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Lesley Evans

Business Development Officer

Lesley brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to her role. Having spent over 25 years in the corporate sector, running her own business, she has worked with a range of private, public and third sector clients. Lesley has responsibility for designing and managing ANS's events, the smooth running of the office and offering support to Health and Social Care Partnerships and other partners to improve secure better outcomes for autistic people. Lesley graduated from the University of Strathclyde with a BA Hons in Marketing and is currently undertaking The Certificate in Counselling Skills (COSCA) back on campus.

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Lynsey Stewart

Capacity Building and Autism Improvement Officer

With an honours degree in Psychology, Lynsey is currently in her third year of a Masters in Autism (Adults) where her research focus is autism and dementia. Lynsey was the author of the Autism Supplement to the Principles of Good Transitions 3 and co-produced the Because Life Happens: Autism Across the Lifespan E-learning resource. Lynsey is lead improvement officer for ageing, transitions and employment. She leads on the Autism Aware Glasgow City Project and sits on the steering group of Strathclyde University Project SEARCH. Lynsey believes in the importance of participatory research and of ensuring autistic people are at the heart of all work and research that she undertakes. Lynsey is lead improvement officer for the following geographical areas: Aberdeen, Aberdeenshire, Argyll and Bute, Ayrshire (North, South and East), East Dunbartonshire, Glasgow, Highland, Inverclyde, Moray, Orkney, Shetland, West Dunbartonshire, Western Isles.

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Prof Jean MacLellan OBE

Director

Our Director, Professor Jean MacLellan, is a social worker by background who has worked in a variety of roles in local authorities, health and the voluntary sector. For much of her career she worked as a Social Work Inspector and Senior Civil Servant in the Scottish Government. In that capacity she led policy on adult protection, autism, carers, learning disability, sensory impairment and self directed support. She has written extensively in terms of policy development, implementation and evaluation.

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Christine Collingwood

Autism Improvement Officer

Christine has professional qualifications in social work and social work education. She worked with children and families , and for several years managed a social work team in which child protection was the priority. She has been involved with autistic children and adults at various stages of their life journey and joined the Network as an Improvement Officer in 2017, her specialism being Early Years. Christine engages with the Autism Strategy Leads from the following regions: Edinburgh, the Lothians (East Lothian, Midlothian and West Lothian) and the Scottish Borders, and from 2020, Dumfries and Galloway. Recently, Christine has worked with Education in Inverclyde on a pilot study looking at transitions in early years: including pre and post-diagnostic autism support for parents and more recently explored what is needed to better support parents. Christine has lectured in communication skills, worked in the field of health and research and in the charitable sector. She has a keen interest in criminal justice and has been a prison visitor, supporting an individual "through the gate" over a long period.

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Thom Kirkwood

Engagement and Participation Officer

Thom, a highly educated, talented, motivational and high-performing professional, Ph.D. MAPM, FRSA, who has served our communities well over 40 years in various positions. His approach very much reflects his broad varied experience across both third and private sectors, with a knowledge of autism spanning 30 years, couple to project, business and strategic management at individual, group, corporate and national level. He has also served on many policy review forums in areas of Education, Economic Development, Health, Housing and Social Care. Thom is a former member of the Scottish Strategy for Autism Governance Group, Chair of the former parent carer sub group and member of the wider engagement group. As well as facilitating contributor to the NES NHS Training review group, a contributory member of Families and Carers, Employment and Wider Opportunities, transitions work groups within Stirling Clackmannanshire Council Autism Development Plan. Thom has undertaken associate input to other key policy areas of GIFREC and Advocacy. Thom is a current member of Scottish Strategy for Autism Review Group and an Adviser to the Independent Review of Mental Health Legislation. Within Autism Network Scotland Thom leads on • Autism and Advocacy  Roundtable Policy and Practice  Parental Advocacy Training • Assisted Travel • Positive Partnerships  Positive Partnership Workshops  By Community for Community Information Leaflets • Development of a Single Information Access Portal He networks regularly with the • Department for Work and Pensions • Social Security Scotland and • City Deals forums. • Globally with over 700 professionals across public, private and third sectors Out with the professional environment, Thom is a single parent of 24 year old autistic daughter, diagnosed just before her 3rd birthday. He enjoys rugby, formula 1, all kinds of music, and has recently taken up the clarinet. Thom is also a specialist trainer for Brain In Hand

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Diane Wood

Autism Improvement Officer

Diane’s background is in education – having completed the PGDE in Secondary Education in 2005 she was always interested in supporting those with additional support needs. Diane worked in the higher education sector at the University of the West of Scotland as a mentor, supporting autistic students for 10 years – frustrated by the lack of training provided at work she undertook the Postgraduate Certificate in Autism at Strathclyde University last year. She joined the ANS team in October 2009 and has, along with her colleagues, provided training in autism for current PGDE students, awareness training for primary school pupils and teachers. Diane has also been volunteering as an Education Rights Advisor for the National Autistic Society for the last few years. She also does private consultancy for families who are affected by autism.