One in 68 Children has Autism

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Valerie Smaldone to Emcee and Will & Anthony Nunziata to Headline Gala Benefiting Services for more than 2,100 Children and Adults with Autism

May 11, 2016 7:59 pm Published by
Valerie Smaldone
Valerie Smaldone

On Tuesday, June 14, 2016, QSAC (Quality Services for the Autism Community) will host its annual gala benefiting more than 2,100 children and adults with autism. Five-time Billboard Magazine Award winner and noted radio star, Valerie Smaldone will serve as the emcee for the event, which will feature a performance by recording artists and concert stars, Will & Anthony Nunziata.

The event will take place at The Lighthouse at Chelsea Piers in New York City from 6:00PM to 10:00PM. At the event, QSAC will be honoring AT&T, Pratima and Avinash Malhotra and their family, and three members of QSAC’s management (Paul Naranjo, Cory Polshansky, and Lisa A. Veglia).

Will & Anthony
Will & Anthony Nunziata

The event is being chaired by Mark Lacher of Koeppel Auto Group who is serving in memory of his mother, Clara Lacher, who was also a QSAC founder. Koeppel Auto Group is also underwriting this year’s $15,000 cash raffle.

AT&T is being recognized with the 2016 Innovation in Accessibility Award for their Connect Ability Challenge, which was hosted in collaboration with NYU. The goal of the Connect Ability Challenge was to leverage mobile and wireless technologies to improve the lives of people living with disabilities.

Pratima and Avinash Malhotra, and their family, will be honored with QSAC’s Philanthropic Leadership Award for their outstanding service to QSAC. Mrs. Malhotra is a long-time board member of QSAC. The Malhotras will be recognized alongside both of their sons, Kanuj and Chetan.

In recognition of more than 20-years of service to the autism community, Paul Naranjo, Chief Financial Officer, Cory Polshansky, Deputy Executive Director, and Lisa A. Veglia, Deputy Executive Director, will be honored by the organization.

For additional information regarding the event, please visit or call (212) 244-5560 ext. 2000. QSAC is also hosting a silent auction, which will run simultaneously online at and is open to the public (gala ticket is not required to bid).

QSAC CFO, Paul Naranjo, To Retire After More Than 20-Years Of Service, Non-Profit Finance Executive Doug Axenfield To Assume Role

April 6, 2016 10:00 am Published by

New York, N.Y. – QSAC’s CFO of more than 20-years, Paul Naranjo, will retire in late September 2016. After an extensive search, Douglas “Doug” Axenfeld will assume the role of CFO after Mr. Naranjo’s retirement.

Over the last two decades, Mr. Naranjo has helped oversee the significant growth that QSAC has undergone throughout New York City and Long Island. When Paul joined the agency in the 1990s, it had an annual budget of a little over $389,000; today, QSAC’s annual budget is more than $70 million. In recognition for his years of service to the organization, and the autism community, Mr. Naranjo will be honored at QSAC’s annual gala on Tuesday, June 14, 2016 at The Lighthouse at Chelsea Piers in Manhattan (additional details available online at

Regarding Paul’s tenure, Gary Maffei, QSAC’s CEO said, “For 20-years, Paul has been an integral member of QSAC’s management team. He has served as a mentor to many of our employees, a friend, and has left an indelible mark on this organization. I know that Paul and his family will continue to be involved with QSAC. We wish him the very best in retirement and thank him for his many years of service. His work and tireless commitment have truly touched the lives of the families we support.”

Doug Axenfeld, an executive with more than two decades of finance experience, will join QSAC as its new CFO. In order to ensure a smooth transition, Mr. Axenfeld will join QSAC in April 2016 and will assume full responsibility for the role upon Paul’s retirement in late September. Mr. Axenfeld joins QSAC after his tenure at FEDCAP Rehabilitation Services where he served as Director of Financial Operations having previously served as Director of Financial Operations for nearly 10-years at YAI. Earlier in his career, Doug served as QSAC’s Controller. He is a graduate of the State University of New York at Buffalo where he received a Bachelor of Science in Economics.

“Drawing on more than 20-years of experience in nonprofit finance, Doug poses significant knowledge regarding state and local funding agencies. We look forward to having Doug join us as our new CFO. We’re confident that he’ll provide the fiscal leadership needed as we continue to grow to meet the needs of the autism community,” said Gary Maffei.


QSAC is a New York City and Long Island based nonprofit that supports children and adults with autism, together with their families, in achieving greater independence, realizing their future potential, and contributing to their communities in a meaningful way by offering person-centered services. QSAC pursues this mission through direct services that provide a supportive and individualized setting for children and adults with autism to improve their communication, socialization, academic, and functional skills. Learn more about QSAC online at

QSAC Opens New Center in Suffolk to Support Adults with Autism

May 20, 2015 9:29 pm Published by
QSAC Ribbon Cutting
Pictured L to R: Lisa Veglia, QSAC Deputy Executive Director; Cory Polshansky, QSAC Deputy Executive Director; Jackie Best, Director of the Long Island Developmental Disabilities Regional Office for the NYS Office of People with Developmental Disabilities; Gary Maffei, QSAC Executive Director; Brian Finnegan, Legislative Aide to Assemblyman Chad Lupinacci; Tom Cilmi, Suffolk County Legislator; Councilwoman Susan Berland of the Town of Huntington; and Paul Naranjo, QSAC Chief Financial Officer.

Quality Services for the Autism Community’s (QSAC), a nonprofit providing services for children and adults with autism, celebrated the opening of its new center for supporting adults with autism in Suffolk County with a ribbon cutting ceremony on Wednesday, May 20, 2015. The center (320 South Service Road, Melville, NY) will provide person-centered support services for adults with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD). The opening of QSAC’s new offices in Melville are a part of the agency’s continued expansion on Long Island as it seeks to meet a growing need for services for families affected by autism living in the region.

Initially, the new site will provide day habilitation services for adults with autism living in the surrounding area. QSAC’s day habilitation program supports participants in developing the skills necessary for them to become active and participating members of their own homes and communities. QSAC will also offer trainings and support groups for families and professionals supporting individuals with autism.

Joining QSAC’s leadership team for the ribbon cutting was Jackie Best, Director of the Long Island Developmental Disabilities Regional Office for the New York State Office of People with Developmental Disabilities (OPWDD) as well as local elected officials including Suffolk County Legislator Tom Cilmi and Town of Huntington Councilwoman Susan Berland as well as Brian Finnegan of Assemblyman Chad Lupinacci’s office.

Regarding the new site, Gary Maffei, QSAC’s executive director said, “Our new office in Suffolk is a testament to QSAC’s ongoing commitment to providing quality services and supports for individuals with autism and their families throughout New York City and Long Island. With the opening of a Suffolk office, we look forward to serving this wonderful community and to helping to meet a growing need for services.”

$300,000 in Grants will Support Expanded Programs for Autism Community

December 3, 2014 9:32 pm Published by

Quality Services for the Autism Community (QSAC), a nonprofit serving New York City and Long Island, has received more than $300,000 in grants in support of its training programs to support children and adults with autism.

A $130,000 grant from The New York Community Trust (NYCT) will support the expansion of QSAC’s teacher training program in New York City public schools. The program will provide participating schools with a series of workshops regarding autism and the implementation of Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) in the classroom. The expanded initiative seeks to increase the capacity of educators to support students with autism in mainstream learning environments. Participating schools will receive 14 hours worth of in-person trainings as well as 6 hours worth of in-classroom feedback. Schools interested in learning more about the training program or applying to be a partner school can visit

Regarding the grant from NYCT, Lisa A. Veglia, QSAC’s Deputy Executive Director said, “The expanded in-person training program, made possible by the generous support of The New York Community Trust, will help us to reach hundreds of teachers and other educators over the next two years while also providing them with a more comprehensive curriculum. We’re particularly excited about expanding our program to New York City community schools.”

The Heckscher Foundation for Children awarded QSAC a $132,200 grant that will support the development and launch of a new online training platform for educators supporting students with autism. The project will ensure that teaching professionals have access to valuable training information regardless of their geography or their ability to access in-person trainings. The trainings will also be made available to parents and other support professionals working with the autism community. A $15,000 grant from the Frederick S. Upton Foundation will also support the buildout of the online learning platform and the videotaping of the trainings being funded by NYCT.

A $25,000 grant from the Long Island Unitarian Universalist Fund (LIUU Fund) has provided the funds needed to launch a new self-advocacy training program on Long Island for young adults with autism. The program will support the development of the skills participants need to effectively advocate for their rights in meetings with elected officials and community leaders. The project is unique in that it seeks to support the program participants in the development of their own policy agenda that they will present in meetings with local and state officials.

QSAC’s Executive Director, Gary A. Maffei said, “We are truly grateful for the generous support of The New York Community Trust, Heckscher Foundation for Children, Long Island Unitarian Universalist Fund, and the Frederick S. Upton Foundation. Their support will enable us to enhance and expand programs that will help to meet the needs of children and adults with autism and their families. By expanding our teacher training program in New York City, and with the rollout of a new online platform, we’ll be able to reach even more educators supporting learners with autism. In addition, the self-advocacy program will help train participants in valuable skills that will empower them to advocate for their rights. These grants will help us further live out our mission of helping children and adults with autism achieve greater independence and realize their full potential.”

QSAC Releases New Multi-Touch Book for Parents and Teachers Supporting Children with Autism

November 21, 2014 7:32 pm Published by

QSAC (Quality Services for the Autism Community), a 38-year old New York City-based nonprofit serving children and adults with autism, has released its first book for iPad for supporting parents of children with autism. Bridging the Gap: A Curriculum for Supporting your Young Learner with Autism (, is currently available as a Multi-Touch Book on the iBooks Store. The book is free on the iBooks Store. Bridging the Gap provides parents with a resource for supporting their preschooler/toddler with autism. Gina Feliciano, Ph.D., BCBA-D, SAS, Director of QSAC’s Preschool, and Melissa Peltz, M.S.Ed, authored the book.

In addition to background information regarding autism, parents of preschoolers and toddlers will find interactive features including helpful videos and featured iOS apps that will help them support their children in improving skills in key domains including: Communication, socialization, academic skills among others. Parents can also test their knowledge regarding autism at the end of each chapter with a brief interactive quiz. The book will also be of interest to educators, behavior analysts, pediatricians, and others who work with and support children with autism.

CoverFinalDr. Feliciano and Ms. Peltz carefully vetted the inclusion of a number of apps, some are free and others require a purchase through the App Store, which will help parents to provide their children with engaging and educational tools. Featured apps include Toby PlayPad, Proloquo2Go, Autism Apps, ABA Flash Cards, Behavior Tracker Pro, and many others. Each app is featured alongside supporting material that has been written by Dr. Feliciano and Ms. Peltz regarding which skill areas the app supports.

“This new Multi-Touch Book is a testament to QSAC’s commitment to the families we serve and to the greater community. Dr. Feliciano, Ms. Peltz, and the creative team behind the book, have created an engaging resource that we’re confident parents, teachers, and others who work with children with autism will find to be helpful. Whether confronting a recent autism diagnosis or seeking a resource for helping their child build critical skills,Bridging the Gap will be a valuable tool for parents,” said Gary Maffei, M.P.A., QSAC’s executive director.

The Multi-Touch Book can be downloaded on the iBooks Store by visiting

About the Authors

Gina Feliciano is the Director of the Preschool at QSAC and has been in the position since 2012. Gina is responsible for the overall operation of the preschool. She is a Board Certified Behavior Analyst (Doctoral level) as well as a certified New York State Special Education Teacher and School Administrator. Gina received her Doctorate (Ph.D.) from Columbia University in Special Education and Behavior Disorders in 2006. Her previous professional experience includes being appointed as Director of Clinical Services, Director of ABA Services, and years training staff and education professionals as a Behavioral Consultant. Gina has held academic positions as an adjunct professor at Hunter College, Pace University, and Queens College teaching courses on behavior management, classroom management and education psychology.

Melissa Peltz has been working with children since 2007. She earned her bachelor’s degree at Queens College in Elementary Education and Sociology and her master’s degree at Queens College in Early Childhood Special Education specializing in Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA). Since 2011, she has taught a diverse group of children, including those with disabilities in various public, private, and special educational environments. She is also a member of a team that was instrumental in reforming a school supporting children with autism in Beijing, China and is currently in the process of publishing a book on evidence-based practices to be used at the school.

Support the Bronx Day Hab’s Dog Biscuit Company

March 26, 2014 1:02 pm Published by

An enterprising crew from the Bronx Day-Hab has started up their very own business!

Members of the Doggy Delights team began from scratch and have built a thriving dog biscuit company. The team bakes the biscuits on site using fresh ingredients and has marketed their product to members of the QSAC community.

Please support our efforts and give your dog a delicious peanut buttery treat! To place an order, contact Courtney Johnson at  (718) 728-8476, ext. 1800. (Note: delivery/ pick-up will be arranged depending on location- all bags are $3.00, payment is COD/ COP).

Job Fair on March 18: Join Us to Learn More About a Rewarding Career with QSAC

March 5, 2014 4:36 pm Published by

On Tuesday, March 18, 2014, Quality Services for the Autism Community (QSAC) will host a job fair at their office located at 25-09 Broadway to recruit and fill multiple positions. QSAC is seeking employees to fill vacancies for community habilitation and respite opportunities.

Positions are part-time during the afternoon, evening, weekend and school holidays. Locations are in consumers’ homes throughout Queens, Brooklyn, Manhattan, the Bronx, and Nassau. Jobs are available in May 2014.

The Job Fair will provide interested candidates with an opportunity to interview with QSAC’s hiring staff while learning more about job opportunities with the organization. Applicants must have a high school diploma or equivalent, however, a college degree is preferred. Applicants with a familiarity with people with developmental disabilities, a plus.

QSAC will be primarily recruiting candidates for Community Habilitation Specialist openings. Habilitation Specialists are responsible for the implementation of client treatment plans. In addition, to client treatment plans, employees promote client socialization, recreation, communication, travel training and money management where applicable. On-the-job training related to the responsibilities of the position will be provided.

Interested applicants can register online for an interview time at Interview times are available for  4 p.m., 5 p.m., 6 p.m., and 7 p.m. If you are unavailable to attend, please email your resume and a cover letter with a subject line indicating “Direct Care Worker” to

Council Member Johnson Visits QSAC

March 4, 2014 11:59 am Published by

Earlier today, Council Member Corey Johnson visited QSAC’s Day Habilitation Program in his district in Manhattan. The Council Member had an opportunity to meet with program participants and staff while also learning more about QSAC’s programs and services for the autism community throughout the borough and the city. Council Member Johnson represents Manhattan’s West Side (District 3) and serves as the Chair of the City Council’s Committee on Health.

Council Member Johnson shakes hands with a participant from QSAC's Day Habilitation program.
Council Member Johnson shakes hands with a participant from QSAC’s Day Habilitation program.
Council Member Johnson and a member of QSAC's Day Habilitation staff discuss the impact of our programs.
Council Member Johnson and a member of QSAC’s Day Habilitation staff discuss the impact of our programs.












News Release: Sprint to Receive Change Maker Award at QSAC’s Gala for Commitment to Accessible Mobile Technology

February 27, 2014 10:00 am Published by


OVERLAND PARK, Kan. – Feb. 27, 2014 – Quality Services for the Autism Community (QSAC), a New York-based charity supporting children and adults with autism, has selected Sprint (NYSE: S) as the 2014 recipient of the Change Maker Award for its commitment to accessibility for people with disabilities. Dan Hesse, Sprint CEO, will accept the honor on behalf of the company at QSAC’s annual gala taking place on Tuesday, June 17, at The Lighthouse at Chelsea Piers (West 26 Street and West Side Highway) in New York.

Each year, QSAC’s Change Maker Award recognizes a company that has made a meaningful commitment to supporting the needs of children and adults with developmental disabilities. Sprint is being honored for delivering innovative accessible solutions that empower individuals with disabilities.

Sprint offers a variety of products and services, including unique, accessibility-themed ID packs for select Android™ devices that are designed to accommodate various ChangeMakerAwardSeal-2014Recipientaccessibility needs. Sprint’s Accessible Education ID pack, among other services, assists individuals with autism who are working to improve their socialization and communication skills.

“Sprint’s efforts to expand access to technology embodies our hope for more tools and resources to assist individuals with disabilities in achieving greater independence, empowering them to contribute more meaningfully to their communities,” said Gary Maffei, executive director of QSAC. “By recognizing Sprint, QSAC hopes to encourage others to actively support Sprint and similar efforts to expand access to technology for children and adults with autism.”

“At Sprint, we recognize how making wireless technology more accessible can reduce, and perhaps eventually eliminate, the communication barriers faced by individuals with disabilities,” Hesse said. “We embrace this challenge and we are proud to receive the 2014 Change Maker Award.”

Past recipients of honors from QSAC have included Pfizer and PIMCO. Each year, QSAC’s gala brings together more than 500 people to increase autism awareness while raising funds to support QSAC’s programs and services for the autism community of New York and Long Island.

Additional details regarding the gala are available online at Current sponsors include Accenture, Astoria Financial Corporation/Astoria Federal Savings, Koeppel Auto Group, and Sprint.

Sprint’s corporate responsibility program, Sprint Good WorksSM, is guided by the principle that doing the right thing is good business. More than a statement, it’s also a belief: Good does indeed workSM. That’s why Sprint is committed to anticipating the needs of customers and making award-winning services accessible to all. By empowering seniors and people with disabilities through accessible technology, Sprint is demonstrating how good technology works as a positive force in society.

Download the Press Release (02/27/2014)

Download the Sponsorship Packet for the Gala


QSAC is a New York City and Long Island based nonprofit that supports children and adults with autism, together with their families, in achieving greater independence, realizing their future potential, and contributing to their communities in a meaningful way by offering person-centered services.

QSAC pursues this mission through direct services that provide a supportive and individualized setting for children and adults with autism to improve their communication, socialization, academic, and functional skills.