Meet your Neighbor: Denise Resnik advocates for adults with autism

Denise D. Resnik

Name: Denise D. Resnik

Where I live: North Scottsdale

When & why I moved here: We relocated to Desert Mountain about two years ago. The mountains are beautiful and provide us with lots of outdoor hiking and welcomed distance from our busy city lives. My husband, Rob, is an avid golfer and has been playing the courses at Desert Mountain for more than 20 years.

What I like most about living here: We enjoy the serenity of the community, beautiful desert and the perspectives embedded in the magnificent sunrises and sunsets.

Activities we enjoy: Parenting, grandparenting, volunteering, hiking, golfing, working and working out!
Clubs/organizations I’m involved in: First Place AZ, Southwest Autism Research and Resource Center (SARRC), BBVA Compass Advisory Board, Feeding Matters Advisory Council

My favorite charity or volunteer activity and why it deserves support from others? My two favorite charities are sister non-profits First Place AZ (founded in 2012) and SARRC (founded in 1997). With 1 in 59 children being diagnosed with autism today and 50,000-60,000 transitioning to adulthood annually, this disorder is affecting families and communities everywhere. Arizona is home to leading autism organizations and coalitions that are collaborative, progressive and impacting families throughout Greater Phoenix and around the globe.

My No. 1 suggestion to new residents looking for ways to get involved in their community: Follow your passion; do what you enjoy and what will make an impact in your life and the lives of others.

What one thing would you like to see changed in Scottsdale? I’d like to see Scottsdale more open to light rail access.

My family: Husband Rob; adult son Matthew; two adult daughters, Ally and Whitney; and granddaughter Hannah Jo.

What I do: I am the founder and CEO of DRA Collective, a public relations, communications and marketing agency founded in 1986, and also serve as president and CEO of First Place AZ, a non-profit real estate and community developer, focused on creating more housing and community options for adults with autism and other neuro-diversities. The non-profit recently opened its first new innovative property, First Place–Phoenix, at Third Street and Catalina (3001 N. Third St.) in Central Phoenix.

People who are an inspiration to me: Families from SARRC and First Place, and individuals with autism and their families are major sources of inspiration as they navigate predictably unpredictable journeys. I have learned valuable lessons from those who face challenging circumstances, demonstrate character, courage and perseverance and address their challenges with smarts, determination and grace.

My advice to today’s youth: While we cannot predict the future, we can build our own character and community, making us resilient and empowering us to keep moving forward. There will be curveballs and windy roads ahead!

Additional information you’d like to tell us about yourself: I am a native Phoenician and enormously grateful for the connectivity and generosity of our community, which has resulted in Phoenix being recognized as the most autism-friendly community in the world by PBS NewsHour.

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