Meet the Board
President & CEO, The Autism Council
Disability Rights Advocate
Lawana Jones has dedicated her life advocating, supporting, and educating others on disability rights for children, young adults, and families living with Autism and other Special Needs for over 25 years. Lawana was recently honored as the 2020 NYS Woman of Distinction for the 56th Senate District by Senator Joseph E. Robach for her community efforts.
Lawana is a parent of a 31 year old female adult with Autism, and President & Chief Executive Officer of The Autism Council of Rochester, a Health & Human Service agency that she started over 15 years ago. Under her leadership, In February 2020, Jones led the agency in becoming the 1st IBCCES Certified Autism Center™ in Rochester, NY. Most notably, the agency also created and obtained the official trademark for the first every Autism-Friendly™ and Sensory-Friendly™ designation for towns, businesses and recreational venues and facilities in New York State. She has worked tirelessly in this effort to increase disability awareness in her community. Also in her tenure as a Certified Trainer, Jones has provided Autism Awareness training to over 600+ local professionals including nurses, teachers, administrators, first responder crews, and local law enforcement emergency response crisis team.
Jones has a BS degree from Nazareth College of Rochester, and MBA Certificate from William B. Simon School at the University of Rochester.
Starting In 2015, she partnered with local Leaders and leading businesses to successfully host the first Annual Specialized Employment Job & Career for individuals with Autism and other special needs. This annual event is also the 1st of its kind in Upstate New York. This out of the box thinking also garnered Lawana a 2016 International Autism Community Leadership Award at the World Autism Festival in Vancouver, British Columbia hosted by the Lenora & Charlie Collura Foundation.
Jones’ community efforts also garnered her a special invite to the Whitehouse by past President Barak Obama & Deputy Assistant Michael Strautmanis to attend the Inaugural World Autism Day Conference, along with 30 other Disability Advocates from across the United States.