top of page

Autistic Perspective Series: Race and Culture

Kayley-red-dress-headshot-2 (1).jpg



Jackie Pilgrim (she/her)

Jackie Pilgrim is an Advocate for persons having Epilepsy, Autism, Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities, and Mental Illness; Founder of Autism’s Love: The Pilgrimage, Public Speaker, Artist, Poet, Blogger and Parent to a young adult who challenges the stigma of having disabilities. Jackie is currently partnered with the Durham CIT Leadership Collaborative to increase Autism and Intellectual/ Developmental Disability awareness. In 2017, Jackie received an invitation to participate as a panel speaker at the United Nations World Autism Awareness Day Observation in NY, where she spoke on the importance of increasing autism awareness and education for Police Officers and First Responders. Jackie also serves on the Board of Directors for NAMI Durham (National Alliance on Mental Illness), the Mayor’s Committee for Disabled Persons and Jackie is a representative of the National Black Disability Coalition (NBDC) and serves on several committees. Jackie’s goals are to dismantle disability stigma and empower disabled individuals, family members, caregivers, and providers by increasing education and awareness of Autism, Intellectual Disabilities, and Mental Illness from the vantage point of lived experience.




Kayley Whalen (she/her)

Kayley Margarite Whalen is an advocate and communications professional who has devoted her career to building connections across social justice movements. She brings to her work her lived experience as an autistic transgender Latinx woman. For over 11 years, she has led some of the biggest digital campaigns for disability justice, transgender and queer justice, environmental justice, humanist values, and peace-building. She is the Treasurer of the Autistic Self-Advocacy Network and also serves on the Board of Directors of Trans United Fund; she formerly served on the board of Secular Student Alliance. Her business, Kayley Whalen Consulting, provides communications and digital marketing strategy to organizations dedicated to advancing social justice.

Kayley has represented the LGBTQ and disability communities as a public speaker at events across the United States and the world, including speaking twice at the Obama White House. In 2016 she co-founded Trans United Fund, the first U.S. transgender-led political campaigning organization, which has now helped elect numerous transgender candidates to office. In 2019, while living in Southeast Asia, she started the blog TransWorldView to provide a forum to share the stories of transgender advocates from across Southeast Asia and the world. In 2020 she represented the United States as Miss USA in Thailand’s Miss International Queen, the world’s most prestigious transgender pageant.

Kayley has provided communications, digital marketing, and fundraising support for non-profits including Greenpeace USA, Sins Invalid, Search for Common Ground, Autistic Women & Nonbinary Network, the National LGBTQ Task Force, Trans United Fund, Values Into Action, Alliance for Citizen Directed Supports, the National Leadership Consortium on Developmental Disabilities, Casa Ruby LGBT Center, Americans for Safe Access, and the American Humanist Association. Her broad background in advocacy and non-profit communications across many different movements gives her a deep understanding of the many components of building successful grassroots campaigns to achieve collective liberation.

Katelyn Moore (they/them)

Katelyn is a Black, genderqueer, and neurodivergent artivist (artist+activist.) Katelyn believes in the power of art and that environmentally and socially conscious art empowers individuals to find healing via their own hands. As a visual artist and spoken word artist, they create artwork that is inspirational or speaks about social justice issues. As an art therapist and somatic therapist, they are passionate about working with clients who are multicultural and who are members of the LGBTQAAI2S+ community through an intersectionality lens. In their free time, Katelyn is an all around Blerd (Black+nerd) and enjoys playing video games, reading comic books, watching superhero shows and movies, and wishing they had the time for a full DnD campaign.


RJ Teo (he/him/they/them)

I am formally trained as a scientist but will start working for a law firm! I am really excited and thankful to be part of this community. I aspire to promote neurodiversity awareness in the practice of law and how firms can become more inclusive. I enjoy playing table tennis, running, and spending time with family. I am also interested in exploring the intersection of autism and culture, while envisioning an equitable society for all.

Azrael Burton (xe/they)

Azrael is working toward a degree in Women and Gender Studies with a Minor in Sexuality Studies. Xe is driven by furthering sex education into a more intersectional arena, as xis lived experience is inherently intersectional.  They believe marginalized communities are particularly underserved in many academic conversations surrounding gender, sex and sexuality and looks to those primary sources as equally important.

bottom of page