Level IT Up is a social enterprise dedicated to increasing the employment of Manitobans with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM). We are part of a global alliance, Neurowrx, working together to advance this mission.
Our goal is to provide a pool of trained and skilled personnel to companies within the information and communication technology (ICT) sector of Winnipeg as well as those businesses and companies using this skillset within their workforce (our “customers”).
Our consultants will be sourced from among those with ASD who possess unique skills and abilities, the “Autism Advantage,” making them uniquely adept at filling these employment needs.
The Autism Advantage:
- high intelligence
- acute attention to detail
- intense focus
- exceptional memory
- ability to persist in seemingly tedious or repetitive tasks
- and more
These assets lend themselves to aspects of the ICT industry including:
- debugging software
- data entry, etc.
By employing our candidates, the business community will gain valuable assets while actively demonstrating their commitment to diversifying their workforce and understanding the innate talents people with ASD present to their workforce.
In Canada, approximately 1% of the population has Autism Spectrum Disorder. This lifelong condition, or neurodiversity, can have significant impacts on social interactions and behaviors, with many exhibiting a range of behaviours those in the workplace view as “odd” or disruptive.
This can pose a challenge to employers and create the context for significant social isolation from “typical” co-workers. Despite this, many individuals with ASD have skills or characteristics that are both valued and beneficial to employers (e.g., Schall et al., 2012), and the diversity of skill sets exhibited across the spectrum provides opportunities for a wide range of individuals to be meaningfully engaged.
Cost-effective, evidence-based approaches must be identified and successfully implemented to improve assessment, career counselling, training, on-the-job supports, and workplace accommodations. Currently, there is a dearth of support specifically focused on those with ASD. The supported employment sector is primarily dedicated to working with those having intellectual disabilities, and the agencies that are contracted to provide head-hunting/recruitment services are unable to provide the level of ongoing support needed to ensure employment success for those with ASD.
Level IT Up is here to fill that gap!
Board of Directors
Level IT Up is a registered non-profit organization governed by an amazing board of directors comprised of industry leaders, entrepreneurs, educators and autism experts. Under their leadership, Level IT Up is set to operate as one of the cutting edge social enterprises in Canada. Our ultimate goal is to build a profitable, self-sustaining consultancy firm with a social purpose.
Anne Kresta, MSc
President and Chief Executive Officer, Level IT Up
As the parent of two sons who have Asperger Syndrome, Anne has always championed the many gifts and talents inherent among those with autism spectrum disorder. Supporting her sons as they negotiated their ways through childhood, adolescence and beyond has led her to become a strong advocate for the inclusion of people with disabilities in our communities across the lifespan. In collaboration with The Ability Hub/Sinneave Family Foundation in Calgary, AB, and through her past involvement with Community Living Manitoba and on the Thrive! leadership group headed by Manitoba Family Services, she has led a number of projects focused on improving the employability and post-secondary experiences of those with ASD. Anne continues to work locally, through Level IT Up, and globally, as chair of Neurowrx, an alliance of businesses and organizations from around the world, to advance the employment of people with ASD in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math.
Brian has 33 years of experience in the telecom and software industries, having served in a variety of engineering, finance, marketing, and executive positions. Brian has worked in large enterprises and created small startup firms and brings a deep knowledge and experience working within industry-government-academia partnerships. Brian holds a Bachelor of Economics and Management degree and a Diploma in Engineering Technology. Brian is passionate about supporting people with autism and developmental disabilities and is actively involved in board and fund-raising activities.
Elaine Palson, BDC Sr. Account Manager, Technology Industry, has an extensive career in small business, economic and community development spanning over 20 years. She has worked with hundreds of startup and growing companies, specializing for the past 10 years in the technology start up space. Prior to her not-for-profit career she worked in the corporate environment for AT&T as a technology implementation analyst.
She has volunteered her time as a strategic council member for Red River College addressing the barriers to education and a steering committee member on the Province of Manitoba rural economic development strategy addressing the challenges of economic growth in rural communities. She is also a founding member of several initiatives including the Manitoba Small Business connections group, Manitoba small business financial literacy, “Ask the Business Expert” panel presentations, and several women in business initiatives. In her spare time you will find her supporting the startup ecosystem, mentoring entrepreneurs, career pathing young people, and encouraging female involvement within the science and technology industries.
She has dedicated herself to community sustainability, growth of the Canadian economy, and is driven to make a positive impact on Canadian entrepreneurs.
Janine Montgomery, PhD
Associate Professor, Department of Psychology, University of Manitoba
Janine began working with children on the autism spectrum as a classroom teacher in 1997. These experiences inspired her to pursue graduate research focussed on teens and young adults with autism spectrum conditions, which led to a range of practical and research publications in the area. Janine is passionate about improve the lives of individuals and families impacted by autism and has developed and provided numerous programs for children, youth, and adults on the autism spectrum. She has experience in assessment, intervention, transition planning, parenting support, and many other activities aiming to improve access to service and knowledge about ASDs across the lifespan.
Branch Manager, Talentcor, Winnipeg
Melissa has been Branch Manager of the Winnipeg Office since 2014 . She is responsible for the day to day operations of the Branch. With almost 20 years of experience in the staffing industry, Melissa is able to lead the team in all areas and drive the business to new heights. Coaching her team and ensuring the delivery of the best client and candidate experience is at the heart of what she does. Melissa has been involved with Asperger Manitoba since 2015 and currently serves as the Chair of the Board.
Founder/CEO, Relish New Brand Experience Inc.
An experienced entrepreneur, Suzanne Braun is the founder and CEO of Relish New Brand Experience Inc., a certified B-Corporation. Since 1998, Suzanne has led the transition of Relish from a design boutique into an integrated agency and software development firm. Suzanne has over 18 years of experience developing resources for and marketing to educators on a variety of platforms and is CEO of Quipped Interactive Learning Tools, Inc. a Canadian education technology company. Suzanne mentors technology startups focused on social impact projects at North Forge Technology Exchange and has Blue Belt Certification in Innovation Engineering. She is Project Director for the Manitoba Open Innovation Challenge, a social innovation project designed to engage Manitobans in the innovative processes to address complex societal challenges. She is a graduate of Impact8 (MaRS Discovery District/Toronto) and was an RBC Social Impact Entrepreneur for 2015.