Our 2022 panel discussion will focus on the needs of people with Autism who require a high level of support, as well as what each of us can do to make progress to improve the quality of life for Autistic Texans and their loved ones. Read more about our panelists below!
Jen Kiple began her career as a live theatre professional. After living and working in New York City for several years, she moved to St. Louis to attend a Masters program in theatre at Washington University.
Jen relocated to Austin in 2002 and attended culinary school in 2005. In 2006, Jen’s daughter, Lucy, was diagnosed with Autism at the age of 3. In 2014, at the age of 40, so was Jen.
Jen’s business, Right To Cook, provides culinary instruction tailored to individuals of all abilities. Jen is currently a lead teacher at William’s Community School.
As Executive Director of the Coalition of Texans with Disabilities (CTD), Dennis is frequently called on for research, policy analysis and recommendations to the Texas Legislature and state agencies on issues surrounding disabilities.
Dennis has successfully advocated for positive change in government policy and practice in employment, transportation, housing, health care and architectural barriers to promote the full inclusion of people with disabilities in community life.
Adriana Crostley is originally from Mexico where she worked as a medical doctor, and currently works for the Autism Society of Texas as a Bilingual Project Support Specialist.
Adriana is the proud mother of a 15-year-old son with Autism, who has high level of support needs. “I’m honored to be part of this project because in the arts we can find common ground and understanding. AutFest provides a platform for Autistic people to express themselves and opens the door for important conversations.”
Ann Hart and her husband Dave have three adult children, the eldest of whom is severely impaired by his autism. Since the Harts moved to Austin in 1995, Ann has volunteered for multiple nonprofits including the Autism Society of Texas. Ann is originally from Evanston, Illinois and has a BA in English from Brown University.
Ann first connected with the Autism Society of America when her son, John, was diagnosed in 1988. Since then, she has counted on the Autism Society and its affiliates for support and information. She has held multiple volunteer jobs with the Autism Society of Texas over the years, her favorites being support group moderator and Information and Referral specialist.
Ann is excited about Autfest because it’s a wonderful chance to bring the autism community together. She believes that films are excellent vehicles for showing what life with autism can look like to those who don’t have firsthand experience. She hopes that people who do live with autism feel affirmed by the stories told by these films.