About Us

Origin Story

Ron Suskind and his wife, Cornelia, discovered their son Owen was using his passion for animated movies as a pathway to regain his speech, make friends, and lead a meaningful life. Ron started Sidekicks to help families everywhere do the same.

At age three, Owen lost his speech. But soon after, Ron and Cornelia realized that he had memorized every line in his favorite animated movies, and was using them to make sense of the world around him. By parroting these movie dialogues, the Suskind’s taught Owen to communicate and express himself. Owen emerged as a young adult with a unique skill set and irrepressible passion for life and family. He even articulated his own overarching philosophy based on the movies he loves — that “we’re all really sidekicks searching for our inner hero.”

After Ron published his story in the memoir Life, Animated, he received thousands of responses from parents asking how they could use the same approach with their child. Upon seeing Owen talking to Siri, the path became clear: gather some of the best neuroscientists and technologists around, and build a mobile service that enables parents use content their kids love to reach and teach them about life. Sidekicks was named, of course, by Owen.

Our Team


Ron Suskind

Founder & CEO
Ron is a Pulitzer-winning journalist and bestselling author whose most recent book – Life, Animated – introduced affinity therapy, a new way of reaching and teaching the differently-abled by focusing on their passions. Ron is also currently a lecturer at Harvard Law School and one of the country's most sought-after speakers on and analysts of national and global affairs.

Joan Nevins

Senior Financial Advisor
Joan has 30 years experience as CFO at companies such as Applicon, Picturetel, Upromise and Kalido. In addition to building organizational infrastructure to handle rapid growth, she has a wealth of experience in raising and managing capital, leading organizations through private placements, IPOs and secondary offerings, as well as, navigating M&As.

John Nguyen

Technical Advisor
John is an experienced leader in the speech and natural language industry. Most recently, he co-founded and oversaw product management and engineering at Vlingo, a company which provided mobile virtual assistants directly to consumers as well as leading mobile device manufacturers such as Samsung's S Voice.

Advisory Board


Pam Crooke

Chief Strategy Officer, Social Thinking Center
Pamela J. Crooke is the Chief Strategy Officer of Research, Content, Clinical Services and the Director of Social Thinking Training & Speakers Collaborative. Pam is a prolific speaker both here in North America and abroad, giving workshops, presentations, and training staff on Social Thinking.

William "Terry" Fisher

Professor, Harvard Law School; Faculty Director, Berkman Center for Internet and Society
Professor Fisher has taught at Harvard Law School since 1984, where he is currently the Wilmer Hale Professor of Intellectual Property Law. Between 1982 and 1984, he served as a law clerk to Judge Harry T. Edwards of the United States Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit and then to Justice Thurgood Marshall of the United States Supreme Court.

Michelle Garcia Winner

Speech Language Pathologist, Social Thinking Center
Michelle Garcia Winner, MA, CCC is a speech language pathologist who specializes in the treatment of individuals with social learning challenges. She is the founder of Social Thinking with the mission to help people develop their social competencies to better connect with others and live happier, more meaningful lives.

Dr. Dan Griffin

Co-Founder of Affinity Therapy, George Washington University
Dr. Dan Griffin is a licensed psychologist with extensive post-doctoral training in adult and family-based therapies. He has over 30 years of experience helping people improve their lives. Dan is a member of the American Family Therapy Academy and the Maryland State Psychological Association.

Steven Hyman

President, Society for Neuroscience; Director, Stanley Center
Steven E. Hyman is director of the Stanley Center for Psychiatric Research at Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, a core member of the Broad, and Harvard University Distinguished Service Professor of Stem Cell and Regenerative Biology.

Marco Iacoboni

Professor, Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences, UCLA
Marco Iacoboni is Professor of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences and Director of the Marco Iacoboni Lab, UCLA Brain Mapping Center at the University of California, Los Angeles. Iacoboni pioneered the research on mirror neurons, the "smart cells" in our brain that allow us to understand others.

Dr. Catherine Lord

Founding Director, Center for Autism and the Developing Brain, Weill Cornell Medicine
Catherine Lord, Ph.D. is Professor of Psychology in Psychiatry and founding Director of the Center for Autism and the Developing Brain (CADB), at New York-Presbyterian Hospital, Weill Cornell Medicine, Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons in collaboration with New York Collaborates for Autism.

Dr. Alan Rosenblatt

Specialist in Neurodevelopmental Pediatrics
Dr. Rosenblatt is Board Certified in both Pediatrics and Neurodevelopmental Disabilities by the American Board of Pediatrics and the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology. He has an academic appointment to the faculty of the Feinberg School of Medicine at Northwestern University and teaches pediatric residents at Lurie Children's Hospital.

Maria Tatar

Chair of Program in Folklore and Mythology, Harvard University
Maria Tatar is the John L. Loeb Professor of Germanic Languages and Literatures. She chairs the Program in Folklore and Mythology at Harvard University, where she teaches courses in German Studies, Folklore, and Children’s Literature.