Ilana Hoffer Skoff, Executive Director and co-founder of Milestones Autism Resources, has made it her mission to create opportunities for milestones, literally.
“I want to give families the chance to experience religious milestones for their children,” said Skoff. “Children with autism should still have the possibility of a bar or bat mitzvah, confirmation, and eventually graduation.”
Skoff, with co-founder Mia Buchwald Gelles, has created a lifeline for parents with autistic children.
“As a parent of an autistic child, I felt isolated without any organization to help,” Skoff added.
With this newly created lifeline, Skoff has paid particular attention in focusing on children’s’ full potential. She strives to focus on the potential for individuals with autism instead of focusing on the disability.
To reach ones full potential, Skoff has organized internships for kids with autism through companies like the Cleveland Jewish News and Montefiore, for example. The initiative has been a success in terms of opening the eyes of the community to people with autism.
Milestones’ conferences -- which attract 1,000 attendees annually -- as well as workshops and trainings, have benefited Jewish professionals hailing from many organizations to better serve Jewish families of children with autism and other special needs.
“When we stop to look at the strength of someone rather than the disability,” Skoff begins, “it can improve the outcome for everyone. And Cleveland is the perfect city for it. It’s a city that when people want something done, they roll up their sleeves and do it.”
At a Glance
Name: Ilana Hoffer Skoff
As a professional: Milestones Autism Resources
Souse: Rabbi Joshua Skoff
Children: Jared, Eden
Synagogue: The Park Synagogue
In the community: Mandel JCC Board, Segula Board, Jewish Federations of North America Disability Committee, The Ratner School
Noteworthy: Ilana has won the Irene Zehman Volunteer Award, as well as the Individuals with Disabilities IDEA Award.