Dayna Kay Hoff, M.B.A.

Dayna Kay Hoff, M.B.A.

Volunteer Executive Director & ATPF Co-Founder

Since 2003, Dayna Hoff has transformed the autism community in San Diego and the Bay Area through her role as Founder and Volunteer Executive Director of the Autism Tree Project Foundation (ATPF). ATPF, which Dayna founded with her husband, Todd, when their son, Garret, was diagnosed with autism at the age of 2 ½, is the only autism foundation in the region that focuses on combining the three areas of Research, Early Intervention, and Programming. ATPF provides more than 20 free programs and services to the community and has invested $2.9 million back into the community under Dayna’s leadership.

Karen Morrissey

Karen Morrissey

Karen Morrissey has been working for AKA Head Start for over 22 years. Her passion has always been helping families. The last six years have been focused on children with Special Needs and helping those families navigate the complicated system of getting their children services. Karen joined the ATPF team in 2014 when ATPF partnered with AKA Head Start to provide free preschool screenings to more than 1,200 Head Start students. Karen works to "hold the hand" of any new families referred to for further evaluation through the ATPF Free Early Intervention Preschool Screening Program.

Serenitie Buyse

Serenitie Buyse

Serenitie Buyse is applying to medical school and has spent the past year working as a Clinical Research Coordinator in the Epilepsy Division at UCSD Hospital. Serenitie and Michael L. Levy, MD, Ph.D., Chief of Pediatric Neurosurgery Children’s Hospital-San Diego (CHSD) and Clinical Professor of Neurological Surgery at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD) School of Medicine, have initiated ATPF’s Early Intervention Preschool Screening Longevity Study to review early intervention screening data from 2006 onward. This study aims to analyze, review, and publish the effects these early intervention screenings have had on the developmental tracks of children who have not tested within normal limits. Additional goals of ATPF through this study are to receive grants which will help establish the creation of a role to further educate our families on the next steps they need to take to ensure their children are getting the tools they need to meet all of their developmental milestones. 

Brian Towle Zeugschmidt

Brian Towle Zeugschmidt

Brian Towle Zeugschmidt is the General Manager for JetBlue Airways in San Diego and Palm Springs. Brian launched our ATPF Blue Horizons Program in 2013, helping children and families with autism to practice flying and traveling through the San Diego International Airport, TSA security lines, and boarding an empty plane. 

Brian Towle Zeugschmidt es el Gerente General de Jetblue Airways en San Diego y Palm Springs. Brian lanzó nuestro programa ATPF Blue Horizons en el 2013, ayudando a niños y familias con autismo a practicar el vuelo y viajar a través del Aeropuerto Internacional de San Diego, las líneas de seguridad de la TSA y abordar un avión vacío.

Patrick Thompson

Patrick Thompson

We are thrilled to have Patrick on our team! Patrick is a USD Football Player Alumni and is actively involved with our San Jose State University Football Player Mentor Program in the Bay Area. Thank you, Patrick, for your heart and love for our children and families living with autism!

¡Estamos encantados de tener a Patrick en nuestro equipo! Patrick es un ex jugador de fútbol USD y está activamente involucrado con nuestro Programa de Mentor de Jugador de Fútbol de la Universidad de San José en el Área de la Bahía. ¡Gracias Patrick por tu corazón y amor por nuestros niños y familias que viven con autismo! 

Marilee Burgeson, MA, CCC-SLP

Marilee Burgeson, MA, CCC-SLP

Marilee Burgeson, MA, CCC-SLP, has been a Speech-Language and Hearing Consultant for the San Diego County Office of Education since 1987 in a 0-3 early intervention program. She has been instrumental in developing an Autism Services team model that is transdisciplinary and recognized by the State of California as an exemplary program. She also has a small private practice. She has continued to be a lifelong learner and is trained in ABA and is a Hanen trained speech pathologist.

Michelle S. Connelly, M.A., CCC-SLP

Michelle S. Connelly, M.A., CCC-SLP

Michelle S. Connelly, M.A., CCC-SLP, is a licensed speech-language pathologist and member of ASHA and CSHA with over 25 years’ experience. She is the founder of Connelly Speech & Language Clinic in the San Francisco Bay Area. Michelle is the Director of the ATPF Early Intervention Screening Program in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Michelle has guest-lectured and presented at the county and state-wide conferences on a variety of topics related to communicative disorders. She has extensive training in the treatment of articulation and language disorders.

Michelle has received multiple awards from County (SCCSHA) and State (CSHA) professional associations for her commitment to consumer advocacy, professional development, and leadership. She has held Executive Board positions with the Santa Clara County Speech-Language-Hearing Association and the California Speech & Hearing Association throughout her career.

Michelle S. Connelly, M.A., CCC-SLP es una patóloga del habla-lenguaje licenciada y miembro de ASHA y CSHA con más de 20 años de experiencia. Ella es la fundadora de Connelly Speech & Language Clinic en la Área de la Bahía de San Francisco. Michelle es la Directora del Programa de Proyección de Intervención Temprana ATPF en el Área de la Bahía de San Francisco.


Michelle ha sido conferencista invitada y ha presentado en conferencias de todo el condado y el estado sobre una variedad de temas relacionados con los trastornos comunicativos. Tiene una amplia formación en el tratamiento de la articulación y trastornos del lenguaje.

Michelle ha recibido múltiples premios de las asociaciones profesionales del Condado (SCCSHA) y del Estado (CSHA) por su compromiso con la defensa de los consumidores, el desarrollo profesional y el liderazgo. Ha ocupado cargos en la Junta Ejecutiva de la Asociación de Audición del Lenguaje del Condado de Santa Clara y la Asociación de Habla y Audición de California a lo largo de su carrera.

Garret Hoff

Garret Hoff

In 2003, Garret's parents, Todd and Dayna, founded ATPF when he was diagnosed with autism at the age of 2 1/2. Since then, Garret has played a vital role in growing ATPF to the incredible organization it is today-- providing more than 20 free programs to children and families impacted by autism in San Diego County and the Bay Area. Since 2007, Garret has been a dedicated ATPF volunteer and wholeheartedly devoted himself to giving back to ATPF children and families. Through his vision to elevate ATPF as one of San Diego's premier service organizations, Garret created and developed the ATPF Intern & Young Volunteer Program in 2014, which now has more than 40 interns and more than 300 volunteers.

Garret has been a true leader and inspiration at ATPF and shines bright not only throughout San Diego but on a global scale. In September of 2013, Garret represented ATPF worldwide by presenting ATPF research internationally with Dr. Jean Novak at Jagiellonian University in Poland. Through his time and contributions, Garret has raised more than $50,000 to support ATPF's programs and services. Hoff was awarded the ATPF GLOBAL LEADERSHIP AWARD in April 2018 for his tireless commitment to creating brighter futures for children with autism and their families. Hoff will be attending George Washington University as a Freshman in the fall of 2018. 

To apply for an internship with Autism Tree Project Foundation, please email a cover letter and resume to:

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. OR call 619-222-4465

En el 2003, los padres de Garret, Todd y Dayna, fundaron ATPF cuando el fue diagnosticado con autismo a la edad de 2 años y medio.  Desde entonces, Garret ha sido un jugador clave en el crecimiento de ATPF a la increíble organización que hoy ofrece más de 20 programas gratuitos para niños y familias afectados por el autismo en el Condado de San Diego y el Área de la Bahía.  Desde el 2007, Garret ha sido un voluntario de la ATPF y de todo corazón se dedicó a apoyar a los niños y familias de la ATPF. A través de su visión de elevar a ATPF como una de las primeras organizaciones de servicio de San Diego, Garret creó y desarrolló el Programa de Practicantes y Jóvenes Voluntarios de ATPF en 2014, que ahora cuenta con más de 40 interns y más de 300 voluntarios.

Garret ha sido un verdadero líder e inspiración en ATPF y brilla no sólo en San Diego sino a escala mundial. En septiembre del 2013, Garret representó a ATPF a escala mundial presentando la investigación ATPF a nivel internacional con el Dr. Jean Novak en la Universidad Jagiellonian de Polonia. A través de su tiempo y contribuciones, Garret ha recaudado más de $50,000 para apoyar los programas y servicios de ATPF. Hoff fue otorgado el ATPF GLOBAL LEADERSHIP AWARD en abril de 2018 por su incansable compromiso con la creación de futuros mejores para los niños con autismo y sus familias. Hoff inició como estudiante en la Universidad George Washington en otoño del 2018.

Para solicitar información sobre hacer practicas con Autism Tree Project Foundation, por favor envíe una carta de presentación a:

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

O llame al 619-222-4465

Joel Anderson

Joel Anderson

Joel’s art at the age of five was well beyond his years.

He always has a pencil in hand. When Joel turned eleven, he started painting, soon to follow, was putting his art on note cards and starting his business “Joel’s Vision Arts.”

Tracy Shepler

Tracy Shepler

Tracy has been a Parent Mentor with the Autism Tree for several years. Her family first connected with the Autism Tree in 2008 and initially participated in the Parent Mentor Program as Mentees. Over the years, as her situation has changed, she has served as a Parent Mentor and has found that role to be very rewarding. As a child on the Autistic Spectrum parent, she is very aware of how isolating parenting a child with Autism can be. The Parent Mentor events are a great way to fellowship with other parents, enjoy the adult time, and receive support and guidance from our team of Parent Mentors.

Manny Alefor

Manny Alefor

ATPF is happy to announce the newest addition to our team: Manny Alefor, our official ATPF DJ! Thank you, Manny, for your huge heart and passion for our kids and families. Manny has 20+ years of experience as a ROCK STAR DJ. Manny has been an International DJ everywhere from Manila, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and San Diego.

En ATPF, estamos muy emocionados de anunciar la última incorporación a nuestro equipo: ¡Manny Alefor, nuestro DJ oficial de ATPF! Gracias a Manny por su gran corazón y pasión por nuestros niños y familias. Manny tiene más de 20 años de experiencia como DJ ROCK STAR. Manny ha sido un DJ internacional en todas partes desde Manila, San Francisco, Los Ángeles y San Diego.

Lisa Kaufmann

Lisa Kaufmann

Director of Development

Lisa Kaufmann, a native of Seattle, Washington, earned her B.A. in Social Work from Point Loma Nazarene University, San Diego. Lisa has over ten years of experience in nonprofit management. Lisa joined the ATPF team in June 2008 and is the organization’s only full-time employee. Kaufmann oversees each of our 20 programs along with running the daily operations of the ATPF office, co-writing grant requests, producing all fundraisers and program events, maintaining ATPF daily social media, and managing all ATPF website updates and manages over 200 interns and volunteers. She works directly with Dayna Hoff, ATPF Executive Director, and the ATPF Board of Directors.

Karen Wright

Karen Wright

My husband Tim and I were challenged by the demands that a special needs child puts on a family. Married in 1963, we have faced many seasons of life together. We know firsthand the power of prayer and how it can heal broken bodies, broken minds, and broken hearts.

As the mother of three children and grandmother of five, an essential way to show my love for my family and friends is to pray for them. When you love people, accept them and allow them to be who God created them to be, you'll be amazed at what He will do in your relationships. It's an honor to be a part of the ATPF team and to share that love.

Kara Dodds, M.S., CCC-SLP

Kara Dodds, M.S., CCC-SLP

Kara Dodds, M.S., CCC-SLP is a licensed speech-language pathologist and a a member of ASHA and CSHA. She is a director of Kara Dodds and Associates, Inc. a private practice in San Diego and specializes in the assessment, diagnosis and treatment of children with Autism, Apraxia, sensory feeding disorders and in developmental delay. Dodds is the Director of the ATPF Early Intervention Preschool Screening Program. 

Helen Ghio

Helen Ghio

A 2001 graduate of the University of San Diego School of Law, Helen began her law career in real estate and has worked at Luce Forward Hamilton & Scripps, Chicago Title Company, and Hovey & Kirby. She has been advocating for her son since he was born with cerebral palsy and other disabilities in 2002. Helen and her husband, Chris Ghio, have been involved with ATPF since its inception in 2003. She previously served on several nonprofit boards of directors and is currently involved with various other nonprofit organizations. Helen has also been a mentor in ATPF’s Parent Mentor Program for several years. She joined forces with Cara Lucier’s firm in 2015.

Helenghio.com | 619-222-8300 

Se graduó en el 2001 de la Facultad de Derecho de la Universidad de San Diego, Helen comenzó su carrera de derecho en bienes raíces y ha trabajado en Luce Forward Hamilton & Scripps, Chicago Title Company, y Hovey & Kirby. Ha estado abogando por su hijo desde que nació con parálisis cerebral y otras discapacidades en el 2002. Helen y su esposo Chris Ghio han estado involucrados con ATPF desde su inicio en el 2003. Anteriormente trabajó en varios consejos de administración sin fines de lucro y actualmente está involucrada con varias otras organizaciones sin fines de lucro. Helen también ha sido mentora en el Programa de Mentores de Padres de ATPF durante varios años. Unió fuerzas con la firma de Cara Lucier en 2015.
Hihelen.com | 619-222-8300 Español

Sandi Anderson

Sandi Anderson

Sandi Anderson had been an active Autism Tree Project Foundation volunteer since its inception nine years ago. She and her husband, Jeff, have two adult sons on the autism spectrum. Her many years of experience advocating, homeschooling, and special needs training in academics, health, and life skills enable her to encourage others in their journey with a vast resource of connections and creative solutions. Sandi is a founding member/chairman of Jeremiah's Ranch, a group home community established in Fallbrook, CA.

Together with her son Joel, Sandi enjoys many ATPF projects, including resource fairs, public speaking at schools, art shows, golf tournaments, television and radio shows, fundraising, and Parent Mentor programs.

Their all-time favorite accomplishment has been founding the ATPF & University of San Diego Football Mentor Program in 2009, where football players volunteer to be matched up with a child of any age with autism to have fun throughout the football season and special events. All these experiences have provided Sandi and Joel to now travel internationally, sharing autism awareness and acceptance.

Kelly Greene

Kelly Greene

Kelly Greene is part of the ATPF Founders Committee and owner of Kelly Greene Design (www.kellygreenedesign.com). She had been the ATPF Graphic Designer & Art Director since the inception of the foundation ten years ago. Kelly has created most of the foundation's essential collateral materials and continues to serve ATPF in our marketing and branding efforts.

Yvette Soto

Yvette Soto

Yvette has twin boys that were diagnosed with Autism in 2008. Yvette met Dayna Hoff through Dayna's husband, Todd, who happened to walk into Yvette's office to get a document notarized. Yvette & Todd talked for quite a while, and it could not have come at a better time as it was just a few months after her children had been diagnosed. Yvette started as a parent mentee in the ATPF Parent Mentor Program and appreciated the support and information that she received. Yvette now "pays it forward" and mentors ATPF families in need of guidance and support.

Jon Hickey

Jon Hickey

Jon Hickey is the ATPF Co-Director for the USD Mentor Program and has been married for 13 years to his wife Fran Pritchard, also Co-Director. They have two boys, Lawson currently 12, who was diagnosed with PPD NOS / ADHD at the age of 5. Shortly after receiving their son's diagnosis, Jon found a way to support the autism community with his skills.

Rebecca Barron

Rebecca Barron

Operations Manager

Rebecca Barron, a native of Los Angeles, California, earned her B.S. in Hospitality and Tourism Management from San Diego State University, with an emphasis in Meetings and Events. Rebecca has over four years of experience in the hospitality industry. Rebecca joined the ATPF team in September 2017 and is the organization’s Operations Manager. Barron assists Lisa Kaufmann in overseeing each of our 20 programs along with running the daily operations of the ATPF office, producing all fundraisers and program events, maintaining ATPF daily social media and managing all ATPF website updates and manages over 200 interns and volunteers. She works directly with Lisa Kaufmann, ATPF Director of Development, and Caitlyn Hunter, ATPF Director of Financial Operations. 

Julie Guy

Julie Guy

Co-director of the Music Therapy Center of California

Julie graduated with a Master’s in Music Therapy from Western Michigan University. She has completed training from the Center for Biomedical Training as a neurologic music therapy fellow from Colorado State University. She has been providing music therapy services to youth with special needs and retirees to the San Diego area since 2001. In 2004 Julie co-founded The Music Therapy Center of California (MTCCA), where she is currently vice-president and an internship director. Her research investigating the effects of music intervention on reducing agitation in hospice patients with dementia has been published in Voices: A World Forum for Music Therapy.

In her work with children with special needs, Julie co-authored the “In Harmony: Integrated Learning Program.” She is co-owner and co-founder of NoteAbilities, Inc., which produces “Kibbles Rockin’ Clubhouse” (a DVD series to teach social and communication skills to children with autism) and is co-host of “Autism Toolkit Podcast” a resource for parents, teachers, and therapists. Julie is a founding board member of Banding Together, a San Diego non-profit whose mission is to provide music experiences, mentorships, and instruments to youth with special needs. She has also been a guest on the KPBS Radio program “These Days,” KUSI, “Good Morning San Diego,” and Fox 5 News. She has presented locally and nationally for organizations such as Wayne County Speech and Language Association, Brandman University, La Sierra University, University of California San Diego, Western Michigan University, the Autism Tree Project Foundation, Kids Included Together, the Autism Education Network, and the American Music Therapy Association. Julie received the 2002 and 2012 Professional Development Grants from the Western Region American Music Therapy Association. 

Bobbi Hanna

Bobbi Hanna

Certified Occupational Therapy Assistant

Bobbi Hanna received her associate of science degree in occupational therapy in 1997. She has over twenty years of experience as a Certified Occupational Therapy Assistant in private pediatric practices and school-based therapy in San Diego. She works with a diverse population of clients through early childhood into young adulthood.

Bobbi has extensive continuing education in support of Autism, Developmental Delays, Neuro-Developmental Approaches, Attention Deficit Disorders, and Learning Disorders. She is certified in iLs (Integrated Listening System), Advanced certification in Therapeutic Listening, Interactive Metronome, RMT (Rhythmic Movement Training through Level III), AromaTouch Technique, and SOS Approach to Feeding.

Bobbi’s passion lies in the area of sensory integration, mindful thinking, life skills development, creating playful therapeutic environments, developing meaningful group interactions, and supporting the families she works with on a personal and community level.

Bobbi sits on the Clinical Advisory Board for the Autism Tree Project Foundation and is a volunteer Liaison for various ATPF programs. Bobbi is also a team member for the “Social Stories Spectrum Project” at the National History Museum in Balboa Park.

Bobbi has the privilege each summer to be an OT camp therapist at Camp Avanti, located in Avery, Wisconsin. This is a therapeutic camp for children set in a rustic environment that is led by occupational therapists from various countries, including the USA, Canada, England, and Australia.

Bobbi Hanna Recibió su título de Licenciada en Ciencias en Terapia Ocupacional en el 1997. Tiene más de trece años de experiencia como asistente de terapia ocupacional certificada trabajando en consultorios privados de pediatría, escuelas y entornos de salud mental en la comunidad de San Diego. Es copropietaria de Kids on the POINT OT, Inc.

Breena Hayman, M.S

Breena Hayman, M.S

Breena is a licensed Speech-Language Pathologist. She received her Master’s Degree at the University of Redlands and has been in private practice since 1999. Breena specializes in pediatric speech and language disorders. She is experienced in multi-disciplinary approaches and works directly with occupational therapists, physical therapists, dentists, orthodontists, ENTs, physicians, and psychologists to deliver comprehensive treatment to benefit the patients and their families. Breena’s approaches used in therapy include a variety of oral-motor techniques from Talk Tools, PROMPT Therapy, and Kaufman method to treat children with apraxia and other oral motor impairments. Breena is also trained in a variety of Myo Functional Therapy methodologies and Breathing techniques (Buteyko). She is currently in the process of pursuing her certification in Myo Functional Therapy. Her philosophy is that children who enjoy their therapy sessions become active and focused participants in the learning process of new skills and motor function. She is also very active in the ATPF community,  Breena helps with training all of our interns and volunteers on how to work with our autistic community.

Breena Hayman, M.S., CCC-SLP es  patóloga del lenguaje licenciada y miembro de ASHA y CSHA. Breena es instructora certificada de Hanen, y junto con Kara Dodds, M.S., CCC-SLP también instructora certificada de Hanen, dan las clases de formación para padres "Más que palabras".

Dr. Michael L. Levy, M.D., Ph.D.

Dr. Michael L. Levy, M.D., Ph.D.

Dr. Michael Levy, Chief Neurosurgeon at Children's Hospital of San Diego Division of Pediatric Neurological Surgery and the University of California San Diego Division of Pediatric Neurological Surgery. With 24 years of medical practice, Levy's current hospital appointments also include LAC-USC Medical Center Los Angeles and USC University Hospital Los Angeles. He has served as Clinical Instructor, Assistant Professor of Neurological Surgery, and Associate Professor with Tenure of Neurological Surgery – all for the University of Southern California School of Medicine, as well as a Residency Program Director for the Division of Neurological Surgery at UC San Diego. Dr. Levy has been actively involved with ATPF since 2003.

Angela Neve, MT-BC

Angela Neve, MT-BC

Co-director of the Music Therapy Center of California

Angela is a board-certified neurologic music therapist, songwriter, and co-owner of The Music Therapy Center of California. She received her master’s degree in neurologic music therapy from Colorado State University and received her bachelor’s degree in Music Education/Music Therapy from Wartburg College. 

She is a director at ATPF for phase 3 preschool music inclusion training.  Neve launched a music therapy company serving over 250 clients that later partnered with speech therapists. She has been working as a music therapist for over seven years in the San Diego area with children, teenagers, and adults with autism. She has published several products, including the In Harmony program, an educational product targeting speech and social skills through music. She also serves as the music director for the DVD series for kids with autism “Kibbles Rockin’ Clubhouse,” which was launched this year.

As a sibling of a brother with special needs, Angela has seen the power of music in making changes in her brother Luke’s life and is dedicated to bringing that passion to the clients and families that she serves.

Dr. Jean Novak, Ph.D.

Dr. Jean Novak, Ph.D.

Dr. Jean Novak is a bilingual professor in Speech Pathology and was the 1st Department Chair of the Communicative Disorders & Sciences Department at San Jose State University. She is a clinical supervisor for speech pathology graduate students in assessment and therapy clinics for children with speech, language, and communication disorders. She is Director of the Bilingual Toddler and Preschool Screening Project, which is funded by the Autism Tree Project Foundation. The screening project provides students with training and offers the community a needed service.

Dr. Jennifer Oke, Ph.D.

Dr. Jennifer Oke, Ph.D.

Director & Founder of ATPF Mommy, Daddy & Me Playtime Group

Dr. Jennifer Oke, Ph.D., has been a clinical child psychologist specializing in the assessment and treatment of autism spectrum disorders with over 29 years of relevant experience.  Dr. Oke participated in research in the areas of Pivotal Response Training (PRT), Discrete Trial Training (DTT), Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA), parent training, language development, social interaction and social skills training under the supervision of Laura Schreibman, Ph.D. Her doctoral dissertation focused on sibling groups to educate children about the disorders, give children an opportunity to share their experiences, and teach children strategies to facilitate interaction with their sibling. She received pre- and post-doctoral training at the San Diego Regional Center that provided her with extensive experience with a wide clinical population. Dr. Oke was also a board member for the San Diego Chapter of the Autism Society of America for 4 years.

Dr. Doris A. Trauner, M.D.

Dr. Doris A. Trauner, M.D.

Dr. Doris A. Trauner has served as Interim Chair of the Department of Neurosciences as well as Chair of the Health Sciences Faculty Council, Vice-Chair of the Department of Neurosciences, and Chief of Pediatric Neurology at UCSD.

Widely recognized and respected for her academic leadership, Dr. Trauner has held a joint appointment in Neurosciences and Pediatrics since 1977. Her research emphasizes the cognitive consequences of conditions that alter brain development early in life. These include both structural and metabolic disorders affecting the developing brain. Her study subjects include children with neurodevelopment, genetic, and metabolic disorders.