Raise the Roof for Autism was established in 2010 as a program and campaign to raise awareness for the lack of vocational opportunities for adults on the autism spectrum.
The initial program was developed by Gene Taylor, President of iConquer Adventures and Brad McGarry, Director of the Autism Initiative At Mercyhurst University. Through more than a decade of successes, they have provided a platform for students, parents and families; along with businesses, universities, and educational organizations to enhance and grow their neurodiversity-based programming.
Gene Taylor, is the company founder, and he and Brad McGarry co-founded the concepts that is the guiding force behind Raise The Roof For Autism. Originally they met through Gene's company iConquer Adventures. In 2009 it was hosting a special fundraising adventure at Grand Canyon, named Conquer The Canyon for a non-profit client of which Brad was a member.
After that initial experience, Brad and Gene met again and began working on melding their two programs into one that would allow neurodiverse students from Mercyhurst University to attend a similar event at Grand Canyon. The program began in 2010 and has been ongoing ever since.
In 2015 Gene and Brad summited Mt. Kilimanjaro together. It was during that time that they decided to create Raise The Roof For Autism and modeled it after Gene's Conquer The Canyon. Two years later they led a team of autistic students up the mountain.
In May of 2021, Gene and Brad began discussions on ways that they could combine and formalize the relationship between the individual programs they were running into one cohesive program that could be replicated and distributed to other universities and employers.
Later that month, fate stepped in the way of their plans and sadly, Brad was diagnosed with ALS just as their planned business development got underway. Despite the finality of this dreadful disease, and in the face of the life struggles it would bring, Brad entered into a fight for his life with the same energy and commitment as it took for him to summit Africa's tallest peak a few years prior. That fighting spirit drove him to participate in the May 2022, Conquer The Canyon with the Mercyhurst A.I.M. team.
Brad's fight continues on and Raise The Roof For Autism has become a legacy project that will bare his name and imprint far into the future. We are also enormously proud to share that as the leader of the Autism Initiative At Mercyhurst University, the school has now created The Brad McGarry Neurodiversity Center which will live on in perpetuity. Both the school and Raise The Roof For Autism will continue to honor Brad and his family for his contribution to enhancing and enriching the lives of those on the autism spectrum.
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Raise The Roof For Autism was founded based upon the idea, that through lessons in life are best learned by doing! Working, studying, playing and living are all enhanced when combined with memorable activities. We are building a team of professional educators, communicators, development specialists and content creators to build a highly interactive platform whereby people on the autistic spectrum can not only be seen, but have an active role in the development and delivery of the services we provide.
Raise The Roof For Autism Team Leaders
Stephanie Miller, M.Ed., BCBA, LBA
Vice President, Director of Development
Stephanie earned her master’s degree in special education and Behavior Analysis from Arizona State University. Stephanie has over 25 years of experience in the field of autism and has provided treatment, consultation, and program development for over 300 individuals on the Autism Spectrum.
Stephanie started her journey working with children and adults on the autism spectrum when her child was diagnosed with autism in the early 90s. Since then, Stephanie has been a leading advocate for autistic individuals to achieve high-quality lives filled with endless possibilities.
Before becoming a behavior analyst, Stephanie worked for the State of Arizona, where she provided oversight and administration of the AHCCCS Medicaid program. In that role, she assisted autistic adults in navigating and utilizing a support system to aid independent living.
As a Licensed Behavior Analyst, Stephanie specializes in working with adolescents and young adults as they make the transition into adulthood. She is a certified PEERS instructor and has been trained in the use of the Relationship Development Intervention (RDI), Practical Functional Assessment and the Balance Program.
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Danielle Barkley, M.Ed., Special Education
Curriculum Development, Educator
Danielle is a true native of Arizona and continues to live in Phoenix, AZ. She completed her undergrad at Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff, AZ, with a degree in Special Education and completed her master's at Arizona State University in Curriculum and Instruction (ABA). Danielle found her passion for working with teens and young adults when she was a special education teacher in a self-contained autism classroom.
She was also a math teacher at a private school specifically for students with autism and other developmental disabilities. She has also been a HAB/respite provider, behavior coach, RBT, and life skills teacher, where she created her curriculum. She is currently working towards her BCBA license.
When Danielle is not working, she enjoys traveling, CrossFit, concerts, and hanging out with her cat, Ralph.
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Brad McGarry, M.Ed., M.A.
Co-founder of The Raise The Roof For Autism Project, Honorary Board Chairman
Master's Certificate in Special Education with a concentration in Applied Behavioral Analysis
Master of Arts (M.A.), Community Counseling
HONOR: The Brad McGarry Neurodiversity Center at Mercyhurst University will live on in perpetuity.
A native of Erie, Pennsylvania, Brad received his Master's in Community Counseling in 1999 and completed a Master's Certificate in Special Education with a concentration in Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA) in 2012. Brad has worked as an outpatient therapist, psychology faculty, executive director, and program developer and has provided direct services for over 20 years. Brad has presented professionally at national and international conferences, shares his experiences as a keynote speaker, and is an advocate for his oldest son, Connor, who is living with a disorder called Angelman Syndrome.
As the Director of the Autism Initiative at Mercyhurst University and has received numerous awards and accolades for his work and advocacy, including being nominated for the Temple Grandin Award through the Autism Connection of Pennsylvania “in recognition of contributions to maximizing the potential and possibilities of children, adolescents, and adults with Autism in Pennsylvania.
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Stephen Shore, Ed.D, CAS
Professor At Adelphi University, Best-Selling Author, International Speaker, Autism Expert & Autistic Self-Advocate.
Raise The Roof For Autism Global Ambassador, Subject Matter Expert, and Raise The Roof For Autism Adventure Education - Grand Canyon Alumni.
Dr. Stephen Shore is one of the world's most respected speakers and voices for self-advocacy. He is currently the President Emeritus of the Asperger’s Association of New England in the US and serves on the boards of several autism-related organizations. He is also a Professor at Adelphi University, where his research focuses on matching best practices to the needs of people with autism.
Diagnosed with strong autistic tendencies and Atypical Development when he was young, he was recommended to be in a residential institution as he was found unsuitable for outpatient treatment. With the support of his parents, teachers, and wife, Dr. Shore overcame the barriers to becoming a University professor and a highly sought-after international consultant on issues faced by adults with autism. He has authored several books.
Dr. Shore's association with Raise The Roof For Autism began in 2020, and in 2021 he participated in his first RTRFA Life-Learning Adventure to Grand Canyon. Stephen presents and consults internationally on adult education, relationships, employment, and advocacy issues. He has authored several books, including the critically acclaimed Understanding Autism for Dummies. He also released the DVD Living Along the Autism Spectrum: What It Means to Have Autism or Asperger Syndrome.
Dr. Shore is actively involved in the autism community and serves in several autism-related organizations, including:
Asperger’s Association of New England
Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee
Asperger Syndrome and High Functioning Autism Association,
United States Autism and Asperger Alliance, and is a
Autism Society of America (former board member)
Board of Directors for Unlocking Autism
Autism Services Association of Massachusetts
The College Internship Program
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Founder, CEO, Administrator
Co-founder of The Walking Connection in 1989 (CEO). Founder and CEO of iConquer Adventurers in 2001. Founder and CEO of Raise The Roof For Autism, 2021. Currently, he is leading the business development of Raise The Roof For Autism.
The Walking Connection began as a Wellness Company serving corporations and municipalities with exercise fitness education and programming. Soon after, it began to incorporate adventure travel as part of its list of services. Beginning in the US, it has expanded to operating in more than 30 countries around the world. In 2001 in the wake of 9/11, he founded iConquer Adventures which was created specifically to provide non-profit organizations with a platform that offered a new and innovative fundraising and awareness creating a program. Using adventure travel, walking, and hiking as its foundation, more than 6000 people have participated from across North America and around the world. From large multi-million non-profit organizations conducting national campaigns to smaller regional and local organizations, iConquer programming has helped raise more than $26,000,000 in donations for their non-profit clients.
As a leader in fighting everything from arthritis to cancer, diabetes to genetic disorders such as muscular dystrophy, Duchenne, and Angelman's Syndrome. From spinal cord injuries to homelessness, his company has created custom content and programming, organize and operate educational and experiential adventures domestically in the US and internationally from Africa to Asia and Europe.
Gene has created and led adventure travel programs to more than 30 countries around the world. He counts Mt. Kilimanjaro, Mt. Fuji, Rincon de la Viejas, and Mt. Toubkal among his hiking achievements along with extended adventures on the Inca Trail, Overland Track, Great Wall of China, Road To Shangri La, China, Great Rift Valley, The Atlantic Way, and the Sierra Mountains from the Pacific Ocean to Sea of Cortez.
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Jo Ann Taylor
Chair, Travel Consultant, Global Ambassador
Voices From The Spectrum
Stephen Shore, Ph.D.
Chair, Global Ambassador
Advisor, Curriculum Development,
Contributor and Communications
Peer Mentor, Blog Contributor
Social Media, Peer Mentor,
Ben Van Hook
Content Manager, Voices From The Spectrum Blog,
Samuel Conner Griffin
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Media | Public Relations
Member - Sponsor