Co-founders Alison Lai and Michelle Fang created Penn Speaks for Autism (PSFA) in September 2009. Then sophomores, Alison and Michelle wanted to create a student group dedicated to raising awareness on Penn’s campus and providing resources and opportunities to the families. In a small room in Jon M. Huntsman Hall, Alison and Michelle explained their own personal connections to autism and invited members to be part of the executive board. With a board of 8 members, the group held an awareness event featuring Loretta Boronat, CEO of My Sibling Dolls, ran two fundraisers, and created a pilot volunteer program within their first year. Since then, the group has grown to over 200 general board members and has been officially recognized by the Civic House Associates Coalition (CHAC) and Student Activities Council (SAC). The group has also been featured in The Daily Pennsylvanian and the Philadelphia Daily News. The current focus of Penn Speaks for Autism is to continue providing resources for individuals with autism and to increase autism awareness across the Penn community and greater Philadelphia. The executive boards since the founding of PSFA have continued to work diligently to fulfill Alison and Michelle’s dream.
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