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Virginia Institute of Autism and St. Vincent's merge operations and services

The Charlottesville-based Virginia Institute of Autism has completed its merger with Roanoke-based St. Vincent’s Home.

Leaders of the two organizations said the mission of the new merged group, under the Virginia Institute of Autism’s name, will be to become the largest nonprofit provider of pediatric and adult educational and behavioral services for people with autism and related disabilities in the commonwealth.

In the future, the Virginia Institute of Autism will incorporate St. Vincent’s Blue Ridge Autism and Achievement Center, Katie’s Place Day Support as well as other adult and family services in Roanoke into the new group’s operations while continuing to provide day schools and adult and behavioral services in Charlottesville, according to a statement.

Virginia Institute of Autism CEO Dr. Ethan Long will continue in his capacity as leader of the nonprofit organization. St. Vincent’s CEO Angie Leonard will serve under him as chief operating officer for the southwest region.

The new organization employs roughly 300 people providing services to more than 200 students, 175 outpatient families and nearly 100 adults older than 22 in nearly 30 communities nationwide. The merger did not result in any staff layoffs, the statement said.

“We are excited to continue offering our evidence-based services uninterrupted, and we believe that our larger footprint allows us to better advocate on behalf of our families at the state and local levels, affecting policy and funding in ways that benefit those we serve,” said Long in the statement.

The Virginia Institute of Autism was founded in 1996. It is accredited by the Commission on the Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities and the Virginia Association of Independent Specialized Education Facilities. The institute has administrative offices and adult services at 491 Hillsdale Drive, day schools facilities at 1414 Westwood Road and outpatient behavioral services at 3500 Remson Court, according to its website.

St. Vincent’s was originally founded by St. Andrew’s Catholic Church in Roanoke in 1893 as an orphanage, according to the organization’s website. The orphanage, which later became known as the Achievement Center, merged with the Blue Ridge Autism organization in 2009. That merged organization, called BRAAC, began offering services to young people with learning and behavioral challenges ages 2 through 22 before expanding into family and adult services shortly thereafter. In 2019, the organization began offering all of its services and programs under the St. Vincent’s name.

“I’m excited,” Leonard said in a statement back in October when the merger was first announced. “In addition to strengthening our programs and services, coming together allows us to advocate better on behalf of our families at the state and local levels, affecting policy and funding in ways that benefit those we serve.”


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