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The Bottom Line of Disabilities

Monday, April 10, 2017
Columbus Community Center, 3495 South West Temple, Salt Lake City, UT 84115

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Event Detail

The Bottom Line of Disabilities

Replacing the Autism Puzzle with a Blueprint of Social Innovation

Young adults with autism will face an 80% unemployment rate as young adults, compared to a 3.5% unemployment rate that is currently driving Utah’s prosperity and standard of living. Utah has one of the strongest economies in the country and a long history of tackling economic and social challenges in innovative, entrepreneurial ways. Utah also has the 3rd highest rate of autism in the country. As diagnosis and treatment have improved for children, young adults coming of age are facing a future of social isolation and unemployment, unlike their peers who see a path forward with careers, independence, and community integration. In a time of economic prosperity, how can we leverage social innovation that gives us a blueprint that will allow us to guide these young adults on a path of inclusion and prosperity instead of a reliance on entitlements and social services? Panelists will discuss the policies, practices, and public/private partnerships that can facilitate and advance opportunities for young adults with ASD so they, too, can contribute their human capital to an already prosperous community.





Columbus Community Center

3495 South West Temple, UT

(801) 262-1552



7:30 a.m. to 8 a.m. Registration and Continental Breakfast

WELCOME REMARKS. 8:00 a.m. to 8:15 a.m. 

  • Kristy Chambers, Chief Executive Officer, Columbus Community Center
  • Monica Rafferty, CCIM, V.P. Commercial Sales & Leasing, Coldwell Banker Commercial Advisors

KEYNOTE ADDRESS. 8:15 a.m. to 8:45 a.m.

As a successful autist Elliot Francis will be speaking about the timeline of his evolution as an independently functioning adult. He will also touch on the milestones that helped him reach his current point in life and propose a series of supports that can be established in the lives of transition-age autists to help encourage success in the community at large.

  • Elliot Francis, Co-Founder of Optimizing Utah, Autism Advocate, and IT Project Manager at University of Utah Health Sciences

SESSION I.  8:45 a.m. to 9:30 a.m.

An Economic Outlook: An Update from Top Economic and Financial Experts

Nationally recognized economists and financial experts will share a “real-time” update on some of the larger economic, market, and financial trends that ultimately impact the local decisions that community leaders and nonprofits must consider in their current and future planning.

  • David Kotok, Chief Investment Officer, Cumberland Advisors and GIC Board Member
  • Philippa Dunne, Co-Editor, The Liscio Report
  • Megan Greene, Chief Economist, Manulife
  • David Altig, Executive Vice President and Director of Research, Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta

BREAK. 9:30 a.m. to 9:45 a.m.

SESSION II. 9:45 a.m. to 10:30 a.m.

A Presentation of the Kem C. Gardner Policy Institute Vision for Enhancing Outcome of ASD in Adults

The Kem C. Gardner Policy Institute ASD Steering Committee will present a strategic vision with plan for measurement and strategy for improving adult outcome of ASD.

  • Catherine E. Chambless, Senior Research Associate, Kem C. Policy Institute
  • William McMahon, Director Autism Community Outreach, Department of Psychiatry, University of Utah
  • John Rockefeller, Managing Partner, AutLife
  • Ken R. Smith, Distinguished Professor, Family and Consumer Studies, University of Utah
  • Moderator: Natalie Gochnour, Director, Kem C. Gardner Policy Institute, University of Utah

SESSION III. 10:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.

Assembling the Puzzle Pieces into a Blueprint: Public/Private Partnerships that Work Today

Local, national, and international practitioners will share the innovations that are coalescing into a comprehensive approach to leverage the human capital of the incoming generation of young adults with autism. Representatives from nonprofits, public and higher education, business, philanthropy, social services, and government will share innovative practices that are beginning to demonstrate outcomes and impact for young adults with autism.

  • Safia Keller, Chief Employment Development Officer, Columbus Community Center
  • Teresa Cardon, Director, Melisa Nellesen Autism Center
  • Chad Salvadore, Director, Evidence-Based Consulting, University of Utah Sorenson Impact Center, David Eccles School of Business
  • Cheryl C. Smith Past President, Autism Council of Utah
  • Christina Guevara, Secondary School Principal, Spectrum Academy – North Salt Lake

LUNCH BREAK. 11:30 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.

SESSION IV. 12:00 p.m. to 12:45 p.m.

Today’s Success Stories—Young Adults Demonstrate Their Goals for the Future

Meet a remarkable group of young adults with autism who will share the challenges and successes that are allowing them to join their peers in the workplace. They have all succeeded in attaining the position of “peer mentors,” working with other young adults with autism using a design program called “SketchUp” to teach vocational and social skills. They will demonstrate how the skills they have learned and the promise they have for careers and independent living.

  • Moderator: Philippa Dunne, Co-Editor, The Liscio Report
  • Amy Wadsworth, NextWork Program Director, Columbus Community Center
  • Basil Harb, Principal, Method Studio
  • Arthur Cheadle, Dylan Lamb, and Mason Dimock, peer mentors and graduates of the University of Utah NeuroVersity

CLOSING REMARKS. 12:45 p.m. to 1:00 p.m.

  • Thorkil Sonne, Founder, Specialisterne

BREAKOUT SESSIONS. 1:00 p.m.-1:30 p.m.

Optimizing Autism—Support and Advocacy for Adults on the Spectrum

Finding Services–Resources for Families and Young Adults on the Spectrum

Event Location

Date: Monday, April 10, 2017 Time: 08:00 AM - 01:30 PM City: Salt Lake City Columbus Community Center Download iCal


David E. Altig, Ph.D.

Executive Vice President and Director of Research, Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta

Dr. David E. Altig is executive vice president and director of research at the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta. In addition to advising the Bank president on monetary policy and related matters, Dr. Altig oversees the Bank’s regional executives and the Bank’s research department.

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Teresa A. Cardon

Director, Melisa Nellesen Autism Center

Teresa A. Cardon, PhD., CCC-SLP, BCBA-D has worked with individuals on the autism spectrum for over 20 years. Dr. Cardon completed her doctoral training in Speech & Hearing Science with an autism emphasis at Arizona State University and is currently the Interim Director of the Melisa Nellesen Autism Center at Utah Valley University. Dr. Cardon has published her research on autism in peer-reviewed journals and presents at conferences both nationally and internationally. Dr. Cardon has done extensive research on video modeling with young children with autism. Her latest book, Technology and the Treatment of Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder, describes a multitude of supports for individuals on the spectrum. Dr. Cardon is currently conducting research on clinical aspects of SLP’s and BCBA’s.  Dr. Cardon enjoys collaborating with colleagues and sits on numerous boards both locally and nationally. She recently joined the Utah Network for Early Autism Response to provide autism trainings all across the state of Utah. 

Kristy Chambers

Chief Executive Officer, Columbus Community Center

Kristy Chambers is Columbus’s Chief Executive Officer. Prior to joining Columbus, she served as CEO of Wasatch Homeless Health Care, Inc., better known as Fourth Street Clinic. A certified public accountant for over twenty years, Kristy’s professional background includes public accounting and top level management positions in health care, real estate, retail, and hospitality. Kristy is currently an instructor with the University of Utah Nonprofit Academy and serves on various local and national non-profit boards. She graduated Cum Laude from UCLA with a degree in Economics/Business and has a Master’s in Taxation with honors from the Washington School of Law.

Cathy Chambless, Ph.D.

Senior Research Associate, Kem C. Policy Institute

Dr. Chambless received her B.A. in Sociology from Santa Clara University, a Master in Educational Psychology from the University of Utah, and Master of Public Administration from the University of Utah. She completed her Ph.D. in Educational Leadership & Policy at the University of Utah, writing her dissertation on the relationship between natural supports and social integration in supported employment. In addition to her research work, Dr. Chambless also co-directs the Disabilities Studies Graduate Certificate Program and teaches in the MPA program. Prior to working at the University of Utah Dr. Chambless worked in management for the Utah Department of Health, the Utah Governor’s Council for People with Disabilities, and the Utah State Office of Rehabilitation.

Arthur Cheadle

Peer Mentor and Graduate of the University of Utah NeuroVersity

Arthur Cheadle enjoys computers and hardware a lot more than most kids his age; he began putting together a computer when he was 11 and has been taking stuff apart since he as a child. He loves being able to do things with his hands and taught himself how to use almost every software he came across. He is now learning how to use the design software program SketchUp, and he is learning to work collaboratively with friends like Mason who have the same interests. He has an eye to the future for a career that suits his interests and incredible talents.

Mason Dimock

Peer Mentor and Graduate of the University of Utah NeuroVersity

Mason Dimock is 19 years old, and he is on the autism spectrum. He enjoys designing and building. Mason was 12 years old when he first participated with the University of Utah’s NeuroVersity program where he was introduced to and mastered SketchUp design software. Over the last 7 years, this has led to a number of exciting opportunities for him.  Mason has had the opportunity to teach SketchUp to a group of young school children for his high school Service Learning project, he learned how to design a warehouse building using a blueprint plan for Big D construction, and he has been hired several times by NeuroVersity to be a peer teacher for some of the SketchUp workshops.

Philippa Dunne

Co-Editor, The Liscio Report and Sightlines Bulletin

Philippa Dunne is co-editor of two independent macro-economic newsletters: The Liscio Report, with a trading focus, and Sightlines Bulletin, which takes a longer perspective.

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Elliot Francis

Co-Founder of Optimizing Utah, Autism Advocate, and IT Project Manager at University of Utah Health Sciences

Elliot Francis is a graduate of the Multi-Disciplinary Design program at the University of Utah and a Co-Founder of Optimizing Autism. Having worked as a successful systems analyst and IT project manager during college and after graduation, Elliot has a breadth of expertise in cross-domain systems and solutions. His major projects include the development and deployment of two mission-critical internal software systems for the University of Utah Health Science Cores covering 15 research labs. Acting as one of the representing autists on the Optimizing Autism board, Elliot provides a specialist’s perspective on how autism can be leveraged in the modern detail-oriented work environment. Elliot and his wife of 5 years live and work in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Natalie Gochnour

Director of the Kem C. Gardner Policy Institute at the University of Utah

Natalie Gochnour serves as an associate dean in the David Eccles School of Business and director of the Kem C. Gardner Policy Institute at the University of Utah. She also serves as the chief economist for the Salt Lake Chamber. In these roles she helps connect the Eccles School with the broader business community and shares applied economic and business research.

Gochnour’s experience includes a diverse mix of public service and business experience. From 2006 to 2013 she guided the public policy work of the Salt Lake Chamber, Utah’s largest business association, representing 7,700 member businesses. She helped create and lead the Downtown Rising movement, helped pass a ballot initiative to secure funds for the expansion of Utah’s TRAX light rail and FrontRunner commuter rail service, and assisted with the drafting and promotion of The Utah Compact.

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Megan E. Greene

Managing Director and Chief Economist, Manulife Asset Management

Megan E. Greene is a managing director and chief economist at Manulife Asset Management, responsible for forecasting global macro-economic and financial trends and analyzing the potential opportunities and impacts to support the firm’s investment teams around the world. Previously, Megan ran her own London-based economics consulting practice, Maverick Intelligence, serving clients who leveraged her analysis of economic, political, policy and social developments and the impact these were likely to have on the global economy.

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Christina Guevara

Secondary School Principal, Spectrum Academy - North Salt Lake

Christina Guevara, originally from California, first began her career working with children with autism as a home behavior therapist in 2003. She was promoted to case manager and oversaw assessment and programming for children at Working With Autism, Inc. In 2007, she moved with her family to Utah where she began work as a 3rd grade teacher at Spectrum Academy. She earned her Master’s in Special Education and served as the school’s Teacher Mentor, Behavior Specialist, and is now in her 4th year as Secondary School Principal of the North Salt Lake campus. She has presented around Utah on a variety of topics including Classroom Management, ABA in the Classroom, Supports for Students with Autism, and Autism and Law Enforcement. 

Basil Harb

Principal, Method Studio

Basil was raised in Seattle, and found his new home in Salt Lake City in August 2004. He completed his degree in architecture at the University of Arizona, where sustainability in architecture is a core mindset. His experience in the southwest lends itself to dealing with design issues in our own high-desert environment.

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Safia Keller

Parent Advocate

Safia is the parent of an autistic 20-year old son, Maclane. The challenges he has overcome and the courage he has shown inspire her every day to be an advocate and voice for not only Maclane, but for all the other families with autistic children in Utah. She has been the Director of Corporate Relations at Westminster College the past 10 years and will be embarking on a new career and job at the Columbus Community Center as the Chief Employment Development Officer. She is actively involved in the community and sits on several boards, as well as being a member of the Rotary Club of Salt Lake City.

David Kotok

CIO of Cumberland Advisors

David R. Kotok cofounded Cumberland Advisors in 1973 and has been its chief investment officer since inception. He holds a B.S. in economics from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, an M.S. in organizational dynamics from the School of Arts and Sciences at the University of Pennsylvania, and a master’s in philosophy from the University of Pennsylvania.

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Dylan Lamb

Peer Mentor and Graduate of the University of Utah NeuroVersity

Dylan Lamb is a young man on the autism spectrum. Dylan is the kind of person who’s had to crawl and claw to get to where he is today, luckily with the help and support of his family and friends. He is also a very kind young man who has dreams just to have a simple normal life. He has a variety of hobbies like hanging with friends, going hiking or exercising, staying in and playing board or card games, and many more. If there’s anything Dylan can teach anyone in today’s world it would be, “you just have to go for it because there are no handouts in this life.”

Stephanie Mackay

Chief Innovation Officer, Columbus Community Center

Stephanie is the chief innovation officer for Columbus Community Center, a Salt Lake County-based nonprofit organization that provides programs and services for 420 individuals who have developmental and physical disabilities. Stephanie joined Columbus in 2004, and in her role, she is involved in fundraising, donor relations, board development, strategic planning, community events, marketing, and public relations.

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William McMahon

Chair, Department of Psychiatry, University of Utah

As chairman of the psychiatry department since 2007, Dr. William McMahon has worked to build excellent clinical services and systems of care at the University of Utah. He is board certified in adult psychiatry and in the sub-specialty of child and adolescent psychiatry.

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Monica Rafferty, CCIM

V.P. Commercial Sales & Leasing, Coldwell Banker Commercial Advisors

Monica Rafferty is vice president of Commercial Sales and Leasing at Coldwell Banker Commercial. She has more than 20 years of experience in investments, and works with clients to map out a strategy for using commercial real estate to achieve business goals and increase the bottom line. She specializes in negotiating “added value” transactions by analyzing properties and identifying their unique opportunities.

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John Rockefeller

Managing Partner, AutLife

Jack Rockefeller JD MPH DrPH retired as Associate Dean, Global Health Solutions at the Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth College. He was chief architect of a centralized innovation funding and program development model for health projects at the Medical School and in cooperation with all health programming at Dartmouth College. While at Dartmouth. Jack also directed the first Pervasive Developmental Disabilities research group at the Center for Technology and Behavioral Health.
Jack is currently a member of the Autism Steering Group hosted by the Kem C. Gardner Policy Institute at the University of Utah, and Managing Partner of AutLife – a Utah based applied research group on Autism Spectrum programming and funding.

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Chad Salvadore

Chief Financial Officer of Sorenson Impact

Chad is the Chief Financial Officer of Sorenson Impact. In this role, he leads internal financial oversight, coordinating with government, nonprofit, and private clients alike. He also oversees the student associate program and works to ensure that the dozens of student associates have rich exposure to Sorenson Impact’s work — ranging from impact investing to policy advisory.

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Cheryl C. Smith

Past President, Autism Council of Utah

A longtime autism advocate, is Past President and a founding member of the Autism Council of Utah, serves on the board of Valley Behavioral Health and the Pingree Center for Children with Autism, is a founding member of Utah FEAT (Families for Effective Autism Treatments), and is appointed by the Governor as chair of the Autism Treatment Account Advisory Committee. She has received the Autism Advocacy Award from Autism Speaks, the Mental Health Advocate Award, the Council for Exceptional Children’s Ben Bruse Distinguished Service award, and was instrumental in passing the Carson Smith Special Needs Scholarship legislation of 2005, which is named after her son, and makes state funding available for private school scholarships awarded to Utah students with disabilities.

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Ken R. Smith

Distinguished Professor, Family and Consumer Studies, University of Utah

As Professor of Human Development and Family Studies, a Huntsman Cancer Institute Investigator and Director of the Pedigree and Population Resource at the University of Utah, Ken has conducted health-related research for 30 years. He has served as principal investigator on several past and current NIH grants on aging and cancer.

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Thorkil Sonne

Founder, Specialisterne and the Specialist People Foundation

Thorkil Sonne is internationally recognized for his work founding Specialisterne (Danish for “The Specialists”) and the Specialist People Foundation. In partnership, these two organizations are working towards the goal of creating job opportunities through social entrepreneurship, corporate partnerships and innovative employment models for individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).

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Amy Wadsworth

NextWork Program Director, Columbus Community Center

Amy M. Wadsworth works as the Manager of NextWork Autism Programs at Columbus Community Center. Amy earned her Master’s Degree in Human Development and Social Policy with a Disability Studies Certificate at the University of Utah, and looks forward to building more and better ways to help individuals on the autism spectrum find and keep gainful employment.

Columbus Community Center is the site for many NeuroVersity workshops throughout the year.