About Us

ACN is a certified developmental disabilities service provider under contract with the State of Nebraska Health & Human Services, Division of Developmental Disabilities. Nearly one hundred and thirty individuals receive services from ACN, ranging in age from seven to 60. 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 René Ferdinand has more than thirty-five years of experience in the field of developmental disabilities. His experiences have ranged from direct support, to services coordination, to the state level directorships. He has worked for service providers, advocacy organizations and state agencies, bringing this wealth of experience to lead the Autism Center of Nebraska, Inc. in December 2007. Contact René at RFerdinand@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 for 34 years, the last 24 of which have been with nonprofit organizations. Contact Rick at RLowery@ACNomaha.org.



Leslie Bishop Hartung, director of quality assurance and staff development, brings more than thirty years experience in non-profit management to ACN. Previously, Bishop Hartung served for nine years as Executive Director of The Arc of Norfolk, Inc., an organization which advocates 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.



Scott Miller, director of vocational and transition services, brings more than thirty years experience in direct support services to persons with developmental disabilities. His work with individuals living in Iowa’s Glenwood Resource Center provided skills and training to develop pre-vocational services at ACN that move beyond the traditional sheltered workshop, providing opportunities for creative expression and financial gain in a warm and supportive environment. Scott can be reached at SMiller@ACNomaha.org.



Diane Pacal, director of residential and supported services, Diane comes to ACN with 17 years of      experience, 8 of which has been with ACN as the Residential Coordinator. 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.



ACN operates under the guidance and direction of the ACN Board of Directors.

Joan Marcus, chair (family member)

            Ann Bird

            Ken Keith, Ph.D.            

            Marc Kraft (elected official – Douglas County Commissioner)  

Cynthia Eillis, MD

Mary Gordon

Summer Mau (family member)

            Dave Merrill (family member)  

Chuck Sederstrom

Richard Lowery, treasurer (family member)

            René Ferdinand (ex officio)