Human Services


aka Pennsylvania Advocacy and Resources for Autism and Intellectual Disability

Lemoyne, PA


PAR's mission is to strengthen the capacity of its membership to provide person-centered services to Pennsylvanians with intellectual disability and/or autism.

Ruling Year


President and CEO

Mrs. Shirley Walker

Main Address

4 Lemoyne Drive Suite 203

Lemoyne, PA 17043 USA


Pennsylvania, mental retardation, autism, intellectual disability, intellectual disabilities, services, association, intellectual disability, education, advocacy, nonprofit, human services





Cause Area (NTEE Code)

Professional Societies, Associations (P03)

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Programs + Results

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Our programs

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Charting Impact

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What is the organization aiming to accomplish?

What are the organization's key strategies for making this happen?

What are the organization's capabilities for doing this?

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What have and haven't they accomplished so far?

PAR's mission is to strengthen the capacity of its membership to provide person-centered services to Pennsylvanians with intellectual disability and/or autism.

Comprised of providers of comprehensive community ID and autism services that are provided across the lifespan, as
well as business partners who support our mission, PAR is committed to improving the quality, accessibility and viability
of community services for people with autism and intellectual disability. All of our activities and resources are focused
on making life better for people with autism and intellectual disability and their families. This includes the thousands of people who
receive services now but need more, and the thousands of people who are still waiting for services, some of which are
at the emergency level.

The community intellectual disability service system is in crisis right now in Pennsylvania, and there is widespread
concern among a variety of stakeholders about how people will continue to access services if current funding levels
aren't adequate to sustain them and policies which limit the ability to be creative or innovative remain as barriers. PAR's
work - education, advocacy, collaboration, and connecting people to meaningful resources - is all focused on creating
and finding solutions that will result in the stability and continuous improvement of the community disability system in

Developing creative new solutions and partnering with new and traditional stakeholders is a large part of what PAR is
focused on to carry out our mission. The impact of our work is critical to the thousands of people with autism and
intellectual disability and their families who rely on the strength of the community provider service system. Without the
services our members provide, people with disabilities and their families would have no place to turn but state-run
institutions. And state-run institutional models are this country's past, not the present nor the future. PAR contributes to
the solutions for people with disabilities and their families who are in need of essential services and need to be able to
rely on those services across a lifespan since intellectual disability cannot be 'cured.'

PAR's expected outcomes are to strengthen and build the capacity of the private provider sector. This will be
accomplished through continued advocacy with policymakers, legislators and the state and federal administrations;
strategic partnerships with businesses and industry as well as the community; education; and collaboration; piloting new
models of services; increased education around and funding of assistive technology; and connecting people to
meaningful resources.

PAR's strategies for accomplishing our goals focus on education, communication and advocacy.

How to continuously improve our effectiveness in accomplishing our mission is the exciting challenge we have taken on
since 1970 which started with a few providers gathering together to pool their resources to get things done that would
benefit people with disabilities to the largest provider-based association in Pennsylvania focused on the same thing –
getting things done that will benefit people with an intellectual disability and/or autism.

Our strategies include collaboration with a diverse group of stakeholders, beginning with families and people with
disabilities who we call self-advocates because we believe that everyone, given the support they need, can
communicate their needs. Collaboration efforts are inclusive of state and federal government, advocates, other groups with interest in disabilities, and our communities across the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

As a 501(c)(3) organization we educate through whatever means works for the issue: webinars, website, task forces,
committees, bringing government and the private sector together in policy deliberations, conferences, workgroups,
nearly daily information and issues publications via email to our membership, regional executive roundtables that occur
face to face, government officials, advocates, self-advocates, families, businesses and other interested persons.
We have recently developed an online community for people to connect with each other, forums, and collaborations for
families who have family members with autism and/or an intellectual disability. Multiple methods of communicating are
the key to connecting people with the resources and information they need and want.

PAR provides our members with tools, training and guidance in grassroots advocacy campaigns focused on increasing
funding for autism and ID services. PAR communications and online tools empower the individuals and families our
members support to be part of the democratic process as well. PAR will also continue to increase our visibility and
influence with Pennsylvania’s administrative and legislative bodies exponentially through the coordinated use of PAR’s
and our members’ contracted lobbyists, known as the PAR Advocacy Council.

All of these strategies combined with a focus on communication, collaboration, and developing solutions - are critical to
the success of carrying out our mission.

PAR, celebrating its 44th year, is guided by 17 volunteer Board of Directors who are executives and experts in the
community disability field, a full-time staff of six, 112 corporate members, 59 business associates, and an extended
network of dedicated contractors with a long history of working for PAR. This team has a wide range of skills and
expertise that are used to carry out PAR's mission.

PAR is also involved in several state and national organizations that strengthen our organization including but not limited
to the American Network of Community Options and Resources (ANCOR), the National Council of Nonprofits, the
Pennsylvania Association of Nonprofit Organizations (PANO), the Center for Association Leadership (ASAE), as well as
being one of only two of GuideStar's Founding Nonprofit Members.

PAR measures progress towards our intended impact in various ways.

Qualitative: At a minimum of twice a year, the Board of Directors engages in strategic planning to identify and assess
short and long term goals and develop concrete recommendations for meeting these goals. Key staff are present for this
process and actively participate in order to be more able to carry out the Board's policies and strategic direction.

Throughout the year, PAR surveys its members to understand - priorities, assess satisfaction, assess impact of
government policies and solicit solutions. We also survey participants (members and non-members alike) in our various
forums/trainings to ascertain satisfaction and to make recommendations for improvements. All of the feedback we receive through these surveys (the results of which are stored electronically for easy access and analysis) is carefully
reviewed for immediate improvements.

In terms of policy goals, PAR routinely analyzes the impact of our advocacy on state and federal issues impacting
people with disabilities. When our advocacy results in the changes we are seeking, it is an indicator of our success and
when it does not, we re-evaluate our advocacy efforts and refine our strategies.

Quantitative - Membership is another indicator of our success and one we monitor and actively cultivate. PAR
membership has experienced net growth in services to people with disabilities despite very difficult economic conditions.
Attendance/levels of participation in our events and on our website is also another indicator that is monitored to help us
understand what venues and what topics are of most use to participants. While we have experienced remarkable
increases in participation, especially for our webinars, if we were to experience a decline in participation it would cause
us to re-evaluate our strategies and make changes.. (We use an online meeting registration site to measure attendance
and Google analytics to measure website traffic).

All areas identified for improvement involve discussions with the Board and staff and other members as appropriate - i.e.
a team approach is always used.

In terms of recent accomplishments, progress includes two successful family-focused forums with involvement from key
stakeholders including the government that resulted in policy recommendations which will be submitted to the state. This
partnership with families is critical to the future of the service system in Pennsylvania and we are already planning our
next forum in this series.

Other recent progress includes a significant increase in our webinar offerings which provide a vital, virtual platform for
policymakers to engage meaningfully with stakeholders - an opportunity they may not have had otherwise since
webinars eliminate the need for, and cost of, travel. Our webinars also provide opportunities for stakeholders across the
state to get training, information, and resources from top experts in cost-effective ways.

We recently rolled out our new online community which will provides a place online for our members to share information and resources with each other, a critical need in our system.

External Reviews




Fiscal year: Jul 01-Jun 30

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The people, governance practices, and partners that make the organization tick.

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Board Leadership Practices

GuideStar worked with BoardSource, the national leader in nonprofit board leadership and governance, to create this section, which enables organizations and donors to transparently share information about essential board leadership practices.

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization


Does the board conduct a formal orientation for new board members and require all board members to sign a written agreement regarding their roles, responsibilities, and expectations?



Has the board conducted a formal, written assessment of the chief executive within the past year?



Have the board and senior staff reviewed the conflict-of-interest policy and completed and signed disclosure statements in the past year?



Does the board ensure an inclusive board member recruitment process that results in diversity of thought and leadership?



Has the board conducted a formal, written self-assessment of its performance within the past three years?