Our Leadership

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EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR

Donna M. Cirillo

Donna Cirillo is a parent of a child with autism who brings personal passion to her important work at FATE. Her mission is to provide assistance, training, and support to as many families and educational professionals as she can.

Donna’s unwavering commitment to help improve the lives of children with autism began as a personal journey nearly two decades ago when her son Justin (JT) was diagnosed with autism at the age of 28 months. Like many other parents throughout the United States in the late 1990’s, Donna and her family found themselves struggling to obtain appropriate educational services for JT. Donna saw the need for immediate action and decided to leave her successful business career to focus on improving educational programs for children with autism. She began networking with other parents in Ocean County, NJ who had similar experiences and together, they formed Parents of Autistic Children (POAC), an organization devoted to autism education, community outreach and family support.

In 2001, Donna and fellow POAC founding members hosted a two-day conference at Georgian Court University (Lakewood, NJ) that featured the world’s most prominent speakers in the field of autism intervention. An overwhelming majority of teachers that attended the conference felt that their greatest need was for more targeted training in applying the principles of applied behavior analysis (ABA) in the classroom. This energized parent group answered their need by scheduling hundreds of teacher training workshops over the next few years which benefited many teachers, parents, and individuals with autism.

Today, acting as FATE’s executive director, Donna continues her life’s mission that began many years ago. Donna oversees and serves as workshop coordinator. She is responsible for the design, implementation, marketing, and fundraising for all of FATE’s events. To date, FATE has raised three million dollars, and has provided training for over 3,000 teachers throughout the U.S., Asia, Africa, Europe, and South America.

TRAINING AND PROGRAM COORDINATOR

Jennifer Fisahn

Jennifer Fisahn earned a M.Ed. in Curriculum and Instruction: Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) from Arizona State University and a BA in Special Education from Florida Atlantic University. She also holds a Graduate Certificate in ABA from Pennsylvania State University. Jennifer Fisahn is a Board Certified Behavior Analyst™ (BCBA®) as well as a certified Teacher of the Handicapped (N.J.).

Ms. Fisahn has been working with children with developmental disabilities and their families for eighteen years. She has experience as a public school classroom teacher as well as a direct service provider and supervisor for home-based ABA programs for individuals ranging in age from preschool through adult-hood. Additionally, Jennifer Fisahn has served as an autism program consultant for school districts and private programs throughout the United States and abroad.

As FATE’s training coordinator, Jennifer oversees all of our professional development and parent training endeavors and assists with the creation, maintenance, and scheduling of FATE’s workshops. She serves as the lead presenter for many of FATE’s workshops regarding evidence-based practices for individuals with autism including natural environment training (NET) and discrete trial training (DTT). Jennifer created FATE’s S.T.A.R.S. Network, a group aimed at supporting teachers and paraprofessionals working with individuals with autism and regularly contributes to FATE’s Teaching Tips blog. Her writing has also been featured on Behavioral Science in the 21st Century’s ABA Practice column.

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FUNDRAISING COORDINATOR

Michelle Brown

Michelle Brown earned a Bachelor of Social Work from Florida Atlantic University. She started her first job out of college working as a teacher in a small private school for children with autism.

Michelle is a parent of a child with autism. She has been passionately advocating for children with autism for the last 20 years. She headed up a committee to help educate her community about autism and raise funds for a local charter school for kids with autism.

Michelle also worked in medical sales for five years and has a strong background in marketing and sales.

In her free time she enjoys spending time with her family, and helping local dog rescue groups.

DIRECTOR OF DEVELOPMENT

Sheilagh Cirillo

Sheilagh Cirillo spends her time championing the rights of children with autism through early intervention and educational equality.

Sheilagh’s commitment to helping improve the lives of autistic children and their families began as a personal journey more than 15 years ago when her nephew JT was diagnosed with the disorder.  While watching her sister-in-law Donna, fight to get JT appropriate early intervention and applied behavior analysis (ABA) programs in school, Sheilagh became determined to help. She joined the board of Parents of Autistic Children (POAC), an organization devoted to autism education, community outreach and family support.

By April 2007, she co-founded The Foundation for Autism Training and Education (FATE), a national non-profit organization dedicated to improving the lives, education and future successes of children with autism by providing training programs for teachers who work with them in public schools.  The programs have been proven to help individuals with autism achieve their highest level of independence— within their homes, schools and communities.

Sheilagh co-founded FATE because she recognized that while there were many outstanding organizations focused on autism research related to finding the cause or the cure; few addressed the educational needs of children already living with the disorder. FATE not only fills this gap, but it strives to increase the public’s awareness of autism, as well as providing and supporting recreational activities and events that bring happiness to autistic children and their families.