Get your tickets for the 2022 Annual Gala!

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Join us for this year’s virtual gala, featuring events and activities spread across the entire month of November. This year’s theme is building community: come explore what that means to you!

The gala will be a series of events held every Tuesday in November. There will be lots of exciting ways for you to participate like film screenings, giveaways, panels, and more! Our regular gala features like the awards ceremony and words from executive director Julia Bascom won’t be going anywhere – there will just be new ways and new days to enjoy them!

Events will be online across a variety of platforms. We ask that our gala attendees donate if they are able to do so, but donations are not required to attend. We’ll have plenty more to announce soon, like our honorees and speakers!

Get your tickets here!

Download the program with speaker bios, full schedule, and more hereFor a text-only version of the program, click here.

Nothing About Us Without Us Award: Ma’ayan Anafi and Gavin Grimm
Mel Baggs Down In The Valley Award: Jordyn Zimmerman
Creating Community Together Award: Natasha Nelson
Harriet McBryde Johnson Award for Nonfiction: We Move Together
Loud Hands Award for Autistic Storytellers: Evan Kleekamp
Ally to the Autistic Community 2022 Award: Unsilenced

Be sure to RSVP on Facebook to stay in the loop.

Everyone’s welcome. Let’s celebrate self-advocacy for all and keep working to make our community better for all of us.

For more information about gala sponsorship opportunities, contact Jean Winegardner at


More information and full event descriptions available in the program hereFor a text-only version of the program, click here.

Tuesday, November 1

7:00pm – Stop the Shock Night of Action

On Autistics Speaking Day, we need to continue to speak out against the electric shock devices still in use at the Judge Rotenberg Center. We will provide an update about the current legal and legislative status of the FDA ban and how our community can take action to demand Congress pass a law that would ban the use of electric shocks as aversives.

Tuesday, November 8

7:00pm – “As If Your Life Depends on It” Voting and the Disability Community

Moderated by Noor Pervez, this conversation with disability advocates doing work that ensures our community can vote. We’ll cover what barriers exist for our community and others when it comes to voting and the work our panelists are doing locally and nationally to overcome these barriers.

Panelists: Elissa Gershon, Ben Breaux, Héctor Manuel Ramírez, Teresa Moore, and Lauren Proby

Tuesday, November 15

7:00pm – Awards Ceremony

The Awards Ceremony will include remarks by Julia Bascom, and we’ll be honoring several awardees for their tireless work, including several new awards recognizing the variety of work our community engages in.

Tuesday, November 22

7:00pm – Our Rights Under Threat: Reproductive Justice & LGBTQIA+ Advocacy

2022 has seen several overlapping attacks on reproductive and LGBTQIA+ rights. Given the rising attacks against both reproductive justice and LGBTQI+ rights over the past year, we feel it is important to highlight the current work being done in these movements to defend people’s rights to bodily autonomy. This panel will cover how to share your story to impact change, coalition building, and how to make change nationally and locally.

Panelists: Victoria M. Rodríguez-Roldán, LaKeia Ferreira-Spady, and Tony Alexander

Tuesday, November 29

7:00pm – Closing Livestream

We will be closing the gala on Giving Tuesday with a conversation with ASAN staff, discussing both our work—in the past year and beyond to 2023—and our appreciation for the people that help us continue it.


All Things Sensory Shop has donated two $25 gift cards that we’ll be raffling off during the gala! All Things Sensory Shop is a shop run by and for neurodivergent people. It has hundreds of fidgets, stim toys, and sensory aids for all ages. To enter to win a gift card, comment on our giveaway Facebook post to enter! We will use a random comment picker to pick the winner on Tuesday, November 29th.

We’ll also be raffling off two year-long ASAN memberships at the Trivia Teammates tier, which includes a membership welcome pack, a member-exclusive newsletter, digital phone and computer wallpapers, an ASAN logo sticker, an ASAN mug, a $5 gift card to ASAN shop, a physical copy of one of ASAN’s books (Knowing WhyNavigating CollegeEmpowering LeadershipWelcome to the Autistic Community, or Loud Hands), an ASAN pen, an ASAN lapel pin, an ASAN tangle, and a T-shirt!

Nothing About Us Without Us Award: Ma’ayan Anafi

A photo of Ma’ayan Anafi looking out directly at the audience. Ma’ayan has pale skin and close cropped dark hair as well as a mustache and goatee. They’re wearing a dark grey blazer over a black shirt and smile softly out at the audience.

Ma’ayan Anafi (they/them) is the Senior Counsel for Health Equity and Justice at the National Women’s Law Center. Their work focuses on a range of topics related to meaningful access to health and health care, including issues facing disabled and LGBTQI+ people. Earlier this year, they authored the report Forced Sterilization of Disabled People in the United States, which revealed that 31 states and DC currently have laws explicitly permitting forced sterilization of disabled people. In their personal capacity, Ma’ayan is co-leading a national survey of trans disabled people with the Transgender Law Center’s Disability Project, set to launch in 2023. Prior to working at NWLC, Ma’ayan was the Policy Counsel and Research Associate at the National Center for Transgender Equality. Ma’ayan received their J.D. from Harvard Law School and their B.A. from the University of Toronto. They live in Washington, DC with their delightfully chaotic cats, Bunny and Squeak.

Nothing About Us Without Us Award: Gavin Grimm

A photo of Gavin Grimm looking off to the right with a reflective expression on his face. Gavin has pale skin and short dark hair. He is wearing a light grey hoodie and half rim wire glasses. The background behind him is a mixture of greys and dark blues. He is lit starkly, so deep shadows are cast on the left side of his face.

Gavin Grimm is a 23 year old autistic, transgender man and activist in the transgender community. In 2015, Grimm was banned from the boys bathroom at his high school in Gloucester County, Virginia. Grimm and the ACLU sued the school board and won in 2021 after a years-long battle that saw his case before the Supreme Court before ultimately being decided in the 4th circuit. Grimm continues to advocate for transgender people, especially youth in school settings. He also brings his perspective as an autistic man into conversations about gender and trans rights in and out of schools. Grimm left his hometown but still resides in Virginia with his 17 year old cat, Rascal.

Mel Baggs Down In The Valley Award: Jordyn Zimmerman

A photo of Jordyn Zimmerman, looking out at the audience and smiling with her head tilted slightly to the right. Jordyn has light olive skin and long slightly wavy medium brown hair that frames the sides of her face. She is wearing an olive green shirt and is in front of a pale background.

Jordyn Zimmerman, M.Ed., currently works as the Director of Professional Development at The Nora Project. In this role, she supports educators in their efforts to teach all students about disability as a valued and expected part of human diversity. 

Prior to joining TNP, Jordyn earned her bachelor’s degree in Education Policy from Ohio University and her Masters of Education at Boston College. As a nonspeaking autistic student who was denied access to effective augmentative communication until she was 18, Jordyn has personal experience challenging the educational status quo, which is featured in the 2021 documentary, This Is Not About Me. Jordyn frequently keynotes and presents at conferences, is board chair of CommunicationFIRST, and serves on the board of Hillel International. Most recently, Jordyn was appointed to serve on the President’s Committee for People with Intellectual Disabilities

An avid advocate for all students, Jordyn is passionate and determined to make a difference in the world of education — making sure everyone is able to access effective communication and exercise their right to a truly inclusive education that honors students as they are.

Creating Community Together Award: Natasha Nelson

Natasha Nelson is a Certified Positive Discipline Educator (CPDE), veteran, military spouse, small business owner and Autistic mother to two autistic Black girls. Natasha has over seven years of exemplary leadership in the United States Army, over 5 years using Positive Discipline, and over a decade of experience in public speaking, community service, and facilitating in and out of the military. Natasha’s small business Supernova Momma LLC. is an education resource for Black and Neurodiverse families to break generational curses from systemic racism and ableism in households, schools, and offices to receive support in a mutually caring, empathetic, and respectful environment. Natasha prides herself on making Positive Discipline, gentle parenting, and Conscious Parenting accessible and relatable specifically to Black and/or Neurodiverse Families with her NEED system: Network, Educate, Empathize, Demonstrate. One of the products of this system is Natasha’s The Cool Calming Corner, a Time-In printable poster set that features Black and/or multicultural children of different shades and hair styles, and teaches them emotional intelligence and coping strategies through a love of hip hop.

Harriet McBryde Johnson Award for Nonfiction: We Move Together

We Move Together is a bold and colorful exploration of all the ways that people navigate through the spaces around them and a celebration of the relationships we build along the way. A 2022 silver medal recipient for the International Latino Book Awards’ Best Educational Children’s Picture Book and selected for the Ontario Library Association’s Best Bets List of Top 10 Canadian Children’s Picture Books for 2021, the book follows a mixed-ability group of kids as they creatively negotiate everyday barriers and find joy and connection in disability culture and community. We Move Together is the result of a creative collaboration between Kelly Fritsch, Anne McGuire and Eduardo Trejos, who came to this project from their unique and varying perspectives as disabled people, parents, disability activists, and disability studies scholars.

Loud Hands Award for Autistic Storytellers: Evan Kleekamp

Evan Kleekamp is a writer and researcher based out of Los Angeles. Their work has received recognition from funding bodies including Creative Capital, the Andy Warhol Foundation, and the California Arts Council. Their essays have appeared in Open Space (SFMOMA), The Avery Review, and the Los Angeles Review of Books. They are the Research Director of NOR Research Studio, a consulting service that specializes in artist career development, and Development Director for Study Hall, a resource for media workers.

Ally to the Autistic Community 2022 Award: Unsilenced

Unsilenced is a non-profit 501(c)3 organization that serves victims of institutional child abuse. Founded in 2021 as an organization of over 50 survivors and allies, Unsilenced is committed to promoting appropriate, healthy, and effective alternatives to programs within the Troubled Teen Industry (TTI). To foster better health outcomes without placement in the largely unregulated industry, the organization advocates for constructive alternatives that circumvent institutionalization for children and youth who are struggling with mental health and educational challenges. Utilizing education, awareness, survivor/community support, policy change, and strategic partnerships with other organizations fighting in similar spaces, Unsilenced aims to protect the civil, social, and human rights of youth.