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 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: Marriage and Family Therapist (MFT) Trainee
Sara is a graduate of Mills College and is pursuing her Master’s Degree in Counseling Psychology at Dominican University. She has years of experience working with individuals on the autism spectrum. Sara is an accomplished role-playing gamer and is developing 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 is a trainee therapist in the workshops and also counsels clients in individual sessions. (Supervised by Janet Lawson, LMFT)
Amelia Sandy: Workshop Lead / Mentor
Amelia is a graduate of SF State with a B.A. in Art and Psychology, and is interested in expressive arts therapy. She loves backpacking, gardening, and art-making of all kinds, from welding to crocheting! She believes that creative expression is an integral part of the human experience and looks forward to sharing creativity and adventure with everyone at Autistry.
Ashley Gries: Social Media Coordinator / Mentor
Ashley is a graduate from University of California, Irvine with her degree in Psychology and Social Behavior. She is extremely passionate about psychology as an applied field and hopes to pursue a doctorate in clinical psychology. She has extensive background in working with both children and adults with pervasive developmental disorders, as well as ADD, ADHD and various anxiety disorders. In her free time she does a lot of cooking, spending time with her family and crafting. She loves being able to learn along side everyone, and hopes to cultivate her creativity even further at Autistry!
Allison Mages: Workshop Assistant / Mentor
Allie has been interested in and passionate about autism and Asperger’s ever since her wonderful twin brother, Ben, was diagnosed with Asperger’s when he was ten. Allie interned at Autistry’s 2012 summer program and enjoyed herself tremendously. She previously interned and co-led workshops at 826 Valencia, a writing and tutoring center co-founded by Dave Eggers for low-income students in the Mission district of San Francisco. While working at Autistry, Allie is taking a year away from pursuing her Bachelor’s degree in psychology from Columbia University. Allie is interested in psychology, education, and speech therapy, and also loves creative writing, dancing (ballet and modern), and RPG gaming.
Blue Gardner: Dog
Melissa Diaz-Infante: Workshop Assistant / Mentor
Enthralled by puppetry at a young age, Melissa Diaz-Infante continues to carry with her an appreciation for the art form and will co-lead our Puppet Theatre workshops. Harnessing the transformative power of theatre and the unique way in which puppetry makes self-discovery and expression possible, she looks forward to facilitating their application at Autistry Studios and witnessing the fantastic results to come. Melissa is a graduate of Boston College and is currently a shadow puppet designer at Bindlestiff Studio, a San Francisco based Filipinio American performing arts center.
Jeremy Gaunt: Workshop Assistant / Mentor
Jeremy is a talented model builder, RPG gamer, and has lots of experience with the business side of things (like accounting!). Jeremy will be a great asset as we set up the accounting infrastructure to support the launch of our Autistry enterprises. Jeremy also knows his way around a workshop filled with power tools – always a plus at Autistry.
Anna Dow: MFT Intern
Anna has been passionate about art ever since she can remember. She received her BA in Psychology (art minor) with the goal of becoming an art therapist. Before joining the Autistry team she led healing arts groups in diverse settings including the cancer ward of a children’s hospital, a detention center, homeless shelters, and a non-profit for developmentally disabled adults. She is currently in a Master’s of Counseling program at Sonoma State University and simultaneously working on her Expressive Art Therapy certificate through JFK University. Anna has a deep passion for nature, is trained in outdoor leadership and plans to join in on Autistry adventures!
Erin Reed, MFT Intern
Erin is a Marriage and Family Therapist Intern with an M.A. in Counseling from Sonoma State University (2012). Erin is also pursuing registration as a dance/movement therapist and she earned a B.A. in Psychology and Dance from Humboldt State University (2008). Her professional background includes experience with children, developmentally disabled adults, and adults with severe mental illness. Erin’s interests also include expressive arts therapy and dance performance and teaching.