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The Founders

The Founders


Kim CovellKim Covell
Kim is the mother of three sons, one with autism. An editor with The Press News Group, her background includes working as a freelance photographer and writer for various publications. Soon after her son’s diagnosis, Kim became actively involved in raising awareness of autism. She founded the Flying Point 10K for Autism Awareness, and has been a supporter of the Cody Center for Autism and Developmental Disabilities at Stony Brook University. She is on the board of directors of the Long Island Community of Practice, and is a former member of the Long Island Advisory Board for Best Buddies. Most recently, she founded the Flying Point Foundation for Autism, whose mission is to enrich the lives of children with autism through opportunity and understanding.

“These works inspired by autism deserve a showcase. My own son was moved to write a poem about his younger brother who has autism, and reading it drove home, for me, the power of creative expression as a means to communicate complicated emotions. Our hope is that aweinautism.org will  be a forum for positive thinking and an outlet for those impacted by autism.”

-Kim Covell


Deborah FrenchDeborah French
Deborah is the director of creative media at Zimmerman/Edelson Pubic Relations & Marketing in Great Neck, NY. As a communications professional in public relations for 16 years, she has provided strategic guidance and developed materials for clients in the corporate, education and government sectors. Among her current responsibilites, she oversees the company’s social media outreach. Prior to her work in public relations, Deborah taught English at New York Institute of Technology in Old Westbury, NY. She holds a Master of Arts in English and Comparative Literature, and has completed coursework toward her Ph.D. in media psychology at Fielding Graduate University in Santa Barbara, CA.. Deborah has served as a volunteer for the Cody Center for Autism and Developmental Disabilities at Stony Brook University and has participated in a variety of other volunteer efforts in support of the autism community.

“The field of media psychology emphasizes a positive psychological approach  to challenges … an approach that focuses less on the question, ‘What’s wrong, and how do we fix it?’ than ‘What’s right and good, and how do we encourage it?’ I think that’s what aweinautism.org is really all about.”

-Deborah French

The Review Board

Awe In Autism’s review board members are community leaders who represent various areas of expertise. Their primary role as volunteer members of the board is to help ensure that aweinautism.org is characterized by a high level of professionalism and represents the best interests of the public we serve.

Edward J. Nitkewicz, Esq.
Ed is an attorney with the Long Island law firm Sanders, Sanders, Block, Woycik, Viener & Grossman. His work is concentrated in representation of personal injury plaintiffs in matters arising from general negligence, medical malpractice and product defect. In addition, his practice focuses on education law; Ed represents families in CPSE and CSE meetings, impartial hearings and special education litigation as a parent advocate and/or attorney. He is the father of Edward, who has autism.

Christina Mossaides Strassfield
Christina is the museum director/chief curator of Guild Hall Museum in East Hampton, NY. She holds a master’s degree in art history, and bachelor’s degrees in both art history and anthropology, all from Queens College, CUNY. Christina resides with her three children and husband in Water Mill, NY, where she is an active member of the community. She currently serves on the Southampton School Board, and notes “I feel that I am an advocate for all children and would like to see each and every one reach his or her full potential and achieve success, regardless of their cultural, racial, educational levels or special needs.”

Bente A. Videbaek
Bente is a professor of English literature at Stony Brook University, NY, with a specialty in Renaissance drama. She holds a Cand. Mag. degree in English and Scandinavian languages and literature from the University of Copenhagen and a Ph.D. in English from Northwestern University, IL. She lives in Port Jefferson, NY, with her husband and their dog, Thor. “There used to be two sons at home,” says Bente, “but now both are away at college.”

Colleen West
Colleen established Enright Court  Reporting, Inc. in  1991 and, since 1998, has been the  president of  Enright Sten-Tel, now recognized as a leading agency in the area. She lends her experience to several business advisory boards; supports several charitable organizations, including United Cerebral Palsy of  Suffolk County, serving as  chair of  its board of directors; and volunteers her time to the Cody Center for  Autism and Develomental Disabilities, Victim Information Bureau of Suffolk  County (VIBS) and Splashes of Hope. She is the mother of two adult daughters and is married to Suffolk County Executive Steve Levy. Her nephew has autism.