Meet the 2021-2022 Autism SIG Vice Chairs!

September 13, 2021

The Autism Special Interest Group (SIG) is pleased to announce the new vice chairs for the 2021-2022 year. The vice chairs of the Autism Special Interest Group (SIG) will work closely with the co-chairs Brian Be and Dr. Laura Carpenter on SIG activities and events throughout the year.

Black male in suit speaking at podiumGyasi Burks-Abbott, MS, Self-Advocate Vice Chair

Gyasi Burks-Abbott is a writer, public speaker, and autism self-advocate. He's on the faculty of the LEND Program at Boston Children's Hospital and UMass Boston's Institute for Community Inclusion. He graduated from Macalester College in St. Paul, MN with a BA in English and psychology, and he has an M.S. in Library and Information Science from Simmons University in Boston. Gyasi has been both a LEND Fellow at Boston Children's Hospital and a UCEDD Fellow at UMass Boston's Institute for Community Inclusion. In the latter role, Gyasi created a website of autism in adulthood resources. Recently, Gyasi collaborated on an article for the Developmental Disabilities Network Journal about remote meetings with legislators in D.C. called "Virtual Advocacy: Lived Experience Takes Center Stage During and After Pandemic." He also contributed to the AUCD Policy Blog: a short piece on what can be learned from the pandemic called "Disability in the Time of Corona" and some reflections on the intersectionality of being both black and autistic called "A Double Consciousness, If You Can Keep It." Currently, Gyasi serves on the boards and committees of several autism and disability organizations including Advocates for Autism of Massachusetts, the Massachusetts Developmental Disabilities Council, and the Permanent Commission on the Status of Persons with Disabilities. He lives in Bedford, Massachusetts.


woman with black shoulder length hair smiling at the cameraAnjali Rao, MD, Academic/Clinical Vice Chair

Anjali has over twenty years of experience as a faculty pediatrician with Northwestern University where she provided care to multiple pediatric communities and taught medical trainees at the Feinberg School of Medicine. She is currently at the University of Chicago where she is sub-specializing in developmental and behavioral pediatrics and serves a patient population that disproportionately faces a myriad of health disparities. Her advocacy and research interests focus on increasing access to care for vulnerable youths and fostering system-wide change to increase care delivery for children and teens with developmental differences.Dr. Rao is also a developmental and behavioral pediatrics (DBP) fellow at the University of Chicago and was the 2020-2021 AUCD trainee liaison for the Illinois LEND. 

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