From Hudson Valley News Network
October 19, 2015
By Kathy Welsh
The Anderson Center for Autism staff received the bittersweet news of their CEO’s plan to retire at the end of 2016.
“Fifteen years ago, I was asked to take on a fantastic challenge, leading Anderson to a place of stability, longevity, and most importantly, a place of passion for opportunity,” said Anderson Center for Autism CEO, Neil Pollack to his staff of 800 earlier this week. The CEO’s results-oriented leadership began in 2001 during a time of reinvention.
PollackIn addressing staff, Pollack took careful time to reflect upon his affectionate tenure with the organization that transformed the concept of ‘home’ for hundreds of individuals on the autism spectrum.
“The Executive Team and Anderson Leadership was rekindled, empowered, and their talents flourished; in my view, they are among the finest colleagues throughout the field of human services I have had the privilege to work with,” says Pollack.
A testament to his character, he also took the time to gaze upon the future. Neil Pollack’s legacy as CEO will be this: a future that challenges us each day to do more, do better; and the will to provide opportunity where others found none to exist.
“Anderson has become a place of innovation and hope over the last decade. Sometimes you have to stop and take a moment to really look around. This place takes my breath away for all that is has become, and all that I know it will be for many families across the state, even the U.S.,” says Frank Synan, Anderson Center for Autism Board Chair.
In recent years the Center’s mission was refocused, the 100-acre campus transformed into the Anderson Village, an expansive network of adult services was built, large investments were made to improve curriculum, education, clinical services, technology and residences, and Anderson Family Partners was formed – a parent-driven advocacy group.
“The stage has been set for a wonderfully bright future. Our staff has grown from 300 to 800 and incentivizing our direct support professionals to further their education has changed the pace here at Anderson. This is the place to be and I foresee even more growth in the years to come,” says Barry Feirstein, Anderson Foundation for Autism Board Chair.
Chief Operating Office Patrick Paul will assume the position of CEO in January of 2017. “Patrick Paul has been by my side since the beginning, first taking the job of CFO in 2001 during our most challenging financial years, and obviously, we survived and thrived,” says Pollack. “Rest assured that Patrick is ready, willing and quite capable to take on this role as he has demonstrated time and again.”
Paul plans to continue Pollack’s progressive work in his new role, serving the over 500 children and adults currently receiving services from the Center.
“Fifteen years of drive and passion to push forward a single mission is very difficult to summarize. Neil’s leadership, in a word has been, inspiring. Inspiring to staff, our families, all the individuals in our care, the community – anyone whom he’s come across during his time at Anderson. Nothing drives our organization forward more than the feeling of being able to change someone’s world just by showing up to work. Anderson’s model of LifeLongLearning SM was developed under this sort of premise and it is something we all live by. I am honored that the Board of Directors and Neil have confidence in my ability to build on the success of Anderson Center into the future,” says Paul.