Possibilities Series: Lynn Koegel

For Lynn Koegel, Santa Barbara is home. She grew up there, raised her kids there, and spent 30 years establishing the Koegel Autism Center with her husband, Robert Koegel (also a Surf Air member), at the University of California Santa Barbara. Lynn was caring for her mother, and had a staff of 15 at their clinic in Santa Barbara. But when Stanford called, and asked if the Koegels could help develop an autism center there, they couldn’t refuse. Luckily, Surf Air made the choice that much easier.

How did you first hear about Surf Air?

A friend of mine who comes up a lot for business told me about it. He started when you just began your service. He was saying it’s very convenient for short trips.

My husband started researching a bit and thought it would be a great opportunity for us, based on our circumstances. We did a trial, bought a 10-pack, and loved it.

What did you love about it?

We really liked being able to walk on the plane and not have to get there an hour early. It takes a lot out of your day, and it takes a long time. I liked being pre-checked with security. We have TSA pre-screen but still sometimes your shoe has a metal heel and you end up having to go back. The flights are amazingly—a lot of people don’t like small planes—but they’re amazingly smooth. The pilots are phenomenal, and always find nice smooth pockets. Even the days when they said it might be choppy. They’re even smoother than the big planes! I like the convenience, the rapid check-in, how nice the staff are. They’re so helpful and accommodating. Everybody from the person who deals with problems to the support staff—if there’s something I did wrong or an issue—all the way to the people at the airport, you feel like they’re family not just someone trying to get you one place to another.

I guess what’s also nice for my personal situation, is how many flights there are a day to this area because I can pick and choose my times depending on meetings, faculty meetings, and patients. I know that for my mom, who just turned 90, she wasn’t super thrilled that I was leaving but she at least knows with Surf Air, I get to see her a lot. She’s a widow and we’re very close, so it’s nice to be able to see her regularly.

How often do you fly?

I fly probably twice a week. The only Surf Air flights we do are Santa Barbara to San Carlos. I worked at UCSB for 30 years and then I took a job at Stanford.

I was born there [in Santa Barbara], worked there and got my degrees at UCSB. I consider it home. And then I took this amazing job at Stanford. Having Surf Air makes me feel like I haven’t moved away from Santa Barbara. It makes me feel like I can work at this amazing job site, but also feel like close to home.

What do you do at Stanford?

I’m the clinical professor in the School of Medicine, Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences.

My husband and I developed a treatment for children with autism spectrum disorder that’s quite efficient. We do a lot of work on disseminating that and finding ways to make it better. We do a lot of workshops and speeches, and go all over the world to do talks on autism. It’s called Pivotal Response Treatment for Autism (PRT). We developed it in the late ‘80s, and then we’ve refined it since. The National Research Council put it out as one of the top 10 treatments for autism, and one of the very few evidence-based ones.

A lot of [other treatments] aren’t really researched, so then they don’t work and parents end up spending a lot of time and money doing things that don’t work so it’s a waste.

Do you enjoy working at Stanford?

Yeah I really like working here; I just started last summer. My husband ran the Koegel Autism Center at UCSB so we had a big center there, but it was just the two of us and we started it and built it up to a huge beautiful center named after us. Now, we’re working on that at Stanford.

We have a bigger support team, psychologists, neurologists, and a lot of researchers—and we’re helping to expand some of the clinical research here.

How was the transition from Santa Barbara to Palo Alto?

They always say some of the biggest stresses of life are getting a new job and moving. That worked out really well with Surf Air, because it mitigated that and we be in both cities and don’t have to feel like everything has changed. Especially since we’ve been there [in Santa Barbara] for so many years. It worked out so well.

As a woman far along in her career, do you think Surf Air has been a good community for you?

For me, personally, it’s just peace of mind. I think women do have a wider spectrum of roles, and me providing some care to my mother and at the same time trying to keep up a high pressure job at Stanford, Surf Air provides a lot of support and peace of mind and just convenience.

Have you told others about Surf Air?

I do mention it to a lot of people because it’s so convenient, so a lot of friends and family know how great it’s been for me.

My daughters are so jealous. My youngest daughter texted me today from SFO and said “I’m so jealous you’re a Surf Air member!”