Penne Fode, staff member in the College of Agriculture, has received the 2008 Staff Award for Excellence in Civic Engagement from the Center for Community Service-Learning. As a mother of an autistic child, Fode is devoted to helping parents of autistic children, raising public awareness and improving legislation affecting the disabled community. Since 2007, she has been first vice president of the Greater Long Beach/San Gabriel Valley Chapter of the Autism Society of America. She has also been secretary of the Autism Society of California since 2002. In January, Fode helped organize 36 autism groups in California to meet and form an alliance to address on-going legislative issues. In February, she helped organize a two-day conference about autism in Anaheim that drew about 1,100 visitors. In March, she was a guest speaker for a class in the College of Education & Integrative Studies and talked about the challenges of raising a child with autism.