Board of Directors
Sallie Bernard, Board Chair & Secretary
Sallie Bernard began Ascendigo, formerly Extreme Sports Camp, in 2004. Her goal was to provide the same outdoor adventure opportunities for children on the autism spectrum that typically developing children enjoy.
Sallie was a Board member of Autism Speaks from 2007 to 2017 and served on its Family Services Committee, Science Committee of the Board, and the Community Advisory Board for science. She was formerly the Board President of Cure Autism Now and a co-founder of the CAN New Jersey Chapter. She helped start SafeMinds, which focuses on treatments, policy changes and the environmental causes of autism and is currently its board president. She led the team which created the Yellow House, a private residence for adults on the autism spectrum where Sallie’s adult son with autism lives. Sallie has an interest in mental health issues and serves on the boards of the Aspen Hope Center and the James Kirk Bernard Foundation. In 2019 she was given the Pitkin County Cares Greg Mace Volunteer Service Award for outstanding service, leadership and civic involvement.
Sallie spent over 20 years in the marketing business before devoting herself full time to non-profit activities in 2005. She graduated with honors from Radcliffe College, Harvard University, in 1979. Sallie has resided in Aspen, Colorado since 2002 and enjoys the Colorado outdoors.
Linda Waissar, Board Vice President
Linda Waissar is a consultant working with private fund managers in Silicon Valley, primarily in the venture capital sector. She was formerly an attorney focused on private fund formation and investment adviser regulation. She worked as an in-house attorney at HRJ Capital and practiced with the law firms Fenwick & West and Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati in the San Francisco Bay Area and Seward & Kissel in New York. She also served on the board, including as chair, of Stanbridge Academy, a special education school in San Mateo, CA. Linda has a JD from Georgetown University and a bachelor’s degree from Columbia College. She has two daughters, one on the autism spectrum, who is a multi-year Ascendigo participant.
Larry Butler, Treasurer
As a successful entrepreneur, Larry Butler’s combination of financial and operating experience includes gas stations and convenience stores, real estate, marketing, and venture capital. He owns Convenience Acquisition Corp., an operator of five gas stations and convenience stores in northern California. Larry is also the Managing Member of Awestruck Marketing Group, LLC, a leading experiential marketing company he founded in 2000.
Larry is an investor in numerous commercial and residential real estate projects in New York, New Jersey, Los Angeles, New Hampshire, Texas, and Wisconsin. He is a board member and investor in SharesPost, LLC, a financial technology company which assists investors in buying and selling shares in private late-stage, venture-backed companies. Larry is also a Venture Partner in Navitas Capital, a venture capital firm which invests in early-stage companies at the intersection of the IT and energy sectors with a unique focus on intelligent building and enterprise.
Larry graduated from the University of Pennsylvania and earned his MBA from the University of California at Los Angeles. Larry and his family moved from Santa Monica, CA to Aspen in August 2016. His wife, Marla, attended public schools in Aspen from grades 6 through 10. Folbe, the oldest of Larry and Marla’s three children, is on the autism spectrum.
Lynn Dadzie-Yeboah is the Founder and President of Alexis Miranda Foundation (AMF), an Autism foundation. She serves on the board of AMF. Lynn is a Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental Disabilities (LEND) fellow. She brings valuable knowledge of disability and health systems. She is a mother of a daughter on the Autism Spectrum Disorder. She has been advocating for her child and other children for the past 18 years. Her focus is on the health and welfare of children with neurodevelopmental disabilities and their families. She seeks to bring about change in systems of care and services for people living with Autism.
Lynn also has over 25 years experience in investment management. She worked with Fidelity Investments, Bank of America, US trust and First USA bank in numerous roles. She has been involved in various philanthropic and volunteer projects. She sits on the Advisory Board of a number of organizations as well as a number of Fundraising committees. She believes in giving back to our communities and teaching our young ones to do the same.
Lynn graduated from the University of Texas with a degree in Economics and French. She also earned a graduate Certificate in Health and Disability Policy from the Moakley Center for Public Management, Suffolk University. She is pursuing a Master’s in Public Administration from Suffolk University. Lynn is married with 3 children and lives in Andover, Massachusetts. She enjoys traveling and learning about new cultures.
Matthew Goodwin, Ph.D., is a professor, researcher, and clinician with 20 years of experience working with children and adults on the autism spectrum, and developing and evaluating innovative technologies for behavioral assessment and intervention. Matthew is a founding and key faculty member of a new doctoral program in Personal Health Informatics and Director of Computational Behavioral Science Laboratory at Northeastern University. He was previously the Director of Clinical Research at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Media Laboratory, Adjunct Associate Research Scientist in the Department of Psychiatry and Human Behavior at Brown University, and Associate Director of Research at Groden Center — an Institute for Autism Spectrum Disorders in Providence, RI.
Matthew has developed naturalistic video and audio capture, telemetric physiological monitors, wireless accelerometry sensors, and digital video/facial recognition systems for those with ASD. He has received numerous honors for his contributions.
Pete brings many years of sales and marketing experience to The Little Nell Hotel Group where he oversees sales and marketing for The Little Nell, Residences at The Little Nell, Limelight Hotels and Residences and the Aspen and Snowmass Mountain Club. Pete moved to Aspen in early 2013 as the Director of Sales and Marketing for The Little Nell. Prior to that, Pete was the Director of Sales and Marketing for the Vail Resorts Hospitality Division, and he has also worked for Marriott and The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company. He has extensive experience managing all facets of sales and marketing, from call centers to sales teams to public relations and marketing initiatives. A huge fan of the great outdoors, he loves hiking and biking in summer and playing hockey and skiing in winter. Pete and his wife, Debbie, have three daughters and three young grandchildren.
Bio to come soon…
Originally from Atlanta, Frances Lewis has lived in the Roaring Fork Valley for over 20 years. She has had a long career with the Waldorf School on the Roaring Fork, first as a teacher, then as an administrator helping to pioneer school governance and oversight of personnel and curriculum development. Frances has also served as a board member of the Carbondale Clay Center and is a graduate of Roaring Fork Leadership.
Frances, her husband Randal Morris, their three children, and a menagerie of animals live in Missouri Heights. Frances loves the mountains and is an avid Nordic and Alpine skier. She is also a supporter of the arts and a believer in the transformative power of play and outdoor activities. Her eldest daughter, Harper, has been a participant with Ascendigo for over three years, taking part in the Adventure programs throughout the year. Frances along with her father, Tom Lewis, look forward to helping Ascendigo succeed in advancing its mission.
Julie Manning spent most of her school years in Aspen. The summer of 2018 she returned with her family to live in the Roaring Fork Valley full time, leaving the urban environment of Seattle. The oldest of Julie’s three children – Olivia, has attended Ascendigo’s summer adventures camp for several years and will now benefit from the services offered in the valley. It’s the gratification of seeing Olivia’s accomplishments at camp that drives Julie’s passion for fundraising so other autism families can benefit from Ascendigo’s programs. Julie has worked tirelessly on the Ascendigo Blue Aspen event committee the last six years and spearheaded other fundraisers, as well.
Julie attended Santa Monica College then studied abroad in Florence, Italy and Paris, France.
Diagnosed on the autism spectrum as an adult, Paul Nussbaum has committed his life to help people living with autism. He is also devoted to helping autism service providers learn more about autism and offers assistance as a consultant, trainer, and facilitator.
After a long, hard struggle with employment, academics, and communication and social issues, Paul was diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome/high functioning autism at age 40. Paul says “the light bulb went on” — he learned about Asperger’s and autism and found there was a huge population just like him, with the same struggles.
Joining autism advocacy and support groups to address his own challenges, in 1993 he began engaging in advocacy work. His goal for helping others (including future generations) is to prevent others from having to go through the same intense struggles that he went through trying to find a life path and niche in the world. Paul’s purpose is to see that individuals on the ASD spectrum can live more productive and meaningful lives. His advocacy work has developed into consulting and presenting on various topics related to autism.
Paul has his own handyman business which he planned and developed in 1999.
Val Paradiz is an administrator and researcher with a diverse background in non-profit and education leadership. Her commitment to diversity, equity and belonging for autistic people in the communities where they live, work, learn and play stems from her own experience as a woman on the spectrum of autism and as mom of Mr. Inevitable, a standup comedian, and her autistic son.
A former member of the board of directors of Autism Speaks from 2015-2018, Val turned her attention to working directly within the organization as Vice President of Services and Supports from 2018 to 2021. Prior to this, she served in leadership roles at national autism organizations, including First Place Arizona, the Autism Research Institute and New York University’s Asperger Institute. From 2008-2018, she was president of Valerie Paradiz LLC, a national consultancy staffed entirely by neurodiverse experts in the fields of research, education, and advocacy.
Val has a PhD in German Literature from City University of New York and has numerous publications on topics related to autism. She is also a passionate writer of literary non-fiction, including titles such as Clever Maids: A History of the Grimm Fairy Tales (Simon and Shuster) and Elijah’s Cup (Free Press).
Steve has over 25 years of experience as a seasoned executive in the education and technology industries, having run both private and public companies. He currently serves as President of Tiber Health Corporation, a healthcare education company that owns and operates medical schools in Puerto Rico and St. Louis. Prior to Tiber, Steve was CEO of Career Step, based in Lehigh, Utah, after serving as President and CEO of American Intercontinental University based in Chicago. In addition to his significant operations experience, Steve also worked as an investment banker for Smith Barney and as a Mergers and Acquisition attorney for Latham & Watkins. Steve serves on multiple public and non-profit boards, including Steamboat Adaptive Recreational Sports and Winston Knowles, a private school serving children K-12 on the autism spectrum.
Residents of Denver and Steamboat Springs, Steve and his wife Kristina have three sons. Their youngest son has been an active participant with Ascendigo for the past six years.
Dan Unumb, ESQ
Dan Unumb has over 20 years of experience in litigation, legal counsel, and autism law. He runs the Autism Legal Resource Center in South Carolina which provides private consulting and legal work for clients seeking ABA services. Prior to establishing the ALRC, Dan worked for Autism Speaks running its Autism Legal Center. Prior to joining Autism Speaks, Dan was the Director of Litigation for South Carolina Legal Services, responsible for all aspects of litigation including planning, training, supervising, and conducting complex litigations, as well as developing litigation strategies, outreach programs, and targets for advocacy. He also established and participated in partnerships with advocacy groups, law schools, community organizations, and government agencies. Dan organized and participated in state and national conferences and training.
Dan holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Carlton College, and a Juris Doctor degree from Northwestern University School of Law. He is also a member of the District of Columbia, Massachusetts, and South Carolina Bar.