Jill Farber, BASc | Executive Director
Jill has been involved with Autism Speaks Canada since its inception in 2006. Jill’s mandate includes increasing the organization’s profile by driving its mission forward through collaborative efforts with other stakeholders, raising public awareness of ASD, and continuing to raise funds to support essential research and family services across the country.
Previously, Jill held a position on ASC’s Board of Directors and was instrumental in the launch of ASC’s Family Services Community Grants program in 2010. This program has distributed over $3.5 million in grants to service providers across Canada.
Prior to working at ASC, Jill spent 15 years as a private consultant and therapist, specializing in ABA therapy for clients with a diagnosis of ASD and their families. Jill’s work with the ASD community has focused on building a strong relationship with the community and supporting them through her different roles.
Jill holds a Bachelor of Applied Science (BASc), Applied Psychology from the University of Toronto.
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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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