The leaders of Fi & Friends
Founder & Board President
Dijana Cullinan is the founder and board president for Fi & Friends. Best of all, she is the mom to Fiona, who is the inspiration for Fi & Friends. Dijana previously worked as a child and family counselor for elementary aged children and currently continues her passion for helping others as a Disability Reasonable Accommodations Analyst. Dijana is married to her partner Chad, and together they get the privilege of raising two beautiful kids, Fiona and Jack.
The vision for Fi & Friends has been and will always be to support inclusive and safe spaces for autistic individuals and their families and encourage the community to create them if they do not currently exist. "I want the impact of Fi & Friends to be everlasting, I want it to be so powerful that our current and future generations know they are understood, heard, seen, safe, accepted and loved in everything they chose to experience and everywhere they chose to go".
Vice President & Board Director
Chad Cullinan is the Vice President of Fi & Friends. He has his bachelors in Industrial Engineering from Iowa State University and over 15 years of experience in Industrial, Manufacturing, and Quality Engineering roles. A central focus of Chad's professional life has been Continuous Improvement and now along with his wife (and our President) Dijana, he can expand that focus onto the most important thing in their lives, the lives of their children. "When our daughter (and namesake) Fiona was diagnosed with Autism it became our goal to give her the best life possible and we've found that we can best affect change and growth within their community through Fi & Friends. Working with our local businesses, organizations, and services to provide the right perspective and utilize the resources already available in the most effective manner can make the smallest changes can have a massive impact on the lives of not only those on the Autism Spectrum but their families, friends, and local communities as well".
Janelle is an assistant professor in behavior analysis. She has provided early intervention services to individuals with autism and their families for almost 15 years. She joined Fi & Friends because of the mission of Fi & Friends. She hopes through community, exploration, and education every person can experience a more inclusive world to find their joys, make connections, and pursue their passions.
Dr. Janelle Ausenhus
Reyna Melendez is a board member of Fi and Friends and a Behavior Analyst who helps support children diagnosed with Autism and their families. In her free time, Reyna enjoys hanging out with her dogs, traveling, and being with family. Reyna believes there is a way for all activities and events to be for everyone. Reyna hopes Fi and Friends continues to create a space where all families feel welcome and supported.
Fun fact: One of Reyna's first ever students was Fiona!
Board Secretary & Director
Jenny Goodale joined the Fi & Friends board in October 2022. She is our Board Treasurer, as well as a Financial Analyst at Great River Energy in Minnesota. Jenny wanted to join Fi & Friends because her future brother-in-law has autism, and she wanted a better understanding of what her fiancé and his family went through in those early years of the autism diagnosis. Jenny got her Bachelors of Science Business Administration with a double major in Finance and Management from Drake University in 2019. She is getting married in October 2023 and has one golden retriever named Whiskey.
Board Treasurer & Director
Leah is a student at Drake University studying Marketing. Leah first learned about Fi & Friends through a school internship project. She connected with Fi & Friends' mission and wanted to help them create a community for families with children diagnosed with Autism. Leah mainly helps with Fi & Friends' social media and made this website. In her free time she enjoys spending time with friends and family, painting, and being outside. When school isn't in session, she lives in Iowa City with her two dogs Tut and Gnocchi. She also works with seniors at a retirement home doing management