by: We Rise and Shine
The city of Brotherly Love is singing the praises of a leading voice of advocacy which has made it’s message loud and clear: we need to support families and people directly impacted by autism. The woman behind the voice is 37 year-old, Philanthropist, Business Mogul and mother of three, Terri Matthews.
A graduate of University of California, Berkeley, Terri has over 15 years of experience as an Executive with a focus in HR Law and as a Business Consultant in the Corporate, Athletic, Entertainment and Restaurant sphere. Her resume includes the prestigious role of Vice President of HR for BB&T, one of the largest financial services companies in the US.
In 2009, a shocking diagnosis would not only change her life but also the lives of many families around the country. Terri’s son Jaden, now 8, was diagnosed with autism when he was 2 ½ year’s old. Following his diagnosis, Terri vowed to never lower her expectations of her son because of the challenges he would face. As she researched and secured services to help Jaden, she immediately recognized a deficiency of viable options to meet the needs of less fortunate families facing the same issues. According to experts, autism costs a family roughly $60,000 a year and is considered the most rapidly growing serious developmental disability. Immediately, it became apparent to Terri that unless a family had extensive financial resources, the essential needs of a child with autism could go unaddressed. This realization inspired her to take action and find ways to address the needs of less fortunate families who are facing the challenges of autism.
In 2010, she launched Jaden’s Voice, an approved 501(c) 3 non-profit organization. Jaden's Voice is a welcoming community that provides services and resources that will enhance the lives of underserved children and their families who have been impacted by Autism. To date, Ms. Matthews has invested over $200,000 of her own resources to establish Jaden's Voice and to provide services and equipment to families in need. Her enthusiasm for autism advocacy led to her election as the President of Early Intervention Services for the State of Pennsylvania. Her interests and efforts to address the needs of under-served families who have been impacted by autism also led to her being appointed by Philadelphia Councilman-At-Large Dennis O'Brien to serve on his Philadelphia Autism Project.
Terri plans to create a $5.5 million, state-of-the-art multipurpose center where people dealing with autism can get support.