An Innovative Housing Solution for Adults with Autism

Sweetwater Spectrum Staff

Deirdre Sheerin, CEO/Executive Director

Ms. Sheerin began her career as a special education teacher in private and public schools in Missouri, New York, Massachusetts and California. She has held executive positions at a number of non-profit organizations, including Zonta Services, a pioneering school serving children with autism in San Jose.

As CEO of Sweetwater Spectrum, she is dedicated to the organization’s Founding Principles. She leads her team with the goal of challenging each Sweetwater resident to reach his or her highest potential, and to raise autism awareness at the community and national levels. As a 12-year resident of Sonoma, she is actively involved in a variety of local civic and non-profit groups. She frequently speaks at conferences around the country about managing a model residential community for adults with autism.

Deirdre holds an MA Degree in Special Education from New York University and an MA in Organizational Development from Sonoma State University.


Sweetwater Spectrum
369 Fifth Street West
Sonoma, CA 95476, U.S.A.


Julie Weinstock, Administration & Special Projects

Julie joined Sweetwater Spectrum in 2013. Since moving to California in 1991, she has worked as magazine editor, freelance writer, and winery executive. At Sweetwater, she focuses on office administration and a variety of special projects designed to support Life With Purpose. Julie has a BFA in Creative Writing from Stephens College in Columbia, Missouri. 


Suzanne Phillips, Enrichment Activity and Volunteer Coordinator

Suzanne has followed the evolution of Sweetwater Spectrum from an empty field to the thriving residential community it is today. With the goal of promoting life and work with purpose, Suzanne plans individual and group activities, seeks out opportunities for residents to get involved with the greater community, and produces Life at Sweetwater, a bi-monthly communication. By integrating volunteers into the Sweetwater Spectrum community, Suzanne helps residents find new ways to engage with the community and explore their unique interests. Suzanne holds a BFA in Drawing & Painting and Art Education Certification, as well as a Masters and Ed. Specialist degree in Curriculum and Leadership from William Woods University, Fulton, Missouri.

Rachel Kohn Obut, Farm Manager

Rachel began consulting with Sweetwater Spectrum in  the Spring of 2011, and joined the team full-time in July 2013. She was instrumental in developing the one-acre environmentally sustainable farm. She manages all aspects of the farm and helps residents learn everything from planting and harvesting to composting and chicken care. Rachel has a BA in Neuroscience from Oberlin College and is working on a Permaculture Design Certification.