UNC Autism Fathers Conference

The 2022 UNC Autism Fathers Conference is a 2-hour event for fathers who have children of all ages with autism spectrum disorder. This year's virtual conference will feature in-depth conversations about the lived experience of being the father of an autistic child. We hope the event will provide an opportunity to acknowledge the unique parenting challenges faced by fathers who have children with autism, provide information and access to resources, and help fathers and their families function better.

Speaker Bios

Michael Hannon, PhD

Dr. Michael Hannon Headshot

Dr. Michael Hannon is an Associate Professor of Counseling at Montclair State University. An award winning counselor educator and scholar, Dr. Hannon is a highly sought after lecturer, consultant, and collaborator. He takes great pride in leveraging his lived experiences and his professional counseling experience of over 20 years in K-12, student affairs, and clinical settings to the classroom and to his research.  Dr. Hannon earned his doctoral degree in Counselor Education and Supervision from The Pennsylvania State University, an educational specialist degree in School Counseling Services from Rider University, a master’s degree in Student Affairs Practice in Higher Education and a bachelor’s in Human Development & Family Processes from the University of Delaware.

Dr. Hannon’s research primarily focuses on Black men’s wellness, with a focus on the value they derive from their roles as fathers, community leaders, clients, and counselor educators. His dissertation was the first study about the mental health of Black fathers of autistic people. He also actively conducts studies and publishes about anti-Black racism in professional counseling and school counselors’ professional development needs. To this end, Dr. Hannon has authored over 30 publications and made over 90 presentations at professional counseling and allied health conferences and his work has been cited over 200 times since 2017. He has been a featured contributor to media outlets and organizations such as Autism Speaks, Thrive Global, Fusion, Neurodiversity Experts, and Huffington Post. His book, Black Fathering & Mental Health, was published in March 2022.

Drs. Michael and LaChan Hannon are the co-founders of the Greater Expectations Teaching & Advocacy Center (GETAC), a non-profit organization based in Burlington County, New Jersey, dedicated to supporting families supporting and institutions serving neurodivergent and other marginalized children and families. For more information, feel free to visit GETAC’s website.


Robert Naseef, PhD

Robert Naseef, PhD Headshot

Robert Naseef, Ph.D. has a distinct voice as a psychologist and father of an adult son with autism. He has spoken around the country and trained professionals internationally in treating autism and other developmental disorders and supporting families.  He has a special interest in the psychology of men and fatherhood.

Along with Stephen Shore, Ed.D., Dr. Naseef served as a lead consultant to the Arc of Philadelphia and SAP’s “Autism at Work” program which involved collaboration with the Pennsylvania Department of Education and the Bureau of Vocational Rehabilitation. The curriculum they developed, “Preparing Neurodiverse Youth for the Workplace,” is available for free download.

Dr. Naseef’s 2013 book, Autism in the Family: Caring and Coping Together (Brookes Publishing), integrates advances in research and treatment with clinical experience to help families navigate the emotional landscape and the practical roadmap through the lifespan. Special Children, Challenged Parents: The Struggles and Rewards of Parenting a Child with a Disability (1996), his first book, received international recognition. He is the co-editor with Cindy N. Ariel of Voices from the Spectrum: Parents, Grandparents, Siblings, People with Autism, and Professionals Share Their Wisdom (2006).

In 2008, Robert Naseef was honored by Variety, the Children’s Charity for his outstanding contributions to the autism community.  On World Autism Awareness Day, April 2, 2017, Dr. Naseef gave a TEDx talk entitled “How autism teaches us about being human” which you can see on YouTube. Dr. Naseef is also a member of the Panel of Professional Advisors of the Autism Society of America. He also serves on the Leadership Council of the AJ Drexel Autism Institute. Visit him on the web at www.alternativechoices.com or on his blog www.DrRobertNaseef.wordpress.com.


Dwayne Ballen

Dwayne Ballen Headshot

Dwayne Ballen is an award winning television journalist and sportscaster whose resume includes CBS Sports, where he was a member of the NCAA Tournament announce team, The Golf Channel, where he served as lead studio anchor, Fox Sports Net , where he was a studio anchor as well as host of the network’s Final Four coverage and the ESPN Networks where he served as a play by play announcer.

A highly regarded anchor and host, Ballen has earned industry wide praise for his interviewing skills and command of the studio, which serve him well beyond the realm of sports. Recent interviews with Michelle Obama, Peyton Manning, Magic Johnson, and US Surgeon General Vivek Murthy have garnered him considerable recognition.

Ballen is the author of the Amazon best-selling book, Journey with Julian, which provides an intimate look into his family’s life with eldest son Julian, who is autistic. Ballen travels the country speaking and raising awareness about autism. He resides in Durham, NC with his wife Marina, an executive athletic administrator at UNC-Chapel Hill, and their two sons Julian and Jared.