Laurie Cramer, Executive Director

Laurie Cramer is the Executive Director of the Autism Society of Greater Akron.  In 2011, she became the first staff member after being a long-time volunteer; her last volunteer position was President of the organization.

Ms. Cramer’s drive and passion to support a better life for individuals on the autism spectrum came from her family’s personal journey of raising a child with autism. Prior to her current position, she worked in the field of public relations/communications, most recently as the spokesperson for the Summit County Prosecutor.  Her experience also includes being the Communications Director and spokesperson for two national energy-related associations, as well as a Senior Vice President for a public affairs firm in Washington, D.C.  Ms. Cramer also served as a Press Secretary to two Congressmen in the U.S. House of Representatives.

In 2003, Ms. Cramer and her family moved to Akron from Washington, D.C.  At that time, the family was learning that their two-and-a-half year old son likely had autism. From that time forward, life forever changed.

Ms. Cramer holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Communications from Florida State University and a Master’s Degree in Organizational Development from George Washington University.  She is married to Gregg Cramer and they reside in Fairlawn with their two sons.

hyla cushner

Hyla Cushner, Community Outreach Coordinator

Hyla Cushner joined the Akron Autism Society after her retirement from Summit Developmental Disabilities (DD) where she was a Children’s SSA. She has also taught Special Education and has a master’s in Transition Services from Kent State University.

Hyla will be our information and referral contact for families and professionals as well as coordinating the monthly speakers for the Parent Educational Network (PEN) and Coffee, Tea & Autism support group meetings. Hyla shared with us that she is excited about this next chapter in her life which will afford her the opportunity to continue her connection with families who have children special needs and have a bit more time for her husband and 5 grandchildren.


Lisa Thompson, Special Events & Volunteer Coordinator

Lisa Thompson is the Special Events & Volunteer Coordinator at the Autism Society of Greater Akron.  Ms. Thompson holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration and Marketing from Mars Hill College in Asheville, North Carolina.  

She has worked as a Marketing Coordinator in the Consumer Packaged Goods Industry for most of her career.  She has been responsible for executing programs for major household brands including Tyson Chicken, International Delight Coffee Creamer and Marie’s Salad Dressing.

Ms. Thompson began with the Autism Society as a volunteer Camp Director for the iCan Bike Camp.  After three years of service, she was then hired as a part-time employee of the organization.  Her involvement stems from a passion for everyone touched by autism to enjoy life to the fullest.   

She is the mother of twin boys with one being on the autism spectrum.  She is married to Greg Thompson and they reside in Copley.

 mary richards

Mary Richards, Community Outreach Coordinator

Mary Richards is the Community Outreach Coordinator.  She started with the Autism Society of Greater Akron as the Administrative Assistant in 2016.  Mary has a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration with a major in accounting.  She spent 15 years working in audit and financial accounting.  Mary also has an extensive background with Girl Scouts volunteering as a girl member, leader, training facilitator, camp monitor, and event coordinator for 30 years.  

Mary has a passion for the Autism Society’s mission of improving the lives of all who are affected by autism since she is a single woman raising an autistic grandchild.  Like you, she experiences the joys and challenges of raising a special needs child. No two of our children are alike, but we have a similar journey.