Autistic Advisory Council
Bradford West (he/him)
My name is Bradford West. I am 28 years old, I was born and raised in Durham NC. I graduated from Northern High School in 2011. From 2011-2018 I lived in Greensboro and went to College at UNCG. In 2015 I graduated from UNCG, my major was Integrated Community Studies (ICS for short). While in college I worked as an assistant auto mechanic at Honest 1 Auto Care. I also worked as a peer mentor, I helped students with intellectual disabilities get around UNCG campus and the community. Right now I’m living in my own house in Durham and working at the VA Hospital as a patient escort. I help veterans get to their appointments and in and out of the hospital. I have been working at the VA hospital over two years.
Hannah Shumaker (she/they)
Hannah (she/they) is a proudly autistic parent, gardener, and community-builder. In her work in mental health and cultural ecology, she strives for relationships and environments in which liberated, equitable access is the norm. She enjoys juggling just-enough projects, absorbing radiant warmth, welcoming awe, pursuing understanding, embracing abundance, leveraging power, and crafting a sense of mutual belonging.
Remington Brown (he/him)
Remington Brown is a certified health coach with 6 years of experience. He has several certifications from different programs related to nutrition and health, including a certification from the University of Central Florida. He enjoys educating the public on healthy lifestyles and how to be the best version of themselves. He also holds a degree in Integrative Studies from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro where he majored in Advocacy. He has engaged in many projects surrounding Self-Advocacy, Ableism, and Disability Justice over the years.
Sam Brandsen (he/him)
I am currently a postdoctoral associate at Duke University with research interests at the intersection of machine learning and quantum information theory. I spend all of my free time with my wonderful child or working on neurodiversity-related initiatives. My special interest is working to develop more neurodiversity-affirming healthcare systems and educational practices. I currently co-facilitate a peer discussion group for neurodivergent individuals; and have also co-led several presentations on autism and neurodiversity for medical professionals, mental health clinicians, and academic staff respectively. I am constantly grateful to Neurodiversity Connections at Duke for the opportunity to become more involved in autism-related advocacy. My hope is that we can develop a world where everyone's unique perspective and way of communicating is valued and respected, and where all kinds of diversity are celebrated.
Gerald Parrish (he/him)
Jackie Pilgrim (she/her)
Gerald Parrish (he/him) is proudly Autistic and Black. He currently serves on the Self-Advocates Advisory Board at Autism Society of NC (ASNC). He also co-leads the Racial Equity & Social Responsiveness Work Group at Work Together NC. His past work includes Travel Training Instructor and Community Inclusion Specialist at Alliance of Disability. Gerald also has a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Music Performance with concentration in Voice from Talladega College in Talladega, Alabama. When he is not working, he typically attends and co-leads the Triangle Autism Meetup Group where they do a variety of activities including eating out, bowling, movies, board/arcade games, and museums. He also enjoys listening to music and singing. He lives in Raleigh, NC.
Azrael Burton (xe/they)
Jackie Pilgrim is an Advocate for persons having Epilepsy, Autism, Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities, and Mental Illness; Founder of Autism’s Love: The Pilgrimage, Public Speaker, Artist, Poet, Blogger and Parent to a young adult who challenges the stigma of having disabilities. Jackie is currently partnered with the Durham CIT Leadership Collaborative to increase Autism and Intellectual/Developmental Disability awareness. In 2017, Jackie received an invitation to participate as a panel speaker at the United Nations World Autism Awareness Day Observation in NY, where she spoke on the importance of increasing autism awareness and education for Police Officers and First Responders. Jackie also serves on the Board of Directors for NAMI Durham (National Alliance on Mental Illness), the Mayor’s Committee for Disabled Persons and Jackie is a representative of the National Black Disability Coalition (NBDC) and serves on several committees. Jackie’s goals are to dismantle disability stigma and empower disabled individuals, family members, caregivers, and providers by increasing education and awareness of Autism, Intellectual Disabilities, and Mental Illness from the vantage point of lived experience.
Azrael is working toward a degree in Women and Gender Studies with a Minor in Sexuality Studies. Xe is driven by furthering sex education into a more intersectional arena, as xis lived experience is inherently intersectional. They believe marginalized communities are particularly underserved in many academic conversations surrounding gender, sex and sexuality and looks to those primary sources as equally important.
Rae Zhang (she/they)
Rae is a patent agent and an aspiring lawyer. She aims to promote neurodiversity awareness in the practice of law and hopes to further inclusivity for autistic employees and clients. She enjoys spending time with family, hiking, and playing table tennis.