Together For Our Keiki - Peer Advocates

Jessica Akiona, Peer Advocate (Hawaiʻi Island)

Jessica grew up in Waimea on Hawai’i Island and is the second oldest of 3 girls. She continues to live in Waimea with her husband of 5 years and their son, a beautiful 4 year old who is diagnosed with Autism. As their son got older, they became concerned about his speech delay and soon started early intervention services, which led to his diagnosis and the beginning of ABA therapy. From those early moments, Jessica has dedicated her life to learning all that she can to better help her son, as well as participating in every therapy session. Currently, Jessica continues to be a stay at home mom and homeschools her son. He is loving, thoughtful, witty, creative, and intelligent. He has made incredible progress thanks to ABA, which is why Jessica is a strong advocate for ABA services in all settings and is passionate about the ethical code that serves as a foundation for quality providers and services. Jessica’s hope is to help other parents as they navigate through diagnosis, therapy, and the special education system.

Maile Rogers, Ph.D., Peer Advocate (Oahu)

Dr. Maile Rogers grew up in Aina Haina and was the second oldest of 6 kids. Dr. Rogers' older brother was severely disabled; one of his diagnoses was autism. Naturally, Dr. Rogers and her siblings grew up advocating for her brother and others with similar challenges. Dr. Rogers and her husband, Tyler have been married for 12 years and have 4 beautiful children together; 2 boys and 2 girls. Their oldest son, age 9, is brilliant and kind and thoughtful, and is on the autism spectrum. More recently their youngest son, age 3, was also diagnosed with autism. As a family, they do their best to enjoy every little milestone and take each day as it comes. In addition to her role as a full-time mother and volunteer advocate, Dr. Rogers also serves as a Parent Representative on the board for the Hawai'i Association for Behavior Analysis (HABA) and is also a volunteer member of the PAIMI (Protection & Advocacy for Individuals with Mental Illness) Council.

Maureen McComas, Peer Advocate (Oahu)

Maureen grew up in the Bay Area along with her 4 siblings, one of which struggled with severe disabilities. Because of the strong advocacy of her mother, her brother now lives a fulfilling and independent life. Maureen models that strong advocacy for her own 2 beautiful daughters who are both diagnosed with Autism along with co-occurring conditions. Maureen and her husband of 33 years have 4 wonderful children, and recently retired from 25 years of fostering medically complex infants. She is passionate about helping and supporting other parents to advocate for their children in the special education system.