Thank Y-O-U

We would like to thank everyone that has positively impacted ASA with their generosity.


As a non profit, we rely heavily on resources. One of our most limited resources is time. Here are just a few amazing people that spend theirs helping the autism community of Alaska:

Caitlin Frye, Grant Writer

David Spindler, Videographer

Brian Schlumbohm, Photographer

George and Amy Viltrakis, Mr. and Mrs. Sensory Santa

& many, many more

*If you would like to volunteer your time, talent, or treasure to ASA please connect with us. It takes every type of skill to keep an organization running.

Click here if you are interested.

Board Members

We want to thank all of our board members from the past and all of our current members:

Leah Kovall, President

Brandy Raby, Past President

Briana Brooks, Vice President

Denys Collins, Secretary

Bonita Brees, Treasurer

Joshua Kamerick, Board Member that experiences autism

Alana Frazier, Board Member in the professional field

Heidi Haas, Founding Honorary Board Member

Paige Talvi, Honorary Board Member

*We are always seeking additional board members who can contribute to our active board with specific knowledge, skills, and/or personal connections to autism.

Click Here for more information.


We are thankful for the Alaskan businesses that choose to help advance our mission and support our work!


We can only truly make a difference when we come together as a community. Partnerships with a purpose lead to greater impact and achievement. Here are some of our partners from 2018 that help strengthen us:

• FLY Trampoline Park

• Alaska Autism Resource Center

• Stone Soup Group

• Arctic Harvest

• Hope Counseling

• Alaska LEND

• UAA Center for Human Development

• Regal My Way Matinee


• HooDoo Brewing Co

*If you would like to partner with us and collaborate, email The Autism Society of Alaska at


The following people are our amazing Autism Ambassadors. They are strong advocates in our community, and we are forever thankful for them!

  • Paige Talvi
  • Julie Lougee
  • Amanda Lash
  • Kelly Eggleston
  • Helen Renfrew


For the first time this year, we hired a race director for our Annual Alaska 5k for Autism. Ellen Binkley’s enthusiasm and great work ethic led to our most successful race yet! Thank you, Ellen.

This year we also said goodbye to our first executive director of 4 years, Danielle Tessen. She will always be ASA’s number one ambassador. She has had a great impact on the autism community, and she will always hold a special place in our organization’s history as she cheers us on into the future.


Safety is important to ASA’s mission. Without our fantastic safety partners, we can not achieve that. Thank you to both Alaska State Troopers Project Lifesaver and UAF CTC Law Enforcement Safety Training for partnering and connecting with us.

There are so many more sponsors, partners, and volunteers we would like to thank. Without each and every one of you, nothing we do would be possible. We also want to thank every event attendee, donor, and our entire community. As a non profit, we rely heavily on those that support us in many different ways. You are why we exist. From the bottom of our hearts, we thank YOU!

If you’d like to donate your time, email

If you’d like to donate to our organization, visit


2018 Rewind

What Did ASA Do in 2018?


Kicked off the new year by welcoming the Autism Society of America President and CEO,Scott Badesch to Alaska. He ran our Vision Forward Strategic Planning Session and helped map out goals for the next two years.

Announced Regal Cinemas would be continuing My Way Matinee, Sensory Friendly Films


Selected as a non-profit for  McHenry Ball tournament at North Pole Middle school and funds were raised on our behalf from the students’ North Pole Champions for Charity bingo, dinner, and auction.

Received Golden Heart Meeting Ambassador Award from Explore Fairbanks Alaska. Our 2nd Autism Conference brought the community of Fairbanks over $25,000 from direct attendee spending.

Began a logo contest to celebrate our 10th Annual Alaska 5k for Autism


Hands-on workshop on strengthening communication between them and their adolescent or teen presented by Matthew Sena and Kylie Gore-Hall with Hope Counseling

Partnered with Fly Trampoline for a sensory friendly event


Annual Human Ribbon at UAF

Partnered with 2018 Alaska LEND Fellows for a Parent Cafe Tea Time Workshop on Strengthening and Supporting Families

Chosen as Papa John’s Charity of the Month

KTVF covered our sensory friendly events and partnerships

Board members attended Fairbanks Children Museum’s Sensory Friendly Day


Partnered with Stone Soup Cafe for a Cooking Life Skills Course for adults with autism


10th Annual Alaska 5k for Autism

Benefited from the Fairbanks Visitor Industry Walk for Charity


Sponsored one camper to attend Camp Yes in the Woods

Said goodbye to our first hired Executive Director of 4 years

Joined FRA for Disability Awareness at Golden Days Parade


Had a booth at the Tanana Valley State Fair


Presented to the CTC Law Enforcement Academy on safety with suggestions for positive and effective interactions with those who experience autism and their support systems


Partnered with Arctic Harvest for our first ever Sensory Friendly Fall Event


We welcomed in our new board president, Leah Kovall

New  treasurer welcomed to the board, Bonita Brees


We will host our 5th Annual Sensory Santa event sponsored by Greer Tank and Welding

We can’t wait to share with you our plans for 2019! If you’d like to donate your time, email

If you’d like to donate to our organization, visit

Champions for Charity 2018

The North Pole Middle School Community joined together from early February to early March for the 6th Annual Champions for Charity Tournament.  Champions for Charity is a fundraising competition that started six years ago as a way to honor a student tragically lost in an accident. Including this year’s donations, C4C will have donated over $59,000 to locally tied nonprofit organizations.

This year twelve teams of staff and students raised $18,100 for the local nonprofit organizations of their choice.  The team “Algebros” chose to represent the Autism Society of Alaska and in one month, they raised $1428.


Danielle Tessen, ASA’s executive director attended an assembly at  North Pole Middle School on Tuesday, May 1st. She had a chance to meet the team of students who raised money for ASA.   Then at the assembly she had a chance speak to the student body about our organization and how the money students raised will be used. “I loved that they invited me out to talk about autism and the team was so accepting and kind. It was such a blessing to experience,” expressed Danielle Tessen.

Building Communication for Teens with Autism

The Autism Society of Alaska Partnered with Hope Counseling Center to present a hands-on workshop: “Building Communication for Improved Listening and Compliance in Adolescents and Teens who Experience Autism.”

On Thursday, March 22, 2018, the Autism Society of Alaska Partnered with Hope Counseling Center to present a hands-on workshop: “Building Communication for Improved Listening and Compliance in Adolescents and Teens who Experience Autism.” It was presented by two therapists for Hope Counseling,  Matthew Sena, MA LPC, the Clinical Director and Kylie Gore-Hall, MS at the Autism Society of Alaska Office.

During this workshop, professionals, parents, and individuals participated in activities that offered firsthand knowledge to the difficulties adolescents and teens who experience autism might encounter while conversing. Participants partnered up and acted out different scenarios. Here they learned many skills, strategies, and tips:

  • Communication involves a speaker, a listener, and a message
  • What each role entails
  • How to minimize distractions
  • The importance of paraphrasing and more

Everyone left with tools to help build the listening skills of not only their child or clients but also themselves. All of this was achieved in a comforting environment full of conversation and networking.

This presentation was brought by the Autism Society of Alaska’s Community Enrichment program. This program was created to solve some of the community’s most common requests, access to information about networking with other families and leisure activities for individuals with autism. The Autism Society of Alaska (A.S.A) partners with local businesses to provide leisure opportunities to those who experience autism, while also providing networking, socializing, and referral services to the whole family. A.S.A. also hosts community presentations and workshops on a range of topics affecting individuals with autism.

Want to learn more about the Autism Society of Alaska Community Enrichment Program? Visit A.S.A’s website to see more events to come.

For more information on Hope Counseling Center and the services they offer, check out their website.

Helping Has No Age Requirement

A couple months ago, we were reminded that working with ASA can be done in any capacity. Whether you are an individual or group of any age, you can help us. Recently we were contacted by Jonathon Putnam, a 9th grader at NPHS. He chose The Autism Society of Alaska for his Boy Scouts Eagle Scout group project. He made and donated fidget spinners. Putnam stated he did this because, “I thought it would be a fun project. I have a lot of friends who either have autism or have siblings that do.” We love seeing the generosity of the younger generation in our community.


If you are interested in helping, but not sure how. Reach out to us. You can offer your skills and time in any capacity, big or small. It takes many types of talents. Think about the CHANGE you can make with your SKILLS!

Autism Society of America President/CEO Visits Alaska


Last week, Scott Badesch, the President and CEO of the Autism Society of America, braved the negative temperatures to come visit Alaska. His advice and guidance are invaluable as the Autism Society of Alaska embraces growth and change during strategic planning.

We enjoyed sharing with him some fun information about our great community such as plugging in vehicles and moose sightings.

Here are a couple comments that made us smile:

“The kids actually go outside for recess in this weather?”

“Won’t someone take your car if it’s auto started?”

We appreciate Badesch and local Fairbanks Mayor, Jim Matherly, for taking the time to sit down with us and discuss ways we can better reach out to those in our community and across the state.  We love serving the state of Alaska and helping with the unique challenges our community faces.

Please reach out if you are interested in joining us on this journey. You can offer your skills and time in any capacity, big or small.

Also consider making a donation to help support autism education, awareness, advocacy, research, and most importantly, enable us to assist families living with autism.

Sensory Santa 2017

On December 2nd, 2017, the Autism Society of Alaska hosted their 4th annual Sensory Santa event.


By: Denys Collins

On December 2nd, 2017, the Autism Society of Alaska hosted their 4th annual Sensory Santa event. This provided families with children on all spectrums of special needs, a more controlled and welcoming environment to visit with Father Christmas. Simple adjustments were made to reduce sensory stimuli  and to create a calming environment.

It is December, and the holiday season is in full swing. The trees are being set up and the gifts are being purchased. In malls across the country many children are lining up to tell Santa their Christmas wish list, but for some this tradition does not come easily.  For many with autism and sensory processing disorders, visiting Santa can be difficult. The problems are not all on Santa though, many of the issues lie in all that comes with him. These meetings usually take place in busy places with long crowded lines, loud music, and bright lights. This process can be uncomfortable for many children and for those with special needs, it can quickly become unbearable. The Autism Society of Alaska has joined many other communities by offering sensory friendly Santa experiences each year.


Last weekend, we held our 4th annual sensory Santa event.   We allowed all families to have the opportunity to get their picture taken with Father Christmas. This year we utilized time slots to manage the flow of traffic more effectively and reduce the need to wait. Families were greeted in our waiting area with dim Christmas lights, the light smell of cinnamon, and morning snacks. Children were able to make their own ornament to take home or play with provided toys such as trains and a light table. For those that needed a space to get away, a tent with a sound machine and pillows was provided. Many children were more than content just to play with the trains and eat cinnamon rolls.

Once they were ready, families were brought back to a separate room to meet Santa. Our Father Christmas is a kind gentle man that quickly soothes children with his soft voice in a separate room.  Being a grandfather himself, he has knowledge of the commonly asked for items which children love.  Every family is allowed time to get comfortable with Santa with no pressure to rush.  We were very lucky this year to have an amazing photographer volunteer his time and talent and capture the special memory for families.

The holiday season is a special time and no child should be left out of family traditions. The Autism Society of Alaska loves being able to offer the Santa experience with a few accommodations to make it accessible for all children. We are thankful for our title sponsor, Greer Tank and Welding; our helper “elves,” our photographer, Brian Schlumbohm; our Santa and his wife, George and Amy Viltrakis; and all of our attendees for letting us share this special day with them.