Friday, May 31, 2013

Announcement: New UAC President!

It is with mixed emotions that I publish this post. Today I am resigning as the President of the Utah Autism Coalition. This experience has stretched and blessed me in ways I could never have imagined.  Serving alongside so many strong individuals has reassured me that there is so much good in this world, despite the serious challenges our community continues to face. As I move forward with new adventures, I am reassured by that fact that we will be led by the capable hands of Jon Owen, who has accepted the position of President of the Utah Autism Coalition.

Jon was born and raised in rural Tennessee. He has an undergraduate degree in mechanical engineering and a Master of Computer Science degree, with an emphasis on computer vision. While at the University of Utah studying computer science, Jon met his wife Juliette. The two of them moved to North Carolina where he developed computer games and she studied law and public policy. Upon her graduation, they moved back to Utah to raise their two sons. When their second son was diagnosed with autism around age 2, Jon became an active member of the Pingree Parent/Staff Association and the Utah Autism Coalition. We are fortunate to have him offer his time and talents to lead this community forward in accomplishing our goal of ending health insurance discrimination against children with autism in Utah.When I asked Jon for his thoughts on taking on the role of UAC President, he provided this comment:

"I can vividly recall three moments in our journey with autism.  The first was the diagnosis. The second was learning that there were evidence-based treatments that could help our son. The third was learning that our insurance wouldn't cover any of the treatments.  Except for other parents in the autism community, I haven't encountered anybody who can really understand what those moments felt like to me.  UAC has given me a way to do something for my son and the thousands of other people like him.  What we're fighting for is one small change to our state's rules that will make a huge difference for very little cost.  As a result of Mirella's leadership, we are well-positioned to push for that change."

I have undying confidence that through our relentless efforts, individuals with autism in Utah affected by autism will be able to access the medical treatments that will allow them to live extraordinary lives. I want to thank this community for all of your support and I look forward to serving alongside you in the future. I will remain an active member of the Utah Autism Coalition and ask each of you to join me in congratulating Jon and offering him your full support as we persevere on behalf of individuals and families affected by autism in Utah.


Mirella Petersen