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PBS NewsHour Series “A Place in the World” Features SARRC, Thanks to Brilliant Storytellers John Donvan and Caren Zucker


John Donvan and Caren Zucker, highly acclaimed journalists from ABC’s Nightline, recently released their now New York Times best-selling book, “In A Different Key-The Story of Autism,” which documents the history of autism dating back to the very first person ever diagnosed.  As part of their book tour, Donvan and Zucker visited Phoenix, Arizona and highlighted a passage from the epilogue of their book, which refers to the Southwest Autism Research & Resource Center (SARRC) as “widely admired” and one of the “pockets of excellence…scattered across the United States.”

In the months following their visit to Phoenix, these two brilliant story tellers began working with PBS NewsHour as special correspondents to create a series about people living with autism and other spectrum disorders. They decided to point the cameras back to what they had seen and heard in the Valley of the Sun. Fast forward a few months and PBS Newshour launches a new series produced by Donvan and Zucker, called “A Place in the World,” featuring two sister nonprofit organizations, First Place AZ and the SARRC.

“We are grateful to John Donvan and Caren Zucker for telling SARRC’s story, highlighting our partnership with First Place AZ and illustrating what’s possible for adults with autism. We hope others will read the book and watch the PBS NewsHour series and be motivated to replicate the supportive community we’ve helped foster in Phoenix,” said Daniel Openden, Ph.D., BCBA-D, president and CEO of SARRC.

SARRC co-founder and First Place AZ founder and president/CEO, Denise D. Resnik, along with her son and entrepreneur, Matt Resnik, were featured in part two of the PBS NewsHour series. Approximately 20 years ago, after learning her son had autism, Denise joined with another mom and her pediatrician, Dr. Raun Melmed, to bring resources to the community and advance autism research by creating SARRC. First Place AZ logoIn 2012, Denise launched First Place AZ, a Phoenix-based non-profit with a local and national focus. The mission of the new organization is to ensure that housing options for people with autism and other special abilities are as bountiful as they are for anyone else.  First Place properties are planed across North America and the ground-breaking for the Phoenix location will occur at the end of 2016.

“I am thrilled that PBS NewsHour is shining a bright light on Greater Phoenix, recognizing our collaborative and connected community that’s supporting individuals with autism and other special abilities,” Denise stated.

PBS NewsHour’s series, “A Place in the World” aired August 8-9, 2016 and are available to watch online. 

PBS NewsHour Series, "A Place in the World" Part One image and link

     PBS NewsHour series, "A Place in the World" Part Two image and link

For more information about the featured organizations, please see the online resource listing below:

First Place AZ-

SMILE Biscotti-

Foundation for Senior Living:

SARRC Community School, Tempe Campus-Now Enrolling:



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Material and experiences may not be reshared or reused without express permission.