Daniel Openden, Ph.D., BCBA-D
President and CEO
Dr. Daniel Openden became SARRC’s President and CEO in July 2013, after having served as Vice President and Clinical Services Director since 2007. Dr. Openden earned his doctoral degree in special education, disability, and risk studies at UC Santa Barbara. His first pivotal encounter with autism occurred when he was a college senior working as a second-grade aide with a girl with autism in a mainstream classroom. Attending school with her every day (while he took college classes at night), forever changed his perspective about what’s possible for people with ASD: “That experience led me to believe that kids with autism can be educated in the same environments as anybody else and integrated with the rest of the community.” Since then, Dr. Openden has worked extensively with families and children with ASD on both federal and state funded research projects. He has also provided consulting and training for school districts across the country, published peer-reviewed articles and book chapters, and presented research at regional, state, and national conventions. He credits taking acting lessons as a child and playing in small television roles until he was 14 with giving him the confidence to become a talented presenter and leader. He and his wife Erica have two young sons. The Phoenix Business Journal in 2011 named Dr. Openden one of Phoenix’s “Forty Under 40” up-and-coming community leaders.
Rachel Anderson, MA, BCBA
Chief Clinical Officer
Rachel Anderson, MA, is a licensed Board Certified Behavior Analyst and is the Chief Clinical Officer at the SARRC. Rachel has dedicated more than 25 years to the autism field working in community, center- and home-based settings, and has experience working with individuals ranging from infants to adults. During her tenure at SARRC, she has served in a variety of roles including 10 years serving as the organization’s Community School Director, a preschool program that provides intensive behavioral intervention within the context of an inclusive classroom setting. Additionally, Rachel is highly regarded by her peers for her extensive work and research around the treatment of applied behavior analysis (ABA). She has served as a member of the conference planning committee for the Council for Autism Service Providers and has served as the leader of a Special Interest Group on feeding that is part of Arizona Associate for Behavior Analysis. She is an outcomes-driven practitioner and is passionate about using the science of behavior analysis to support children, teens and adults with autism achieve meaningful outcomes, as well as is dedicated to developing inclusive communities in Arizona, and beyond.
Vice President of Operations
Jennifer (Jen) Burwell is an accomplished leader focused on organizational health, great company culture and operational excellence. In 2020, she was recognized by a panel of prominent business leaders as the Business Woman of the Year by the Tempe Chamber of Commerce for her commitment to the Tempe business community. She has also been recognized for her leadership in leading the Women In Business Council and for her strategic work focused on businesses with positive community impact and purpose. She has a wide range of experience in leadership development, systems and people management, as well as facilities and property management. In her current role as Vice President of Operations, Jen oversees SARRC’s human resources, information technology, client experiences and facilities teams. In her free time, she enjoys spending time with her three kids and husband, listening to hew new favorite audiobook, or working out at F45.
Chief Development Officer
Maureen Jorden has devoted her professional career to Phoenix-area nonprofit organizations where she has specialized in development strategies and event organization and cultivated a vast network of donors and volunteers. At the Southwest Autism Research & Resource Center, Maureen has implemented fundraising strategies to expand support for the organization and its dedication to autism research, education, evidence-based treatment, and community outreach. She is SARRC’s liaison with its Board of Directors, works closely with executives to foster relationships with donors and supporters, and strives to increase overall public awareness of SARRC’s mission and accomplishments. Through her leadership of the development team, Maureen manages a department of nine that is responsible for donors, volunteers, and marketing for the entire organization. She also leads SARRC’s flagship event, its annual Community Breakfast. Maureen is a Sun Devil, having graduated magna cum laude from Arizona State University with a bachelor’s degree in interdisciplinary studies in 2007. In 2012, she earned a certificate from Indiana University in the principles and techniques of fundraising. She is a member of the Association of Fundraising Professionals and served on the Board in 2017. When she’s not raising money for a cause, she enjoys spending time with her husband and two young boys.
Director of Finance
Christopher J. Smith, Ph.D.
Chief Science Officer
Dr. Christopher J. Smith is an experimental psychologist with expertise in diagnosing autism spectrum disorder and measuring associated traits. Dr. Smith oversees all diagnostic evaluations and assessments for our clients while also directing all internal and external research projects. Prior to joining us at SARRC, he worked as an assistant professor in the Department of Psychiatry at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine, where he still maintains a faculty position. Originally drawn to study autism because of the complexity of the disorder, here at SARRC, Dr. Smith values the ability to work with clients across all age groups and engage in out-of-the-box research endeavors. Originally from New York, when he’s not doing science, he enjoys running, biking, hiking, and being active with his family.
Nicole Matthews, Ph.D.
Paige Raetz, Ph.D., BCBA-D
Amy Kenzer, Ph.D., BCBA-D
Chief Operating Officer
Dr. Amy Kenzer earned her Ph.D. in Psychology from the University of Nevada, Reno. Dr. Kenzer manages and supervises programs for children 12 years of age and younger. She came to SARRC after working as the Research and Development Manager at the Center for Autism and Related Disorders, Inc. (CARD). As an undergraduate student looking for field experience credits, she stumbled into autism research and fell in love with the science. Dr. Kenzer especially values being able to make a real difference in families’ lives. Growing up, her family moved around a lot between Nevada and Arizona. Now living in Phoenix, she enjoys reading books and decorating cakes with her young daughter and son.
Director of Human Resources
As the Director of Human Resources, Devon W. Graham oversees all aspects of human capital management and performance, payroll and benefits at SARRC. Devon’s passion for human resources began in high school when he started a 6-year internship for Eastman Kodak Company that continued through his college years. Devon is a Purdue University Boilermaker at heart and graduated with a major in management and a minor in human resources/organizational behavior. For over 20 years he has fine-tuned his skills by working in property management, healthcare, real estate and customer service industries. Devon began the process of educating himself on autism when his father befriended a neighborhood child with autism spectrum disorder. Through this learning process and the continual drive to help others, he came to join the dynamic team at SARRC in 2019. Devon is an active member of the Society of Human Resource Management and American Payroll Association. In his spare time, he enjoys running, hiking, mountain biking, volunteering at two animal rescues in the valley, home remodeling, and being the parent to three furry children (Milo, Google and OZ).
Information Technology Director
As IT Director, Wade Newhouse oversees developing, implementing, and using technology at SARRC while also leading organizational efforts to improve the effective use of technology in service of our mission. Wade grew up in Cincinnati, earning a bachelor’s of science degree in mass communication. Before SARRC, he worked as Head of IT Services at Stirling Energy Systems. Soon after his three-year-old daughter was diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder, he joined the leadership team at SARRC, wanting to work closely with professionals in the field of autism. “What I love most about working here,” says Wade,” is witnessing hope realized for my own and for other people’s families too.” When he’s not spending quality time with his wonderful, supportive wife and three beautiful daughters, he’s out singing in a rock-n-roll band.
Paige Raetz, Ph.D., BCBA-D
Director of Clinical Services
Dr. Paige Raetz earned her Ph.D. in Behavior Analysis at Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo, Michigan. Dr. Raetz joined SARRC after serving in both research and clinical director roles for autism agencies both nationally and internationally. She currently oversees all services for teen and adult clients at SARRC. She has published work in several journals on a variety of topics within behavior analysis. In addition to her role at SARRC, Dr. Raetz has served as an adjunct professor within the Behavior Analysis Master’s program at Arizona State University from 2012-2018. She also serves as president of Advancing Futures for Adults with Autism, a national group supporting and advancing opportunities for individuals on the autism spectrum. She enjoys being back in her home state of Arizona and helping to make a meaningful impact in the community.
Director of Marketing and Communications
With 13 years in the nonprofit sector, Karen has experience in internal and external communications; strategic implementation, branding and marketing; event planning and fundraising, and company collaboration. Under her guidance at SARRC, Karen has successfully grown the organization’s presence through strategic marketing and communications efforts. She leads the development of current and new communications and marketing strategies, plans, and protocols to advance SARRC’s brand identity and position within the community. She has also served in numerous nonprofit roles, both as an employee and volunteer, which has enabled her to gain an understanding of the inner workings of charitable organizations. She holds a bachelor’s degree in integrative public relations and public affairs from Central Michigan University. In her spare time, she enjoys hiking, exploring Arizona and traveling with her husband.