Meet The Director

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Michelle Dunham, Executive Director

Photo of Michelle Dunham, Executive Director, Jacksonville School for AutismMichelle and her husband, Mark, are the founding parents of Jacksonville School for Autism (JSA).

Michelle developed the model for JSA to give her son, Nicholas, the best opportunity to learn. After experiencing educational programs through both the private and public sector, Michelle wanted to combine aspects of Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) therapy, speech and language therapy, motor skills training, sensory integration therapy, and play and socialization with peers.

As a Florida native, Michelle received a B.S. degree in Finance from the University of Florida. She began her career with NationsBank/Bank of America as a sales analyst and then became a Commercial Banking Vice-President. During her tenure in the banking industry, Michelle was appointed to Public Relations V.P. where she began her involvement with community-based charities.

Michelle left banking to start a career with Johnson & Johnson in 1992 as an office-based sales representative with Janssen Pharmaceutical, Inc. In a career that spans 13 years, she held many positions in CNS Sales Management and National Sales Operations. Early in her career, she was exposed to adults and children with special needs through one of her positions as a CNS sales representative selling medications to physicians treating patients with various mental and developmental disabilities like autism. Her personal fight with autism would come years later with the diagnosis of her son in February of 2000.

In April of 2005, Michelle met with a small group of parents to initiate discussions about starting a school for children with autism. In August of that year, Michelle and her husband Mark, along with another dedicated family, started JSA. In her role, she is responsible for financial oversight, fundraising done by the school including organizing and coordinating the annual golf tournament, and overall school administration. Michelle has over 15 years of fundraising experience through her volunteer efforts with The Junior League, The American Cancer Society, and various board positions.