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2017 First Place Global Leadership Institute Symposium

On April 26, 2017, we welcomed a group of leaders from across the U.S. (and Australia!). Together, we experienced the supportive community of Greater Phoenix. These pioneering leaders, families and organizations gathered to learn about the next steps for building their own supportive communities. They took part in workshops focused on building an asset inventory, marketing/communications and fundraising and financing.

Our first evening together, the Barrow Neurological Institute welcomed us and our special guests, John Donvan and Caren Zucker, to a night of discussion, networking and a sneak peak of John and Caren’s new documentary based on their New York Times’ best-selling book and Pulitzer Prize finalist, “In A Different Key – The Story of Autism.” The evening, which included a reception and dinner, was co-sponsored by WealthPoint.

First Place Program Director Jeff Ross led the Thursday morning tour of the First Place Transition Academy beta site at 29 Palms in Phoenix. Immediately following, First Place Founder and CEO Denise D. Resnik took guests on an exploration of our supportive community, dubbed “the most autism-friendly city in the world” by “PBS NewsHour.” Thanks to Valley Metro, the group was able to experience our city by light rail.

Afternoon workshops included Capacity Building and Replication, Public/Private/Charitable Collaboration and Affordable and Accessible Housing. A huge thank you to Valerie Paradiz, Ph.D., First Place National Leadership Institute director; Stephanie Hiatt, Dudley Ventures director of investment management and advisory services; and Michael Trailor, Arizona Department of Housing director and First Place advisory board member for sharing your collective expertise as great partners!

Friday started with the 19th Annual SARRC Community Breakfast, where nearly 2,000 guests celebrated 20 years of building community, along with new hopes and dreams. Following the breakfast, we toured SARRC’s Campus for Exceptional Children and SARRC’s Vocational Life Skills Academy. We completed the symposium with workshops led by Mike Duffy, AIA, of RSP Architects and lead designer of First Place–Phoenix at GateWay Community College; George Braddock, First Place National Leadership Institute faculty and Creative Housing Solutions director; and Michelle McGinty, president of DRA Collective.

Thanks to Sydnee Schwartz, ASU Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication student and First Place volunteer, for these great photos.

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