Interviews with purpose-driven leaders who are dedicated to helping others and making a positive impact in the world.
November 2, 2023
Tiffany Feingold | Guiding Bright Minds
TELL US, WHO ARE YOU AND WHAT DO YOU DO?
Hi, my name is Tiffany Feingold. My husband and I are the co-founders of Guiding Bright Minds. We are a community comprised of providers, professionals, educators, schools, non-profits, and parents working together to support neurodiverse children, adults, and families. Guiding Bright Minds connects parents of neurodiverse children with vetted professionals, educators, and non-profits through our neurodiversity network directory. We also provide education and resources for symptoms, diagnoses, and treatments for neurodiversity and learning differences such as ADHD, autism, dyslexia, sensory processing, executive functioning, and more. We want parents to know they are not alone, and that Guiding Bright Minds is your partner in your family’s journey.
I also want to share that I’m a co-founder of the Colorado Neurodiversity Chamber of Commerce (CNDCC) along with Dr. Amanda Kelly, the President and CEO of Firefly Autism, and Danny Combs the co-founder of TACT (Teaching the Autism Community Trades). We launched CNDCC in September 2022 and we are the first Neurodiversity Chamber of Commerce in the country! Our mission is to help employers adopt neurodiversity-affirming business practices for economic growth, both from an individual lens of the neurodiverse employee as well as employers looking to broaden their diversity and inclusion efforts. Talk about impact! In the last year, we supported 50 businesses and non-profits, more than 30 individuals and students, hosted 14 educational events, 12 networking events, six panel discussions five-part workshop and we have so much more we are planning on doing. Be sure to visit us at cndcc.org.
HOW DID YOU GET HERE?
My journey in serving and helping people in need began as a child with an innate desire to help and protect others. I received my degree in psychology and took a slight detour in my career path when I moved to Colorado which provided me with an incredible foundation in understanding business, marketing, sales, management, and leadership.
When I met my husband, I learned that he was diagnosed with ADHD and dyslexia and struggled significantly in his early years of school. Unfortunately, he had a teacher who told him he was stupid and as you can imagine, that had a significant impact on his self-esteem and confidence. I felt and saw his struggles as an adult, and how those damaging words and not fitting into society’s definition of “normal” affected his work experience and social aspects of his life. However, I am proud of my husband because, despite the negative and hurtful experiences, he launched a successful tutoring and training company 18 years ago called Results Learning, which partners with public and private schools and provides special education and intervention services and training to teachers so they have the tools to help every child thrive.
Then when our son was about three-and-a-half, he was getting kicked out of daycare, swim lessons, and soccer–any place that was overstimulating or overwhelming. Then when he was in half-day kindergarten, he was in the principal’s office pretty much every day. I couldn’t believe that was happening. How was this five-year-old boy who was reading at the age of three and so eager to learn, ending up in the principal’s office when he was only in school for four hours a day? I was heartbroken and overwhelmed! All I wanted to do was help and protect my son. I wanted his experience to be positive, joyful, encouraging, and uplifting. But he was being stifled because he didn’t fit in “the box”. During that time I was in a leadership role in corporate America, working countless hours, and was watching this unfold thinking, how is this happening? Where is the support from the school? Why was the focus only on the negative aspects versus understanding his strengths and uncovering the beautiful layers to see that he just desires to be accepted and loved?
I felt like a failure as a mom. I felt like I was alone. I felt lost and that there was nowhere to turn. This is when my calling and passion in life came full circle. I knew something had to be done to end the negative and damaging treatment of neurodiverse children and figure out a way to bring our community together to help parents, children, and families. We didn’t want another parent or guardian to feel like they were alone.
WHAT DO YOU STAND FOR? WHY IS THIS WORK IMPORTANT TO YOU?
I don’t want my son to be another statistic!
Autistic children are 28 times more likely to attempt suicide. Forty percent of neurodivergent adults are unemployed. Eighty-five percent of autistic adults with a college degree are unemployed. Twelve percent of the homeless population are autistic. Fifty percent of people in prison have a neurodiverse condition. We need to get real with what is happening! One in five children is diagnosed with a learning difference. Thirty percent of the population is neurodivergent. These statistics are part of my reason why.
When you look at the hearts, desires, and innocence of the kids and adults going through the school and work systems, with an eagerness to learn, to fit in, and to be accepted, instead they are met with opposition, judgment, and a harsh reality that they don’t fit in; that is not acceptable. We need to broaden our understanding, embrace differences, and stop the negative and disparaging misconceptions and stigmas surrounding those who are different. It’s opening a lens to different viewpoints that people do think differently, and that people do process differently. Let’s embrace the beautiful strengths and superpowers that shine through on the other side. There needs to be flexibility in our understanding and beliefs.
Guiding Bright Minds’ mission is to recognize the brilliance in each person’s mind and connect parents with a community of professionals who empower each child to use their strengths while addressing their needs so today’s neurodiverse learners can be tomorrow’s leaders.
WHAT IMPACT ARE YOU MAKING?
Guiding Bright Minds has connected hundreds of parents with vetted providers who are dedicated to serving them and their families. We have hosted more than 60 free parent webinars, provided various support groups and workshops, created a birthday buddies program so each child can celebrate their birthday with friends, started a neurodivergent teen night to connect teens and parents, hosted numerous networking and collaboration events for professionals, launched an all-inclusive neurodiversity resource fair, hosted monthly virtual parent meet and greets, and have engaged with hundreds of parents and guardians seeking guidance on their journey.
Making an impact is changing people’s perspectives and helping society to understand their own biases while embracing, accepting, and understanding what neurodiversity and learning differences are. It’s changing school policies and systems and finding ways we can better support our teachers as well as ensuring employers have neurodiverse-affirming business practices.
We are all in this together.
WHAT (OR WHO) INSPIRES YOU TO DO THIS WORK?
My husband and my son are my inspiration! I love their brains. I love their creativity and the way they see the world. They have so many strengths that I only wish I had. I admire their resilience and their determination. I am also motivated by the staggering statistics: the statistics of suicide, the statistics of incarceration, and the statistics of homelessness. These statistics need to stop, and we have the control to stop them. I often think about so many people who are brilliant, caring, loyal, creative, and hyper-focused, but unfortunately, because they don’t fit into the mold society believes they should be in, they’re shunned. They inspire me to stop another unfortunate tragedy from happening because somebody looked at them differently or felt that they were less than them. What inspires me is to truly have everyone be embraced, regardless of what they look like, who they are, or how their brain works.
WHAT’S YOUR VISION, YOUR BIG DREAM FOR THE IMPACT YOU WANT TO MAKE?
A world in which people of all ABILITIES have the resources, recognition, respect, and support to thrive in school and life.
WHAT CHALLENGES ARE YOU FACING?
I am not sure if this is a challenge, but I want to support parents and neurodivergent individuals all over the world. People from everywhere are seeking knowledge and information, trying to find a community. We hope we can continue to embrace those next steps to grow and be sustainable and still have an impact on a national and worldwide level. In the last three years, I’ve met wonderful little pockets of parents who have created their own organizations. Like me, they’ve realized the need to do something about how our kids are being treated in school and the workplace and working to educate society. It’s working together, spreading the word, and sharing.
WHAT’S ONE THING YOU WANT PEOPLE TO KNOW ABOUT YOUR CAUSE AND/OR THE WORK YOU’RE DOING?
We understand firsthand how hard and painful this journey can be, and we want you to know that you are not alone! I hope we can all strive to recognize the brilliance in each person’s mind and be able to embrace differences in a non-judgmental but empowering and encouraging way. If we’re coming from a place of open-mindedness, as well as a place of grace and curiosity, I feel that we can remove some of those barriers, misconceptions, and negativity that surround those who may be different than ourselves. It allows us to be open to those differences.
DO YOU HAVE A FAVORITE QUOTE OR WORDS OF INSPIRATION TO SHARE?
“There’s no greater disability in society than the inability to see a person as more.” It’s from Robert M. Hensel.
HOW CAN OTHERS SUPPORT YOU OR YOUR CAUSE?
There is an opportunity for parents, caregivers, providers, and professionals who serve our neurodivergent individuals to join so we can all embrace, empower, and support our amazing children. Become part of the Guiding Bright Minds community at GuidingBrightMinds.com. We provide tools and resources to help with parenting strategies, guidance on how to help find your child’s strengths, assistance in finding the right provider, and tips to help us get through each day. As a parent, you can feel comfortable and confident knowing that the Guiding Bright Minds providers are vetted and verified and are dedicated to helping our community, children, and families. We are the place for parents of children with learning disabilities depend on to guide them on their journey!
At Orapin, we believe those who are working for the greater good should be known, supported, and celebrated. We help purpose-driven organizations transform their random acts of PR into a strategic, consistent approach that generates greater awareness and impact. If would like to be featured in INSPIRED IMPACT™, reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org.