The Autism Society of Hawaii is a 501(c)(3) organization serving families and individuals touched by autism and autism spectrum disorders. We are the Hawaii chapter of the National Autism Society headquartered in Bethesda, Maryland. Reach us at email@example.com.
Jessica Wong-Sumida, M.A., J.D.
Executive Director Jessica Wong-Sumida, M.A., J.D., has worked with special needs children and families at the Hawaii Department of Education and with Ivar Lovaas in California. She has co-chaired the Community Children Council (Central District South and Legislative Committee) since 2004. At Kapiolani Community College, she serves as a lecturer on lifespan development. Her son received services from the state’s Early Intervention Zero to 3 program.
Dr. Ryan Lee M.D.
President Dr. Ryan Lee is a pediatric neurologist at the Shriners Hospitals for Children in Honolulu. He is director of Shriner’s neurodevelopmental clinic and director of medical research. He was born and raised in Hawaii. He received his undergraduate degrees in biology and English from Creighton University and his medical degree from the John A. Burns School of Medicine at the University of Hawaii. He served his pediatrics residency at the Kapiolani Medical Center for Women and Children and the UH. He also had a residency/post-doctoral fellowship in child neurology and neurodevelopmental disabilities at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and the Kennedy Krieger Institute in Baltimore, Maryland.
Dennis C. Maher
Vice-President Dennis C. Maher was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York. He arrived in Hawaii 25 years ago and made the Islands his home. He is currently the Secretary of the Board at Trump International Hotel™ Waikiki Beach Walk® and is also an active member of the Board of Directors for the Association of Trump Waikiki. He serves as Vice President and Treasurer for the Hawaii Hotel Visitor Industry Security Association and President of the Board of the Engineers Advisory Council for the Hawaii Lodging and Tourism Association. He coaches athletes with intellectual disabilities in soccer, basketball and softball. He is married and the father of five.
Chapter Board Members
Dr. Michael Corley Ph.D.
Board member Dr. Michael Corley Ph.D. is a neuroscientist in the Department of Native Hawaiian Health at the John A. Burns School of Medicine. He completed his MA and PhD in the field of behavioral neuroscience from the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa. He is part of leading a collaborative research project with Shriners Hospitals for Children Honolulu to improve knowledge and treatments for autism spectrum disorders.
John P. Dellera
Board member John P. Dellera is an attorney admitted to the New York Bar in 1970 and the Hawaii Bar in 1996. He practiced law in New York City for 15 years with the firm of Baker Nelson & Williams and was New York Regional Counsel of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development from 1985 to 1994. He served as assistant attorney general of New York and moved in Hawaii in 1996. He served as deputy attorney general of Hawaii for 13 years and as executive director of the Hawaii Disability Rights Center from 2009 to 2011. He has been caregiver for a young man with autism since 1996.
Board member Gerald Hew is currently the Chief Financial Officer for Helping Hands Hawaii. He is responsible for providing oversight and direction to the agency’s financial operations. He also manages the accounting and financial reporting operations, provide oversight for the agency’s banking activities and prepare the annual budget and financial forecasts. He will also monitor contractual compliance, provide fiscal control of client trust accounts related to the Representative Payee program and supervise the Accounting department.
He previously was the Controller at UHA for eight were he led the insurance company through two state examinations and the current Affordable Care Act reporting.
He joined Helping Hands Hawaii in 2015 and is a University of Hawaii alumnus with a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration in. He currently serves as the treasurer of the Autism Society of Hawaii.
Dr. Alika Maunakea
Board member Dr. Alika Maunakea is a Native Hawaiian biomedical researcher who has conducted epigenetic research in mammalian systems for over 15 years. During this period, he has made several important contributions that have helped advance the field of epigenetics. In particular, he has developed and applied novel high-throughput, genome-wide technologies that survey DNA methylation and histone modifications, both central components of epigenetic processes, and has discovered novel roles for DNA methylation in regulating alternative promoter usage and in pre-mRNA splicing. Currently, as a tenure-track Assistant Professor in the Department of Native Hawaiian Health, Dr. Maunakea is interested in applying epigenomic information toward understanding the mechanistic relationships of gene-environment interactions that underlie the development of disease, including neurodevelopmental disorders such as autism. In addition, Dr. Maunakea is playing a leading role in understanding how the environment interacts with epigenetic processes that may underlie diseases of health disparities, including diabetes and cardiovascular disease, in hope that these translational research efforts will contribute to the development of more effective targeted diagnostic, preventative, and therapeutic strategies to improve the health of underserved communities.
Board member Lindsey Shepherd is a Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) working on Kauai with Aptitude Habilitation Services. She received her Bachelor’s in Social Work from Eastern Washington University and her Master’s in Autism and Applied Behavior from Sage Graduate School. She provides contract Applied Behavior Analysis services through insurance and Kauai school district for youth 2-21. Lindsey helped create the Kauai Autism Task Force and is a member of Hawaii Association for Behavior Analysts (HABA). Lindsey is a married mother to a two-year-old son.
Naomi Ka`ae Tachera
Board member Naomi Ka`ae Tachera was born and raised on Hawai`i Island, and has two children with autism. She is also a parent representative for Hawai’i Association for Behavioral Analysis. Naomi is from the first graduating class of Kanu o ka `Aina a Hawaiian-focused, bi-lingual Public Charter School. Naomi has a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from the University of Hawai’i at Hilo, and is currently attending graduate school at the University of West Florida in Exceptional Student Education specializing in Applied Behavioral Analysis. Her goal to become a Board Certified Behavioral Analyst (BCBA) are to deliver behavioral analytic services on Hawai’i Island to the under served and rural communities.
Board member Kelly Yamasato is an obstetrician currently completing a fellowship in Maternal-Fetal Medicine with the University of Hawaii John A Burns School of Medicine. This training will allow to her care for women with high-risk pregnancies. Kelly was born and raised on Hawai’i Island in Waimea. She graduated from Hawai’i Preparatory Academy then obtained her undergraduate degree in ecology and evolutionary biology at Princeton University. Following college she returned home to complete medical school and residency at the University of Hawai’i.
As a clinician Kelly is devoted to women with high-risk pregnancies and their children. She also has a strong research interest in prenatal factors and childhood outcomes, including autism. Kelly currently lives in Honolulu with her husband and two sons.
Honorary board member State Senator Suzanne Chun-Oakland has served in the Hawaii State Legislature since 1996. She is a strong advocate for children’s rights and sponsors the annual Children and Youth Day at the state Capitol, Child and Youth Summit and Keiki Caucus.
Honorary board member Ivalee Sinclair has over 40 years’ experience helping students with disabilities. She received the lifetime achievement award from the Mental Health America of Hawaii and served as chairwoman for the Special Education Advisory Council. She was nominated for the Jefferson Award in 2008 and served on the Coalition for Children with Special Needs. She has fought for services for her own children when they were in school.