Meet the team

The Autism Centre of Excellence at Cambridge is made up of a diverse group of people committed to improving life for autistic people.

Scroll down and click on the headings to learn about our team members.

Ambassadors: support the charity and raise awareness of its mission

Jools Holland

Jools Holland OBE

Musician and presenter

“I have immense admiration for the work of Professor Sir Simon Baron-Cohen and his team. ACE is making the world a different place for those on the autistic spectrum. The unprecedented collaboration between autistic people, their families, world-class researchers and service partners, will have an impact globally in a way we have never seen before.”

Paddy McGuinness

TV presenter

“I’m excited and honoured to be an ambassador for the Autism Centre of Excellence at Cambridge. Being a father of three autistic children I know how difficult it can get to find the right support, and ACE will address this challenge.”

Petra Ecclestone

Philanthropist

“As a mother of four young children, I have resolved to support families whose children have suspected autism or learning delays. ACE works to improve valuable services to help fulfil the potential of the individual.”

Lucy Hawking

Children’s author, science communicator and daughter of Professor Steven Hawking

“As the mother of an autistic young adult, I know only too well the struggles that autistic people can experience in accessing the right support and I deeply appreciate Simon’s commitment to making the world a better place for us all.”

David Joseph CBE

Chairman and CEO of Universal Music UK

“I am a passionate supporter of the Autism Centre of Excellence and a long-time advocate for the value neurodiversity brings to the workplace. In January 2020 we launched Creative Differences, the first handbook for embracing neurodiversity in the creative industries which we are currently updating for a second edition. Simon and the team have been an inspiration to me throughout.”

Chris Packham

Autistic, TV presenter

“I know what it’s like to struggle at school, be socially excluded and bullied due to being autistic. That is why I am excited to work with ACE which believes in respecting and empowering autistic people through excellent, evidence-based support. Everyone has the right to lead a life where they feel they belong and are valued.”

Rick Jupp

Musician

“Raising our son Dylan and trying to understand his autism, we felt alone and lost – we had no guidance whatsoever. The Autism Centre of Excellence will fill this void and give hope to many families. Please donate today if you can.”

Max Park

Autistic, Rubik’s Cube speed solver

Max is autistic and is one of the fastest Rubik’s Cube speed solvers in the world. At 9 years of age, Max was introduced to a Rubik’s cube as a therapy tool and is currently a world record holder for the 3×3 One Handed, 4×4, 5×5, 6×6, 7×7 cubes. He said “I’m delighted to be an ambassador as I want autistic people to be able to access better support.”

Nick Hine CB, ADC

Autistic, Former Vice Admiral, Royal Navy

As an autistic person, Nick is passionate that autistic individuals should be afforded the same opportunities as those who are neurotypical, and has championed openings to serve in the Royal Navy and will continue to do so in his new role. Nick served in a variety of diesel and nuclear submarines, as well as undertaking a number of surface vessel and Staff appointments. He was promoted in 2019 to Vice Admiral and left the Service recently to take up an appointment in industry.

Pat Nevin

Ex-footballer

“I am delighted to support the Autism Centre of Excellence as it strives to improve the lives of autistic people and their families. It is an area that needs constant work as my own family has learned over the past 30 years. Reaching those in need is imperative, and ACE will work to make evidence-based education, employment and clinical support available more widely.”

Rav Wilding

British television presenter and former police officer

“More than 2% of the world’s population is autistic so it is vital we improve our understanding of autism, as well as create better support for autistic people and their families. I was recently diagnosed as autistic by Professor Sir Baron-Cohen, and consider it a privilege to be ambassador for the Autism Centre of Excellence at Cambridge to help raise awareness of this cause so close to my heart.”

Advisory Panels: help select priority projects and ensure activity is conducted in line with the charity's values

The Autism Centre of Excellence listens to and works with the autism community via its Advisory panels, which are made up of autistic adults, parents/carers of autistic children (including children with a learning disability or who can’t advocate for themselves), clinicians, educators, employers and researchers.

A comprehensive survey of 400 autistic people and family members identified key areas of support required. The Advisory panels use this information to help select priority projects and partnerships. They ensure all activity is conducted in an autism-friendly way and is in line with ACE values – respecting the dignity and rights of autistic people while promoting inclusion and well-being. Click here for more details, including how to join.

Executive Team: responsible for the day-to-day running of the charity

Jon Cheyette

Chief Executive Officer

Jon began as CEO in 2021, continuing his career working for justice and inclusion. Previously he was CEO for Norfolk Citizens Advice and has held senior positions at charities including Thera East, Leonard Cheshire, SCOPE and FitzRoy. Jon is privileged to lead a team who share a commitment to revolutionising support with and for autistic people and their families.

Tracey Parsons

Director of Workstreams

Tracey has a background in clinical psychology, working with adults with learning disabilities and autistic adults. She has a long-standing interest in service delivery and improvement and a personal connection to autism through an autistic family member.

Elizabeth Coyne

Head of Communications

Lizzie has worked with the charity since its inception, previously coordinating events and fundraising for the Autism Research Trust. Lizzie has extensive PR agency experience, a person-centred approach, and oversees stakeholder engagement and comms.

Angela Marshall

Team Administrator

Angela is responsible for managing strategic administration. This involves supporting the Executive Team, maintaining all organisational systems, managing donations and overseeing the smooth running of IT.

Senior Leadership Team: oversight of key directional decisions

Jon Cheyette

Chief Executive Officer

Jon began as CEO in 2021, continuing his career working for justice and inclusion. Previously he was CEO for Norfolk Citizens Advice and has held senior positions at charities including Thera East, Leonard Cheshire, SCOPE and FitzRoy. Jon is privileged to lead a team who share a commitment to revolutionising support with and for autistic people and their families.

Dr Tracey Parsons

Director of Workstreams

Tracey has a background in clinical psychology, working with adults with learning disabilities and autistic adults. She has a long-standing interest in service delivery and improvement and a personal connection to autism through an autistic family member.

Dr Carrie Allison

Director of Research

Carrie is Director of Strategy at the Autism Research Centre at the University of Cambridge and Specialist Scientific Research Advisor for the Autism Centre of Excellence. She has over 20 years’ experience in autism research and is the author of many published scientific journal articles.

Professor Sir Simon Baron-Cohen

Director of ACE

Simon is Professor of Developmental Psychopathology at Cambridge University, Fellow at Trinity College, Cambridge, Director of the Autism Research Centre (ARC) and of ACE.

Board of Trustees: responsible for key decision-making relating to strategy

Each trustee brings to the board their own experiences, viewpoint and skill set. Trustees meet quarterly.

Fraser Hardie (Chair)

Previously Chairman of Teneo UK, Fraser is used to advising leadership teams at some of the world’s leading brands. He has an autistic son with high support needs, and knows well the challenges facing autistic people.

Professor Sir Simon
Baron-Cohen

Simon is Professor of Developmental Psychopathology at Cambridge University, Fellow at Trinity College, Cambridge, Director of the Autism Research Centre (ARC) and of ACE.

Lisa Binks

A journalist with a career spanning local newspapers, the BBC and 20 years at the Financial Times, Lisa also has an autistic son.

Andrew Buisson

Andrew is a partner at law firm Norton Rose Fulbright LLP, where he is Chair of the “Shine” Network, supporting employees with disabilities, health conditions and carer responsibilities. Andrew’s eldest son is

autistic.

Dr Ian Hall

NHS Consultant Psychiatrist in London, Ian has set up new diagnostic and intervention services for autistic people across the spectrum. He is also governor of a school for autistic children and has several autistic family members.

Anna Lewy

A trader at commodities firm, GM&T. Anna’s brother is autistic and, alongside her parents, she has been instrumental in securing the right care for him.

Dr Lewis Owens

Former university lecturer and education professional, Lewis has a PhD from Cambridge University. Lewis has an autistic child and is author of the ‘Archie’s Way’ children’s books, with all proceeds going to autism charities.

Iain Pocock

Expert in the fields of Insurance and Reinsurance. Iain’s two sons are autistic. Iain is committed to helping autistic people and their families access the right support.

Elias Sakellis

Chairman of the Development board as well as Trustee. Elias is Chief Investment Officer of Borealis Maritime Limited and CEO of Australis Maritime Limited. Elias has capital raising experience, a long career in investments and capital markets, and in the not-for-profit sector. Elias has an autistic son.

Dr Jonathan Tobin

Venture capital investor specialising in biotechnology. Jonathan has a young autistic son.

Development Board: responsible for outreach and impact

Lisa Binks

Lisa has an autistic son with moderate-severe learning difficulties which means, alongside her broad journalistic experience, she is equipped to powerfully network and campaign for the charity, which she does at local and national levels.

Christina Crosby

Christina has been involved with educational and entrepreneurship charities, alongside her career in corporate, wealth and tech investment management.

Alexis Maskell

Alexis is a father of a young autistic boy, and has extensive experience in finance.

Ron Moskovitz

Ron has a daughter who is blind and has complex needs. He comes from a fundraising background.

Leda Nelis

Leda has a grown-up autistic son, and is an experienced fundraiser.

Elias Sakellis

Chairman of the Development board as well as Trustee. Elias is Chief Investment Officer of Borealis Maritime Limited and CEO of Australis Maritime Limited. Elias has capital raising experience, a long career in investments and capital markets, and in the not-for-profit sector. Elias has an autistic son.

Catrina Skepper

Catrina has a grown-up autistic daughter and has extensive commercial experience.

Alexander Savin

Alexander is a Senior Partner and member of the Investment Committee of Elbrus Capital. He was CEO of an investment arm of Alfa Group, and Director in Investment Banking at Renaissance Capital.

Specialist Advisors: called upon for specific projects and tasks according to their areas of expertise

Hawa Sydique

Founder of Move The Dial consultancy, Hawa is a diversity and inclusion specialist and will advise us in these critical areas. Hawa worked for many years at Goldman Sachs, has extensive International Development experience and holds an MBA from Imperial College Business School, London.

Jenny Raine

Trustee for Red Balloon Educational Trust and previous CFO of ACE and Place2be, Jenny has broad charity experience. She brings to the charity invaluable counsel in finance and governance in particular.

Sarabjit Singh

Sarabjit trained in the field of social work. He is autistic and knows first-hand the barriers to accessing services and how traumatic this can be. His professional and personal experiences strengthen our link to the harder-to-reach members of the autism community.

Scroll down and click on the headings to learn about our team members.

Ambassadors: support ACE and raise awareness of its mission

Jools Holland

Jools Holland OBE

Musician and presenter

“I have immense admiration for the work of Professor Sir Simon Baron-Cohen and his team. ACE is making the world a different place for those on the autistic spectrum. The unprecedented collaboration between autistic people, their families, world-class researchers and service partners, will have an impact globally in a way we have never seen before.”

Paddy McGuinness

TV presenter

“I’m excited and honoured to be an ambassador for the Autism Centre of Excellence at Cambridge. Being a father of three autistic children I know how difficult it can get to find the right support, and ACE will address this challenge.”

Petra Ecclestone

Philanthropist

“As a mother of four young children, I have resolved to support families whose children have suspected autism or learning delays. ACE works to improve valuable services to help fulfil the potential of the individual.”

Lucy Hawking

Children’s author, science communicator and daughter of Professor Steven Hawking

“As the mother of an autistic young adult, I know only too well the struggles that autistic people can experience in accessing the right support and I deeply appreciate Simon’s commitment to making the world a better place for us all.”

David Joseph CBE

Chairman and CEO of Universal Music UK

“I am a passionate supporter of the Autism Centre of Excellence and a long-time advocate for the value neurodiversity brings to the workplace. In January 2020 we launched Creative Differences, the first handbook for embracing neurodiversity in the creative industries which we are currently updating for a second edition. Simon and the team have been an inspiration to me throughout.”

Chris Packham

Autistic, TV presenter

“I know what it’s like to struggle at school, be socially excluded and bullied due to being autistic. That is why I am excited to work with ACE which believes in respecting and empowering autistic people through excellent, evidence-based support. Everyone has the right to lead a life where they feel they belong and are valued.”

Rick Jupp

Musician

“Raising our son Dylan and trying to understand his autism, we felt alone and lost – we had no guidance whatsoever. ACE will fill this void and give hope to many families. Please donate today if you can.”

Max Park

Autistic, Rubik’s Cube speed solver

Max is autistic and is one of the fastest Rubik’s Cube speed solvers in the world. At 9 years of age, Max was introduced to a Rubik’s cube as a therapy tool and is currently a world record holder for the 3×3 One Handed, 4×4, 5×5, 6×6, 7×7 cubes. He said “I’m delighted to be an ACE ambassador as I want autistic people to be able to access better support.”

Nick Hine CB, ADC

Autistic, Former Vice Admiral, Royal Navy

As an autistic person, Nick is passionate that autistic individuals should be afforded the same opportunities as those who are neurotypical, and has championed openings to serve in the Royal Navy and will continue to do so in his new role. Nick served in a variety of diesel and nuclear submarines, as well as undertaking a number of surface vessel and Staff appointments. He was promoted in 2019 to Vice Admiral and left the Service recently to take up an appointment in industry.

Pat Nevin

Ex-footballer

“I am delighted to support ACE as it strives to improve the lives of autistic people and their families. It is an area that needs constant work as my own family has learned over the past 30 years. Reaching those in need is imperative, and ACE will work to make evidence-based education, employment and clinical support available more widely.”

Rav Wilding

Television presenter and former police officer

“More than 2% of the world’s population is autistic so it is vital we improve our understanding of autism, as well as create better support for autistic people and their families. I was recently diagnosed as autistic by Professor Sir Baron-Cohen, and consider it a privilege to be ambassador for the Autism Centre of Excellence at Cambridge to help raise awareness of this cause so close to my heart.”

Advisory Board: helps select priority projects and ensures all activity is conducted in line with ACE values

ACE listens to and works with the autism community via its Advisory Board, which includes autistic adults, parents/carers of autistic children (including children with a learning disability or who can’t advocate for themselves), clinicians, educators, employers and researchers.

A comprehensive survey of 400 autistic people and family members identified key areas of support required. The Advisory Board uses this information to help select priority projects and partnerships. It ensures all activity is conducted in an autism-friendly way and is in line with ACE values – respecting the dignity and rights of autistic people while promoting inclusion and well-being.

Click here for more details, including how to join.

Executive team: responsible for the day-to-day running of ACE

Jon Cheyette

Chief Executive Officer

Jon began as CEO in 2021, continuing his career working for justice and inclusion. Previously he was CEO for Norfolk Citizens Advice and has held senior positions at charities including Thera East, Leonard Cheshire, SCOPE and FitzRoy. Jon is privileged to lead a team who share a commitment to revolutionising support with and for autistic people and their families.

Tracey Parsons

Director of Workstreams

Tracey has a background in clinical psychology, working with adults with learning disabilities and autistic adults. She has a long-standing interest in service delivery and improvement and a personal connection to autism through an autistic family member.

Elizabeth Coyne

Head of Communications

Lizzie has worked with ACE since its inception, previously coordinating events and fundraising for the Autism Research Trust. Lizzie has extensive PR agency experience, a person-centred approach, and oversees stakeholder engagement and comms for ACE.

Angela Marshall

Team Administrator

Angela is responsible for managing the strategic administration for ACE. This involves supporting the Executive Team, maintaining all organisational systems, managing donations and overseeing the smooth running of IT.

Senior Leadership Team: oversight of key directional decisions

Jon Cheyette

Chief Executive Officer

Jon began as CEO in 2021, continuing his career working for justice and inclusion. Previously he was CEO for Norfolk Citizens Advice and has held senior positions at charities including Thera East, Leonard Cheshire, SCOPE and FitzRoy. Jon is privileged to lead a team who share a commitment to revolutionising support with and for autistic people and their families.

Tracey Parsons

Director of Workstreams

Tracey has a background in clinical psychology, working with adults with learning disabilities and autistic adults. She has a long-standing interest in service delivery and improvement and a personal connection to autism through an autistic family member.

Dr Carrie Allison

Director of Research

Carrie is Director of Strategy at the Autism Research Centre at the University of Cambridge and Specialist Scientific Research Advisor for the Autism Centre of Excellence. She has over 20 years’ experience in autism research and is the author of many published scientific journal articles.

Professor Sir Simon Baron-Cohen

Director of ACE

Simon is Professor of Developmental Psychopathology at Cambridge University, Fellow at Trinity College, Cambridge, Director of the Autism Research Centre (ARC) and of ACE.

Board of Trustees: responsible for key decision-making about ACE strategy

Each trustee brings to the board their own experiences, viewpoint and skill set. ACE trustees meet quarterly.

Fraser Hardie (Chair)

Previously Chairman of Teneo UK, Fraser is used to advising leadership teams at some of the world’s leading brands. He has an autistic son with high support needs, and knows well the challenges facing autistic people.

Professor Sir Simon
Baron-Cohen

Simon is Professor of Developmental Psychopathology at Cambridge University, Fellow at Trinity College, Cambridge, Director of the Autism Research Centre (ARC) and of ACE.

Lisa Binks

A journalist with a career spanning local newspapers, the BBC and 20 years at the Financial Times, Lisa also has an autistic son.

Andrew Buisson

Andrew is a partner at law firm Norton Rose Fulbright LLP, where he is Chair of the “Shine” Network, supporting employees with disabilities, health conditions and carer responsibilities. Andrew’s eldest son is autistic.

Dr Ian Hall

NHS Consultant Psychiatrist in London, Ian has set up new diagnostic and intervention services for autistic people across the spectrum. He is also governor of a school for autistic children and has several autistic family members.

Anna Lewy

A trader at commodities firm, GM&T. Anna’s brother is autistic and, alongside her parents, she has been instrumental in securing the right care for him.

Dr Lewis Owens

Former university lecturer and education professional, Lewis has a PhD from Cambridge University. Lewis has an autistic child and is author of the ‘Archie’s Way’ children’s books, with all proceeds going to autism charities.

Iain Pocock

Expert in the fields of Insurance and Reinsurance. Iain’s two sons are autistic. Iain is committed to helping autistic people and their families access the right support.

Elias Sakellis

Chairman of the Development board as well as Trustee. Elias is Chief Investment Officer of Borealis Maritime Limited and CEO of Australis Maritime Limited. Elias has capital raising experience, a long career in investments and capital markets, and in the not-for-profit sector. Elias has an autistic son.

Dr Jonathan Tobinakellis

Venture capital investor specialising in biotechnology. Jonathan has a young autistic son.

Development Board: responsible for ACE’s outreach and impact

Lisa Binks

Lisa has an autistic son with moderate-severe learning difficulties which means, alongside her broad journalistic experience, she is equipped to powerfully network and campaign for ACE, which she does at local and national levels.

Christina Crosby

Christina has been involved with educational and entrepreneurship charities, alongside her career in corporate, wealth and tech investment management.

Alexis Maskell

Alexis is a father of a young autistic boy, and has extensive experience in finance.

Ron Moskovitz

Ron has a daughter who is blind and has complex needs. He comes from a fundraising background.

Leda Nelis

Leda has a grown-up autistic son, and is an experienced fundraiser.

Elias Sakellis

Chairman of the Development board as well as Trustee. Elias is Chief Investment Officer of Borealis Maritime Limited and CEO of Australis Maritime Limited. Elias has capital raising experience, a long career in investments and capital markets, and in the not-for-profit sector. Elias has an autistic son.

Catrina Skepper

Catrina has a grown-up autistic daughter and has extensive commercial experience.

Alexander Savin

Alexander is a Senior Partner and member of the Investment Committee of Elbrus Capital. He was CEO of an investment arm of Alfa Group, and Director in Investment Banking at Renaissance Capital.

Specialist Advisors: called upon for specific projects and tasks according to their areas of expertise

Hawa Sydique

Founder of Move The Dial consultancy, Hawa is a diversity and inclusion specialist and will advise ACE in these critical areas. Hawa worked for many years at Goldman Sachs, has extensive International Development experience and holds an MBA from Imperial College Business School, London.

Jenny Raine

Trustee for Red Balloon Educational Trust and previous CFO of ACE and Place2be, Jenny has broad charity experience. She brings to ACE invaluable counsel in finance and governance in particular.

Sarabjit Singh

Sarabjit trained in the field of social work. He is autistic and knows first-hand the barriers to accessing services and how traumatic this can be. His professional and personal experiences strengthen ACE’s link to the harder-to-reach members of the autism community.

 

Ambassadors

Ambassador Jools Holland feels strongly that many autistic people and their families are suffering without the right support.  Learn more about Jools and the other remarkable ambassadors committed to the work of the Autism Centre of Excellence at Cambridge.

About Us

The Autism Centre of Excellence at Cambridge (ACE) translates research excellence into transformational support, bringing evidence-based approaches to autistic people around the world through our ground-breaking partnerships.

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