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Introducing Board member, Andrea Jones

Andrea Jones

As our ‘About Autism West’ series continues, this week we introduce you to one of our Board members and marketing specialist, Andrea Jones.

I’ve been a member of the Autism West Board for over a year now, providing advice around business and financial issues as well as issues relating to corporate governance, social responsibility, corporate ethics and marketing.

My interest around autism stems from working at Curtin University where we run the Autism Academy for Software Quality Assurance (AASQA). We undertake a lot of valuable research in the autism arena and run a mentoring program designed for students on the autism spectrum.

This past year has flown by! I’ve got to know the other board members quite well and am proud to be part of a professional and knowledgeable team that is so charitable and passionate about helping young Western Australians with autism. I’ve loved working with Silvana Gaglia (Chair), Alison Davis (CEO) and the other board members because everyone brings a different level of expertise to the table, which makes us a really strong team.

Under the leadership of Silvana and Alison I’ve seen Autism West grow from strength-to-strength in just a year, and  have seen the valuable difference that Autism West makes to young Western Australians affected by autism. I’ve been able to chat one-on-one with young adults who attend the social groups and see some of the great work they are doing in coding, in developing their own movies, learning how to cook and speak confidently through the public speaking program. What’s more they are having fun in these social groups, I’ve seen it first-hand and it’s helping them to build their confidence too.

I’m proud to be part of an organisation that achieves so much with so little. This is down to the support it receives from all of its volunteers and great leadership. Autism West actually only has one full-time staff member, but you would never know this because if you look at what it achieves in a space of a year, you would think it is a much larger organisation. Ultimately I think all the volunteers, including myself, are passionate because they can literally see the difference that Autism West is making to the lives of young Western Australians affected by autism on a daily basis.

One of the highlights of 2016 for me was being part of a fundraising Cocktail Party hosted by the Shephard family at their home earlier this year. Adam and his wife, Winks, led this, but I think what was great is how everyone from Autism West came together to help contribute to its success. From board members donating prizes, volunteers providing paintings to be auctioned off, to the CEO delivering an amazing speech on the night, every little bit contributed to an unforgettable evening, with over $80,000 being raised in one night. But in addition to this over 150 people learnt a bit more about autism and Autism West and a lot of this was down to the amazing community networks of the Shephard family.

In 2017, I’m looking forward to seeing Autism West’s brand becoming more visible in Western Australia, nationally and internationally. I’m also looking forward to working on the Somers Team Sprint Cup this year as part of World Autism Day on Sunday 2 April. Be sure to contact me if this is something you’d be interested in getting involved in, be it through sponsorship or something else!