Danielle Tessen (Fairbanks)
Danielle is the executive director for the Autism Society Alaska. She joined the board while working on her master’s thesis and later became the first hired executive director in October 2014. It was during a class on interpersonal relationships that she developed a passion for communication and advocacy. Her master’s thesis examined the experiences of mothers raising children with autism. Danielle is a fourth generation Alaskan who values building relationships with people in the golden heart community. In addition to her work with Autism Society Alaska, Danielle is also an adjunct communication professor at the University of Alaska Fairbanks.
Board of Directors
Brandy Raby (Salcha) President
Brandy and her husband enjoy raising their two boys in Alaska. As a resident of this great State for 29 years, she graduated from the University of Alaska Fairbanks with her Associates in Paralegal Studies and had a range of educational experiences from Elementary to Post-Secondary education. Her family enjoys fishing, traveling, hiking, and skiing. By the young age of 2 her oldest son was given the diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder. This diagnosis set her on a passionate journey which has created many opportunities. She has participated in many State-wide conferences, programs and trainings as well as out of State programs and National Autism Society Conferences. Brandy has held a position on the Board of Directors for the Autism Society of Alaska since 2010. She previously held the position as Vice President and is the current President. As a Board member she has lead parent support groups, participated in fundraising events and has had the opportunity to advocate for ASD awareness, acceptance and services. She is the State representative for the Society Assembly of Affiliate leaders for the National Autism Society Organization. This network of Affiliate leaders work together on local and National levels lobbying in D.C. as well as creating strategic plans and programs to be implemented and available across local and National arenas. Having been on this journey for a while, Brandy has seen the statistics; services and educational opportunities change over the years. She appreciates the individuality of every person who experiences Autism and intends to use her time on the Board as well as any other opportunity she is given to #StompTheStigma that surrounds them and their support systems so that the celebration of who they are can be joined by all.
Jerri Braun General Board Member (Soldotna)
Jerri has been an Accounting Clerk for the Kenai Peninsula Borough since 2001, previously she worked as an Accounting Clerk for the Municipality of Anchorage. When her husband got an offer to transfer to Kenai, they took the opportunity to move back to a smaller community, one like they had while growing up in small town Anchorage and Eagle River.
In 2002 she became a grandmother to a sweet little boy. He was diagnosed with Autism in 2007 and came to live with Jerri & her husband. After being his foster parent for 2 years, they officially became his parents. From the time he arrived in her house she started to learn about Autism, and she is still learning and trying to educate herself and others. Jerri is on the board because she believes autism is here to stay; it’s not a disease that we can eliminate. Through education and awareness she wants everyone to recognize the signs and symptoms so early intervention can occur. She believes with a lot of effort on part of every family member, they can raise a great child into a great adult.
She’s passionate about her kids, her son, her daughter, and her grandson – you’ll find her bragging, remembering fun times and even curled up asleep with them. In her spare time Jerri is sewing, crocheting, doing ceramics and planning a way to get more information about Autism out to the general public.
Heidi Haas Honorary Board Member (Fairbanks)
As the founding member of the Autism Society of Alaska, Heidi Haas has a dedicated passion for autism and education advocacy. Heidi and her husband were both born and raised in Fairbanks and value the support Alaskan's have shown the Autism Society and especially their family. After her daughter was diagnosed with autism in 2007, Heidi set out to create supports and advocacy for others. Heidi is also a member of the Governor's Council on Disabilities and Special Education, Autism Task Force for the state and is currently the president of the Fairbanks North Star Borough School Board. Being involved in the community that supports our future is important and rewarding for Heidi.