Welcome Letter

Dr. Michael Alessandri Dr. Alessandri Welcome Letter

Honoring Our Heroes and Your Investment in UM-NSU CARD

A Letter from Dr. Michael Alessandri 

Dear UM-NSU CARD Supporters:

It is my pleasure to share with you that we successfully navigated the pandemic with record numbers of UM-NSU CARD clients registering for our services, service levels that have been unmatched in our history, and unique and impactful efforts to reach the traditionally underserved through our Autism Multicultural and Hispanic Outreach Initiatives, remarkably successful grant writing activities that have sustained us through the fiscal crisis of the past few years, and a very successful legislative session thanks to the support of our legislative champions in Tallahassee, and so much more. Despite those amazing successes, the demand for our services continues to grow at an exponential rate with 1 in 44 children being diagnosed with autism, and so the work must continue to expand to meet the ever-growing need. The challenge remains daunting, but we are steadfast in our commitment and remain undeterred and very optimistic about the future thanks to your generous support since we opened our doors in 1993.

This year’s Tropical Nights will be a spectacularly gratifying celebration as we honor one very special UM-NSU CARD family. Allow me to share a little something about them and their deep personal connection to us. Searching for quality care for their newly diagnosed son with autism, the Mneimneh Family reached out to Dr. Alessandri from their home in Lebanon. Dr. Alessandri still remembers receiving emails from Mr. Mneimneh and meeting him in person for the first time in his University of Miami office. The family had ties to South Florida and Dr. Alessandri assured them they would find a community that would warmly welcome and support their son and the entire family on their journey with autism. The family officially became clients of UM-NSU CARD in April of 2004 and have been fully engaged in making our community a more accepting and understanding place for all those living with autism since their arrival. Tarek, their remarkable young adult autistic son is now 23 years old and thriving thanks to the steadfast support of his entire family. The Mneimneh Family has made lasting contributions to our community and especially to UM-NSU CARD. They have graciously told their stories in several of our annual awareness campaigns, Mrs. Mneimneh (Chirine)has selflessly volunteered to chair two of our annual fundraising galas, and the entire family, led by Silver Knight winning son, Waleed, launched Ace for Autism, an annual autism tennis tournament, in collaboration with his classmates at Palmer Trinity School, which raised over $100,000 for UM-NSU CARD. This family is considered by us to be one of the “first families” of UM-NSU CARD, and we honor them this year for the 18 years of inspired leadership, generosity, and service to our community.

Please join me in honoring the Mneimneh Family, celebrating the continued impact of UM-NSU CARD on our community, and coming together to embrace the unique neurodiversity that allows our community to shine. On a personal note, serving in this role of Executive Director of UM-NSU CARD has been the gift of a lifetime, and I thank you all for the privilege of being able to continue my service to this loving, kind, accepting, and generous community.


Michael Alessandri, Ph.D.
Executive Director