Human Services


  • Lemoyne, PA

Mission Statement

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

Main Programs

  1. Education
  2. Advocacy
  3. Access to Resources
Service Areas




ruling year


President and CEO


Mrs. Shirley Walker



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

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Also Known As

Pennsylvania Advocacy and Resources for Autism and Intellectual Disability






Cause Area (NTEE Code)

Professional Societies, Associations (P03)

IRS Filing Requirement

This organization is required to file an IRS Form 990 or 990-EZ.

Programs + Results

How does this organization make a difference?


Self-reported by organization

PAR's impact can be reviewed in our Annual Reports, which are included in our nonprofit report. PAR's impact is focused on strengthening the capacity of our members to provide person-centered services to Pennsylvanians with intellectual disability and/or autism.


Self-reported by organization

What are the organization's current programs, how do they measure success, and who do the programs serve?

Program 1


This includes the dissemination of information, analysis, research and training opportunities related to autism and intellectual disabilities services in Pennsylvania through PAR Mail (electronic publications), conferences, and regularly scheduled meetings and educational opportunities, and via the organization website at . Providers and associates then disseminate PAR Mail throughout their organizations to tens of thousands of Pennsylvanians. PAR also sends complimentary copies of PAR Mail to government officials of the Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare and to the Pennsylvania Waiting List Campaign and other select advocacy groups.



Population(s) Served

Other Named Groups



Program 2


PAR assumes a key leadership role in the development and implementation of comprehensive support systems that have the capacity to fully serve people with autism and intellectual disabilities in Pennsylvania, according to their needs. PAR advocates for effective evidence-based policies, practices and quality frameworks within the service system. PAR’s advocacy extends well beyond the traditional federal and state definitions of “lobbying.” In addition to those defined activities, PAR empowers and educates individuals and families who receive services and also those who are waiting to receive services through information exchange, partnership coalitions, as well as through its online action center which is available to the public at no charge.



Population(s) Served

Other Named Groups



Program 3

Access to Resources

PAR provides free online access to information about services, funding and eligibility for consumers (people with autism or intellectual disabilities) and their families through the PAR Services Network (PSN). PSN is the premier database of services and supports available to persons with intellectual disabilities and autism in Pennsylvania. This information is also available, free of charge, to state and county governments who coordinate services.


PAR also operates CareCareer, a statewide database of career opportunities in the fields of autism and intellectual disabilities where job seekers can search, for free, for meaningful careers, and potential employers can post job openings.



Population(s) Served

Other Named Groups



Charting Impact

Self-reported by organization

Five powerful questions that require reflection about what really matters - results.

  1. What is the organization aiming to accomplish?
    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.
  2. What are the organization's key strategies for making this happen?
    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.
  3. What are the organization's capabilities for doing this?
    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.
  4. How will they know if they are making progress?
    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.
  5. What have and haven't they accomplished so far?
    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.
Service Areas




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Financial information is an important part of gauging the short- and long-term health of the organization.

Fiscal year: Jul 01-Jun 30
Yes, financials were audited by an independent accountant.

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




Free: Gain immediate access to the following:
  • Address, phone, website and contact information
  • Forms 990 for 2016, 2015 and 2014
  • Board Chair and Board Members
  • Access to the GuideStar Community
Need the ability to download nonprofit data and more advanced search options? Consider a Premium or Pro Search subscription.

President and CEO

Mrs. Shirley Walker


Shirley Walker is the President and CEO of PAR and has served in that capacity for over 20 years. Her career history includes being the Deputy Secretary of the Office of Children, Youth and Families for Governor Richard Thornburgh. Prior to that she was in education in the Los Angeles area and then in Pennsylvania as the Assistant Superintendent of a school district.



Rob J. Reid

Barber National Institute

Term: Nov 2010 - Nov 2013


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. 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?