Dennis C. Maher (President)
President Dennis C. Maher was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York. He arrived in Hawaii 30 years ago and made the Islands his home. He is currently the Director of Facilities and Security at Trump International Hotel™ Waikiki and serves as Vice President/Secretary of the Board for their Association. He is also President and CEO of Genus Hospitality Group Hawaii, a consulting firm.
Mr. Maher also serves the community in other ways as Vice President and Treasurer for the Hawaii Hotel Visitor Industry Security Association and as a Director of Hawaii Lodging and Tourism Associations Engineers Advisory Council. Lastly, he is married and a father of five children, his youngest being on the Autism Spectrum.
Ember Freitas (Vice President)
Ember Freitas is originally from Texas and moved to Hawai’i in 2010. Ember is a 2016 Graduate of St. Joseph’s University with a BS in Professional and Liberal Studies: Autism Concentration with a Minor in Psychology. She received her Master of Education in Early Childhood Education and Special Education from Grand Canyon University in April 2019. Ember is also a Board Certified Cognitive Specialist and Advanced Certified Autism Specialist. Ember will be attending Arizona State University Online to pursue a Graduate Certificate in Applied Behavior Analysis.
Ember is a mother of four, both of her sons being on the Autism Spectrum. She is excited to be on the board for the Autism Society of Hawaii and is passionate about advocating for children on the spectrum and supporting their families!
Susie Fujikawa (Secretary/Treasurer)
Susie Fujikawa is the Director of Sales & Marketing for The Royal Hawaiian, a Luxury Collection Resort, overseeing all global strategic sales and marketing initiatives for the iconic Waikiki oceanfront hotel affectionately known as “The Pink Palace of the Pacific.” She is a sales and marketing leader with over 20 years of experience working in Hawaii in various industries including travel, hospitality, and aviation. Her extensive background includes key leadership positions at Trump International Hotel Waikiki, Island Air, LivingSocial, Travelocity, and the Waikiki Parc Hotel, part of Hotels & Resorts of Halekulani.
Susie is a graduate of the University of Hawaii at Manoa and currently serves on the Board of Directors for the Hawaii Health & Harm Reduction Center and the Pacific Asia Travel Association Hawaii Chapter. Susie was born and raised on the island of Oahu and resides in Honolulu with her husband.
Dr. Amoy Hugh-Pennie (Director)
Dr. Amoy Hugh-Pennie received her Ph.D. in Special Education and Applied Behavior Analysis from Columbia University, Teachers College in 2006. She has been working in the fields of ABA and Education for over 20 yrs. She has engaged in University Teaching and Clinical Practice in the United States, Canada, and Hong Kong. Some of her roles have included K-12 teaching, school administration, non-profit and for-profit ABA program development, teacher/ practitioner training, and quality assurance. She has also provided higher education as an Adjunct, Associate Professor, and Instructor of both Applied Behavior Analysis and Special Education Teacher Programs. She is currently the National Director of Clinical Operations for Understanding Behavior, Inc. and sits on the Board of Directors for the ABA Task Force to Eradicate Social Injustice.
Jessica Militich (Director)
Jessica Militich is originally from the Pacific Northwest and migrated to the Aloha State to pursue a degree in psychology. She is a 2020 graduate of the University of Hawaii at Manoa and is interested in neurology and neuroscience. Jessica is a member of the international honor society, Pi Gamma Mu, and is also a member of Psi Sigma. As a person with autism, she understands the challenges people with autism face first hand. Past employment as a lifeguard and swim instructor gave her the experience of working with children impacted by autism. From that experience, she gained a passion for helping those who like her, have autism. She has made it her life’s goal to heal challenges people, particularly children with autism face first hand, through integration and acceptance. She is honored to be a board member for the Autism Society of Hawaii and excited to work with families of Hawaii impacted by autism.
Donalyn Dela Cruz (Director)
Donalyn Dela Cruz is the Senior Vice President for Strategies 360 Hawaii. She has over 20 years of professional communications experience in both the private and public sectors. Donalyn is a former broadcast journalist and has worked in all areas of print and digital media, public relations, crisis communications, communications strategy, government affairs, and community outreach. In the public sector, she served as the Communications Director for the Hawaii State Department of Education, Deputy Communications Director for Governor Neil Abercrombie and Press Secretary for the late US Senator Daniel Akaka. Donalyn is also a communications subject matter expert for the Center for Homeland Defense and Security. A graduate of Leilehua High; Donalyn holds a BA in journalism from the University of Hawaii – Manoa and a MA in Security Studies from the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, CA.
Sandy Schuffler (Director)
Sandy Schuffler resides on the East Side of Hawaii Island, living in Hilo for 40 years. Her passion in life has always been children and resembles them in her child-like personality. Having raised her medically fragile son with a rare genetic condition and on the Autism spectrum, she realized her goal in life. That goal is to bring joy, hope, and fun into every day with a heart to serve. Sandy currently works for Bayada Home Health as a Habilitation Technician and has also worked in the DOE as a ParaPro. She enjoys meeting her clients “where they are” and then inviting them into the community for a day of fun, learning, and adventure.
Jeffrey Krepps (Director)
Jeffrey Krepps is the Practice President for Behavioral Health for BAYADA. He has over 20 years of professional experience developing systems that support individuals with autism, both nationally and in the State of Hawai’i. Jeffrey has successfully developed the following organizational units: Nursefinders Behavioral Health, BAYADA Habilitation (Hawai’i), BAYADA Educational Services, and BAYADA Applied Behavior Analysis. He has worked with BAYADA to create autism centers on both Oahu and Maui. In addition, Jeffrey has several years of international health care consulting experience in business development and planning with Healthvisions NZ. Taking pride in the ability to build community relationships, he has been involved with various community organizations. Jeffrey has founded the Special Education Provider Alliance (SEPA). He has served as Co-Chair of the Leeward Community Children’s Council and the Vice-Chair of the Puna Community Development Action Committee. He has been an active participant in the Special Education Advisory Council and more recently the Hui for Educational Excellence. Jeff is originally from Pennsylvania but has called Hawai’i home for 21 years. He has lived throughout the state and currently resides in Kailua-Kona.
Marian Tsuji (Director)
Marian Tsuji is the Oahu Administrator for the State of Hawaii Department of Human Services Division of Vocational Rehabilitation. She is responsible for the job and career development and placement of individuals with disabilities.
Prior to returning to the state government, Ms. Tsuji was the President and CEO of Lanakila Pacific for 15 years. A local non-profit providing programs and services to individuals with physical, cognitive, and intellectual challenges, the organization was transformed into a successful social enterprise receiving numerous local and national awards and recognitions.
Ms. Tsuji’s career has been committed to improving the condition of individuals with challenges. She held various positions in Hawaii and NYC’s criminal justice systems including Deputy Director of Hawaii’s correctional facilities and Assistant Commissioner of Alternatives to Incarceration for the NYC jail system.
Ms. Tsuji also participates in various community and government boards and commissions.
Anna Elento-Sneed (Advisor)
Anna Elento-Sneed is the President and Founding Director of ES&A, Inc., a next-generation law firm that is rethinking the way legal work is done. Anna has been advising employers and organizations for more than 36 years on labor & employment law, government contracts, and business strategy, including corporate governance. She currently serves on the Board of Directors of the Employment Law Alliance, a global network of labor and employment attorneys.
Ivalee Sinclair (Honorary Board Member)
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.