Who are we?
A neurodivergent (ND) person is someone who has one or more co-occurring neurological conditions that may cause disability when interacting with or moving through their environment or in relationship to other people.
Umbrella US will focus specifically on local initiatives that are identified by US NDs for US NDs.
Working alongside our allies in creating meaningful change, we take an intersectional approach to identifying and addressing the barriers faced by neurodivergent individuals.
Inclusion, equity, and the opportunity to thrive for all neurodivergent people.
Building a neurodivergent-led intersectional community to develop resources, education, and self-advocacy support for ND folks and their allies.
We will empower NDs to be part of every conversation and decision affecting them and our community from beginning to end.
We will consider the opinions of every person, respecting and valuing that opinion as their own, even when it is not in alignment with ours.
Equity & Inclusion
We will provide a safe space where all members of our community can be their authentic selves exploring and advocating for their individual needs and those of the community as a whole.
Sustainability & Growth
We will focus on Transgender, Queer, and Global Majority members of the ND community first and foremost and, in doing so, serve all members of the ND community.
AJ Locashio (she/they)
Founder & Executive Director
AJ Locashio, M.Ed., affectionately known as The Octopus, is proud to be an ÂûDHD, Queer, Nerd, Military Spouse and Mom. She is a credentialed educator, board certified clinical sexologist and coach, sensory environment strategist, and passionate advocate for the ND Community. When not working, AJ can be found playing D&D with her family or virtual zombie bashing.
Jessica Jahns (she/her)
Co-founder & Chief Advisor
Jessica Jahns is just a small town squirrel refusing to live in a lonely world. This human systems sorceress values connection with her community, loves to ponder politics, economics and social systems, and plays sweet tunes on her Yanagisawa T880 tenor sax. She’s a multitasking data processing analyst by day, listening to more podcasts than you ever knew existed (at 2x speed, of course).
Sarah Phelps (she/her)
National Board Chair
Sarah Phelps is the Director of Operations and Programs at OutNebraska – a statewide education and advocacy organization that is working to celebrate and empower thriving LGBTQIA+ communities. With degrees in history and international relations and over 20 years of non-profit and corporate experience, Sarah brings a strategic, inclusive, and innovative approach to programming, strategy, and thought leadership. Sarah is a co-founder of Leaders for Equity, Allyship and Diversity, facilitator for Inclusive Communities, content strategist for multiple entrepreneur and DEI groups, and a member of FlowLAB startup community, and Anti-Racist Leaders Association. She specializes in founding boards and is currently an executive on the boards of MomPower Inc (BIPOC working moms) and Rainbow Rest Stop (Safe spaces for trans youth), as well as the Umbrella Alliance US.
Ben VanHook (he/him)
Community Education Liaison
Ben VanHook is an expert on the autistic employee and student experience, who has spoken at colleges across the United States. He has been featured on PBS and in the New York Times as well as written articles for the American Psychological Association. Recently, Ben spoke at the United Nations on a policy panel addressing the needs of autistic individuals. When not focusing directly on advocacy, he plays the piano, writes poems, and watches sports.
Brady Esham (he/him)
Higher Education Advisor
Brady Esham is a Neurodivergent and Autistic Youth Mentor, Marketer, and executive on several student clubs at Mercyhurst University where he studies as an Early Childhood/Special Education major. He has a passion for creating social change and to inspire children around the world that they can achieve anything which they put their mind to. When not in class, on conference calls, or in business meetings, Brady can be found hanging out with friends, visiting with friends and family, traveling, or at the beach.
The ND23 Project recognizes the diversity of our human experience and engages the ND community in present-centered and future-focused change. By creating community defined action plans, representative of the challenges we face, we are able to move toward sustainable systemic change that supports us individually and as a community.