Our staff is a team that takes OAR’s mission to heart.

Meet the staff members who drive all of OAR’s day-to-day operations:


Michael Maloney 

Executive Director

27-icon-twitter copy@mikeatoar


Chief staff executive

Business operations



Community outreach

Adult employment initiative

Mike is part of OAR’s founding team. A native of Weymouth, MA, and a lifelong Boston Red Sox fan, he graduated from Holy Cross and later earned a master’s degree in Business Management from Central Michigan University.

Mike served 23 years in the U.S. Marine Corps, included tours in Vietnam and the first Gulf War. Before joining OAR, he served as executive director of the Marine Corps University Foundation in Quantico, Va. and the Autism Society of America Foundation.

Mike and his wife, Elaine, live in Burke, VA, and have two musician sons, Kevin, a Staff Sergeant in the U.S. Army Ceremonial Band, “Pershing’s Own”, and Doug, Director of Bands at Chantilly High School in Chantilly, Va.

What do you like to do outside of OAR?

In his off time, Mike enjoys: any occasion to hang out with Kevin, Doug, and their wives, being Grandpa to Maxon and Selah, writing, enjoying his sons’ musical endeavors, and rooting for Boston sports teams.


Kristen Essex 

Deputy Executive Director



Donor outreach and relations

Planned giving

Major gifts

Foundation grants

Special events

Workplace giving

Combined Federal Campaign

Office management

Grant management

Kristen, a native of the Washington metropolitan area, spent the majority of her life in Rockville. After graduating from Randolph-Macon College, she moved to Virginia briefly before trekking halfway across the country to Dallas. Despite five great years in the Lone Star State, she missed the East Coast and moved to Alexandria in 2010.

After college, Kristen spent eight years in the insurance industry working with structured settlements. Eventually, she decided she needed a career change, and after a brief stint bartending, she ended up as Publisher and Director of Sales and Marketing for the Alexandria Times. Despite enjoying her tenure with the Times, she elected to venture away from her years of sales and find a position in the nonprofit industry, which is how she became Business Manager for the Organization for Autism Research.

What do you like to do outside of OAR?

Read, hike with my dog, and hang out with friends.

Amanda Headshot

Amanda Rioux 

Manager, Hire Autism



Hire Autism Website

Employment Initiative

Hire Autism Events

Employment Intern Management

A North Carolina native, Amanda graduated from Appalachian State University where she majored in Global Studies and Communications and later earned a master’s degree in Conflict Analysis and Resolution from George Mason University. At Appalachian, she also minored in non-profit management.

Having worked and interned in the non-profit sector for more than seven years, Amanda has a genuine passion for giving back to others and her community. During undergrad, she volunteered more than 300 hours as a NC-ACTS AmeriCorps member and co-led two Alternative Spring Break volunteer trips. More recently, she was a participant in Arlington County’s civic leadership development program, Neighborhood College.

Amanda joined OAR in 2018 after previously working with young people involved in the juvenile justice system in Maryland.

What do you like to do outside of OAR?

Amanda loves exercising, hiking, traveling, and playing with her dog, Misha.

Chernoff photo cropped

Naina Narayana Chernoff 

Hire Autism Associate


Hire Autism Outreach

Community Engagement

Mentorship Program Development

Naina Narayana Chernoff is the mother of a child who has autism as well as the sister-in-law of an adult with ASD. After graduating from Penn State University with a degree in journalism and graduating from American University with an MA in communications, she worked in television news and at trade publications before moving to positions in the autism world. Before having children, she worked as the first editor of The OARacle and also served as the editor of The Advocate, a magazine published by the Autism Society of America.

Naina embraces the opportunity to serve as an advocate for individuals and families affected by ASD. In October 2017, she delivered a winning presentation on behalf of OAR that won the Encore Prize, a grant which will fund a mentor program aimed at securing jobs for young people with ASD. She lives in northern Virginia along with her husband, Steven, and their children.

What do you like to do outside of OAR?

Naina enjoys running, working out, playing with her kids, and going on walks with her dog, Cherry.


Kimberly Ha 

Director, Research and Programs


Applied Research Competition


The OARacle newsletter

Resource development

“Autism in the Schoolhouse” initiative

Internship management

Kimberly studied cognitive psychology and neuroscience at the University of Pittsburgh before receiving her master’s in education at the University of Pennsylvania.

Her service to the autism community began when she led a high school autism awareness fundraiser in 2007. A few years later, she entered the nonprofit sector as an intern at The Advisory Board on Autism and Related Disorders (ABOARD). She then taught in the special education classroom before joining OAR.

What do you like to do outside of OAR?

Kim enjoys jogging, playing badminton, and spoiling her three-year-old corgi.


Saman Kamgar-Parsi 

Programs and Outreach Associate


Graduate Research Competition

Scholarship Program

The OARacle newsletter

Operation Autism

Internship management

Resource development & distribution

Saman grew up in the Washington metropolitan area and moved to New York City to attend Barnard College of Columbia University. At Barnard, she double-majored in Women’s, Gender, & Sexuality Studies and French Translation & Literature, and minored in Race & Ethnic Studies. 


What do you like to do outside of OAR?

Saman enjoys reading, pretending to take horoscopes very seriously, making music, and teaching song-writing for youth.


Sean Flynn




Overall management of endurance program and fundraising efforts

Sponsor relations

Future event planning

Runner support and fundraising

Originally from Florida, Sean graduated from the University of Central Florida. After two years of working as a RUN FOR AUTISM Coordinator with OAR, he held positions in Education and the Non-Profit sector.  Most recently he managed the Charity Partnership Program for IRONMAN. Sean is a big supporter of all things UCF – GO KNIGHTS!

What do you like to do outside of OAR?

I enjoy being active and doing anything that is outdoors. Also enjoy taking in sporting events and other fun activities going on around the DC area.

Rachel Edrich

Rachel Edrich

Coordinator, RUN FOR AUTISM



RUN marketing and communications

Runner support and fundraising

Rachel is originally from Denver, Colorado and graduated from Colorado State University’s College of Business with a degree in Marketing, Management, and Human Resource Management.  Prior to joining the OAR team, she worked as the Marketing and Event Coordinator at the Fort Collins athletic event nonprofit Green Events.   While there, Rachel gained experience working with runners, volunteers, and donors while coordinating charity running events.  


What do you like to do outside of OAR?

Rachel, like most Coloradoans, loves the mountains and exploring them with her partner and their dog by trail running, camping, hiking, and fishing. She also enjoys going back to Colorado whenever possible to visit family, hike 14ers, snowshoe, and visit Fort Collins breweries. 

Sarah Rodis

Sarah Rodis

Coordinator, RUN FOR AUTISM


RUN marketing and communication

Runner support and fundraising

Sarah is a native to the Northern Virginia area and a graduate from East Carolina University with a degree in Recreation Management.  After graduating she spent a few years living the beach life and working for a community college in the Outer Banks.  Sarah moved back to Northern Virginia and before joining OAR she worked for SHAPE America focusing on professional development for physical education teachers.  She is a certified running coach and avid runner; completing over 25 marathons and is addicted to running crazy ultramarathons.

What do you like to do outside of OAR?

Sarah loves stand up paddle boarding and anything outdoors, the higher the adrenaline factor, the better!  She also enjoys traveling to new places, playing fetch with her two dogs, and watching/playing sports.