What We Do

The Orange County Asperger’s Support Group is a nonprofit organization improving the quality of life for individuals with Asperger’s, High-Functioning Autism and PDD-NOS and their families.

Workshop Series with Dr. Alex Gantman

Join our workshops where Members seek solutions with renowned Autism psychologist, Dr. Gantman.

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OCASG Toastmaster Gavel Club

Find a supportive and friendly environment for improving public speaking and developing your communication skills.

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Check out our Activities page for more ways to get involved!

Meet Our Team

We’ve brought together a diversity of caring and involved community leaders.

Board Member

Judi Uttal

President

Judi Uttal is president of the Orange County Asperger’s Support Group and in 2012 founded the Spectrum Speakers Gavel Club, a Toastmaster Club designed to help young adults with ASD improve their social and communication skills through Toastmasters. Active in the Orange County Transition Initiative, Judi recently retired from a career as a high technology marketing executive having worked as a Director for Symantec, Emulex, QLogic, and Veritas. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Math/Computer Science from UCLA (where she graduated Cum Laude) and an MBA from the Tepper School of Management, Carnegie Mellon University (where she graduated in the top ten of her class). Judi is married and is the mother of a 26 year-old son with High-Functioning Autism who is currently a Cinema and Television major at CSUF.

Robin Alonso

Vice President

Robin Alonso is delighted to be serving as the Vice President of the Orange County Asperger's Support Group (OCASG) Board. She has been serving on the board since 2020. Robin has a Bachelor's degree in Biology from The University of Texas at Austin. She worked in the pharmaceutical and biotech industry for thirty years as a scientist and project manager with Abbott, Amgen and Genentech. She is now enjoying volunteering while exploring the next steps in her path. In 2019, Robin and her family moved from the Bay Area to the beautiful OC and could not be happier here.

Robin's daughter Erin graduated from UCI in 2020 and works as a Behavioral Therapist while pursuing her Master of Science Degree in ABA. She volunteers with OCASG as our Social Coordinator. Robin's son Josh was diagnosed with autism in 2016 at the age of ten. Robin is so grateful for the much-needed information, resources and support OCASG has provided her family and hopes she can give back to the group with her service.

board member

Deborah Whittaker

Secretary

Deborah Whittaker presently serves as the Board Secretary for the Orange County Asperger’s Support Group. Her formal introduction into the world of Asperger’s began when her third child, Jameson, was diagnosed at age 8, leading to the recognition of other family members including her mother and two sisters. Deborah has served local communities as a volunteer coach and Board Member for AYSO leading to recognition from the National governing bodies as Region of the Year.
For several years she and her husband were foster parents whose care included medically fragile and technology dependent minors leading to the formation of a non-profit designed to raise awareness and provide services for special needs children under the jurisdiction of the dependency courts. Deborah worked within various County Departments of Children and Family Services developing systems, policies and processes to improve outcomes for children in the foster care system, mentoring new personnel as well as youth under her direct supervision. She has been actively involved in the facilitation of transition programs through local school districts, integrating services across agencies including Employment Development Department (EDD), Department of Rehabilitation (DOR), Regional Center (RCOC & IRC) as well as multiple Social Services Agencies.
Serving in a variety of positions at University of California, Irvine Deborah has provided executive and administrative support to faculty and staff in the School of Medicine coordinating business and academic functions. Deborah earned her Associate of Arts in Science and Math at Victor Valley College, Bachelor of Arts degree in Life Span Developmental Psychology from California State University of San Bernardino and Health Care Executive MBA from Paul Merage School of Business at University of California, Irvine. Deborah considers herself blessed to be the mother of four children as well as the grandmother of four (for now).

Ken Woodward

Treasurer

Ken Woodward is proud to be serving as the Treasurer of the Orange County Support Group after having been a board member since 2020. Ken has a master’s degree in Economics from the University of Pittsburgh, and a Ph.D. from the University of California at Riverside. Ken has been teaching economics for more than thirty years at various colleges including the University of Pittsburgh, UC Riverside, Cal State San Bernadino and Yunnan Institute for Finance and Economics. He recently “retired” from a full-time teaching position at Saddleback College and is pleased to be back as a part-time instructor in macroeconomics with a flexible schedule.
Ken’s son Kenneth was diagnosed with High-Functioning Autism at the age of three. Despite many challenges Kenneth graduated from UC Riverside with a B.S. in Business and a concentration in accounting.
Both Ken and Kenneth have gained significantly from participating in the many activities offered by OCASG including the Toastmasters Gavel Club, which Kenneth joined in November 2018.
Board Member

Scott Brown

Director

Scott Brown has been a Director of the Orange County Asperger’s Support Group since 2014. He has a BS degree in Chemical Engineering from the University of Colorado and a Ph.D. from Princeton. He works for Aveva, where he develops software for the mathematical modeling and optimization of chemical processes.

Scott believes many people with Asperger’s are naturally suited for careers in the information sciences, and his initial volunteering with OCASG was teaching computer game programming classes to its members, in hopes of sparking a passion in some of them.

Scott is married and has two young adult children. He has a family member with High-Functioning Autism, who recently graduated from college with a BS degree in Computer Science.

Board Member

Francesca Chicas

Director

Francesca currently works as an Employment and Internship Specialist for the CSUF WorkAbility IV program, providing career development counseling to students with disabilities. Francesca earned her Master’s in Counseling at CSU Long Beach, and her Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and Social Behavior from UC Irvine. Francesca’s background includes providing mental health counseling, career services for adult students, disability services, and managing student services programs in the areas of college and career readiness. Francesca has worked in higher education, in school district settings, and community mental health agencies. Her work is reflective of her strong passion to serve individuals with disabilities and to create visible impact in the area of career readiness programs and transitional services towards independence. She is a current advocate for disability rights in education and also served as a committee member for Disability Awareness Day 2017 at CSUF.
Board Member

Paul Croulet

Director

Paul is a Senior Client Services Associate for American Funds; a mutual funds company in Irvine. He is an active member of Toastmasters and has held multiple offices including Vice President of education and Treasurer. Paul graduated from California State University Fullerton in 1997 with a bachelor's degree in criminal Justice. He is a recent graduate of Riordan Leadership Institute which helped him get involved with The Orange County Asperger's Support Group.

Peggy Pocher

Director

Peggy was raised in New York and Connecticut and studied at Fairfield University. She holds a degree in Communications and worked in the publishing and market research industries for over 15 years. She relocated to Southern California in 1987, married and became a mother and changed her focus to family. She has held numerous volunteer positions in the school setting. In 2000, she set herself on a new journey and became an avid fitness enthusiast. She pursued an educational path in fitness, earning many national certifications in different areas including anatomy, physiology and kinesiology. She is a nationally certified personal and group fitness trainer, Pilates instructor and the founder and President of Fit4Life, LLC. She has over 20 years experience training and teaching fitness to people from age 2-92. She now specializes in fitness for people over age 50.

Peggy’s family includes her husband, Chuck and her three (now grown) sons, Chad, Kyle and Zack. Zack, now 23, was officially diagnosed with Asperger’s when he was 13 years old, although the family’s path to navigating Zack’s journey started when he was much younger (6). Just as family life and fitness was Peggy’s lifeline in changing her trajectory, finding OCASG in 2018 has been a lifeline in helping Zack transition into adulthood.

In her spare time, Peggy enjoys hiking, paddleboarding, cycling and meditation. She is excited to join the OCASG Board of Directors and eager to help make a difference in the lives of those affected by Autism.

Board Member

Michail Tsatsanis

Director

Michail Tsatsanis has been a board member of the Orange County Asperger’s Support Group since 2017. His interest in volunteering in the area of autism spectrum originated with his son (now an adult) who is on the spectrum. Michail has also worked with at risk youth and foster kids as a Court Appointed Child Advocate. Michail holds Masters and Ph.D. degrees in Electrical Engineering from the University of Virginia, and has worked for 25 years in the area of wireless communications. He has held positions in academia and industry as professor, founder of a high tech startup, director of Engineering, chief scientist and CTO in a variety of companies, and is a Fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers. He is married and is the father of two adult children.

Kenny Woodward

Director and Accounting Assistant

Kenneth (Kenny) Woodward has been an active member of the OCASG for the past two years. He was diagnosed with High Functioning Autism when he was three years old. Kenny has gained from participating in the varied social activities and support groups sponsored by the OCASG. He has learned communication, public speaking and leadership skills from being a member of the Toastmasters Gavel Club that is affiliated with the OCASG. After graduating from UC Riverside in Business Administration Kenny has returned to Saddleback College to take additional classes to further his education and add to his skill set. Currently, he has a paid accounting internship at Optimentality, a part-time accounting position at OCASG, and a part-time job at Innovative Biodefense. Kenny is committed to helping with the Autism@Work initiative in Orange County which will encourage local businesses to actively hire people with ASD.
The Orange County Asperger’s Support Group (OCASG) is a nonprofit, tax exempt, charitable organization under Internal Revenue Code (IRC) Section 501(c)(3).