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Business Excellence Awards: Autism center honored for service, jobs growth

Author Craig Wolf
Date November 12, 2014

Why pick a social services nonprofit for the “grand award” when the sponsor is the Dutchess County Economic Development Corp.?

“It’s mostly the growth,” said Betsy Seaman Brown, who headed the awards panel. “The numbers are huge.”

The center has an annual budget of about $52 million.

Anderson employs 800 people, up from just 300 in 2001, said Neil Pollack, the center’s CEO since then.

A total investment of $50 million has been made in renovating facilities, expanding community residences, improving technology and adding services such as clinics and consulting.

“The change has been breathtaking,” Pollack said. Beyond the overhaul of the campus, Anderson began a consulting service five years ago for families of those with autism, aimed at helping to keep them in local schools and their homes “for as long as feasible.”

“The uptake was wonderful,” Pollack said. At any one time, the program serves people in 40 school districts and several private agencies across the state.

A campus tour reveals a welcoming ambiance. “We did not want to make it look like institutional settings of the past,” said Patrick Paul, director of operations. “We wanted houses that look like houses. We wanted to reflect this being a home for individuals.”

The nomination was made by Eric Gorman, a principal at Integrated Enterprise Solutions Inc., in Wappingers Falls, who said he originally pitched Anderson to win the innovation award. He took interest in the group and wound up on its board of directors.

“Along with all the great work they do up there, they use technology in creative new ways and they’re always looking to see that they can use technology to help,” Gorman said.

Craig Wolf: 845-437-4815; cwolf@poughkeepsiejournal.com; Twitter: @craigwolfPJ

Name: Anderson Center for Autism

Winner: Grand Award, Business Excellence Awards from Dutchess County Economic Development Corp.

Founded: 1924, observing 90th year

Business: Nonprofit social services organization serving residential and external clients on the autism spectrum.

Main site: Route 9, Staatsburg

Employees: About 800

On the web: www.andersoncenterforautism.org