About the Board
Constituency Board members meet with CARD staff at board meeting.
We are the CARD-USF Constituency Board. We are your representatives to the Center for Autism and Related Disabilities at the University of South Florida in Tampa serving a 14-county region. As parents and individuals with autism, we understand the problems and concerns you are dealing with because we are dealing with them too.
We can all still remember how lost and lonely we felt during the process of getting this diagnosis, and afterwards trying to understand how to meet the needs of our children. Having opportunities to meet and talk with other parents of children with autism and related disabilities was like opening a door to a whole new world.
The board is always looking for new members to join us. The members of the Constituency Board shall be CARD-USF constituents or constituent’s family member who live within our 14 county region. Board members will be appointed by the University President on the recommendation of the Autism Society of Florida or other relevant constituency group. Our group meets four times a year with the director and staff of CARD-USF to review CARD activities, assist with events and engage with the community to promote autism awareness.
If you are interested in being considered for a constituency board appointment, please review and submit the *CARD Constituency Board Candidate Form . We have set goals for each year, and work quarterly as a group to develop ways to meet those goals. Each year, we want to understand the needs of CARD constituents from all areas.
We can then advise the administration at CARD-USF on these issues of importance. Our role is to listen to you, be your voice and to coordinate efforts that meet the community needs.
We want to hear from you. We want your input. We want to hear your ideas, concerns and suggestions. Please contact us through the CARD's e-mail and a board member will respond to you directly.
Meet the CARD-USF Constituency Board
Kristen Nieves, Chair
Kristen, along with her husband, are raising two sons in Valrico. They knew early on that there was something very unique about their youngest son. When he was young, he wasn't talking when he should have been and when he finally starting speaking, it was unintelligible. However, that same little boy was doing puzzles meant for much older kids and knew all the Presidents of the United States by photo. Pervasive Development Disorder was the first diagnosis. After many visits to various physicians, a pediatric neurologist and various tests, by age of three he was diagnosed with ASD. With the help of many family members, speech therapists, occupation therapists and teachers, their son is now participating in a traditional classroom. Knowing how powerful it is to have a strong voice, resources and support, Kristen hopes that her involvement with CARD will continue to help bring awareness to the community, financial resources to CARD and reduce the stigma of being autistic.
I have successfully completed my first year of College and am an advocate for those with disabilities. I have created my platform, The Ability Beyond Disabilities, to inspire those that have challenges to strive for their dreams as well as to educate those who might not understand the challenges we face. As an individual with Epilepsy and Asperger's Syndrome - a form of autism, I often felt like I could not do things, people with disabilities or anyone who is different are often targets for bullies as I was, but because of my life and social experiences, I have overcome many challenges.
I am an award winning thespian, a model , and currently writing a book. I have won many state and national titles and currently hold the title of Miss Florida International. I competed at nationals this summer and placed top 10 in the world! I work with several organizations that provide services to individuals with disabilities including therapy such as occupational and physical along with music and art therapy. My plan for the future is to graduate from University with a degree in English with a theater vocal performance minor, and hope to travel the world inspiring others!
Shirlan A. Williams, PhD
A PhD in Communication did not prepare me for a son with autism with severe communication and social challenges. Uncertain and desperate, I was referred to CARD-USF. Throughout the years, CARD has provided my family with information and resources that have aided my son's successes. I believe in serving my community and paying it forward. Therefore, I desire to raise awareness that will help ASD diagnosed, parents, educators, and the broader community recognize, anticipate and manage the challenges, and celebrate the successes, that ASD presents.
Barbara Jordan-White, PhD
Barbara Jordan-White is a mother of a young adult with ASD who is non-verbal and has other comorbid disabilities. Her interest are in disability advocacy, community inclusion and relationship building. She has a Ph.D. from USF and teaches graduate courses for the autism endorsement at Liberty University.
Matias Ramirez, PhD, Co-Chair
Matias, along with his wife Theresa and their children Martin and Sofia live in Tampa. Martin was diagnosed at the age of 4 with Autism. They know that raising children can be challenging but with the support of family, community, and organizations like CARD no one has to go it alone. In his spare time, Matias enjoys going to the gym with Martin and watching Sofia break boards in Taekwondo and travelling. He has a PhD from USF in Adult Education and is currently the Content and Learning lead for an international software corporation.
Lisa Brice, Secretary
I am a mother of a young adult with ASD who was diagnosed around the age of 3. Over the past 20 years, I have seen the wonderful work of CARD, community, therapists, teachers and the various medical professionals help more students with ASD and their families participate in traditional activities. I hope that my involvement with CARD will continue to help bring awareness of the need for a supportive inclusive community that allows development of friendships, employment training opportunities and increase the awareness of all that CARD has to offer.
Kendra Leska, MS, CRC
Kendra is a Certified Rehabilitation Counselor who has been working with individuals and families who have disabilities for over 20 years. During that time, she has been actively involved in the disability and autism communities; serving on many local and State boards, advocating for person-centered planning and services. Kendra has experience as an adjunct professor, teaching the “Sensitivity to Disability” course at Minnesota State University. She has extensive experience working with high school and college systems as a transition counselor, and also as a parent of a child with autism. Being both a parent and a professional has given her the unique opportunity to learn the system(s) while advocating for individual’s needs and desires.
Annual Report Archive
- CARD-USF Annual Report 1995-1996
- CARD-USF Annual Report 1996-1997
- CARD-USF Annual Report 1997-1998
- CARD-USF Annual Report 1998-1999
- CARD-USF Annual Report 1999-2000
- CARD-USF Annual Report 2000-2001
- CARD-USF Annual Report 2001-2002 (Final year for publishing an annual report.)
- CARD-USF Annual Report 2006-2007
- CARD-USF Annual Report 2007-2008
- CARD-USF Annual Report 2008-2009
- CARD-USF Annual Report 2009-2010
- CARD-USF Annual Report 2010-2011
- CARD-USF Annual Report 2011-2012
- CARD-USF Annual Report 2012-2013
- CARD-USF Annual Report 2013-2014
- CARD-USF Annual Report 2014-2015
- CARD-USF Annual Report 2015-2016
- CARD-USF Annual Report 2016-2017
- CARD-USF Annual Report 2017-2018
- CARD-USF Annual Report 2018-2019