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SARRC Announces Proactive Strategy for Navigating Economic Downturn



Contact: Cheryl Walsh

(602) 373-3149


Board Adopts Three-Point Navigating 2009 Strategic Plan

The Southwest Autism Research & Resource Center (SARRC) has unveiled its Navigating 2009 Strategic Plan to maximize the impact of its outreach and research programs; increase operational efficiencies; and enhance revenues and program sustainability.

With approval by SARRC's board of directors, the proactive, three-point plan calls for revenue-producing and revenue-conserving initiatives along with other targeted measures to increase efficiencies. Its goal is to continue providing a high level of quality support and service to children, adults and families affected by autism. Last year, SARRC's program enrollment exceeded 10,000.

Around the country, for-profit and nonprofit organizations are all making critical decisions and strategically positioning themselves for how to navigate the downturn and move forward with positive momentum, said Howard Sobelman, chairman of SARRC's board of directors. And if they're not, they should.

SARRC has restructured its management team and begun a search to fill its newly created president/chief operating officer position. Jeri Kendle, currently the director of SARRC's Opus West Vocational & Life Skills Academy, will serve as interim president/COO. Kendle, formerly a member of SARRC's board of directors and a private sector executive, has been leading the planning and implementation of the Vocational & Life Skills Academy.

Jeri has tremendous management and leadership skills,Ó Sobelman said. ÒShe has a deep knowledge of SARRC from many perspectives, and we are grateful for her willingness to lead the charge as we navigate these challenging times and conduct a search for a president/COO.Ó

The restructuring plan further reduces administrative costs; preserves resources for programs, services and research; reallocates select roles and responsibilities among senior leaders; and advances SARRC's creative, entrepreneurial and collaborative practices.

SARRC's senior leaders, who now serve as directors, have assumed the newly created positions of vice presidents. They will be supported by stronger operational systems and will assume greater control over their budgets, people and programs. Chris Smith, Ph.D., director of research, and Daniel Openden, Ph.D., director of clinical services, will each be promoted to vice president. When a president/COO is hired, Jeri Kendle will also assume the role of vice president.

Raun Melmed, M.D., SARRC co-founder and developmental pediatrician, will remain SARRC's medical director. The organization's financial management will consist of a controller, supported by external consultants and an active board finance committee. Christine Harms, previously SARRC's accounting manager, will serve as interim controller.

Lisa Glow, SARRC's former CEO, and Michelle Reagor, former CFO, offered their resignations in support of the restructuring. SARRCÕs Board expressed its appreciation to both for their many contributions to the organization.

Lisa and Michelle have both been committed to advancing SARRC's mission. We are grateful to them for their years of service and commitments to our children, adults and families, Sobelman said.



Founded in 1997, the Southwest Autism Research & Resource Center (SARRC) is a nonprofit, community-based organization dedicated to autism research, education and resources for individuals with autism spectrum disorders (ASDs). SARRC undertakes self-directed and collaborative research projects, serves as a satellite site for national and international projects, and provides up-to-date education, training and assistance to families and professionals about ASDs. To learn more about SARRC, visit www.autismcenter.org.