Our Self-Advocate Council

In October 2021, the ASCV formed our first Self-Advocate Advisory Council. This group of self-advocates advises and supports the ASCV team in the development, implementation, and evaluation of our programs, services, and supports, to ensure we are appropriately including, incorporating, and amplifying autistic voices in the work we do.  Our Council Members represent a broad range of ages, cultures, and autistic experiences. This year, the Council aims to contribute to current organizational priorities, identify other potential focus areas, and build its membership. If you would like to find out how to get involved, please reach out to [email protected].

Shawn Kirk (he/him)

Shawn is a person with Autism and a native of Richmond, Virginia. He joined the ASCV back in 2007 and has been involved ever since. Shawn has many interests and hobbies, including: tinkering with computers and helping people with their computer problems; DJing in-person and virtual events; all kinds of music (his favorite is ’70s Disco); going to the Outer Banks; and camping in the mountains. Shawn has served on several nonprofit boards, including the ASCV Board of Directors, in many different capacities. He has also taken various classes on becoming a more effective leader and advocate for people with disabilities. One thing Shawn would like for everyone to know is “People with Disabilities Have Many Different Talents and Abilities. Give Us A Chance and We Will Show You All That We Can Do!”

Ian Young (he/him)

Ian has been a member of ASCV since the Fall of 2020. When not participating in the Adult Social Group, he also serves as the ASCV Program Assistant, assisting with administrative tasks for the preparation, implementation, and evaluation of programs, with a particular focus on Membership and Information & Referral (you might have even gotten an email from him). Ian enjoys bike riding, yoga, and meditation. He is very honored to be a part of the ASCV Self-Advocate Council!

McKenzie Elim (she/her)

McKenzie is a recent graduate of Long Island University Global, where she majored in Global Studies and minored in International Relations, Spanish, and Arts and Communications. While most of her research has focused on sustainable food systems, after receiving an ASD diagnosis during the Summer of 2023, she was further motivated to join the ASCV as a program intern for the Fall semester and explore how program involvement can empower autistic adults to advocate for themselves and others. Outside of school and work, McKenzie loves to travel, learn languages, eat vegetables, and play sports.

Jalesia Clardy-Josephs (she/her)

Jalesia has been involved with the ASCV since January of 2023 when she started as an intern for them. She was diagnosed with Autism at the age of 4 when she lived overseas in Okinawa, Japan. When she’s not volunteering for ASCV events, she likes to spend her free time crocheting, watching YouTube, and roller skating. She currently attends Reynolds Community College and is working towards a career studies certificate in Ecommerce in hopes of having a small business in crochet!

Kyle Cope

Kyle has been involved in meetings of Autistic youth since adolescence, and now has joined the ASCV in order to find young adults who have interest in providing a unified message of encouragement to other individuals on the spectrum. He is working towards a full time job in writing and publishing, some of which is geared towards those with autism as well as the professionals who work in this field and may benefit from the opinions of those who’ve experienced different approaches to treatment. In addition to his work in writing as an autistic voice, Kyle also is preparing academic theses on a rage of topics from artistic critique to linguistics, and also is aspiring for work in the creative arts such as sketching and screenwriting; he also regularly looks online for obscure authors to read, whether it is find undiscovered talent or just to reveal underappreciated old manuscripts. In his own time, Kyle enjoys walking through Virginia’s natural scenery, reading and watching any classics he can find and talking with his loved ones.

Phoenix Haynes (they/them)

Phoenix attend Reynolds Community College and participates in the Courage to Succeed Program at UMFS. They have a wide array of talents and interests, including: singing-songwriting, acting, directing, poetry, creative writing and comedy. Phoenix wants to offer self-advocates like themself a way to freely express themselves. That way, we cab all be seen as equal members of society. They hopes their tenure with the ASCV will allow them to take step towards changing how the media portrays Autistic people.

Lucy Hentges (she/her)

Lucy is a person with Autism who joined the ASCV as a self advocate member in the fall of 2023. She is a member of the LGBTQ+ community and resides in Richmond City with her wife of 9 years. Lucy holds an associate of the arts in paralegal studies. She enjoys regular journaling, taking photographs, reading memoirs, restoring leather bags and is a lover of all forms of art. Her dog is a source of great comfort and a beloved companion. Daily routines, cleanliness, laundry and organization are sources of emotional regulation for her and she takes pride in making her apartment a sanctuary. Although sensory integration can present challenges for her, Lucy is determined to continually seek out new supports and solutions for herself that make daily life more easily navigable and comfortable. She has a loving and highly supportive system of friends and family members. 

Bill Lemmond (he/him)

It took Bill 40 years finally to rise to lower middle class, largely because of very late diagnosis of: clinical depression, non-hyper, daydreaming type attention deficit, and autism (at age 51). With depression finally in remission, Bill was able to try college again, and win academic and creative (for newspaper cartooning) awards, completing a Bachelor’s Degree in Economics in 10 years. Graduating into the typical experience for people with disabilities, the only job Bill has been able to keep is part-time janitor, cleaning for first responders.

Rachel 2023

Rachel Matthews (she/her)

Rachel grew up in Tappahannock, Virginia. She moved to Richmond in 2007 when she began her undergraduate studies at Virginia Commonwealth University. She has lived in the Richmond area ever since. She holds a Master’s degree in Special Education from George Mason University. In her free time, Rachel enjoys reading, hiking, kayaking, and indoor rock climbing.

Anna Mooney, MBA, EMT (she/her)

Anna, a self-proclaimed autistic data-savant and fervent advocate for neurodiversity, brings a unique blend of analytical expertise and innovative thinking to the self-advocate council. With a keen eye for uncovering patterns in data and a passion for challenging conventional thought, Anna seamlessly integrates data analytics with creativity. Through her dedication to spreading awareness of neurodiversity in the workplace and her commitment to transparent relationships, Anna aims to remove thought barriers and foster inclusive environments. Her extensive experience in community service reflects her unwavering dedication to serving others and contributing positively to her community.




Justin Ratliffe (he/him)

Justin Ratliffe joined the ASCV in 2016. He is a graduate of the Partners in Policy Making Program and a former VA-LEND trainee.

Jordan Smith (he/him)

Jordan is a new member of ASCV. He was diagnosed with High Functioning Autism after graduating from college in 2018. Passionate about fashion and hopes to create his own clothing line. Jordan enjoys playing sports, yoga, and being adventurous. Beyond his athletic pursuits, he hopes to inspire individuals on the autism spectrum, proving that with determination and courage, anything is possible.

Katherine Wallace (she/her)

Katie is from the rural county of Halifax where she was the first Autistic girl in the country to be crowned Homecoming Queen in 2004. In 2007, she graduated from the Partners in Policymaking Program and was also honored with the “Yes I Can” Award by the Council for Exceptional Children for her self-advocacy at the state and international levels. Katie is a Special Olympics Athlete and serves as an Altar Server at her church.