Melinda Lauffenburger

Founder and Executive Director, Autism Oklahoma

Melinda is the founder and Executive Director of AutismOklahoma.  Melinda’s career includes working for Hewlett-Packard as well as owning and operating a consulting business providing strategic planning, project management, technology planning and process design. She has a Master’s degree in business from OSU and is a cancer survivor.

Melinda and her husband, Dean, have 2 children–Joy and Sarah.  Her daughter, Joy, has high functioning autism and has a biology degree from UCO. She is a public speaker and an animal advocate.  Sarah has a Mass Communication degree and is pursuing a career in film.

Michael Panas

Chairman of the Board, AutismOklahoma

CIO, Feed the Children

Michael Panas is the Chief Information Officer of Feed The Children

Mike is a business, healthcare, non-profit and information technology executive and strategist with over thirty-five years of successful leadership in technology management, strategic system planning & implementation, project management, product development, operations and establishing & developing new businesses. 

Joining Feed the Children’s executive team in June 2016, he continues to serve as Chief Information Officer for the non-profit. He leads a dedicated staff of IT professional supporting over 500 employees located in five US offices and 10 International countries. 

John Davis

Board Vice President, Autism Oklahoma

John Davis is a Central Group Leader/Pastor of Logistics for Life Covenant Church (Life.Church) in Edmond, OK. John has worked for Life.Church for 14 ½ years currently leading the Risk Awareness, Legal, Security, Purchasing, Logistics Support and Audio, Video and Lighting teams. John earned his BS degree in Economics from Howard University in Washington, D.C and Juris Doctorate from University of Florida.

John is married to Deborah Davis and they have one son, John. John and his family resides in Edmond, OK.

Dusty Burchfield

Board  Treasurer, Autism Oklahoma

Dusty Burchfield is the Founder and Managing Broker of Burchfield Commercial Real Estate. He received his Bachelor’s of Science in Agribusiness from Oklahoma State University all the while operating Burchfield Productions that he founded in 2000 while still in high school at Fairview High School. In 2008 Dusty founded Burchfield Commercial Real Estate and became Managing Broker and has been ever since.

Burchfield Commercial Realty specializes in representing tenants and buyers of commercial real estate. The company prides itself on representing the business owner that needs 1,000 – 100,00 SF of office space as well as the organizations that require 5,000 to 500,000 SF of industrial real estate.

Additionally, Dusty is a founding partner of RACK59 Data Center ( which specializes in providing organizations with a first-class environment to house their IT infrastructure.

Dusty is a graduate of Leaderships Oklahoma City’s LOYAL Class VII. His interests include triathlons, cycling and golf and continues to participate in them whenever possible. He currently resides in Edmond with his wife Ande and daughters Dagny and Jane.

Dr. Beth DeGrace

Board Secretary, Autism Oklahoma

Beth DeGrace, PhD, OTR/L has has spent the past 20 years as a professor in the Department of Rehabilitation Science at the University of Oklahoma Health Science Center in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma educating Occupational Therapists and at present works for the College of Medicine, Department of Pediatrics, Oklahoma Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental and Related Disabilities (LEND) program. The emphases of her practice and research has been children and families, particularly individuals diagnosed with Autism. Originally from Pittsburgh, Beth has lived in Oklahoma since 2001. Beth earned her BS in occupational therapy from Elizabethtown College; MS degree in occupational therapy from State University of New York at Buffalo and PhD in occupational therapy from Nova Southeastern University in Ft. Lauderdale. Since moving to Oklahoma City, Beth has worked as a consultant to SoonerStart, Oklahoma’s early intervention program, served on the state wide autism task force, held an appointed position on the ICC Low Incidence Disability Subcommittee which examined early intervention practices in Oklahoma and developed occupational therapy services at the Stephenson Cancer Center.  She has presented nationally and internationally on family life and autism. As an occupational therapist, Beth values and believes that how individuals and families spend their time gives meaning to life and is an important determinant of health/wellbeing. Beth is married to Derek DeGrace, they have 3 children and live in Edmond.

John Cooper


John served in the financial services industry as an officer or executive in Oklahoma for 45 years.  In his last position he served as President and CEO of Consumer Credit Counseling Service of Central Oklahoma, Inc.  In addition to serving on the AutismOklahoma board, John also serves on the board of Allegiance Credit Union as Chair of the Policies & Planning Committee. As AutismOklahoma’s longest tenured board member, John has provided years of wisdom, financial and leadership support.

John is now enjoying his retirement with his wife, Janny.

Dale Spoonemore

Creator, From Seed to Spoon (

Dale Spoonemore is the owner and creator of Seed to Spoon, a popular gardening app

Dale and his wife, Carrie, started Seed to Spoon to help people grow food.  He learned to code and started building the app in the fall of 2017 and it was released as version 1 in January, 2018.  Their app now has over 700,000 downloads!  Dale is also a Sr. Software Developer for MY Consulting Group where he is responsible for build large scale enterprise applications. Dale is a frequent public speaker and uses these opportunities to educate others how he manages autism through healthy eating, water, sleep, exercise and mindfulness.   

Dale is passionate about using lessons learned from his work with technology and his life to make a positive impact on the world.  Dale enjoys working on teams with smart and driven people committed to improving lives and making a difference. 

Max Harned

Max Harned

Board Member, Autism Oklahoma

After retiring from a successful career in sales and marketing as a Corporate Executive, Max devotes time to being with his wife and family and serving the community on many non-profit boards. Their philanthropy has benefited many organizations, and the Harned Family name graces prominent education buildings, programs and scholarships that benefit student education in the State of Washington. Max was also involved in the opening of a food pantry at a college where he was on the Board of Directors and the opening of a non-profit Kidney dialysis center. Max and his wife Margi, a former educator, jointly support the needs of their community through service, giving back and philanthropy. Max is currently on the Board of Directors of Ronald McDonald House OKC and is a Trustee for the Oklahoma City Community College.

” We make a living by what we get. We make a life by what we give.”

Michelle Cross, Program Advisor