Jon Spiers Chief Executive
Jon joined Autistica in 2015, after several years as a consultant advising senior leaders in charities, pharmaceutical firms and biotech. He specialised in devising and delivering innovative policy, public affairs and media campaigns in areas including lung cancer, leukaemia, genomics, HIV, meningitis, infectious diseases and ADHD.
He worked for almost a decade at Cancer Research UK, the world’s largest independent cancer research funder, working his way up from a graduate trainee to Head of Public Affairs and Campaigning. Jon and his team recruited over 400,000 campaigners and successfully lobbied for policies including national cancer plans for the four UK nations, increased investment in cancer screening and putting tobacco out of sight in shops. His very first campaign was the introduction of smokefree legislation in England and Wales, a policy hailed as “the biggest step forward in public health for fifty years”.
He graduated in Linguistics from Cambridge University, followed by a year as RAG President, raising over £100,000 for a range of local and national charities.
Dr Simon Wallace Research Director
Simon studied psychology at the University of London before completing his PhD at the Institute of Psychiatry. He has been involved in autism research since 1996 and for much of his career worked as a psychologist on the International Molecular Genetics Study of Autism Consortium (IMGSAC), a project that aimed to identify the genes for autism spectrum disorder (ASD).
Simon’s PhD research focussed on how adults with ASD perceive and identify faces, engage in eye contact and recognise facial expressions. This research led to Simon being awarded an Autism Speaks’ post-doctoral fellowship to study the brain basis of differences in the way children with ASD process faces compared to children without ASD. During the last few years of his research Simon worked at the University of Oxford on a number of neuroimaging and technology projects, in particular the use of virtual reality in educating children with autism.
In late 2008, Simon took up a post as Autism Speaks’ European Director of Scientific Development and over the last three years he has worked across Europe as part of the organisation’s Global Autism Public Health initiative. Simon joined Autistica in January 2012 as their Research Director.
Rebecca Sterry Communications Manager
Rebecca completed a degree in English Language and Literature where she undertook units on media relations and the language of marketing. She went on to work for a direct marketing company before joining the charity sector at the National Migraine Centre where she worked for 4 years in various roles, later becoming their Communications and Operations Manager. She volunteers for a charity local to her – The Hackney Pirates, supporting young people with after-school literacy support.
Rebecca was keen to join Autistica with her interest and experience gained working for a small national health charity. Both of her parents work in special educational needs so she has grown up being very aware of the fascinating complexities of autism and the need for more research and awareness. She joined the team in their new role of Communications Manager in December 2014.
Yasmine Davies Fundraising Manager
Yasmine’s career has always focused on the Charity Sector. Prior to Autistica she worked at the Woodland Trust, an Environmental Charity, where she took on a variety of different roles spanning Individual Donor Management and more widely, Corporate Partnerships where she covered both Account Management and Business Development roles.
Yasmine joined Autistica to use her skills with an organisation that focuses more on people. She brings to Autistica a great deal of experience in Relationship Management and Development and will use these skills to develop the Corporate Fundraising Strategy and manage Autistica’s events programme. Yasmine joined Autistica in January 2013.
Aimee Rebbeck Trust Fundraising Manager
After studying History at Cambridge University, Aimée returned home to Northern Ireland in 2010 where she worked for four years at a local children’s cancer charity. Starting off as a Fundraising Administration Assistant, Aimée soon began working with trusts and foundations to maximise income for the charity. She has been successful in securing funds for major capital appeals, as well as core costs.
Aimée moved to London in September 2014 and began working for Autistica as Trust Fundraising Manager. She is excited to be working for a medical research charity for the first time and is looking forward to developing her knowledge of the trusts and foundations sector in the UK and internationally.
Emma McGuigan Trust Fundraising Manager (currently on maternity leave)
Emma started her career teaching dance and drama to children and young people, particularly those with special educational needs as she had a personal interest in disability as her sister has a rare genetic disorder. Due to injury she left teaching and started fundraising for the same charity eight years ago, and has stayed in fundraising ever since. Emma has worked at large national charities and small local charities mainly within the disability sector, securing funds from a variety of sources including, Trusts, Major Donors and Companies. She has been responsible for devising fundraising strategies to maximise income and to date has raised over £2m in funding for a wide range of projects. Emma has been a member of the Institute of Fundraising since 2009 after completing the Certificate in Fundraising Management in 2009.
Charlotte Bignell Community Fundraiser
Charlotte studied for an undergraduate degree in History and Anthropology at the University of Birmingham. During this time, she volunteered with several charities, which included international NGO work and volunteering for the student listening service, Nightline. Since graduating from university, Charlotte’s career has been based in the Charity Sector. She completed placements with two different non-profit organisations, focusing on Trust and Foundations fundraising at the Refugee Council and Corporate, Community and Events fundraising at ICAN, a children’s communication charity. Prior to Autistica, Charlotte worked at the National Autistic Society in the Branches team and also as an Outreach Support Worker where her interest and knowledge of autism grew. Outside of work, she trained as a listening volunteer and joined the Samaritans in 2013. Charlotte joined Autistica in September 2014.
Siomha Cunniffe Finance & Administration Manager
Siomha attended University College Dublin and holds a BA in English Literature and History and an MSc in Development Studies. Siomha has been working in the non-profit sector for six years as a fundraiser, researcher and field worker. In 2008 she joined the Niall Mellon Township Trust as Development Coordinator, a non-profit organisation that provides homes to impoverished communities in South Africa’s townships. As Development Coordinator Siomha supported volunteers fundraising for, and participating in, the Trust’s annual house building project and wrote and implemented the Trust’s development education programme for volunteers. In 2010 Siomha joined Amwele, an organisation which creates and supports partnerships between schools in Ireland and South Africa through curricular based activities and educational exchanges. Siomha was based in South Africa and worked as the Project Officer for the KwaZulu-Natal & Eastern Cape regions where she managed Amawele’s School Twinning Initiative across 25 schools.