About Autism Family Network
About Autism Family Network (AFN)

The mission of the Autism Family Network is to support and advocate for individuals and their families with autism spectrum disorders. We are dedicated to provide social opportunities, recreational experiences, community inclusion and to promote a positive, respectful image of people with autism and their families. We are committed to raising the funds necessary to support their goals.


Our goal is to provide a safe place for families to share their smiles and stories and shed their tears with those who truly understand “to know they are not alone.” It is a place that they can find help amidst frustration and connect among others sharing similar life challenges and joys.

We believe:
  • a person has the right to a loving, secure and nurturing environment.
  • families are the strongest support for the well being and nurturing of people with autism, and we recognize that “the family” may be defined in many ways.
  • people with autism need understanding, acceptance, and respect as individuals.
  • relationships and personal connections are at the core of creating an atmosphere where an individual may thrive and experience success.
  • families and children need a caring, safe place to play and learn with others who truly understand and share similar life experiences.
  • we are a strength-based support network that cultivates relationships among children with autism and their parents that are positive and proactive in providing opportunities for them to reach their full potential.

The founder of Autism Family Network worked as a Pediatric Behavior Nurse Specialist, assisting in the care of approximately 250 children on the autism spectrum. In this role, it became apparent that there were joys and struggles experienced by these families. Many parents seemed exhausted, isolated, and floundering for connection and answers to questions. The seeds were planted for Autism Family Network.

Autism Family Network had its first organizational meeting September 2006. AFN has become what it is today because of the many great families and volunteers coming alongside to see this dream become a wonderful reality!

Autism Family Network has a governing Board consisting of President, Vice-President, Secretary, Treasurer and Member(s)-at-Large.


Cathy Martinez: President
Cathy has owned and operated a daycare in northeast Lincoln since 1993.  She has a degree in psychology from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Cathy, and her husband Cesar, have four children.  Their youngest child received an autism diagnosis in 2005.  She has served as president of the AFN board since 2009. She is a past board member of Autism Society of Nebraska and FEAT of Nebraska. She is a current board member of ARC of Lincoln, and serves as the Nebraska state legislative advocacy chair for Autism Speaks. Cathy has been appointed twice to the governor's advisory committee for developmental disabilities.

Lisa Stolte: Vice President
Lisa is a parent of two children; one of which was diagnosed with autism nine years ago, at the age of 8. She has volunteered with Autism Family Network since 2011, and has served on the board since 2011. Lisa has degrees in Sociology and Criminal Justice from Weber State University. Lisa also has worked with special needs children in the Lincoln Public School district as a para-educator for 6 years.

Amera Franck – Secretary

Allison Fredericks: Treasurer
Allison currently functions as an Executive Vice President of Human Resources and Corporate Operations. Ms. Fredericks graduated from The Ohio State University with a degree in Business Administration. Her professional background includes working within the financial services, marketing and manufacturing industries. Allison has been a part of the Autism Family Network for over 5 years and recently increased her involvement by joining the board of directors of AFN, serving as Treasurer. Allison has a child on the Autism spectrum and is dedicated to helping children and families like hers find the resources and community support needed for those with disabilities.

Dr. Lorrie E. Bryant: Board Member
Dr. Lorrie Bryant is a licensed psychologist who has lived in Lincoln for 28 years. She is married with two grown daughters and three grandchildren. Dr. Bryant’s experience in working with children and adults with Autism Spectrum Disorders and other developmental and learning disorders began in the mid 1970’s. Her experience ranges from being a teaching assistant in the first public school classroom for children with severe-profound disabilities in Hastings, Nebraska to directing several day treatment, educational, and vocational training programs for children and adults with severe disabilities and behavioral impairments in Chicago, Illinois. Dr. Bryant graduated from Hastings College in 1977 and received her doctoral degree in 1996 from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in the area of school psychology. After working as a school psychologist for the Lincoln public Schools, she entered private practice at the Behavioral Pediatric and Family Therapy Program in 1998. Her private practice focused on evaluation, behavioral and cognitive-behavioral therapy, parent training and consultation for children ranging in age from 2 years through high school with Autism Spectrum Disorders and other developmental and mental health concerns. She recently retired from providing therapy, but continues to complete occasional psychological evaluations. In her free time, she enjoys spending time with her family and friends, scrapbooking, Jazzercise, and volunteer opportunities.

Colby Coash: Board Member
Colby has spent his career working with and for people with disabilities. He has worked for area providers as a direct support professional, supervisor, and administrator. He often states that "Working with people with disabilities is not a vocation that you choose, it is a vocation that chooses you." He now spends his time working with companies of all kinds sharing his message of relationships and passion for the work. Colby spent 8 years in the Legislature where he focused much of his time in advocating for vulnerable populations. He carried and worked on bills that impacted the lives of children, people with disabilities and the elderly. It is that wok that he is most proud of. Colby lives in Lincoln with his wife Rhonda and son Cole.

Jake Dwinell: Board Member
Jake is a recent graduate of Lincoln East High School. At the age of 18 months, Jake became suddenly non-verbal. He found his voice again around 3 years old but was not diagnosed until Kindergarten with an ASD as well as ADD and OCD. Despite the challenges Jake graduated this spring from Lincoln East High School – even making honor roll without accommodations his senior year. Jake’s interests include helping those with bigger challenges than his as well as continuing to hone his French. Jake has an older brother, younger sister and parents who work local radio. He hopes to begin a woodworking business out of his home this summer in Lincoln.

Cyndi Lamm: Board Member
Cyndi joined the AFN Board in 2015. Her life motto is “there is no expiration date on dreams.” She has been married to her husband Tim for 37 years and has 8 grandchildren, the youngest of which has Down Syndrome. Cyndi graduated from the University Of Nebraska College Of Law in 2004 and spent two years as a law clerk for Justice Kenneth Stephan at the Nebraska Supreme Court before becoming an attorney in private practice in Lincoln, Nebraska. She also currently is on the Lincoln City Council, elected in May 2015 to represent the citizens and businesses in Northeast Lincoln. Cyndi’s life experiences have caused her to have a heart for those who face all types of challenges in life. Cyndi is past president of the People’s City Mission Board (2009), where she served 2006-2009 and 2014 to present.

Marcia Lepinski: Board Member
Marcia is an advocate for autism awareness, acceptance, and is especially passionate about Applied Behavior Analysis. Marcia and her family are highly involved in a very effective ABA program for their son, and have appreciated great progress for him. She has contributed her service to FEAT (Families for Effective Autism Treatment) of Nebraska and worked to bring staff and services to the area. Her background is in education, and her interests going forward is transitional and adult services for individuals on the spectrum.

Rebecca Olander: Board Member
Rebecca is a Psychiatric Family Mental Health Nurse Practitioner. Her primary focus is in children, adolescents and young adults. Rebecca has a special interest in autism spectrum disorder. Rebecca completed a post-master’s degree in mental health in 2010 and has been working in private practice since 2010. Prior to that, Rebecca worked for 20 years as a Clinical Nurse Specialist in cardiology. Rebecca has past involvement as a board member of the Autism Society of Nebraska in the late 1990’s-early 2000’s. Rebecca was actively involved as a board member of FEAT (Families for Effective Autism Treatment) of Nebraska helping to bring ABA (Applied Behavior Analysis) services to Nebraska nearly 20 years ago. Rebecca and her husband have five children including a son in his 20’s with a diagnosis of autism and other health issues. This experience gives her an appreciation of the challenges families face when living with mental health concerns and special needs. She has a passion for working with children and families, empowering them to live life to its fullest.

Janelle Smith: Board Member
Janelle joined the Autism Board in 2015. Janelle is a Registered Nurse completing her degree in 2011 and then returning to school to complete her Bachelors of Nursing degree in 2015. She works with the pediatric population in the rehabilitation unit at Madonna Rehabilitation Hospital in Lincoln, NE. She has a teenage son that was diagnosed with autism at the age of two. She first joined AFN as a parent looking for a way to involve her son in community events. After witnessing the joy in her sons eyes at an AFN sponsored event, she decided to become a board member. Janelle is dedicated to enriching the lives of all individuals with disabilities.

Dwight Stolte: Board Member
Dwight started volunteering with Autism Family Network in 2009 when they sponsored their summer camp that his son participated in. He became a board member in 2011. At that time he also started supporting the Autism Family Network web site. Dwight has a degree in Computer Science from Montana State University. Dwight, his son and a friend of his son also volunteer with one of the local high school bands helping move band equipment for half time shows and band competitions. He has been active with Boy Scouts since 2001, as a scout leader, committee chair, Wood Badge participant and Wood Badge staff member.


Vicki Depenbusch: Program Director
Vicki has been an advocate for the people with autism and intellectual and developmental disabilities and their families since joining the Autism Family Network in September of 2007. She began as Program Director in August of 2015 and her role is to empower and represent families in the community as well as run the Individual and Family Support Services. Being a parent of a child with autism, she is better able to understand and relate to the struggles parents have and their need for other parent support.

The current Board appoints these positions. The Board meets every other month, with weekly communication by e-mail.

If you need help finding a resource, or would like to be added to our Email list, please email us at autismfamilynetworklincoln@gmail.com.

Autism Family Network
5730 R Street, Suite C2
Lincoln NE 68505

We currently share an office with Arc of Lincoln at 5730 R Street, Suite C2