About Us

The Autism Society of Hawaii is a 501(c)(3) organization serving families and individuals touched by autism and autism spectrum disorders. We are the Hawaii chapter of the National Autism Society headquartered in Bethesda, Maryland. Reach us at autismhi@gmail.com.

Executive Director

Executive Director Jessica Wong-Sumida, M.A., J.D., is a BISS (behavioral instructional support services) staffer with Hawaii Behavioral Health. She has worked with special needs children and families at the Hawaii Department of Education and with Ivar Lovaas in California. She has co-chaired the Community Children Council (Central District South and Legislative Committee) since 2004. At Kapiolani Community College, she serves as a lecturer on lifespan development. Her son received services from the state’s Early Intervention Zero to 3 program.

Chapter President

President Dr. Ryan Lee is a pediatric neurologist at the Shriners Hospitals for Children in Honolulu. He is director of Shriner’s neurodevelopmental clinic and director of medical research. He was born and raised in Hawaii. He received his undergraduate degrees in biology and English from Creighton University and his medical degree from the John A. Burns School of Medicine at the University of Hawaii. He served his pediatrics residency at the Kapiolani Medical Center for Women and Children and the UH. He also had a residency/post-doctoral fellowship in child neurology and neurodevelopmental disabilities at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and the Kennedy Krieger Institute in Baltimore, Maryland.

Chapter Board Members

Board member John P. Dellera

John Dellera

 Board member John P. Dellera is an attorney admitted to the New York Bar in 1970 and the Hawaii Bar in 1996. He practiced law in New York City for 15 years with the firm of Baker Nelson & Williams and was New York Regional Counsel of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development from 1985 to 1994. He served as assistant attorney general of New York and moved in Hawaii in 1996. He served as deputy attorney general of Hawaii for 13 years and as executive director of the Hawaii Disability Rights Center from 2009 to 2011. He has been caregiver for a young man with autism since 1996.

Board member Carla Gross is senior vice president/chief operating officer at Hawaii Behavioral Health.

Board member Gerald Hew is controller at UHA.

Board Member Major General Paul Lister was born in 1941 and grew up in New Mexico. He received a bachelor’s degree in mathematics from New Mexico State University where he was commissioned into the Army through the ROTC program. He entered active duty as a lieutenant, rose in rank to major, served three tours in Vietnam, and taught as an assistant professor of Military Science and Tactics (ROTC) at Northwestern University of Louisiana. On leaving active duty, he served in the Army Reserve until his retirement. He is a graduate of the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College and the Army War College. In civilian life, he had a 17-year career in health care and hospital administration, and served as vice president of The Queen’s Medical Center. He was president of the Hawaii Chamber of Commerce and owned his own business. Lister also was an associate professor of business at Eureka College in Illinois, and served as president for two years. He holds a master’s degree in community organization and business administration from the University of Hawaii and a UH Graduate Certificate in Planning. He has taught as an adjunct professor at the University of Hawaii and as a supervising professor at the University of Minnesota’s School of Public Health. He worked as a senior consultant for the Center for Performance Development in Bloomington, Illinois, and as vice-chairman of the Board for Water Partners International (now Water.org). Lister is co-author of “Bridging the Gap – A Field Guide to Networking” and author of “The Entrepreneur’s Handbook.”

Board member Dennis C. Maher

Dennis C. Maher

Board member Dennis C. Maher was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York. He arrived in Hawaii 25 years ago and made the Islands his home. He is currently the Director of Facilities and Security for Trump International Hotel™ Waikiki Beach Walk® and is also an active member of the Board of Directors for the Association of Trump Waikiki. He serves as Vice President and Treasurer for the Hawaii Hotel Visitor Industry Security Association and President of the Board of the Engineers Advisory Council for the Hawaii Lodging and Tourism Association. He is on the Board of Directors of the Special Olympics Hawaii and coaches athletes with intellectual disabilities in soccer, basketball and softball. He is married and the father of five.

Board member Sandee Oshiro

Sandee Oshiro

Board member Sandee Oshiro is a digital journalist and has served as interim editor of The Poynter Institute, regional editor for Patch.com and managing editor/digital for The Honolulu Advertiser. She received a bachelor’s degree in communications/journalism from the University of Hawaii and Master of Science degree from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. She has a college-age daughter with Asperger’s Syndrome and helps coordinates a group for families with young adults diagnosed with Asperger’s, high-functioning autism and similar conditions.


Honorary board member State Senator Suzanne Chun-Oakland

Suzanne Chun-Oakland

Honorary board member State Senator Suzanne Chun-Oakland has served in the Hawaii State Legislature since 1996. She is a strong advocate for children’s rights and sponsors the annual Children and Youth Day at the state Capitol, Child and Youth Summit and Keiki Caucus.



Honorary board member Robert Klein

Robert Klein

Honorary board member Robert Klein served as senior associate justice of the Hawaii Supreme Court from 1992 to 2000. He drafted the Supreme Court’s landmark PASH (Public Access Shoreline Hawaii) decision, which upheld the reasonable exercise of traditional and customary Native Hawaiian rights. He served as the Office of Hawaiian Affairs Board lead counsel and is partner at the Honolulu law firm of McCorriston Miller Mukai MacKinnon LLP. He is parent of a young adult on the spectrum.

Honorary board member Ivalee Sinclair

Ivalee Sinclair

Honorary board member Ivalee Sinclair has over 40 years’ experience helping students with disabilities. She received the lifetime achievement award from the Mental Health America of Hawaii and served as chairwoman for the Special Education Advisory Council. She was nominated for the Jefferson Award in 2008 and served on the Coalition for Children with Special Needs. She has fought for services for her own children when they were in school.