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about us

The North Georgia Autism Foundation (NGAF) stands as a beacon of support for Autistic individuals and their families across northern Georgia. Founded by the visionary Mr. Tripp Ritchie, NGAF has been a steadfast pillar in the community, offering essential services ranging from diagnostic support to clinical consultation and implementing innovative programs like the STEPS Program in collaboration with the University of Alabama.

Under the dynamic leadership of Dr. Whitney Kleinert, NGAF continues to expand its reach, fostering inclusivity, empowerment, and advocacy for Autistic individuals and their loved ones. Through its dedication to excellence and unwavering commitment to the cause, NGAF remains a guiding light, transforming lives and shaping a brighter future for all.

our mission

Our mission is to remove barriers and increase access to early clinical diagnosis, treatment services, career development and life span support for Autistic individuals and their families in North Georgia and surrounding areas.

our vision

Our Vision is to be a valued resource for Autistic individuals and people with Developmental Disabilities. We will support their families, professionals, and others by increasing capacity and understanding of evidence based programs, treatment and information.

our goal

Our goal is to enhance the lives of Autistic individuals and people with Developmental Disorders through innovative individualized support and advocacy.

About Us
kids running

DONATE TODAY AND Join us in making a lasting impact.

meet our board


Meet the dedicated members of the NGAF Board, a diverse team committed to fostering inclusivity and support for individuals with autism and their families. Their collective expertise and passion drive the foundation's mission to make a positive impact in the community.

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Executive Director

Dr. Whitney Kleinert

Dr. Whitney Kleinert holds a B.S. in Psychology from the University of Georgia and an M.Ed. and Ph.D. in School Psychology from the University of Massachusetts Boston. She completed her predoctoral internship at LSU.

heather russel.jfif

Parent Representative 

Heather russell

Heather is currently serving as the Sales Manager for Preferred Medical Products, LLC in Ducktown, TN. Heather's proudest achievements revolve around her blended family and her advocacy for her youngest son, who has High Functioning Autism. 

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Board Member

Geralyn Campbell​

Geralyn Campbell studied Art at Truett McConnell College and North Georgia College.  She has been active in the horse community for over 60 years teaching, showing horses, and pleasure riding. Over the decades of being a Horseback Riding Instructor, she has worked with Autistic and special needs.


Vice Chairman/ Art Gallery Director

Gini Tipton

Gini Tipton is an accomplished educator with expertise in special education, highlighted by her Bachelor's and Master's degrees from the University of Georgia, and a Specialist degree in Educational Leadership from the University of West Georgia. 


Secretary & Spiritual Advisor

Rev Byron Ahrens

Byron Ahrens has served as a pastor in the United Methodist Church & Global Methodist since 2013 when he answered a call to bi-vocational ministry. He is a graduate of the University of South Florida with a BA in International Studies, Russian Language/Literature.

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Board Member

Shawn Knight

Shawn Campbell Knight has worked with the Habersham County School System for the past twenty years as a Special Education Teacher and Department Head. Over her career, she has attended conferences and trainings focusing on Autistic children and children with disabilities.

meet our ce team


Introducing the NGAF Community Enterprises Team, a dynamic group of individuals focused on managing and creating beautiful art pieces for our Art Gallery.


Retail Associate, Art Gallery Artist

Lucy sparks

Lucy was born and raised in Blairsville, GA. She attended Union County Primary until the 2nd grade then attended Mountain Area Christian Academy until graduation in 2021. At MACA she played volleyball, helped in her classroom and assisted in the front office. Lucy has a nurturing and compassionate heart. Some of her favorite things include supporting fire and police organizations, YouTube and Starbucks. She works at Alexander’s store in Blairsville, GA.


Art Gallery Artist

victoria renzi

Victoria grew up in Blue Ridge, Georgia. She is a self-taught artist who started making art when she was little. Most of her practice started in middle school. Victoria grew up in Blue Ridge, Georgia. She is a self-taught artist who started making art when she was little. Most of her practice started in middle school. She likes draw, play video games, make cute characters, and she is a big fan of puns and finds them rather punny! 


Art Gallery Artist

Brian stahl

Brian started showing artistic ability at an early age around the age of 3. Brian's pre k teacher Ms. Jennifer Keener ask the class to draw a rainbow. Brian picked up several crayons with the colors of the rainbow and in one sweep made a rainbow. He continued to do many other drawings and paintings. When he was in second grade he went to a homeschool group Timothy Ministries. He worked with clay media that was equally impressive to his teachers.


Art Gallery Artist

Chase schofield

Chase​ was raised in Ducktown, TN, but has Florida roots. He loves to laugh and make others laugh. He likes to play video games, chill, and eat.


He also really likes to make money. Chase works at the art gallery to create abstract art, earn money, and enjoy the company.

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