First Place AZ is hosting a Global Leadership Institute Symposium from Oct. 24-26 to offer support providers, developers, educators and families information on building a supportive community, including fundraising and collaborative strategies with public, private, philanthropic and nonprofit interests.

First Place AZ, a nonprofit, charitable organization focused on ensuring that housing options for adults with autism and other neuro-diversities are as bountiful as they are for everyone else, recently opened First Place–Phoenix, a $15.4 million, 81,000-square-foot property with 55 units located at 3001 N. Third St.

Participants and leaders from 15 states have signed up to attend the symposium. They will experience the new First Place-Phoenix property; First Place Transition Academy, which teaches independent living skills to adults with autism; the Southwest Autism Research & Resource Center (SARRC); and other locations in Phoenix’s supportive community, dubbed “the most autism-friendly city in the world” by PBS NewsHour.

During the symposium, First Place is co-hosting a real estate think tank in collaboration with the Autism Housing Network (a project of the Madison House Autism Foundation) and other leaders in the field to advance a sister study to the 2009 Opening Doors report that provided guidance for First Place–Phoenix design and features. The symposium is sponsored by First Place’s Center for Real Estate and Community Development, one of five centers under the auspices of the Global Leadership Institute.

Our goal is to better equip public, private, philanthropic and nonprofit sectors to meet the ever-increasing demand,” says Denise D. Resnik, First Place AZ founder, president and CEO. “By creating the foundational nomenclature for housing and service delivery models, the market can begin to respond nationwide with clear examples for expansion. We will set forth strategies for how sector interests can build, grow and align communities to serve the vast and diverse needs of people with autism and other neuro-diversities.”

Featured leaders include Peter Bell, president & CEO of Ascendigo; George Braddock, director of Creative Housing Solutions; Charles D. Hammerman, president & CEO of Disability Opportunity Fund; Anna Hundley, executive director of Autism Treatment Center; Desiree Kameka, director of community engagement & housing networks, Madison House Autism Foundation; Christopher J. Manente, executive director of Rutgers Center for Adult Autism Services; Valerie Paradiz, board member of Autism Speaks; Michael Trailor, director of the Arizona Department of Economic Security; and Caren Zucker, award-winning journalist and co-author with John Donvan of In a Different Key: The Story of Autism.

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