April E- News Spotlight
 by Bridget Huckabee
Meet Dawn Allen
CEO of GHA Autism Supports

There are not many people in the local business community who don’t know, or know of, Dawn Allen. One of the outstanding leaders in the community, she keeps a full schedule of work and volunteer activities. And yet this attractive youthful-looking lady has the time to smile, chat or just stop for a word with everyone she meets. Dawn’s bright, positive personality enhances not only GHA Autism Supports, but the many professional and volunteer groups on which she serves.  
Dawn received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology from Pfeiffer University and a Master of Education from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. In 1981, she joined as a direct care staff person, an organization known then as Group Homes for the Autistic. At that time the organization provided a residence for five children.
In 1984, Dawn became Chief Executive Officer of GHA Autism Supports, as it is now called. Since then, under her leadership, the agency currently has over 90 individuals in programs providing residential, vocational, educational, community and in-home services. In January 2015 the organization opened Second Street Sundries in downtown Albemarle. Its mission is to provide employment opportunities to individuals with autism that the agency currently serves.   
Within her professional realm, Dawn is on a number of councils, associations and committees. In both 1998 and 2008, she was named “Professional of the Year” by the Autism Society of North Carolina (ASNC). In addition, she was presented the Achievement Award by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Division TEACCH Program in 2008.
Active in her community, she served as Past-President and Campaign Chair of the United Way of Stanly County. Currently, she is the Chair of the Stanly Regional Medical Center Advisory Council, Past Chairman of the Stanly County Community Foundation and is an active member of the Albemarle Rotary Club. She has also served several terms on the Executive Committee of the Stanly County Chamber of Commerce.
“Being active in my community is an integral part of who I am,” says Dawn. “Membership in the Stanly County Chamber of Commerce provides me the opportunities to not only volunteer but to connect with other businesses and community leaders.”

  Dawn was born and raised in Stanly County. Married to Ray Allen, former Albemarle City Manager now retired, she is the mother of two boys. Brent, 25, is a graduate of NC State University and works for DOT in Charlotte. Andrew, 23, is a graduate of UNC Chapel Hill, and works for Turner Broadcasting in Los Angeles.
  For relaxation Dawn exercises on a regular basis and likes to cook and to read. She and her husband belong to a couples dinner and book club and she is currently reading A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles.
Dawn Allen: an outstanding leader and a true asset to the organization and the community she so ably serves.