Jonah Schnel has been an active member of the Southern California Chapter of the Tourette Association of America for approximately 10 years, and currently serves as the Chapter Chair. Jonah became aware of the Southern California chapter following the initial diagnosis of his oldest son, when he was 7 years old. After a couple of years of being on the receiving end, and accepting emotional support from chapter members, Jonah and his family became involved in chapter activities such as social events and support groups. Jonah’s wife Jamie started the Southern California TSA Facebook page, which as of today has over 900 members and provides daily support and critical information to many affected directly and indirectly by Tourette Syndrome. Jonah and Jamie also lead the administration of a family sleep-away camp program each summer (called Camp George) for families dealing with Tourette Syndrome.
Janine Tejeda became interested in serving the Tourette community after seeing how impactful Camp George was for her son with TS. She is a Clinical pharmacist with a Pharm.D. in Pharmaceutical Sciences and a B.S. in Microbiology. This medical background coupled with a love for educating led her to jump into organizing events and opportunities for the chapter. She and her family started a non-profit which raises funds for students graduating from high school and awards scholarships for 1st-year college attendees.
JoNeen Ohlåker serves as a College Professor in Early Childhood Education, Child Development, and Teacher Education for National University and Los Angeles Community College District. JoNeen is deeply devoted to advancing the field of early childhood education while empowering others to well understand their potential; by developing a growth mindset, the building of critical thinking and advocacy skills, and collaborating to embrace differences.
JoNeen is actively involved in public and private educational arenas and currently holds Board Member positions, including Los Angeles Harbor College Child Development Department and National University Advisory Committees, Portuguese Bend Community Homeowners Association Board of Directors, and serves as a Board Member on the Tourette Association of America’s - Southern California Chapter. Additionally, JoNeen maintains a key administrative role in a nationwide support group, as founder and facilitator; the group aims to provide online support and opportunities for those with Tourette Syndrome and related differences to connect and communicate virtually. JoNeen comes from a family touched by Tourette Syndrome and related differences and therefore has dedicated her life to promoting awareness and providing support for individuals, families, and children, affected by neurodevelopmental disorders.
At the age of six I started twitching and having to touch everything twice. I always assumed I would grow out of these tic 'phases' and eventually be done with all the minor explosions that took hold of my body. But at the age of 13, I met Conor, one of the kids in I Have Tourettes But Tourettes Doesn't Have Me documentary, who, like a mirror of me, first diagnosed what was going on and became the entirety of my Tourette support group. Together we would dissect our experiences, hypothesize cures, and laugh at the absurdity of our lives with Tourettes. Though we never lived in the same city we always kept in touch. I cannot stress enough the importance of having a support group while dealing with Tourettes- a bully that lives inside you and pushes the buttons it knows it shouldn't. But in case you don't know, it's very, very important.
The rest of my life is filled with accomplishments beyond having Tourettes. Having what I consider a ticcy imagination I majored in creative writing and sociology at Hamilton College in 2014. Then I moved to LA where I worked in the beer industry and published a book of poetry about beer. Now and for the last year I have been working at FX Networks as a writer for social media. In my free time I volunteer as the engineer of the miniature train at the Descanso Gardens and I play tennis and go bowling. What I would like to do with my free time is continue to help out the TS community for the other 362 days that Camp George is not in session. I have been a counselor there the last two years and an active participant in TS events such as ArtisTIC Expressions but I would like to do more. Having received a crash course in having Tourette's, I am always thrilled about an opportunity to utilize my expertise and offer support to a wonderful community I never knew existed outside my friend Conor.
Eric McGowan was born and raised in Kansas City and currently resides in West Los Angeles. Eric was diagnosed with Tourette Syndrome at an early age and was lucky to have a tremendous amount of support from his family and friends, but he had never knowingly met another person with TS before moving to Los Angeles in 2015. He was first introduced to the SoCal TAA community after performing at the 2016 ArtisTIC Expressions event, and the rest is history. Eric joined the Board of Directors in March 2018 and has formally been serving as the Chapter Secretary for the past year. In addition, he has taken on the role of Liaison to TAA National and its many chapters, as well as other organizations with whom partnership would be beneficial to our community. Eric is passionate about helping youth with TS and their families by volunteering each year as a counselor at Camp George and regularly attending support group meetups. Outside of the SoCal TAA, Eric works as an acoustical consultant in the building industry and graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Acoustics from Columbia College in Chicago and a Master of Arts in Architecture from the University of Kansas.
Mindy Weiss was born, raised, and continues to live in the San Fernando Valley in Southern California. She was diagnosed with Tourette Syndrome (TS) at the age of 10 and instead of saying "why me?" chooses to live by the motto "why NOT me?" With the incredible support of her family and friends, she never let TS stop her from following her dreams of becoming a special educator. She defied the low expectations of some professionals and graduated from high school early. She continued her education earning a Master's Degree in Educational Leadership from California State University, Northridge (CSUN) and is now an administrator in the Los Angeles Unified School District. She completed 5 races with Team TSA, volunteers at Camp George, and is eager to continue to educate people about TS.