Autistry Studios Staff


Janet Lawson, LMFT, CEO/Executive Director

Janet is a Marriage and Family Therapist and has worked with adolescents and young adults for many years. She has a Masters in Library and Information Science (Indiana University) and an MS in Counseling Psychology (Dominican University). She worked for several years in the film industry and was a Producing Fellow at the American Film Institute. She is a Phi Beta Kappa – Summa Cum Laude graduate of UC Berkeley, with a major in Film Studies. Blog Posts


Dan Smiles

Dan Swearingen, COO/Director of Studio Operations

Dan was educated as an astrophysicist but has mainly worked in software development for private industry and government projects. Outside of work Dan has always loved building things and Autistry Studios leverages and challenges all his skills. Dan’s job is to maintain technologies for the students to use in their projects and teach the students how to (safely) use them. Blog Posts



Sara Gardner, LMFT, Clinical Director

Sara is a graduate of Mills College and has a Master’s Degree in Counseling Psychology from Dominican University. She has years of experience working with individuals on the autism spectrum. Sara is an accomplished role-playing gamer and has developed a therapy model for working with young adults using role-playing scenarios. She is also an avid equestrian and quite skilled with LARP weapons. Sara oversees the Autistry intake process, is a therapist/mentor in the workshops and also counsels clients in individual sessions.



Gabrielle Haggett-Molina, Program Manager: Educational Program

Gabrielle joined the Autistry staff as a mentor in December 2015. She has been passionate about the arts since childhood, and discovered her interest in graphic design while attending Marin School of the Arts. Since then she has pursued a variety of creative endeavors, including: culinary arts, dancing (aerial, ballet, and Latin), drawing, painting, singing, sewing, and writing. Gabrielle has also been interested in Autism Spectrum Disorders from an early age, since her twin brother was diagnosed when he was five years old. As a mentor at Autistry, she is able to bring all these skills together to help students realize their creations.



Matt Glenwright, Program Manager: Vocational Training Program

Matt graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from CalPoly, San Luis Obispo. His passion for the mind, behavior and how they intertwine and working with the special needs community comes from growing up with a sister who has been physically and mentally handicapped since birth. During and after studying at university, Matt has worked with Autistic children in both school and home settings. He has a great passion for playing and writing music on the guitar, bass, and ukulele. His other interests include anthropology, primatology, behavioral therapy, and the outdoors.


Phil Lewis, Core Workshop/ACAP Mentor

Phil is an award-winning landscape and fine-art photographer. He has years of experience as a computer teacher in Austin, a co-teacher at an International Baccalaureate school in Durango, and working one-on-one with students at a full-inclusion school in Los Angeles. In these settings, he worked closely with students across a wide spectrum of ability. Phil has a passion for equity, social justice, and inclusion. It is this passion that led him to join Autistry Studios as a mentor.


Reina Carmona, ACAP Mentor

Reina is working on her Bachelors degree in Communicative Disorders and a Minor in Special Education at San Francisco State University, planning to graduate in May 2018. Over the past four years, she’s volunteered with numerous organizations that work with children on the spectrum. She became interested in Autism through her experiences working in the field and is now hoping to make it a concentration in her future practice as a speech-language pathologist.


Alessandra Cao, Core Workshop Mentor

Alessandra is a Sophomore at UC Berkeley studying Psychology and Art Practice. She wishes to pursue a career involving both these subjects, such as Art Therapy and believes that Autistry Studios is the perfect place to start. Alessandra was also born and raised in the city of Berkeley. She is a tour guide at UC Berkeley, a nanny for multiple families, and is a research assistant in UC Berkeley’s Social Psychology lab.


Elena Vaccaro, OT Intern / Mentor

Elena has a Bachelor’s degree in Human Development from UC Davis, and is currently attending Dominican University of California to gain a Master’s degree in Occupational Therapy. She has previously worked as a Behavioral Therapist for young children on the spectrum. Elena looks forward to applying the knowledge from her OT program in order to help out at Autistry Studios. When she is not studying, Elena enjoys cooking, drawing, stamp carving, and watching/critiquing various movies and television shows.


Noreen Hasan, OT Intern / Mentor

Noreen is currently a junior attending Dominican University of California studying Occupational Therapy. Set to graduate in 2020 with her Masters, Noreen hopes to eventually open her own clinic and work with children and adolescents on the spectrum. A background in art and therapy along with a desire to make meaningful relationships prompted her towards occupational therapy as well as towards Autistry.


Cassandra Marshall, OT Intern / Mentor

Cassandra is a junior at Dominican University of California studying Occupational Therapy. She is currently working on completely her fieldwork hours for her first year in the OT program. After graduating in 2020, Cassandra wishes to pursue a career in working with individuals on the spectrum. Over the past 5 years Cassandra has volunteered with the Special Olympics and has worked with adults and children on the spectrum as well as other disabilities.


Camille Schilling, OT Intern / Mentor

Camille graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Biology and a minor in Human Development from UC Davis. During her undergraduate studies, Camille worked with young children with autism. The meaningful relationships she developed with her clients along with her interests in psychology and anatomy strongly influenced her desire to pursue occupational therapy. Now that Camille is interning at Autistry Studios, she is excited to learn about the occupations and interests of young adults with autism.


Blue Gardner: Dog

Woof woof.