About the Autism Center of Nebraska
ACN is a certified developmental disabilities service provider under contract with the State of Nebraska Health & Human Services, Division of Developmental Disabilities. Nearly 150 individuals receive services from ACN, ranging in age from five to 65. Although ACN specializes in autism, we serve persons with a variety of developmental disabilities. Individualized services and supports are designed to lead to a higher level of independence for each individual receiving services, addressing the individual’s desires for his/her future. ACN provides a variety of residential, vocational, pre-vocational and educational services. At ACN, we believe that every person, regardless of disability, is valuable, and deserves to be considered valued members of their home community.
ACN is guided by a team of committed individuals with substantial backgrounds in the field:
Chief executive Officer and President Brett Samson joined ACN in February of 2018. He brings extensive experience in the fields of developmental disabilities, mental illness and with at-risk youth. He started supporting people with developmental disabilities as a direct support professional in the late 90s while working through college. A graduate of the University of Nebraska-at Omaha, he has experience at all levels in the field, including work in Community Relations positions and directing both vocational and residential programs. He most recently has served as the Area Director for a program in Iowa. Contact Brett at BSamson@ACNomaha.org.
Chief Financial Officer Richard Lowery joined ACN following 18 years in a similar position at the highly-respected Quality Living, Inc. (QLI), where he was instrumental in moving it from a start-up organization to a vibrant organization providing service to a previously under-served constituency. A graduate of UN-L, Lowery has worked in the accounting field since 1984, with his main focus being with nonprofit organizations. Contact Rick at RLowery@ACNomaha.org.
Leslie Bishop Hartung
Leslie Bishop Hartung, director of quality assurance and staff development, has worked in non-profit management since the early 1980s. A graduate of Hamline University, Bishop Hartung previously served for nine years as Executive Director of the Arc of Norfolk, Inc., an organization advocating for the rights of citizens with developmental disabilities and their families. A family member of an individual who experiences developmental disabilities, Bishop Hartung sets a high standard for quality services at ACN. Contact Leslie at LBH@ACNomaha.org.
Diane Pacal, director of residential and supported services, has worked in the field since the early 2000s, serving as residential coordinator before assuming the director role. Diane also has 10 years of volunteering for a organization that takes people with disability on vacations. Diane is very passionate about the mission statement we have at ACN.
Michael Blackstone, Sr.
Michael Blackstone was born and raised in the Omaha area and attended high school and college in–state. Michael’s experience supporting people with developmental disabilities and their families dates to 2003. Michael started in the field as a Direct Support Professional, and through hard work and dedication, has achieved the position of Day Services Director.