Randolph, Mass. — Walter P. Christian, Ph.D., ABPP, President and CEO of May Institute − a national nonprofit organization that provides educational, rehabilitative, and behavioral health care services for individuals with autism and other special needs − is being honored with the Boston Business Journal “2008 Champions in Health Care” Lifetime Achievement Award.
Dr. Christian has been at the helm of May Institute for three decades, during which time the organization has earned an international reputation for providing outstanding services to individuals with autism and other developmental disabilities, brain injury, mental illness, and behavioral health care needs. “Pete’s leadership truly exemplifies inspiration, integrity, and a life-long commitment to the empowerment of people with disabilities in the Commonwealth and throughout the country,” says Dennis C. Russo, Ph.D., ABPP, Chief Clinical Officer of May Institute.
When Dr. Christian joined the Institute in 1978, the organization consisted of one small school for 37 children with autism in Chatham, Mass. “My most vivid memory of that time,” Dr. Christian recalls, “was the frustration experienced by staff and families who desperately sought to help children who were suffering from the debilitating effects of autism, but who lacked the training, experience, and expert supervision to do so.”
Dr. Christian systematically built an organizational and programmatic infrastructure that, in time, would be replicated first across Massachusetts, and then throughout other parts of the country. He devoted himself to creating high quality, evidence-based programs to serve the children and adults in his care, and to building training models that would enable staff and caregivers to ensure consistency of care across environments. Dr. Christian continues to guide the expansion of May Institute by identifying gaps in existing systems of care and bringing services to the point of need.
“For a vision to become reality, you need an extraordinary team,” says Dr. Christian. “It is a tremendous privilege to work with the finest in our field. I share this honor with our staff and with the countless families who are so much a part of May Institute’s legacy. They are the real champions behind the achievements recognized by this award.”
An ardent defender of the rights of individuals with disabilities, Dr. Christian played a crucial role in deinstitutionalization in Massachusetts and throughout the country. He served as an expert consultant to the U.S. Department of Justice Civil Rights Division, advocating for individuals with special needs, and developing and providing high quality programs, schools, and group homes to more effectively serve this population.
Under Dr. Christian’s tireless leadership, the organization has become an integral part of the behavioral healthcare service delivery network in Massachusetts, and is one of the largest human service providers in the Commonwealth.
His commitment to evidence-based practice and clinical expertise has positioned May Institute as a national leader in setting the standard of care for services across the life span. Institute staff now include more than 40 licensed and credentialed doctoral-level professionals, and more than 60 certified behavior analysts. Along with master’s-level staff, this represents one of the country’s largest concentrations of clinicians with expertise in autism and other developmental disabilities, special education, and applied behavior analysis.
Dr. Christian was named a 2007 Fellow of the Association for Behavior Analysis International (ABAI), joining an elite group of only 56 ABAI Fellows worldwide who are recognized as the most outstanding contributors to the field of behavior analysis. Dr. Christian is also a Fellow of the American Psychological Association, the Association of Mental Health Administrators, and the American Academy of Behavioral Psychology.
In addition to current faculty appointments at Boston University School of Medicine, the University of Kansas, and Northeastern University, Dr. Christian has also held appointments at Harvard Medical School, McLean Hospital, and at the Developmental Evaluation Center at Children’s Hospital in Boston. Dr. Christian earned his Ph.D. in clinical psychology from Auburn University, and was a National Institute of Health postdoctoral Fellow at the National Asthma Center in Denver, Colorado. He is a licensed psychologist (Massachusetts, Georgia, and Florida) and is board certified in behavior therapy and behavioral psychology.
The author of nine books and over 60 articles and chapters on human service management, organizational development, client rights, and service programming, Dr. Christian has made a lasting contribution to his field.
About May Institute
May Institute is a nonprofit organization that provides educational, rehabilitative, and behavioral healthcare services to individuals with autism and other developmental disabilities, brain injury, mental illness, and other behavioral healthcare needs. The Institute also provides training and consultation services to professionals, organizations, and public school systems.
Since its founding over 50 years ago, May Institute has evolved into an award-winning national network that serves over 25,000 individuals and their families annually. With corporate headquarters in Randolph, Massachusetts, the Institute operates more than 200 service locations in the Northeast, Mid-Atlantic, Southeast, and on the West Coast. The Institute has several May Center schools that serve children and adolescents with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) and other developmental disabilities; another school serves students with brain injury.
An active center of research and training, the Institute maintains affiliations with more than 40 universities, hospitals, and human service agencies worldwide.
In 2005, May Institute sponsored the initial development of the National Autism Center, a nonprofit organization dedicated to supporting effective, evidence-based treatment approaches for autism, and to providing direction to families, practitioners, organizations, policy-makers, and funders. Together, May Institute and the National Autism Center are committed to identifying and applying universal standards for the treatment of autism and to providing care and hope to families throughout the country. For more information, please visit www.mayinstitute.org.