehmann, and Autism Spectrum News as recipients of 2022 awards presented at the 2022 Affiliate Conference, an internal event. Their passion, advocacy, and collective works have exemplified the Autism Society’s mission and positively impacted the Autism community. The awards include:

  • Bob Beggan Award for Professional Mentorship, presented by the Beggan Family: Claire Tibbetts, Executive Director, Autism Society Greater New Orleans
  • The David Joyce Advocate of the Year Award, presented by the Joyce Family and Jim Ball: Russell Lehmann, Author, Poet, Advocate
  • The Daniel Jordan Fiddle Foundation Leader in Adult Autism Award, presented by Linda J. Walder: Autism Spectrum News, accepted by Founder and Publisher, David Minot

Bob Beggan Award for Professional Mentorship: Claire Tibbetts, Executive Director, Autism Society Greater New Orleans

The Bob Beggan Award for Professional Mentorship is awarded to an individual who demonstrates an exceptional commitment to mentoring other peers and professionals. This year, the Autism Society of America is proud to announce Claire Tibbetts, Executive Director at the Autism Society Greater New Orleans, as the recipient of the Bob Beggan Award for Professional Mentorship. 

“I’m truly honored to have been recognized for my time spent helping other affiliates this year.  I am excited to have been able to give something back to the network, since I have been supported by many other leaders in the past when I needed it,” shared Claire Tibbetts.

Claire demonstrated outstanding work in supporting affiliate leaders and her own affiliate, in the areas of marketing, digital media, and programming. Aside from effectively adopting the new national brand at the Autism Society of Greater New Orleans, she continued to support the brand launch by providing other affiliate leaders with creative materials, social media, and website guidance. 

Claire is a leader with the Vaccine Education Initiative, as an ambassador in her community, and a collaborative and trusted affiliate partner. 

“Claire is quick to share her knowledge, creations, and best practices, so others don’t have to create things from scratch,” stated Christopher Banks, President and CEO of the Autism Society of America. “She is engaging, thoughtful, and provides actionable feedback to National so that they can better support the network.”

The David Joyce Advocate of the Year Award: Russell Lehmann, Author, Poet, Advocate

The David Joyce Advocate of the Year Award is given to an Autistic individual who has advanced the well-being of other Autistic individuals through exceptional dedication to educating federal, state, and/or local policymakers, educators, and the community, about the needs of the Autism community. The Autism Society of America is proud to honor Russell Lehmann with The David Joyce Advocate of the Year award, for his dedication to the radical acceptance of those in the Autism community. 

“Elise and I are humbled that this award has been named in honor of our son, David Joyce,” said Joe Joyce, Past Chair of the Board of Directors at Autism Society of America. “Despite his challenges of being non-verbal and having severe self-injurious behaviors, David has been a source of inspiration as a self-advocate, raising awareness and acceptance.”

Russell is a celebrated author, poet, advocate, and friend of the Autism Society. Russell had a number of personal successes this year from his career as a spoken word poet, to advancements in advocacy. Russell works to create bridges between the Autistic experience and those “on the outside.” Russell’s dedication to the Autism Society includes his time as a former member of our Council of Autistic Advisors, a member of our strategic planning committee, participating in annual campaigns, and other efforts. Currently, he is the co-chair of the Autism Society’s Safety Task Force, as we address the intersection of mental health, crisis response, first responder training, police interactions, and Autism.

“When I received word that I was chosen to be the recipient of the David Joyce Advocate of the Year award, I had no words to express my gratitude. Through my speaking engagements and advocacy efforts, I bare my soul in order to talk about what’s not talked about, thus spreading transparent and raw awareness into the world of Autism and mental health, while also helping others (as well as myself) feel a little less alone.”

“Through his personal experiences, vulnerability, and courage, Russell continues to make waves through his advocacy efforts,” shared Banks. “He will be a leading force in our efforts to improve safe interactions within the first responder and Autism communities, through his work on the Safety Task Force.”

Please visit Russell’s website, social media @RussL.Co, and LinkedIn page.

The Daniel Jordan Fiddle Foundation Leader in Adult Autism Award: Autism Spectrum News

The Daniel Jordan Fiddle Foundation Leader in Adult Autism is given annually to an individual, business, or organization that exemplifies a core value of The Daniel Jordan Fiddle Foundation mission to inspire society by sharing success stories focused on the diverse strengths and talents of Autistic adults.

“The Daniel Jordan Fiddle Foundation is proud to honor the journalistic inspiration of Autism Spectrum News in sharing vital information on topics impacting the lives of Autistic adults and particularly creating a platform of expression for Autistic adults,” said Linda J. Walder.

This year, we are pleased to announce that Autism Spectrum News received this prestigious award from The Daniel Jordan Fiddle Foundation. Autism Spectrum News, published by David Minot, is a trusted source of education, information, advocacy, and resources for the Autism community that addresses many important topics including Autistic adults and the aging population. This publication inspires knowledge about the strengths of Autistic adults and the challenges they may experience, and shares science-based research that positively impacts the lives of the diverse Autism community. 

“The Autism Society applauds Autism Spectrum News’ efforts to showcase diverse and varied experiences from Autistic adults, and their commitment to featuring articles written by Autistic contributors,” shared Banks. “Autism Spectrum News exemplifies leadership in journalism that is vital to advancing acceptance for the Autism community.”

David Minot, Founder and Publisher of Autism Spectrum News, commented, “I strongly believe in using Autism Spectrum News as a forum to give Autistic adults a voice. I want to ensure that the neurotypical community sees into the lives of Autistic adults to understand their perspective, their experiences, and to celebrate neurodiversity. Autism Spectrum News is changing how people think about Autism by advocating for acceptance, not just awareness, with equal access, rights, and opportunities.”