About Us

Our Peoplethese are the ones who make the magic happen

Sugey Cruz-Everts President

Richard Everts Vice President

Kim Shank Director of Programs

Shelly Koch Director of Advocacy

Jennie Heydt Director of Grants

Christina Brown Treasurer

Katiana Harrison President, NYC Chapter

Want to join us?

We’re always open to help from the community! Contact us to find out more.

``It is organizations like The Tommy Foundation who provide these families with the strength and hope needed to face the diagnosis head on.``Former Volunteer Christopher Desilets

Individuals and FamiliesThe center of all we do

We firmly believe that the most important assets in the world are people, and while there is a place for research in all movements, investing in human beings will always yield the greatest return.


Started in 2005 by two parents of a child on the severe end of the autism spectrum, The Tommy Foundation has grown from a small dream in Lancaster, Pennsylania to now an award winning foundation with connections all across the United States.

Winners of a March 2010 Pepsi Refresh Project grant of $50,000, the Tommy Foundation are producers of the film “The United States of Autism,” as well as leaders in the promotion of METT face recognition (as seen on Fox TV’s show “Lie to Me“) for individuals on the autism spectrum. Our collegiate programs are designed to assist current families as well as bring talent into the autism movement long term, and we endeavor to reach minority families in as many ways as possible

We also aim to embrace individuals on the spectrum who classify themselves as neuro-diverse, as well as individuals who can not speak for themselves and their families, as well as everyone in between. It is a tightrope to balance the interests of so many groups, yet we find that everyone can agree that we are all looking to help our children and selves reach our greatest potential. This is what we mean by our message “embracing families affected by autism”.

Founded in 2005 by parents of a child on the autism spectrum, The Tommy Foundation is an emerging voice for the autism movement receiving numerous awards including the Lancaster Red Rose award.

Today, the Foundation provides direct assistance to families, as well providing trainings to hundreds of students, professionals, PhD candidates and doctors to date. Serving as producers for the full length autism documentary “The United States of Autism, they also have thousands of individuals participate in events every year and partner with numerous organizations around the nation to serve their local communities.

The Tommy Foundation continually seeks to embrace individuals on the entire autism spectrum, educate families and individuals to handle the condition, and to empower all those who desire to advocate for the autism movement.

“Well, what has your organization done?”‘

We’re always excited to answer this question. From appearing on all of the major TV networks, to the Pepsi Refresh Campaign, to all the families we shake hands with every day, there has been a lot to celebrate over the years. Let us dispel any notions people may have about what a few committed people can do with some cold hard facts about the last few years:

Number of families directly assisted: Over 200
Number of families charged for direct assistance: 0
Number of phone call support hours: Over 300 hours
Number of individuals attending sponsored events: Over 3000
Number of people trained to recognize, handle, and work with individuals with autism: (These individuals all gain between 16 – 360 hours of experience) Over 150
Number of autism awareness media impressions, traditional media: Over 3 million
Number of autism awareness media impressions, social media: At least 7 million
Number of people exposed directly to neurodiversity advocates: Over 200
Number of doctors and healthcare workers developed: (The average doctor receives approximately 7 hours of training in medical school working with autism. Ours gain between 60 – 180 hours of experience) Over 17
Number of graduate students and researchers guided into related autism fields: Over 50
Number of autism organizational partnerships built: Over 40

And all of this was done for less then $300k in 13 years. Imagine what we could do with your support!

sugey-president-shotHello Friends,

In the last 13 years since I decided to put on a second hat if you will from being a parent of a child with Autism, to advocating for those with the diagnosis, I have seen that describing “Autism” in a few words can be a hard task.  What I have learned through my personal and professional journey is that Autism can be as variable as the individuals that have the diagnosis.  While sharing a few similarities—namely challenges in communication and social interaction—these individuals with Autism are first and foremost an individual to be respected.  As a wonderful Pennsylvanian self-advocate, Bill Stillman, says when working with an individual with Autism, one must always “presume intelligence”.

My journey has shown me that Autism can have savants like Temple Grandin or it can affect the individual in such a way that they may reach adulthood and even old age without ever uttering a word or being able to live independent lives.  This huge difference among those living with Autism, means that it is an issue that is highly politicized and very personal and emotional.  Many parents speak about having to go through a “grieving” process where they can learn to adjust and cope with having received the diagnosis for their child—often because those health professionals around them have given them a grim prognosis of their child’s future.  Regardless of where your loved one with Autism falls on the vast spectrum, it is absolutely essential that you ask questions, and research and act as early as possible to get your child or children the services they need to be the best them they can be.  For some that means a few adjustments here and there, for others, it means countless hours of therapies, interventions and perhaps medical attention for co-morbid conditions that can accompany Autism.

Whatever the case is that brought you to our Foundation’s website, I hope that you will find it a valuable resource in your journey to help your loved one on the spectrum or yourself; to become involved in your community or to simply get a better understanding about a condition that now affects 1 in 88 children in the US alone, and 1 in 54 boys.  It is expected that these numbers will continue to increase in the coming years.  There are many theories that abound as to the reasons why the increases may be happening.  I urge us as a community to fight those personal fights because they are important, but to remember that in the end what matters most is that beautiful soul that we were blessed with who needs us to light the way and be an effective piece of the puzzle. For that, dear friends, we need to work together and focus on the individual living now with Autism.  I look forward to having you join us in this journey!

With all my love,


Sugey Cruz-Everts