Community Access Unlimited (Elizabeth, NJ): Sid Blanchard, Founder and Executive Director of CAU, has retired as and is returning to his grassroots origins, transitioning to Associate Executive Director of Community Services. He is looking forward to working with people served and their families as an advocate in the state. Sid, whose activism goes back to the anti-war movement of the 1960s, has been an activist for disability rights for years. Armed with a small grant to remove individuals from state institutions in 1979, he founded CAU, which Is now one of the largest human services agencies in the state. Across New Jersey, more than 5,000 individuals and their families are served by CAU.
Bernadette Griswald, has been appointed as Executive Director. Since 2003, she has held a variety of positions over her years at CAU, including Independent Skills Coordinator, Assistant Executive Director, and Managing Assistant Executive Director. In 2015, she was promoted to Associate Executive Director.
"Every step of my career development here at Community Access Unlimited prepared me to take the reins as Executive Director," Griswold said. "I developed a passion for supporting our members and providing them with the opportunity to live independently and lead normal and productive lives as citizens integrated into the community. I also developed the administrative skills and knowledge of the human services sector that will enable me to continue the great work of our founder, Sidney Blanchard."
PAR, Pennsylvania Advocacy and Resources for Autism and Intellectual Disability (Harrisburg, PA): Shirley Walker, PAR’s former President & CEO and current President Emeritus, was recently honored with the PAR Humanitarian Award for her dedication in advancing the dignity and rights of people with autism and intellectual disability for the 28 years she led PAR. Kathy McHale, PAR Board Chair, presented the award, noting that "for the past 28-plus years, Shirley has tirelessly advocated on behalf of the human dignity and rights of persons with autism and intellectual disability.” Shirley noted that PAR is the :best of the best and will only get better.” She also noted that she steps back from leadership with “only joy at the opportunities we’ve had to make a difference in so many thousands of people’s lives.”