The Autism Collective Poised for Record Growth  

Organization announces new Executive Director and Collaborator

The Autism Collective Board of Directors, along with founding members Easterseals Central Illinois and OSF HealthCare Children’s Hospital of Illinois, are pleased to announce the appointment of Kelly Nimtz-Rusch as Executive Director of the organization. Additionally, the University of Illinois College of Medicine Peoria (UICOMP) is joining The Autism Collective as an official collaborator.

The Autism Collective launched in 2019 with a mission to end the isolation of autism by uniting experts and connecting families. Since then, the organization has helped 910 individuals across the state of Illinois navigate the complex web of services available for children and adults with autism.

The Autism Collective unites a broad spectrum of expertise to support families. As Executive Director, Kelly Nimtz-Rusch will bring more than 20 years of clinical expertise to the organization.

Nimtz-Rusch joins The Autism Collective from OSF HealthCare where she began her career as a pediatric nurse at OSF Children’s Hospital of Illinois. She served in a number of leadership roles at OSF Saint Francis Medical Center before becoming the Vice President of Nursing and Clinical Education for the OSF HealthCare Ministry. In addition to bachelor’s and master’s degrees in nursing from Saint Francis College of Nursing, Nimtz-Rusch has a doctor of nursing practice from American Sentinel University, in Aurora, CO.  She brings a wealth of experience in new program development, innovative solution design work, and quality improvement in clinical practice to The Autism Collective.

The Autism Collective is meeting a vital need for our community and across the state. I am so excited to be a part of this organization, bringing support to individuals and amplifying their voices.

Kelly Nimtz- Rusch, Executive Director of The Autism Collective

The addition of the University of Illinois College of Medicine Peoria as a collaborator will give The Autism Collective expanded access and growth opportunities into the medical field as it continues its mission of uniting experts to end the isolation of autism. 

UICOMP is one of four campuses that makes up the nation’s largest public medical school. The school educates 265 medical students and trains more than 300 residents and fellows annually while engaging more than 1,700 faculty physicians, professionals, and staff. Wendy Burdo-Hartman, MD, will join The Autism Collective Board of Directors in April 2022 as the UICOMP representative.

It is an honor to be appointed to the Autism Collective Board. As a neurodevelopmental pediatrician, the needs of children on the autism spectrum and their families are significant and cannot be provided by one organization. By bringing together Easterseals Central Illinois, OSF Children’s Hospital of Illinois and the University of Illinois College of Medicine Peoria, central Illinois is getting closer to meeting the needs of all children with autism spectrum disorder.

Dr.  Wendy Burdo-Hartman, Associate Professor of Clinical Pediatrics at University of Illinois College of Medicine Peoria.

Learn more about the Autism Collective at

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