Old Ned

Arizona Historymakers™

Arizona Historical Society

Denise D. Resnik

1967 -

Honored as Historymaker 2023

Compassionate Changer for Autism Treatment, Businesswoman

Video by Carey Pena of Inspired Media 360, for the Historical League; videographer Leonardo Buono.

When Denise Resnik's 2-year-old son was diagnosed with autism in 1993, she and her husband were advised to "love, accept, and plan to institutionalize" their child. Ms. Resnik committed then that she was going to find another way. And 25 years later, she did! The native Phoenician applied her business background, communications skills and energies toward co-founding the Southwest Autism Research & Resource Center in 1998, now a nationally renowned nonprofit serving children and adults. Sister organization First Place® AZ and its Global Leadership Institute, founded by Ms. Resnik in 2012, are spearheading a new generation of housing and community options for adults with autism and other neurodiversities. Its flagship property, First Place--Phoenix, opened in 2018, and today provides residents with supports for honing essential life skills that lead to more independent living. Her vision and leadership have inspired PBS NewsHour to recognize Phoenix as "the most autism-friendly city in the world." First Place was also featured in the award-winning 2022 documentary on the history of autism titled "In a Different Key." As Founder & President/CEO of First Place, Ms. Resnik also proudly mentions both her children when she includes "Matt & Ally's Mom" in her signature.