Diane Gould

Founder & Executive Director

Diane is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker that specializes in serving autistic individuals. As the Executive Director and Founder of PDA North America, she founded the annual PDA North America conference held in Chicago that has changed the lives of hundreds of PDA families.

Currently, Diane has a private practice in the suburbs of Chicago, where she serves neurodivergent children, adults and their families. Over the last 40 plus years, she has worked for both private agencies and school systems. Diane was the Childhood Disability and Family Support Specialist for the Jewish Children’s Bureau for over a decade. She created many different types of programs and support groups, family camps, and parent education. She also established inclusion consultation and home visiting programs. She also has worked for two special education cooperatives which resulted in working in 14 schools during her career. 

She served on the Professional Advisory Board of the Autism Society of Illinois for many years. Diane also facilitates a program to improve relationship skills for teens and adults.

She has served as a consultant and guest lecturer for many area school districts, parent associations, and private agencies.

Diane provides assessments and consultations to families and school districts and frequently attends school meetings.  Diane has always been interested in human behavior and works with individuals, parents and schools to create support plans that increase emotional regulation. She has been vocal with her concerns that our commonly used practices increase dysregulation and make behavioral challenges worse. She fights against punitive practices including seclusion, restraint, suspension and expulsion.

It was the understanding of behavior and support in the PDA literature that first drew her to learn more about PDA. And learning about PDA, led her to begin the new PDA movement in North America. Diane formed PDA North America at the first American PDA conference in March 2020. She has written a book with Ruth Fidler on Navigating PDA in America which can be purchased here.

She is making it part of her life’s mission to gain more awareness and understanding of PDA in North America through this non-profit organization.

Board Of Directors

Colleen Hanson

Board Member

PJ Starling PDA North America Board Member

Paul-Jean Letourneau

Board Member

Guy Stephens PDA North America Board Member

Guy Stephens

Board Member

Frances Shapiro PDA North America Board Member

Frances Shapiro

Board Member

Team Members & Partners

Sara O’Keefe

Director of Administration and Development

Ruth Hevelone

Director of Programs & Marketing

Sandra P. McConnell

Certified PDA Trainer & Family Consultant

Zach Morris

Education Consultant / Homeschool Advisor

Brook Deanne Madera

PDA Consultant & Advocate

Asiatu Lawoyin

Autistic Educator & Intersectional Consultant

Erica Evans

Support Group Manager & Research Assistant


Molly Johnson

Coordinator of PDA-Affirming Provider List

Elise Jacobson, LCSW

PDA Case Consultation Leader

Amy Kotha

Presentation Designer

Lorraine Endres


Sarah Church Carroll

Graphic Design Support

Matt Voran

Web and Technology

PDA Insights Contributors

Lindsay Flanagan

Founder of Hive Parents

Sunita Theiss

Autistic Parent of PDAer

Rabbi Shoshana Miera Friedman

Adult PDAer & PDA Coach

Sally Cat

Adult PDAer & Author of PDA by PDAers

Stephanie Myung

Former BCBA turned PDA Parent & Advocate