The people of AFSS
Stephen Katz, Executive Director AFSS
Community leader and group facilitator
Stephen Katz facilitates a variety of support, social and cultural groups for adults with Asperger’s syndrome, along with those who are on the autism spectrum. In the past, this has included the GRASP Manhattan support group in New York City. He has also worked on a variety of projects for GRASP; including, “Persons on the Autism Spectrum in Their Communities of Faith”, a ground breaking seminar, moderated by GRASP founder, Michael John Carley.
Additionally, Stephen’s background includes training with the Miracle Project, the musical theatre arts program for special needs kids, as seen in the HBO Documentary, “Autism: The Musical.” He has co-led socialization groups for 16-21 year olds with a variety of special needs at The Manhattan JCC. Stephen was also employed by YAI/NIPD where he worked with individuals of all ages and abilities in their homes, creating and implementing teaching strategies that increased language, academic, vocational and life skills, helping them to lead more independent and productive lives.
Previously, Stephen has worked in advertising, marketing and finance. He is also an artist and has studied at the prestigious Art Students League and Parsons School of Design. His education also includes a Certificate in Human Resource management from New York University and a certificate in Learning Theory and Applied Behavior Analysis from The New York League of Early Learning (NYL) with additional classroom and hands on training and experience in Verbal Behavior, DIR/Floortime and Son Rise.
Responsibilities: Managing the day to day operations of AFSS, organizing and scheduling events, promoting events and other outreach via social media (Facebook and Meetup.com), facilitating support groups and social groups, and otherwise communicating the mission and goals of the organization
Karl Wittig, Facilitator, Chairman advisory board
Cornell alumnus, is helping with technical writing, planning and organizing.
Karl Wittig was diagnosed at the age of 44 with Asperger Syndrome. He worked as an electronics engineer, doing research and development in electronics, imaging, video, computers, and communications for over 28 years, in the research divisions of major electronics corporations.
Karl is actively involved in the autism community, has facilitated support groups for adults, and served on the Board of Directors of GRASP from 2009 to 2015 as well as the Advisory Board since its founding in 2003. He frequently attends and occasionally presents at Asperger Syndrome and autism conferences
As a young child, he was “obsessed” with virtually anything electrical or mechanical, which led to his choice of career. Although he exhibited numerous autistic traits both as a child and as an adult, and suspected for a number of years that he might be living with such a condition, he was not diagnosed until fairly late in life.
Because of his experiences, he is devoted to in increasing public awareness about the autism spectrum and in many issues concerning adults who live with autism.
He has a B. S. with distinction in Applied Physics and an M. S. Eng. in Electrical Engineering, both from Cornell University, as well as an M. S. in Computer Science from the Courant Institute of New York University. A member of two engineering honor societies (Tau Beta Pi and Eta Kappa Nu), he holds 19 U. S. patents, and is a registered professional engineer in the state of New York.
Responsibilities: Facilitating support and social groups
Jonas Arnaldo, Founder and advisory board member
Jonas is very talented and has many years experience of in the field of Information Technology. He has also been helping others on the Autism spectrum navigate the social and employment world for over a decade.
Responsibilities: Organizing, scheduling and facilitating
Dr. Irma Jacqueline Ozer, Co-Founder, current primary benefactor and advisory board member
Dr. Irmi Ozer is one of the founders and continues to generously support AFSS
Irma has a masters in forensic psychology from John Jay College of Criminal Justice, New York, a J.D. from The New York Law School and has worked as a disabilities rights attorney and did group counseling for people with mood disorders. She has also written a book, “Asperger’s and the Public Consciousness” and is fluent in several languages.
Brian R. C. Kinghorn, M. Phil, advisory board member
Brian is the statistician and is responsible for implementing our strategies for measuring the progress and success of our members and program.
Brian is a Ph.D. candidate in Measurement, Evaluation, and Statistics at Teachers College, Columbia University and adjunct faculty at Hunter College. Four years after being diagnosed on the Autism Spectrum, he began reaching out to support and advocacy groups. It was then he discovered the emerging Neurodiversity movement. His interest in Neurodiversity led to a series of awareness and educational events, including a presentation at TEDxTeachersCollege 2014: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kT0eqy-_s7A The following year, he founded NeurodiversiTC: The Neurodiversity Initiative of Teachers College, Columbia University, with the goal of shifting the paradigm on how we educate, assess, and treat people with atypical minds.
Brian's other interests include the martial art Aikido, in which he holds a black belt. He also enjoys mindfulness meditation, Tai Chi, and is a lover of karaoke.
Kelly D. Barndt advisory board member
Kelly is an Auditor with the Shubert organization and is very involved with the New York City theatre scene. She has a BFA in Fine Arts with concentrations in Sculpture, Clay and Figure Drawing. Kelly will be about cultural activities, especially as they relate to theatre and art.