When Myles Hinkel first attended a town hall meeting in 2005 about the newly created Thompson Center, little did he and his wife Lora know how impactful the Center would be in their family’s life over the next 15 years. The Thompson Center has meant so much to his family, in fact, that Myles has agreed to take over as the director of the Thompson Foundation for Autism, which is the nonprofit organization dedicated to raising money and support for Thompson Center programs and families.
For the Hinkels, autism is personal. Their son, Blake, was diagnosed with ASD 15 years ago. Myles says having the Thompson Center and its providers serve as a support system in those difficult early years helped his family tremendously in learning to live with autism.
“I don’t think there is any aspect of our lives that autism hasn’t affected,” Myles said. “Autism definitely takes its toll emotionally, financially, relationship-wise with friends and family, and in many other ways. However, it has also taught us the beauty of unconditional love, seeing the true soul of a person, empathy, and what is really important in life.”
With years of experience in fundraising at the University of Missouri, as well as years of experience with autism and the Thompson Center, having Myles step into a leadership role with the Foundation seems like a match made in heaven for the Foundation.
“Myles brings a passion to his new role and describes this as his ‘dream position,’” said Ron Ashworth, chair of the Thompson Foundation board. “He has experience in dealing with autism in his family and has worked with his wife Lora in service to the Thompson Center for many years. With his depth of experience in Advancement with the University, he already has plans to pursue significant fundraising initiatives for the Thompson Foundation in order to benefit the Thompson Center.”
Myles says his deeply personal relationship with autism and the challenges it creates for families was a driving factor in his decision to take on this new role.
“The Foundation enjoys the leadership of incredible volunteers with unparalleled experience and expertise,” Myles said. “The board knows that autism families are resilient and relentless! The Foundation will continue to be resilient and relentless in our pursuit of the mission and the opportunity to join this mission was impossible to pass up.”
Myles began at the Foundation on June 1, replacing the retiring director, Al Eberhard. Myles has already hit the ground running.
“We have some exciting initiatives for the near future,” Myles said. “We’re going to increase critical services, training and education by enhancing and building new partnerships; we’re going to build technology and infrastructure; expand the external and internal awareness of the Thompson Foundation brand; and finally, we will seek philanthropic partners to help us change lives!”
And changing lives is the number one mission for both the Center and the Foundation.
For more information about how to support the Thompson Foundation for Autism, visit: http://thompsonfoundation.org/