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The Team

Nationally renowned leaders in business, real estate, medicine, education and research who are pioneering new models in housing and community development.

The People Behind First Place®

Board of Directors (Click for bios)

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Sara Dial

Board Chair
Sara Dial & Associates President and CEO

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Nancy L. White, J.D.

Vice Chair
Steptoe & Johnson Partner
& Molly's Mom

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Tess Burleson, CPA, MBA

Board Secretary
TGen Chief Operating Officer &
TGen Health Ventures President

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Jack Henry

Board Treasurer
Founder & Managing Director
of Sierra Blanca Ventures, LLC
& Clarke’s Grandfather

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Denise D. Resnik

Board Member
First Place Founder, President/CEO
DRA Collective Founder & CEO
SARRC Co-Founder & Emeritus
Board Member & Matt's Mom

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Rob Leinbach

Board Member
Cadence &
Luke's Dad

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Bo Calbert

Board Member
Former McCarthy Building Companies President

Leadership

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Denise D. Resnik

President/CEO & Matt's Mom

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Joseph Cooper

Chief Financial & Operating Officer

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Valerie Paradiz, Ph.D.

First Place Leadership Institute Director & Elijah's Mom

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Jeff Ross, M.A.

Program Director

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Neil Dreiseszun

Technology Planner
Encore Career Fellow

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Quinn Merrell

Technology Strategist
Encore Career Fellow

Advisors

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Steven A. Betts

Betts Real Estate Advisors Founder & President

Peter Bell - First Place Advisor

Peter Bell

Ascendigo Autism Services
President & CEO and Tyler's Dad

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Joe Blackbourn

Everest Holdings
President & CEO

First Place Advisor - David Brown

David C. Brown

Home Matters® CEO & National NeighborWorks® Association (NNA) Executive Director

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Catherine Camp Boyle

Autism Housing Pathways, Inc.
Founder & President
Mother of a young man
with autism

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Ellis Carter

Caritas Law Group, P.C.
Legal Counsel

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Sophia Colamarino, Ph.D.

The John & Marcia Goldman Foundation
Director of Science and Health

Jim Howard - First Place Advisor

James D. Howard, Jr.

Dudley Ventures Founder & Principal Shareholder

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Bill Karny

Col. Harland Sanders Foundation President (USA)
& Charlotte's Grandfather

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Natalie S. Lang

Lang Associates
Business Consultant

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Karen B. Mariscal

Margolis & Bloom Counsel
and Billy’s Mom

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Raun D. Melmed, M.D.

SARRC Co-founder & Medical Director; Melmed Center Director & Developmental Pediatrician

Ian Paregol - First Place Advisor

Ian Paregol

DC Coalition for
Disability Service Providers
Executive Director

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Wellington "Duke" Reiter, FAIA

Solutions Initiative at the
ASU Foundation
Senior Vice President & Managing Director

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Paige Rogers, M.S.W., C.P.R.P.

Community Connections Consulting Services Founder Former SARRC VSLA Director

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Michael Sklar

Sonata Properties
Broker & Managing Member

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Michael Trailor

Arizona Department of Housing Director

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Linda J. Walder, Esq.

The Daniel Jordan Fiddle Foundation (DJF) Founder & Executive Director

Capital Campaign Cabinet

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Melissa Ahearn Lange

Northwestern Mutual
Financial Advisor

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Susan Drescher-Mulzet

Philanthropist &
Community Volunteer

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Keith Earnest

Van Trust Executive Vice President & Market Leader

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Danielle Feroleto, MA, CPSM

Small Giants, LLC
Owner & Founder

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Jim Fijan

CBRE Executive Vice President

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Lorena Garcia

Bloguettes & Esto es Púrpura Co-Founder

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Adam Goodman

Goodmans Interior Structures President

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John W. Graham

Sunbelt Holdings
President & CEO

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Natalie S. Lang

Lang Associates
Business Consultant

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Lisa Pavelka McAlister, CPA

Mother & Autism Advocate

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Thomas W. Roberts

VEREIT, Inc.
Executive Vice President &
Chief Investment Officer

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Judy Schubert

Philanthropist &
Community Activist

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Karrin Taylor

Arizona Strategies
President & CEO

Institute Faculty

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George Braddock

Creative Housing Solutions, LLC Director

Catherine Camp Boyle

Catherine Camp Boyle

Autism Housing Pathways, Inc. Founder & President
Mother of a young man
with autism

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Peter Gerhardt, Ph.D.

EPIC School Executive Director

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Valerie Paradiz, Ph.D.

First Place Leadership Institute Director & Elijah's Mom

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Anna Hundley, M.Ed.

Autism Treatment Center (ATC)
Texas Executive Director

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Jeff Ross, M.A.

First Place Program Director

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Raun D. Melmed, M.D.

SARRC Co-founder &
Medical Director
Melmed Center Director & Developmental Pediatrician

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Paul Shattuck, Ph.D.

AJ Drexel Autism Institute
Drexel University Associate Professor & Life Course Outcomes Research
Program Leader

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Daniel Openden, Ph.D., BCBA-D

SARRC President & CEO

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Christopher Smith, Ph.D.

SARRC Vice President & Research Director

First Place® and the Southwest Autism Research & Resource Center (SARRC) are sister nonprofits. SARRC was co-founded in 1997 by First Place Founder Denise D. Resnik with a mission to advance research and provide a lifetime of support for individuals with autism and their families.

SARRC undertakes self-directed research, serves as a satellite site for national and international projects and provides up-to-date information, training and assistance to families and professionals about autism.

Through integrative research, educational outreach, model programs and collaborative initiatives, SARRC sets forth, promotes and facilitates best practices for early intervention and the long-term support of adults with an autism spectrum disorder.

The Foundation for Senior Living (FSL) is one of the largest nonprofit organizations in Arizona devoted to preserving dignity and promoting quality of life for seniors, adults with disabilities and their caregivers.

FSL has also redeveloped 29 Palms, the beta site for the First Place® Transition Academy, by co-locating eight two-bedroom units for adults with autism with 13 apartments for multi-generational residents. The property is currently accepting enrollment.

In 2014, the Arizona Department of Housing awarded the Outstanding Affordable Housing Initiative to 29 Palms.

FSL’s Home Health program is helping adults of all ages with special needs in their home environments. FSL provides a wide array of fee-based, customized services that promote personal choice, independent living, well-being and peace of mind for families and caregivers. FSL has an extensive and respected track record of offering individualized solutions that solve problems and remove barriers.