Jill Farber, Executive Director
“My goal is that one day this organization is no longer necessary because all Canadians with ASD and their families have full and equitable access to the resources they need across a lifespan where and when they need them.”
- Jill Farber, 2019
Jill was appointed Executive Director in October 2013, following her active involvement as a member of the Board of Directors.
Jill has more than 25 years of experience working with the autism community. She spent 15 years as a private consultant and therapist, specializing in ABA for children and youth with autism. Jill holds a Bachelor of Applied Science (BA Sc) and Applied Psychology from the University of Toronto.
Under her leadership, Autism Speaks Canada has made significant impact on improving access to resources, driving collaboration, and spreading a message of understanding and acceptance all while, continuing to fund innovative research and programing. The organization has shown significant growth in size and increase in fundraising revenue.
Jill is a strategic leader, dedicated to learning, and a passionate advocate bringing national attention to autism spectrum disorder. Jill loves to travel the world on her bike and is a proud ASC Team Up marathon runner. She loves to be outside spending time with her husband and three beautiful children.
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Esther Rhee, MSW | National Program Director
Esther Rhee joined Autism Speaks Canada in March 2014, where she oversees the Family Services program in Canada, which focuses on increasing programs and resources for families. Through the Family Services Community Grants program, Esther has supported the distribution of over $3.5 million across Canada to increase programs for individuals with autism and their families. Esther also sits on the Autism Speaks global science team which has supported over $200 million towards autism research internationally. Additionally, Esther collaborates on provincial and national advisory committees and alliances.
Esther’s work in the ASD community has focused on building community capacity, collaboration, program development and navigation support strategies. Esther has also worked as a Clinical Therapist focusing on child and adult mental health. Esther received her Master of Social Work degree from Wilfrid Laurier University and also holds a B.A.H in Philosophy from the University of Guelph.
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Lena Trubnikova | Operational Director
Lena Trubnikova joined Autism Speaks Canada in November 2013. Lena is responsible for all aspects of ASC operations, including finance, IT, database administration, human resources, office administration, etc. With vast experience in various sectors of economy like entertainment, real estate and IT, Lena supports all areas of Autism Speaks Canada’s day-to-day activity.
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Sarah Ahmed | Director Marketing and Communications
Sarah joined Autism Speaks Canada (ASC) in March 2019. She is driven, ambitious and incredibly passionate about making a positive difference for the Autistic community. Sarah leads strategic development and end to end execution of all marketing and communications campaigns. She is responsible for improving brand awareness and engagement for ASC across Canada. She manages the website, social media presence and multi-channel integrated communications to donors, participants, prospects, service providers and corporate partners. Sarah also works closely with cross functional partners to support the organizations functional pillars.
When Sarah is not with her kids, traveling or working, she loves teaching and inspiring leaders of tomorrow. She is a guest speaker and a lecturer at Wilfred Laurier University and Ryerson University. Sarah also sits on the Board for Friend of SOS Toronto, SOS Children’s Villages Canada, volunteers for Pride Week planning in Toronto, and is an active member of United Nations Association in Canada Toronto (UNACTO). With a strong foundation in strategy and marketing along with her passion for fundraising, Sarah is eager to support and highlight the work that Autism Speaks Canada is doing across the country.
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John Branton | National Development Director
John Branton joined Autism Speaks Canada in 2014. As a strategy expert, he is responsible for conceiving, diversifying, and executing strategies to drive revenue growth.
John comes to ASC after over twenty years in senior executive positions at organizations such as Crohn's and Colitis Foundation Canada (CCFC) and the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF), among others. His role has remained consistent: identify, cultivate, solicit, and steward individual, foundation and corporate relationships through the strategic implementation of all fundraising initiatives, while minimizing structural inefficiencies. As Chief Development Officer for CCFC, he was a three time winner of the Hermes Award and the IABC Award for Community Relations Campaigns.
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Melanie Haydon | National Walk and Community Events Director
Melanie joined Autism Speaks Canada in December 2013. She is focused on building the Walk and Community Events programs. Under Melanie's leadership the number of Walks and Community events has more than doubled in Canada. She brings over 20 years experience with charitable organizations across Eastern and Western Canada.
While most of Melanie’s time has been in Toronto and Edmonton, she has made tracks across the Nation training and supporting implementation of signature special event campaigns. Melanie brings innovative ideas and veteran leadership; proven through the large number of programs and teams she has led to achieve significant revenue growth. While at Crohn’s and Colitis Melanie was nominated by her peers to be the recipient of the staff Mission Award which is awarded to individuals who demonstrate exemplary contribution to the achievement of the mission through their work.
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