Mission: The mission of Arizona Autism United is to help as many families as possible with individualized supports.
On September 12, nearly 500 supporters and many Arizona Autism United staff joined together at the Omni Scottsdale Montelucia Resort for our 7th annual Caring Hearts Luncheon. The theme was "Growing Together;" those in attendance heard the powerful stories of several remarkable mothers detailing their own unique and personal autism journey. Our CEO, Dr. Aaron Blocher-Rubin also shared AZA United's plan for expansion, starting with a "Big New Center" in the East Valley!
This year CEO Aaron Blocher-Rubin received a fellowship from the Virginia G. Piper Charitable Trust, which provides grant funding for organizational leaders with at least 10 years of nonprofit experience to design a yearlong “fellowship” experience to improve skills and organizational impact. With our heavy focus on expansion, new programs for all ages, and opening new centers, he's visiting some of the most well-known autism organizations in the world to see what they do, get ideas, and make connections.
In June, he visited the world famous National Autistic Society (NAS), headquartered in London. This amazing 50-year-old organization provides programs that span all ages, from newly diagnosed toddlers to the elderly, with a wide array of services across all four UK countries.
Aaron returned with key areas for expanded focus: 1) increasing community awareness and inclusion through public education; 2) increasing influence on public policy; and 3) recognition of businesses who take special steps to promote inclusion of people with autism and their families.
One of the best parts of my job is when I get to meet a new teammate and say, “Welcome to Team AZA!” I began my career in this field as a direct care provider for children with autism, and once I discovered that passion I never looked back. Today I spend every day thinking about how we can improve the lives of children and families living with autism in our community, and make the work experience for our unbelievably talented and dedicated staff the best it can possibly be.
As founder and CEO of AZA United, I’ve had the chance to see the organization evolve since the very beginning. When we started, there were very few resources available. The main thing that was driving us was a mission to help as many families as possible, and to build an organization with a culture that is inclusive, innovative, inspirational, and a lot of fun. We did some things differently from other autism agencies – we formed as a nonprofit, we asked parents to serve on the board, and we focused more on accessibility than profitability. We were committed to filling gaps and unmet needs for families who were too often left behind. Today we are seeing a wave of big corporate acquisitions with autism provider agencies as more funding has become available, and we realize that our role as a nonprofit is more important than ever. Every community deserves to have an organization whose sole focus is to meet the needs of those children, youth, teens and adults living with autism who are struggling. That will always be the most important function of Arizona Autism United.
It has now been over a decade since we opened our doors, and we are growing! The need for services has increased dramatically, and fortunately many funding systems have supported the growth of organizations like ours to hire more teammates and help more families. Today, we offer a wide range of evidence-based services and supports, and are recognized as a leading autism organization in the state of Arizona. The secret to our success, in my opinion, is the organizational culture we have developed. We believe in keeping our team connected, empowered, educated and excited. Positive reinforcement is the key to helping children with autism thrive; we apply the same philosophy with our staff. We strive for no less than to make every employee feel that theirs is the best job ever!
As the organization has grown, we’ve taken time to reflect on who we have become and what we’re all about. An important exercise in this process was to define our core values, which are as follows:
Grow with Purpose
Too many companies get too big, too fast. We never want to lose sight of our mission, or get too distracted with financial opportunities to remember why we’re here in the first place. We believe in making thoughtful decisions that are consistent with everything else we are trying to accomplish on behalf of our families and teammates. Not only should the organization grow with purpose, but also each staff member who has their own individual goals and aspirations. We prioritize work/life balance, continuing education, competitive compensation, and excellent benefits for everyone. Our goal is to make sure everyone is supported and valued to achieve their personal goals and contribute to the bigger picture goals we all share.
We are living in the information age, and it is perhaps more difficult than ever to keep up with the constant stream of knowledge that is available at our fingertips. At the same time, we have more opportunity than ever to disseminate information, collect feedback, and communicate with the people who are most invested in our mission. We live this value by assessing what we need to know before making any major decision, collecting input and feedback from anyone that is affected, communicating changes and opportunities frequently and openly, and being honest when we don’t know things and need to learn. We also invest heavily in training, support, and professional development for all employees so that they can stay informed and be as successful as possible in their chosen career path. One final example is a recent change we’ve made, in which every staff member knows exactly what their position pay range is, when they will receive their next pay raise (which is every 6 months for most positions), and exactly how much that raise will be. We know that a person’s job is a key driver for their life decisions, and we want everyone to feel comfortable making informed decisions for themselves and their families.
Be of Service
As a mission-based nonprofit organization, it is inherent in our organizational DNA that we be of service. Unlike for-profit companies which by definition exist to generate profit, charitable nonprofits exist to make the world better by serving the underserved and helping those in need. The key for us is to apply this value beyond the families that we help every day. We have a responsibility to be of service to each one of our employees, to help them with whatever they need to be successful with their work and professional passions. This happens by being responsive to feedback, creating user-friendly systems and sensible policies, and making time to give each teammate individual attention and support.
Bring People Together
We are a community organization. That means that we not only serve a community, but we build community. We are more than just a service provider agency. We are a hub of community support, learning, and livelihood. This value involves connecting families with each other, giving kids the opportunity to make new friends, engaging our donors and supporters in building a shared vision of the future, and celebrating our successes together with the most important part of the organization – our teammates.
Thank you for considering Arizona Autism United as a future home for your career. We look forward to meeting you, and hopefully soon I will be able to shake your hand and say, “Welcome to Team AZA!”
Aaron Blocher-Rubin, CEO
Arizona Autism United is known around the valley by families and professionals alike as an organization that is fully dedicated to providing an outstanding work experience for our staff. We believe that fostering professional growth is a key component to achieving our mission of helping individuals with autism and families, because a community filled with competent and caring professionals has a direct impact on quality of life for anyone affected by autism.
When a new employee joins our team, we make a commitment to investing in their future. Wherever you start, as an employee of AZA United you will have a chance to demonstrate your skills and commitment and pursue opportunities for advancement as your career develops. We offer highly competitive pay for all positions, and an excellent benefits package including excellent health insurance and 401(k) matching for eligible full-time staff. Employees of AZA United are here because of their passion for helping children and families with autism, a personal commitment to ongoing education and professional development, and a desire to be part of a special community that cares about you as a person and recognizes the value of the hard work you do every day.
Arizona Autism United was founded in 2006 by current CEO Dr. Aaron Blocher-Rubin and a group of local families who were experiencing firsthand a shortage of quality care. Their concept was to develop a nonprofit organization whose sole focus was providing high quality direct services and supports to children and families in our community, so that anyone in need could get help.
What has made AZA United unique from the beginning is the organization's focus on involving the families we serve in the process of building and improving the organization. Arizona Autism United has grown from a staff of 1 to 500, serving hundreds of children every day throughout the valley with a wide variety of therapies and supports. Parents continue to lead the way as board members, committee leaders and volunteers. We believe that involving families at all levels is the key to improving service delivery systems and child outcomes, both now and for the future. Together, we are helping today and building tomorrow.
Our goal is to help anyone affected by autism access individualized supports without barriers, to achieve a high quality of life. In the long-term we hope to become a model organization to the rest of the world, offering services across the entire state of Arizona, and serving those in need across the entire lifespan. We believe that every family and person with autism has their own definition of success, and our job is to help them get there.
I have been working at Arizona Autism United part-time (More than 3 years)
I’ve worked here for over 3 years and have loved all of it! My families have been amazing, the office staff has been incredibly helpful, and the clinical/assistant clinical supervisors have gone above and beyond to help whenever and however they can. This job helped get me into grad school to pursue my dream career and they offer training and one-on-one assistance that other companies don’t offer.
Lots of driving (which is a given, considering you are working in home)
For kiddos who have aged out of the early childhood program, I wish there was a way to still have specific programs in place for them created by AZA with supervision and monthly meetings, just like the early childhood programs.
Advice to Management
Offer other services that families can use (OT, PT, Rec. therapy, etc) at the ability 360 center next door! I’m sure families would love to have a company they trust offering more services to them.
I applied online. The process took 2 weeks. I interviewed at Arizona Autism United (Phoenix, AZ) in June 2018.
I got a call a few weeks after applying on indeed. Lindsey was very nice asked me a few questions over the phone. She called me back to do a one-on-one interview and then i went to the soonest orientation date. I thought the overall process was clear and educational