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On November 15, Wendy Lisogar-Cocchia, OBC, LLD and Sergio Cocchia, OBC, LLD will receive the 2018 Community Leadership Award from The Justice Institute of British Columbia Foundation (The JIBC Foundation)

Wendy Lisogar-Cocchia, OBC, LLD and Sergio Cocchia, OBC, LLD are recipients of the 2018 Community Leadership Award from The Justice Institute of British Columbia Foundation.
Wendy Lisogar-Cocchia and Sergio Cocchia are recipients of the 2018 Community Leadership Award from The Justice Institute of British Columbia Foundation.

First responders are coming together for autism thanks to Pacific Autism Family Network (Pacific Autism). Over the past 18 months, more than 2,300 first responders, including police officers, firefighters, paramedics, and call dispatchers, have been trained to recognize and respond more effectively in emergencies to individuals with autism.

“Some individuals diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) may have significant problems in social communication and social interaction, which may leave them highly vulnerable in any kind of crisis situation,” explains Ms. Lisogar-Cocchia, co-founder of Pacific Autism Family Network along with her husband, Sergio Cocchia.

“One in 66 Canadians are diagnosed with autism, compared to one in 2,000 just 10 to 15 years ago,” adds Sergio Cocchia. “While it is a spectrum, 80 per cent are profoundly affected, which makes this an important public health and safety concern for communities all across the country.”

Thanks to the couple’s leadership, the Police Academy at the Justice Institute of British Columba (JIBC) has been at the forefront of this specialized first responder training. Ten years ago, the couple approached JIBC with an idea to deliver autism awareness training for new municipal police recruits. The Police Academy embraced the initiative and has been a strong proponent and partner to Pacific Autism ever since.  

Based on the success of the police recruit training and Pacific Autism First Responder Training program, JIBC and Pacific Autism are expanding the autism awareness and education training partnership to paramedic and firefighting students in 2019.

To further expand and strengthen the community for people with autism, Pacific Autism opened its 60,000 sq. ft. Hub in Richmond in 2016. Funded by over $35 million in public and private donations, the Hub is designed to meet the unique needs of individuals with ASD and their families, and provide an open, unique, and collaborative environment for individuals with autism, service providers, organizations, clinicians, and researchers.

“Many families feel devastated and alone in their struggle. Our vision is to build a village of support so those families are no longer alone,” states Lisogar-Cocchia.

On November 15, 2018, the Cocchias will receive The JIBC Foundation Community Leadership Award at the Be the One Gala. The award is presented for extraordinary leadership that demonstrates the value and spirit of community, and will be presented to the Cocchias for their outstanding commitment to helping individuals and families affected by ASD and for their extensive community service with organizations representing public safety, education, and business. The remarkable work the Cocchias are leading at Pacific Autism is not only raising awareness and support for autism but is also creating a more diverse and inclusive society.

“The JIBC Foundation has been incredibly generous in honouring us with this award,” said Ms. Lisogar-Cocchia. “We’re profoundly grateful for the awareness they have brought to this important cause.”


Be the One Gala Event Details

The JIBC Foundation Be the One Gala – featuring the Justice & Public Safety Awards
Thursday, November 15, 2018
Hyatt Regency Vancouver
Reception 6 pm; Dinner and Justice & Public Safety Awards 7 pm

The Gala will recognize individuals and groups committed to impacting lives through justice, public safety, and community leadership; celebrate 40 years of the JIBC, Canada's leading public safety educator; and raise funds to support student success. 


All Justice & Public Safety Award Honourees include:

BC First Responders Mental Health Committee
Marvin R.V. Storrow, QC, LLD

Wendy Lisogar-Cocchia, OBC, LLD and Sergio Cocchia, OBC, LLD
Franjo Gasparovic and Megan Rook
Douglas Eastwood, QC (posthumous)
Heather Lyle (posthumous)

Purchase tickets at:; 604-683-1513;


About The Justice Institute of British Columbia Foundation

For almost 25 years, The Justice Institute of British Columbia Foundation (The JIBC Foundation) has been inspiring giving for important needs that enhance education, training, student learning and applied research at JIBC. These needs most often include student scholarships and bursaries, new equipment and technology, and other tools related to student success. The JIBC Foundation is proud to be building meaningful relationships with communities to support Canada’s leading public safety educator.



Want to make a difference every day? The Justice Institute of British Columbia (JIBC) provides the education and training to let people to do just that, being there to support others when their health, safety or property is at stake.

JIBC is a public, post-secondary institution focused on justice and public safety professionals at all stages of their careers in fields including law enforcement, firefighting, paramedicine, security and emergency management. Complementing these programs, the Institute provides instruction in related areas such as conflict resolution, mediation, leadership and counselling, offers graduate studies in cybersecuritybusiness intelligence, and tactical criminal analysis, and conducts applied research in the justice and public safety fields.