Executive Board


SANDRA Deannza Newsome, Executive Director 

Sandra was born and raised in Farmington, Kentucky. She moved to Southeast Missouri in 1990. Since moving here, she has obtained a bachelors in General Studies with an emphasis in English, Mass Communications, and Theater. She also received her MA in English from Southeast Missouri State University. She currently serves as an English instructor for several institutions. Her passion for Autism Awareness of Southeast Missouri began with attending a couple of events and a meeting. She states she just knew this is an organization where she wants to dedicate time and skills. Increasing awareness, understanding and programming are her main goals for this organization. She is the proud mother of two daughters and Mimi to three grandsons.

scott bucher, assistant director

Scott Bucher was born and raised in St. Louis, Missouri.  After he graduated from Parkway West High School, he attended college at Southeast Missouri State University in Cape Girardeau.  Scott still resides in Cape Girardeau with three children and is the owner of the Imo's Pizza franchise in Eureka.  He is involved in his community as a Parent Mentor for MPACT and serves on the Southeast Missouri Parent Advisory Committee. 


Caroline Thornburgh, Financial Director

Caroline Thornburgh is from Jackson, Missouri. After graduating from Jackson High School she attended Southeast Missouri State University for her Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees. Caroline is an instructor in the mathematics department at Southeast Missouri State University. The oldest of her and her husband's two sons has autism. 

Ashley Showalter.jpg

Ashley Showalter, Executive Assistant

Ashley Showalter was born and raised in Southern Illinois. She graduated from SIU Carbondale. Ashley currently works at Southeast Missouri State University and lives in Cape Girardeau, Missouri. She has a nonverbal son with autism. She also serves as the secretary for the Autism Society Southern Illinois Chapter.


Elite Organizers

Autism Awareness of Southeast Missouri is blessed to have a group of amazing volunteers to help bring awareness to our mission. These members are called Elite Organizers.


If you would like to volunteer your talents to help us raise awareness, contact us or email April Swofford (april@autismsemo.org).