Our Staff

Dean Svoboda - Dean - Founder and Executive Director of AAFS

 

   

Dean - Founder and Executive Director of AAFS

Dean has spent the last 14 years working with children, youth and adults with Autism all over the city. AAFS was founded by Dean and a small group of parents when they saw a gap in service in the ASD Social/Recreation world. It was noticed that although ASD kids largest deficit was in the social/Recreation world, there were no programs available that focused on social/recreational development. Dean saw too many kids struggling through a day of school, going to Speech Therapy after school and more therapies and doctors throughout the week. A simple question was asked, "When do they get to be kids and just enjoy life and is anybody teaching them to enjoy life?"

Dean has completed the prestigious Executive Directions Program and continues his lifetime of learning at conferences/ seminars and classes whenever available. Over the past few years, Dean has continued to be recognized for his work with the following honours:

  • 2009 Winner of the Donald Norman Memorial Award for Outstanding Contribution to Disability Arts and Culture

  • Recipient of the Beth Drews Scholarship for 2011 

  • Runner Up at Social Venture Partners Fast Pitch in 2013 (Watch the Video Here!)

  • Named to Avenue Magazine's Top 40 Under 40 for 2013 (Check out the article here!)

  • Married to Michelle Minke!



       Erin - Social Experience Guide

Erin Emily Ann Vance is thrilled to be at AAFS. She is an MA student in English Literature and Creative Writing at the University of Calgary, where she also completed her BA (Honours). Erin is a writer, having published over 60 poems and 50 non-fiction articles in various magazines, journals, and anthologies. Her first chapbook came out in August 2016. She loves teaching, rock climbing, yoga, the outdoors, reading, running (slowly), travelling, and animals. Her hobbies include long naps and hot baths. Erin also works as an archives assistant in the University of Calgary Special Collections and Rare Books Department, and is a teaching assistant in the English Department.



   

Asta - Program Coordinator

Asta was recruited into the wonderful community at AAFS in the summer of 2012 after completing an Honours degree in Psychology at Mount Royal University. Asta still has plans on advancing her education in psychology with a specific focus on mental health and well-being. Asta discovered her interest in ASD after volunteering in programs for individuals with various "disabilities" and has been working in the field ever since. She has been working as a Program Coordinator at AAFS for several years and has learned more from this community than she could ever imagine. Asta loves music festivals, camping, nature, reading, playing the piano/guitar, coloring, family vacations, and animals (cats in particular). 





    Alex - Social Experience Guide

Alex Naylor is a person living on Treaty 7 land, which is the traditional territory of the Blackfoot people and the home of the Metis Nation of Alberta, Region III. Alex loves movement, breathing, cooking and music, and they feel lucky to be part of the AAFS community!

 

   

Kyrissa - Social Experience Guide

Kyrissa started working at AAFS in May 2015! Ky recently graduated from St. Mary's University with a degree in Psychology and plans to receive her Bachelor of Education from the University of Calgary in the near future. Ky joined the AAFS family because she loves what this community is all about; meeting new people, creating new friendships and supporting the growth and independence of our youth. She first heard about AAFS through her friend's co-worker, whose wife used to work at AAFS, and after she looked up what AAFS was all about she immediately knew that this was a community she wanted to be a part of! Ky learnt how to ice skate at 14 months old and have been obsessed with it ever since! Ky love all sports, especially hockey and lacrosse. She also loves drama, art, and camping. Lastly, Ky have a cat named Samurai who she loves more than a lot of people


     

Mark- Social Experience Guide

Mark is pursuing a Bachelor of Social Work, and he has 6 years of experience working in the Autism field.

      Glen - Social Experience Guide

Glen first found out about AAFS when he moved to Calgary from Vancouver Island back in 2010 when his brother was a member. Six years would go by before Glen would eventually work on a movie set with a friend of his who works at AAFS and the idea of joining the ranks would be presented to him. Glen has a passion for music, specifically that which caters to distorted guitars, and other forms of art such as film and graphic design. Even though Glen spends lots of his time at home in his over-glorified basement studio working on projects he above all else enjoys seeking out new experiences and learning about unique things in the world. Glen is a strong believer that you can find something fascinating anywhere you look, if you only look hard enough. Over the years Glen has worked in several different industries such as commission sales, food, corporate design and independent freelance but has also devoted lots of time to other large endeavors in film and music. Even though Glen has experienced such a variety work and lifestyles he has found through his time so far at AAFS that working in this location in this industry is really the kind of job that keep him coming back… to the thought of maybe becoming a rock star and touring the world someday. Until then you’ll likely find him here.


       

Kyla - Social Experience Guide AAFS

   

Kyla - Social Experience Guide

Kyla has been with AAFS since 2007. While working with AAFS, Kyla completed her Honours degree in Psychology at the University of Calgary. Her favourite part of AAFS is getting to know the members, who enjoy her silly and energetic nature. On her spare time, Kyla loves to try new sports, read, and slay vampires.

       Karyn -Social Experience Guide

Karyn is relatively new to AAFS and stumbled upon the community, by chance, after she completed her Social Work Diploma at Mount Royal University.  She is currently working towards her undergraduate degree in Social Work at the University of Calgary and is exceptionally interested in strength-based work with families. Karyn is passionate about understanding 
human experiences and loves learning about life through different perspectives. Karyn comes to AAFS with over 10 years of Office Management and Human Resources experience. Along with a being involved in a few specialized programs, you will be able to find her working in the office office supporting our new Breaking the Barriers system. Karyn loves to laugh, enjoys being outside, and is truly crazy about dogs. 


Christian- Social Experience Guide AAFS

   

Christian - Social Experience Guide

Christian has been with AAFS since February 2013, and has considered it the best job anyone could ever ask for. He attended Mount Royal university and was enrolled in the Social Work and Disability Studies diploma from September 2010 until April 2012. He first heard about AAFS through Dean Svobada while working at another agency in the city. After a very convincing presentation, Christian was hooked on the AAFS way of life. Since finishing school at Mount Royal, Christian has decided to pursue his true passion... Making movies. His love for film has helped influence and shape the current model for the AAFS Movie Project, as well influence the filmic passion in some of the youth. Christian continues to pursue both film and disability advocacy, and hopes to one day combine the two both within AAFS and outside in the community.

 

   

 Alex - Social Experience Guide

Alex has recently graduated from the University of Calgary with a Bachelor in

Kinesiology. She hopes to continue her studies at the Masters level in Physical

Therapy and is excited to join AAFS for the summer of 2017. Growing up playing

soccer, basketball, and rugby, Alex is still an avid sport-lover and can be found

coaching rugby in her spare time. She is also a huge fan of Harry Potter and anything

Disney related.


 

   

Nicolas - Social Experience Guide

Many call him Nic but he’s not particular about any one name. Nic currently finishing his bachelors in biological sciences at the university of Calgary, and could not love it more. Exploring how the natural world works gives him the warm and fuzzies and is a passion he’s always eager to share with anyone who will tolerate his educational tangents. Besides cool, he’s an avid cooker, baker and gardener and find no greater joy in life than discussing the ideas of food security, cultivation and preparation with anyone and everyone as he’s a strong believer that something as simple as localized organic gardening and faring is the best way to ensure a greener and permanent future for everyone on this little blue marble. Nic came to AAFS as his good friend had suggested applying as she knows he’s a very social person whose possibly one good talent is an eagerness to connect and spread love and compassion in the world. If you ever have the pleasure of meeting him, please feel free to probe him with questions as he loves working this brain meat on new and exciting questions.

   

 Becky - Social Experience Guide

Becky is close to finishing her Bachelors of Kinesiology. She has volunteered with various programs through her degree and felt lucky after stumbling upon the inclusive environment of AAFS. She is a big believer in movement, getting outdoors, living a balanced life, and conversation about any and all things. When she's not working you'll find her with her dog, climbing, camping, or trying a new restaurant around town.

Anaik - AAFS

   

Anaïk - Social Experience Guide

Having recently finished her BA in psychology at the University of British Columbia, Anaïk is drawn to AAFS positive energy and sense of community. While she aspires to continue her education in psychology, she also enjoys horse-riding, hiking, writing letters, as well as travelling and meeting new people. She tries to see every day as an opportunity for adventure.

 

   

 

Liam - Social Experience Guide AAFS

   

Liam - Social Experience Guide

Liam began his story as a member at the age of 13. He attended for many years but by the age of 17 he came to the conclusion that without AAFS "he wouldn't be anywhere". With his new mindset Liam decided that he wanted to give back by volunteering and helping out in whatever capacity he could. Soon after that he became hooked and decided to apply. Liam considers working with AAFS to be the "best job he ever had" and even goes as far as to call it "his life". His favorite part about AAFS is helping build the community getting to know each of it's individual members. Outside of AAFS Liam is currently working towards finishing school at Bowness High. In his spare time Liam enjoys reading, going to the movies, running/hiking, and hanging out with friends.

       
   


   

Chris - Social Experience Guide

Chris first joined AAFS when an old friend of his started working there and he heard about the program. Chris was out of work at the time and it sounded like an amazing opportunity to try to get in on so he asked him if he could help him out, and here we are. Chris really enjoys nerdy things like tabletop games (Dungeons and Dragons, board games, card games...) video games, movies, music, and cats. Chris is graduated from University of Calgary with a B.Sc in General Mathematics, and is currently attending to get his Masters of Education. Chris’s hope is that he will be a high school math teacher while still contributing to the AAFS community in whatever capacity he can. Chris has two cats that he adores - Mips and Geddy Lee. Geddy Lee was named by one of our AAFS members. He has an Instagram for both of his cats. Chris stands firmly behind the belief that cats are better than people.  


    Kartik - Social Experience Guide

Kartik started as a practicum student for his Social Work Diploma in December 2016. After his practicum ended, he loved the atmosphere and the people at AAFS so much that he decided to stick around. Kartik's plan for the future is to continue gaining experience in the field of social work in order to gain his Master's in Social Work so that he can become a counselor. Outside of AAFS, Kartik enjoys hiking, traveling, cooking/baking, playing with animals, and modifying his "race car" as he calls it. 

   


   

Scott- Social Experience Guide

Scott is one of AAFS original members. Born and raised in Calgary, he has been involved with the Autism Aspergers Friendship Society since its start in 2004. His participation continued all the way to 2010 when, thanks to some wise advice by Dean, he decided to do volunteer work for AAFS. And now in 2014 he has re-joined AAFS as an official SRC. Scott owes a lot to AAFS for being an essential part of his personal development and growth and he seeks to be a part of helping others reach the same level of confidence, maturity and peace of mind that he now has. Scott enjoys surrounding himself with friends and family; his main hobbies are swimming, outdoor walks/travel, listening to music, and bringing laughs to anyone he can.

       


   

Bri - Social Experience Guide

Bri Adamson initially began with AAFS in January 2016 as a practicum student in the Stepping Out program, while she completed her joint Kinesiology and Psychology degree at the University of Calgary. Quickly discovering her passion for the work, after completing her degree, Bri began working full-time for AAFS in March as a Social Experience Guide (SEG). When Bri isn’t working, you will find her hiking in the mountains, boating in Windermere, tree-climbing in her back yard or pretty much doing anything that the outdoors has to offer.  Having grown up as both an individual and team athlete, she also enjoys any and all types of sports/activities.  When she is confined to the indoors, Bri is a voracious reader, consumer of tea and a knitter (essentially your average Grandma, but with the added ability to climb trees).  Some of Bri’s life goals include working in paediatric medicine and one day to become a Mom.

       Ryan - Social Experience Guide

Ryan is currently a Health and Physical Education student at Mount Royal University. He is heading into his third year of Physical Literacy and starting a minor in Business of Sport Recreation Management. Ryan is aiming to become an Occupational Therapist and is excited to learn a lot at AAFS and have a crazy amount of fun while doing it. Ryan lived and breathed hockey throughout his childhood while playing for the Calgary Northstars Hockey Association. You can still catch him in the rinks playing recreationally. In his spare time Ryan plays on a co-ed soccer team with his friends and 
volunteers in the Summer as a coach for a U8 girls soccer team. He loves goofing around and playing games with the kids. Ryan also loves health and fitness, trying anything physically activecooking (and then eating it of course), playing video games, watching Netflix, and is a big time fan of Harry Potter and Star Wars.

 

   

Sarah - Social Experience Guide

Sarah found AAFS through a friend who also works at AAFS. This is her first position in this incredible field. Outside of AAFS, Sarah enjoys hiking and exploring, reading, cooking, crafting, gardening, gaming and playing music. Although Sarah is not currently in school, she plan to go back to school for social work.

       


   

Anton - Social Media Guru

Anton is a long-time member of The Autism Aspergers Friendship Society Of Calgary (AAFS). Anton has experienced many challenges in his life but he and his family never stopped having high expectations of what he could do.  On trips to the Saddledome as a youngster, Anton would ‘disappear’ as soon as we entered the Dome. He didn’t run away or anything …he ran as fast as he could to see what cameras were on that night. He would stand behind the cameras on Level 2 of the dome and watch the camera people in awe. In November of 2011, Chris, a 14 year old boy with Autism won 2 tickets to a Flames game. We asked Chris who he wanted as his aide at the game and he asked; “Can Anton take me?” So that night…Anton took Chris to a Flames game…Anton’s first night of many as a mentor in our Community. He loves all things Canada and Calgary. valued Staff member who supports our youth. 

Highlights!

·      Worked as a Social Recreational Companion for AAFS for 3.5 years before deciding to focus on his education

·       An integral staff member of the Calgary International Beerfest since 2008

·       Graduated the Broadcast program at Mount Royal in 2015

·       2015; hired by the Calgary Flames as a Tech Assistant and now works on the camera for both the Flames, Hitmen and Calgary Stampeders.

·       Currently coordinates the Social Media For AAFS

·       Autism Community Award Winner for Leadership in 2013

·       Gives the Best Hugs in Calgary! 



       

   

Scott Godfrey - Senior Member

Scott is very very very old. As AAFS' senior member he brings with him a lot of experiences that make him strange - okay perhaps not strange but now that he is in his fourth decade of working with folks within The Spectrum he's starting to get the hang of it. Add in a couple of other life skills and jobs and he's almost interesting (yes....that is a quote from Scott).

Scott came to AAFS because he was support for member of AAFS who hung out at Clubhouse on Thursdays. Scott and the member still work together during the days and both go to Thursday night Clubhouse. Scott hung around long enough he got hired.
Scott has done a lot of stuff. If you ask him he'll tell you he gets more out of AAFS than he puts in.

       
       Maher - Social Experience Guide

Maher is one of the newer members to the AAFS team - joining in November 2016, he found out about AAFS through a team-mate that he volunteers with. Best decision ever! 

Maher is currently studying at Mount Royal University in massage therapy and intend to continue studies in physical therapy. He strongly believes in contributing to a vibrant community. His interests range from urban agriculture, permaculture, yoga, basketball, snowboarding, camping and mountains.



The AAFS Clubhouse - 7220-D Fairmount Drive SE, T2H 0X7, Calgary, AB

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