Submitted by Massachusetts Advocates for Children
Over 150 leading edge thinkers in the fields of autism, advocacy and technology gathered on Monday, May 8 at the Microsoft New England Research & Development (NERD) Center in Cambridge, MA to participate in the Massachusetts Advocates for Children’s (MAC’s) second annual Meeting of the Minds Forum. Bedford resident Brian Guay and his mother Ann Guay, Esq. served as co-emcees for the forum, which was organized by MAC’s Friends of the Autism Center and the Nancy Lurie Marks Family Foundation.
The forum featured Dr. Ann M. Graybiel, Principal Investigator at MIT’s McGovern Institute for Brain Research, as the keynote speaker. Dr. Graybiel spoke on the applicability of her brain research on habit formation to autism and possible behavior interventions and therapies. The audience also heard from Julia Landau, Esq., the Director of MAC’s Autism Center about the leading edge policy work of MAC’s Autism Center project. Aimee Sprung, Civic Engagement Manager for Microsoft, also spoke about the company’s commitment to inclusive hiring.
The Guays facilitated the evening program, including Dr. Graybiel’s presentation of her research, along with other speakers and a robust question and answer period. This was Brian’s first emcee experience, which he completed in partnership with his mother, who is a Board member of MAC. Brian attended Bedford High and also Middlesex Community College, and aspires to have a career in animal farming. He currently works at Blueberry Goat Farm in Bedford, the Friends for Tomorrow at Berryfield Farm in Lincoln, and HomeGoods in Bedford. In addition to her Board service at MAC, Ann Guay is an attorney who currently serves as an elected member of the Bedford School Committee and holds positions on numerous boards and community committees. Her public service included a post on the first Governor’s Massachusetts Autism Commission that helped implement Massachusetts’ Autism Omnibus law when it first passed in 2014.
This was the second Meeting of the Minds forum hosted by MAC’s Friends of the Autism Center, designed to bring together leading edge thinkers in autism research, advocacy, and technology. The Friends of the Autism Center organize events to raise awareness and financial support for MAC’s autism advocacy. The Autism Center is one of five advocacy projects of the Massachusetts Advocates for Children, whose mission, since 1969, has been to advocate for children who face barriers to educational opportunity, particularly those who have disabilities, are low income and/or are racially, culturally, or linguistically diverse.
Monday’s event was sponsored by Alternatives ABA, APEX Behavioral Consulting, New England ABA, One Visual Mind, Peer Projects-Therapy From the Heart, and NESCA. More information about MAC’s Autism Center and opportunities to get involved or support its work can be found at http://massadvocates.org/autism/