Staff Members

Executive Director – Michelle Schmidt, PhD

Michelle has been active in the area of inclusive education, including mental health and developmental disabilities throughout her career, which has spanned more than 30 years. Michelle has served on a number of provincial and national initiatives and presented nationally and internationally on a variety of topics including equity, access and inclusion; collaborative practices; transitions to adulthood; interdisciplinary navigation; education of the d/Deaf or hard of hearing; Deafblindness; and school refusal. When Michelle left the Maple Ridge Pitt Meadows School District in 2013, the Michelle Schmidt Legacy Award: Recognizing Students who Persevere with Empathy and Compassion, was created in her name.  The Canadian Association of Educators of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing acknowledged Michelle’s advocacy, by presenting her with the Advocacy Award in 2017.

Prior to joining ACT in 2022, Michelle Schmidt was involved in public education in British Columbia, as an educator, school psychologist, and administrator. Most recently, Michelle served as Director of Instruction in the Surrey School District, where she was responsible for inclusive education and supports for students with diverse abilities.

During her time in Surrey, Michelle led several district initiatives to support children and youth with autism and their families, including:

  • collaborating with ACT to provide evidence-based training in autism for educators;
  • development of kindergarten readiness programs for children with autism;
  • implementation of Practical Functional Assessment/Skill-based treatment;
  • creation of an autism diagnostic team for children of families experiencing multiple barriers; and
  • providing leadership in established formal partnerships and research between Surrey School District and the University of Victoria and Simon Fraser University, related to students with autism.

These initiatives and others, are profiled in the Spring 2022 and Spring 2021 issues of InspirEd, a publication of the BC School Superintendents Association.

Michelle has a Doctor of Philosophy, Educational Psychology (honours) degree from Capella University; a Master of Science, Division of Educational Policy and Management degree from the University of Oregon; a Diploma in Educational Psychology and Special Education from the University of British Columbia (UBC); a Bachelor of Education from Brandon University; a Certificate in Organizational Coaching from UBC and is a Certified Autism Specialist, International Board of Credentialing and Continuing Education Standards.  Michelle has written university and college course curriculum and served as expert consultant, and is a Program Evaluator with the British Columbia Private Training Institution Branch.

Financial Controller – Linda Leung

Linda Leung is a CPA, CGA with a business degree from UBC. Her professional experiences were mainly in the manufacturing and transportation industries, including the not-for-profit sector. She enjoys the natural beauty of BC and its many hiking trails, but also loves to travel. To relax, she likes to curl up in a sofa with a good book and attend yoga classes.

Digital Communications Coordinator – Ryan Quiring

Ryan Quiring has a Certificate in Web Development from the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology, a BA in Sociology from Simon Fraser University, and attended the New Media program at the University of Lethbridge. Ryan has previously worked in design and technical roles at DOXA Documentary Festival, Simon Fraser University’s Information Technology services, and CJSF Radio 90.1 FM.

Program Development Officer – Jordan A. Thurm

Jordan joined ACT as the Admin and Training Coordinator, and has moved into the position of Program Development Officer. Jordan has a BA Hons degree in English with Creative Writing from Nottingham Trent University. Her previous work experience in both England and Canada has been in administration and retail management. She has been involved with a non-profit organization built to assist indigenous youth in Vancouver. Jordan is excited to join ACT and contribute to providing resources and support to the autistic and neuro-diverse community, and assisting ACT’s aim to aid marginalized communities.

Community Liaison Officer – Allison Balfour

Allison is a dedicated advocate with over 15 years of experience in inclusive education, focusing on mental health and developmental disabilities. Her expertise is bolstered by her role as a parent to neurodivergent children, providing her with invaluable insights and empathy.

In her capacity as a member of the District Action Team for Autism in Surrey Schools, Allison served as a Practical Functional Assessment/Skill-based treatment implementation coach, offering essential support to students and educators alike. She also conducted Low-arousal training and collaborated with Intensive Intervention teams, integrating trauma-assumed approaches into educational practices.

Allison’s skill set encompasses teaching de-escalation techniques and facilitating social skills classes, enriching the learning environment for all students. Beyond the confines of the classroom, Allison is deeply committed to assisting families in navigating the complexities of various systems, including the Ministry, medical, and educational realms. She approaches this task as part of a multidisciplinary team, advocating tirelessly for her own neurodivergent children while supporting others in similar situations.

Information Resource Manager – Rémi Castonguay

Rémi Castonguay received his Master’s in Library and Information Studies from McGill University in 2000 and an M.A. in musicology from Hunter College in 2008. His varied experience in New York City took him from the Frick Collection to Columbia University and the City University of New York. He was Public Services and Project Librarian at Yale University’s Gilmore Music Library from 2008 to 2015. In British Columbia he worked at Lucidea as a Manager of Project & Software Implementation until May 2019. At SFU he was the interim Digital Scholarship Librarian (2019-21), overseeing a vast array of digital humanities projects. At UBC he worked as Curator of the Visual Resources Centre. On a personal level, Rémi’s daughter is diagnosed with autism and myotonic dystrophy and as such, he brings a long experience dealing with health care, augmented communication and school inclusion. Rémi is so happy so join ACT as Information Resource Manager because he can bring together his information management skills with his commitment to helping people with disabilities.


Nancy Yamazaki

Nancy is a retired businesswoman and holds a BSc in Computer Science from the University of Victoria.  She is also a parent of a child on the autism spectrum and understands the challenges of navigating support and resources for individuals with a disability.   She joined the ACT team in order to utilize her administrative skills and lived experiences to assist other families in the autism community.

Sophie Wang

Sophie holds a BA degree in Economics from UNBC. She has worked in financial services, sales, administration, and branch compliance. Sophie also received a certificate from UBC on Autism and Neurodiversity in the Workplace. As a parent of an autistic child, she is a passionate advocate for autism awareness and inclusivity. She is excited to volunteer to foster understanding and support for the autism community.

Sujung Kim

Sujung Kim, originally from Seoul, Korea, is an accomplished educator and speech therapist with a Bachelor’s degree in English Education from Hankuk University of Foreign Studies and a Master’s degree in Speech-Language Pathology from Ewha Women’s University, both located in Seoul. With a diverse background, she initially spent two years teaching high school English in Seoul before transitioning to speech-language pathology, where she worked for another two years. Sujung has extensive experience teaching and supporting autistic children both in school and private settings. Currently residing in Vancouver, she is active in the community, caring for her child and sharing her passion for music as a member of the VSO Camerata, drawing from fifteen years of violin experience.