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Who Are We?

We are a group of parents, educators, therapists, medical providers, and others who are concerned about the advancement for children and families who are dealing with life on the autism spectrum.

Our Mission

Our mission is to create an inclusive world for kids on the autism spectrum. This world is not limited to elementary, middle or high school. It includes life beyond school age. We are committed to creating and finding opportunities to serve children and adults on the spectrum through all stages of life.


We are here to provide support in a variety of ways. This will include support groups, referrals for services, educational support sessions, etc.

Board Members

Jessie Johnson

Jessie Johnson is a proud mother of five children, one of which is on the Autism Spectrum and is happily married to her husband, Blaine. Jessie is co-executive director and founder of Midwest Autism Association. Her career is in the field of finance and works full time at a local Bismarck Bank as an Executive. When Jessie is not at work, or advocating for our kids with autism, Jessie enjoys volunteering with the United Way. Jessie has Master’s Degrees in both Finance and Marketing, and enjoys traveling and cooking.

Sara Christianson

I am a mom of four (three boys and one girl ages 5-15), a wife, a CPA, etc, etc, etc. My 10 year old son was diagnosed with autism at the age of 4. I work part time as an accountant and spend the rest of time running after my 4 kids! I love to read, craft and watch HGTV (in all of my spare time). I am very excited to be a part of the Midwest Autism Association and can’t wait to see how this organization will benefit our children and our community!

Crystal Neumann
Board Member

CoOwner/Broker Associate

I was born and raised in Bismarck ND. My schooling took me to California where I lived for 8.5 years and then Montana for 5 years after that. My husband (Michael) and I were married in 2006 in Big Sky MT then moved back home to start our family. I have 2 sons, Vincent(11) and Edison(8). I feel very blessed to have such a wonderful family. I love traveling, football, baseball, outdoor activities, going on vacations and spending quality time with my family.

Vanessa Nelson, MD
Board Member

Vanessa Nelson, MD, works in pediatrics where she treats anything related to children.

Dr. Nelson builds a special bond with families she cares for by taking care of her patients from birth until college, providing well-child checks, sick visits and everything in between.

In addition, she holds leadership roles on UND’s School of Medicine as the Clinical Assistant Professor.

Julie Ward
Board Member

Hello!  My name is Julie Ward and this is my 24th year of teaching in the Bismarck Public Schools.  I received my bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Minot State and am currently working towards finishing my administration credential. Teaching is an absolute passion of mine and it is my mission to instill a love for learning in my students.  I am married to my wonderful husband, Jeremy, and we have 3 children that I absolutely adore. I am a small town girl at heart and value hard work, manners, and kindness.  All children deserve to be treated with a kind heart and to know they are valued.

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