Creating the future...one frame at a time.

Exceptional Minds Board Members

Helen Wu, Chairperson
My son Aaron, now a young adult, was born with autism. He is gifted musically, and is a great jazz aficionado. For several years, starting when Aaron was in preschool, I served as a member of the Chanda Smith Class Member Review Committee which provides oversight of LAUSD's compliance with special education laws. Without the support of a structured school environment, Aaron, and many other young adults living on the autism spectrum, face immensely increasing challenges to remain integrated into the community and to find fulfilling employment. I'm proud to be on the board of Exceptional Minds. I am a partner in a CPA practice in Westwood.

Ron Burns, Vice Chairperson
has had a stellar career in business and advertising. For thirty years he worked at J. Walter Thompson, one of the largest advertising agencies in the world. He joined the firm as a young account executive and worked his way up to Group President and CEO, North America. Along the way, Ron was General Manager of the Melbourne office, President and CEO of the Canada office, and ultimately JWT's President, Global Business. Ron was born in Halifax and spent his early years in Victoria, British Columbia. He received his B.A. in psychology from the University of Michigan and did post-graduate studies at the University of London. Ron currently lives in Santa Barbara, CA with his wife, Sally.  Their two daughters, Eliza and Mollie Burns Keith live in Los Angeles and are partners in an estate and contemporary jewelry company. Mollie is the proud mom of PK and Campbell. Ron's son, David, lives in Greenwich, CT with wife Susan and their son Andrew. Ron is on the Executive Committee of the International Tennis Hall of Fame as well serving as the Fundraising Sponsorship Co-Chair for Exceptional Minds.

Patricia Turney, Secretary
Vice President, External Supply, Amgen Inc. She is a seasoned management executive who has held a wide variety of global roles at Amgen Inc, a Fortune 100 Biotechnology company, headquartered in Thousand Oaks, California.   She has led organizations in Supply Chain, Medical Devices, Business Strategy, Manufacturing Operations, Engineering, R&D, and Quality in the US, Europe, and Asia. Her passion is enabling new therapies to reach the patients who desperately need them.  Prior to Amgen, Patricia was a small business owner and Flight Instructor.  Patricia also served in the military as a US Naval Aviator for six years in various worldwide locations including Antarctica.  Patricia has a BS in Mathematics from the US Naval Academy and a MBA from UCLA.  Patricia serves on the Executive Board for Exceptional Minds and LABioMed.  She has previously served on the Boards of Pause4Kids and the Ventura County Autism Society.

“Parent of the Year 2001”– Ventura County Autism Society. 

Gray Benoist, Treasurer
My son Nicky is a proud 2015 graduate of Exceptional Minds, working full-time as a visual effects artist. I am retired from my CFO position at Belden Inc. and I am delighted to focus my energy on the EM mission helping young adults on the autism spectrum achieve productive, independent lives. I have an MBA from the University of Chicago, 35 years of finance and general business work experience and currently serve on the Board of Directors of Olin Corp.

Shaunna B
Shaunna Balady
Shaunna is the proud mother of Christian who was diagnosed with Autism at the age of 12, and recently relocated with her family to the Los Angeles Area for her son to attend The Village Glen High School where he is thriving in his 3rd year. In addition to being a devoted mother, Shaunna serves as Vice President, Business Development at MASS Group Inc., which is a software company founded by her husband. Prior to officially retiring from the corporate world, Shaunna led the strategic planning and corporate development activities at a number of Fortune 1000 companies such as General Electric, Rockwell Automation, and Briggs & Stratton. She is delighted and honored to be a member of the Exceptional Minds Board, and is looking forward to supporting and facilitating the future growth of such an accomplished organization.

Wendy Benoist
Wendy has an MBA degree from the University of Chicago and worked as a CPA, financial analyst and strategic planning consultant. Since relocating to Los Angeles in 2012, she has been active in the nonprofit world and as an autism advocate.
She is the Chairperson of the Board of the MindSpark Training Academy and a co-founder of MindSpark, Inc., which offer training and employment in software testing services to adults with developmental disabilities. At Exceptional Minds, Wendy has volunteered her time as a grant writer and fundraiser.

Michele Magnin Carbonell
Michele Carbonell is a homemaker and mother of four children. Michele's son Dylan was diagnosed with Autism in 1996. Since then, Michele has dedicated herself to the treatment and education of her son while raising three other children. Michele has attended a wide array of conferences dealing with the diagnosis and treatment of Autistic Spectrum Disorders. Prior to starting a family, Michele was a software engineer and project manager with Washington Consulting Group and CRW both providers of information technology and systems for the U.S. Government. Before attending business school Michele was an engineer with Schlumberger in Paris, France. Michele served as a member of the board of the National Capital Chapter of Autism Speaks from 2008-2016 and chaired the board from 2012-2016. Michele is also co-founder of the Nelson and Michele Carbonell Family Foundation. The foundation recently endowed the director position of the Autism and Neurodevelopmental Disorders Institute (ANDI) at the George Washington University. Michele holds a B.S. in Biomedical Engineering and a B.S. in Electrical Engineering from Duke University and an MBA from Georgetown University.


Barbara Helfing
has a master's degree in Education, and is a credentialed and experienced public school special education teacher, a former principal of the Frostig Center for Educational Therapy, a former Training and Development specialist for Hughes Aircraft Company and a Manager of Training and Development at Transamerica Life Companies. Currently, she is an advocate and consultant for children with special needs and the adoring mother of 2 teenagers with autism.

Todd Hutchings
is the Managing Partner of the Los Angeles and Palo Alto offices of Egon Zehnder.  Prior to joining Egon Zehnder, Todd led Business Planning and Strategy at Roche Diagnostics and was a consultant with McKinsey & Company and the Monitor Group. Mr. Hutchings started his career at GE as a member of the corporate audit staff and the corporate business development team. Todd obtained an MBA from the University of Western Ontario and a Bachelor of Commerce from McMaster University.  Todd is the proud father of Liv and Spencer Hutchings.  Spencer was diagnosed with autism at two years old.  Since then he has become a master of all facts related to movies, actors, and music and is learning piano and martial arts.

Mitchell Kamarck
Mitchell Kamarck is currently Vice President, Business and Legal Affairs for Nickelodeon and his practice focuses on Nickelodeon’s digital products including all of its Apps.  Mitchell joined Nickelodeon when Viacom purchased Neopets.com in 2005.  Prior to working for Neopets, Mitchell was General Counsel at MGA Entertainment (maker of the Bratz dolls) and a litigation/new media equity partner at Rosenfeld, Meyer & Susman in Beverly Hills.  While at Rosenfeld, Mitchell wrote and spoke extensively in the area of new media including speaking on "Representing Individuals on the Internet: Creating and Protecting Intellectual Property" for The Media District Intellectual Property Bar Association and publishing "Detours, Misdirections and False Starts on the Information Super Highway" in E-Commerce Law Reports. Mitchell daughter, UnMi, attends THG-West and took cartooning classes at Exceptional Minds this past summer.

Mollie Burns Keith
has been in the jewelry appraisal business since 1995. As a specialist in fine jewelry and gemstones, Mollie began her career at Christie's New York, where she served as Assistant Vice President and Head of Christie's East Jewelry Department. She subsequently was promoted to Vice President and Senior Specialist of Christie's Los Angeles offices, and was also stationed in Christie's Hong Kong and London offices. She has most recently worked as a Senior Specialist at Bonhams & Butterfields in Los Angeles.
She now runs her own company with her sister Eliza Burns buying and selling antique and contemporary jewelry; she also works as a freelance consultant and advisor to trust attorneys, auction houses and private buyers. Mollie earned her B.F.A. in Art History from New York University, as well as he Graduate Gemologist and Jeweler degrees from the Gemological Institute of America, California. Born in London and raised in Australia, Mollie now resides in Los Angeles, California with her two children. PK, aged 10, is an animator and was diagnosed with autism at 2 1/2 years old.

Janet I. Sandoval
Janet Sandoval is the senior manager of community investment for Avery Dennison and its Foundation. Ms. Sandoval manages the Foundation’s grant programs, including the Global Grantmaking Initiatives and Granting Wishes program.  She oversees employee volunteerism activities  – a critical focus of the corporation’s employee engagement initiative – and acts as lead for large-scale employee volunteer projects, such as Employee Giving Campaigns and Employee Volunteer Days.
Prior to joining Avery Dennison Foundation, she was a communications associate at The California Wellness Foundation, where she provided support in the areas of marketing communications and media relations. 
She is an active member of Business for Social Responsibility, Environmental Grantmakers Association and Southern California Grantmakers. In addition to Exceptional Mind’s Board, she currently serves on Emerging Practitioners in Philanthropy's national Board, and the YMCA of Glendale.
Ms. Sandoval earned her BS in business with an emphasis in communications from the University of Phoenix. She lives in Southern California with her husband and their two children.


David Shladovsky
Mr. Shladovsky is general counsel of Kayne Anderson Capital Advisors and serves as secretary of Kayne Anderson MLP Investment Company (KYN), Kayne Anderson Energy Total Return Fund (KYE), Kayne Anderson Energy Development Company (KED) and Kayne Anderson Midstream/Energy Fund (KMF).

Prior to joining Kayne Anderson in 1997, Mr. Shladovsky was in the private practice of corporate and securities law, most recently as corporate counsel to Hughes Hubbard & Reed, LLP.

Mr. Shladovsky earned a B.A. in Economics from Brandeis University and a J.D. from the Boston University School of Law in 1985, where he served as a member of the Boston University Law Review. He has been a member of the California Bar Association since 1985. 



Bob Stevenson
Founder and Chief Creative Officer of ngmoco:)
Bob has over 20 years of experience as a Creative Leader and Entrepreneur in the games industry,
His key skills are being an Entrepreneur, Producer, Game Maker, Art/Game Director, Creative Problem Solver, Occasional Mediator, Mentor and Empath.  He loves his Family, Friends, Movies, Music, Wine, Laughter, Playing instruments, Games, Art, Tech, Business and despite his joy of people he has a fear of public speaking! (I am working on it)
In 2008, he co-founded ngmoco:) a Future Entertainment Company that specialize in creating Social Mobile Games that unite and delight the world. With over 100m downloads and over 15 hit games, including We Rule, GodFinger, Rolando, Topple and Mazefinger, they have become one of the key companies in the mobile games industry. They were acquired in 2010 by DeNA: The leading Social Mobile company in the world. Bob plays an ongoing global role as CCO across that quickly expanding business. Prior to ngmoco, his games have appeared on nearly every major platform in the history of the industry, working with major partners like EA, THQ, Sony, Nintendo, Microsoft, Virgin, Activision and SEGA.