Our Story

Connecting Families to Answers that Matter.

We are Autism Pensacola, a Florida 501(c)3 non-profit organization serving the families of Escambia and Santa Rosa counties. Since 2002, we’ve served individuals and families affected by autism as the leading connector and resource for autism support, advocacy, education and networking opportunities in the Pensacola Bay Area.

As a community connector, we are a beacon of light in the darkness, and a source of answers in all the uncertainty. Along with our partners, members and supporters, we are connecting people to answers that matter, working to improve lives and livelihoods, one family at a time.

We want to change the way our community thinks and feels about autism. Relationships drive our mission to maximize access to the best care and support for individuals and families affected by autism. As the largest network of parents, physicians and supporters in the community, we are helping families maximize and realize their potential to prosper, shifting the conversation from mission impossible, to mission achievable. Together, we help families connect the pieces.

Through active engagement with our community, Autism Pensacola aims to:

  • Educate the general public about autism
  • Serve as a support group and network for parents and professionals
  • Provide information to parents and professionals regarding the diagnosis, education and treatment of persons with autism
  • Advocate for, and obtain, better services for the citizens of the Pensacola area who are affected by autism
  • Provide social opportunities for people with autism through camps, activities and enriching programs
Principles that Guide Us —


We are hope, love, compassion and a voice of empowerment. As navigators, advocates and educators, we demystify the autism diagnosis and connect those impacted by autism to a full circle of resources—from early diagnosis and education to support for the quality of life of adults—who then contribute back to our mission.


We aim to spread hope for the autism community while serving as a beacon for those searching for answers.


We welcome all who come to us with open arms, seeking to understand and provide customized support for each family’s unique circumstances.

Commitment to Education.

Education is at the core of what we do; we educate ourselves, the public, and people and families affected by autism spectrum disorder.

The Power of Advocacy.

As a voice for the autism community, we advocate for who and what is important.


We put ourselves in the proverbial shoes of others, living this value and empowering others through the words “You are not alone.”


Our resources and volunteers are highly qualified and specialists in their field, providing top-notch care and techniques to the families we serve.


The people involved with our organization embody a ‘never give up’ attitude.


We teach and practice the spirit of inclusivity that extends beyond our organization into the community.


Autism Pensacola has grown due to the commitment and contribution of its board members through strong and thoughtful leadership and governance. We thank our current and past board members for their continued support.

We invite you to meet our Board of Director.


Susan’s Story

Susan Byram, President & CEO

Susan’s adventures in autism first began in 1994, when her eldest son, David, was diagnosed at the age of four. Like many parents, Susan found herself thrust into a strange new world filled with questions and uncertainties but also a strong desire to connect with others.

Susan began to learn about autism and to reach out to others living with autism to share that knowledge. Joining together, they discovered answers to those questions, and the initial weight of uncertainty was lifted; replaced with hope, determination and a feeling of promise and potential.

With the help of friends, colleagues and a growing connection to families and resources, Susan soon found herself at the center of a growing passion for autism education, advocacy, and networking. Applying her experience in elementary education, Susan was an instrumental figure in the development of programs to help her son, David—and others like him—in the community and beyond. Shortly after moving to Pensacola in 2001, Susan worked with community members Jacqui O’Connell, Marilyn Irby, Dr. Ben Renfroe as well as local agencies, FSU-Center for Autism and Related Disabilities and ARC Gateway, to establish Autism Pensacola in 2002, and has been part of the organization ever since.

Meet the Board.

The Autism Pensacola board is divided into three classes. Each Fall, Autism Pensacola members elect a class of directors to serve for three years. The board then elects officers and the executive committee at the first full board meeting following the general election in October.

Executive Committee for 2017


Becca Boles, Chair

Corporate Communications Director, Gulf Power Company

Scott Remington, Vice Chair

President/Managing Partner, Clark Partington Attorneys at Law

Judy Burns, Secretary

Executive Director, Ronald McDonald House Charities of Northwest Florida

Stephen Burgess, Treasurer

Member, Warren Averett, LLC

John L. Peacock, Jr. Past Chair

Financial Advisor and CFP®, Edward Jones

At-large members

Bonnie Sferes

Independent Business and Financial Consultant

Sergio Peñaloza

Vice President, Cox Communications Engineering and Operations Southeast Region

Jodi Bell

Director of Advertising, Pensacola News Journal

Rocky Parra

Autism parent and community volunteer

Teri Levin

Levin Rinke Realty/Vinyl Music Hall

Joe Webb

Vice President Sales Marketing, FSIGroup

Candy McGuyre

Corporate Director of Marketing, Baptist Health Care

Class of 2017

Dr. Leasha Barry
Stephen Burgess
Jodi Bell
Judy Burns
Logan Fink
Ted Kirchharr
Cecilia Nanni
John Peacock
Sergio Penaloza
Sue Straughn
Joe Webb

Class of 2018

Becca Boles
Debbie Keremes
Candy McGuyre
Peg Nickelsen
Ryan O’Connell
Scott Remington
Bonnie Sferes
Sharon Thompson

Class of 2019

Kat Lea
Teri Levin
Cate Merrill
Rocky Parra
Katie Price
Mallory Studer
Teri Szafran
Dr. Michelle Grier-Hall

2017 Board Meeting schedule

Full board meetings will be held at noon the 3rd Wednesday in February, April, June, September, & November. Executive Committee meetings will be the 3rd Tuesday in January, March, May, August, October, at noon. The December EC meeting will be the second Tuesday at noon.

Executive Committee
Tuesdays, Noon

January 17
March 21
May 16 
August 15
October 17
December 12

Full Board
3rd Wednesdays, Noon
Atlas Oyster House

February 15
April 19
June 21
September 20
November 15