Who We Are
Generation Rescue curated a movement dedicated to providing comprehensive treatment opportunities to autism families. As an innovative and results-oriented organization, we bridge the gap between philanthropy and expert-driven services by collaborating with like-minded stakeholders. Together, our vision fosters a sense of belonging and hope for future generations.
We are the leading national organization that provides hope, information and immediate treatment assistance to families affected by autism spectrum disorders.
When rockstar Stanford alumni JB Handley, a leader in the private equity sector, and wife Lisa Handley discovered their son had autism, they didn’t settle for the dead-end diagnosis. Instead, they researched the most effective treatment options available to help their son. Along their journey, the couple founded Generation Rescue to offer hope with actionable treatment solutions for families.
Later that same year, actress and television host, Jenny McCarthy’s son, Evan, was diagnosed with autism. Following his diagnosis, Jenny went on a nationwide tour to speak on behalf of many autism organizations, which led her to become a voice for families worldwide. She ended up finding a home at Generation Rescue, now serving as the foundation’s board president. Her groundbreaking book, Louder Than Words, sparked a movement of mother warriors empowered to take control of their family’s health and well-being.
Today, Generation Rescue is known throughout the world as the number-one place families turn to, to get help after receiving an autism diagnosis.
Board of Directors
JB & Lisa Handley
JB Handley is the co-founder of Generation Rescue, inspired by the journey of his son, Jamison, and co-produced the documentary film “Autism Yesterday.” He is also the co-founder of Swander Pace Capital, a middle-market private equity fund with more than $1 billion under management. He is a graduate of Stanford University, and lives in Portland, Oregon with his wife, Lisa, and their three children.
Lisa Handley co-founded Generation Rescue as an act of love for her son, Jamison, and for all the other children who are fighting to live the lives they were meant to live. Along with her husband, JB, she co-produced the documentary film “Autism Yesterday.” Before dedicating herself to motherhood, Lisa was a management consultant and a brand manager for Clorox. She is a graduate of Stanford University and lives with her family in Portland, Oregon.
Deirdre Imus is a National Leader for Children’s Health and the Environment. She is Founder of the site devoted to environmental health, www.imusenvironmentalhealth.org, is President and Founder of The Deirdre Imus Environmental Health Center® at Hackensack University Medical Center and Co-Founder/Co-Director of the Imus Cattle Ranch for Kids with Cancer. She is a New York Times best-selling author and a frequent contributor to FoxNewsHealth.com, and Fox Business Channel.
Jenny McCarthy is an author, actress, activist and mother who recovered her son, Evan, from autism. Her NY Times best-selling books on her family’s journey through autism help parents all around the world: “Louder Than Words: A Mother’s Journey in Healing Autism,” “Mother Warriors: A Nation of Parents Healing Autism Against All Odds,” and “Healing and Preventing Autism,” co-written with Dr. Jerry Kartzinel. Jenny is also the co-creator of Teach2Talk, a series of 16 DVDs that entertain children while teaching them language, behavior and social skills.
Katie Wright devotes her time to the recovery of her son, Christian, who was the inspiration for the formation of Autism Speaks. She previously served as the clinical director of the Sexual Assault Crisis Center in Stamford, Connecticut, and continues to serve on the boards of the National Autism Association and SafeMinds.
Samir Patel has remained the President/CEO of OxyHealth LLC for 16 years and is credited as the leader in modern hyperbaric chamber technology. Patel brought OxyHealth from a start up company with a vision, to the world’s most trusted hyperbaric chamber provider. Previously, Patel has presided over numerous successful companies in several industries including information technology consulting, hospitality revenue management and holds two innovative hair-clip patents designed for high-profile, fashion conscious consumers. Currently, Patel resides in Southern California where OxyHealth is also headquartered.
Donnie Wahlberg is an artist who knows no limits, and his diverse career proves just that. As the star of the hit TV show Blue Bloods on CBS, the Executive Producer five-television show as well as the engine behind NKOTB, Donnie has captured the attention of audiences worldwide.
Wahlberg is the Executive producer of the Emmy nominated unscripted series Wahlburgers, a behind-the-scenes look at the titular restaurant owned by his brother Paul Wahlberg as well as both Donnie and Mark. Along with his wife Jenny McCarthy he Executive Produces/stars in Donnie Loves Jenny, which allows fan’s to get a behind the scenes look at the first year of marriage between Donnie and his wife Jenny McCarthy. Other shows include the ½ hour comedy “The Wahlbergs” which is in development at ABC, Rock The Boat, and prior to that “Boston’s Finest,” a docudrama following the personal and professional lives of members of the Boston Police Department.
Wahlberg’s film career includes a pivotal role in “The Sixth Sense,” which was originally written for a 13-year-old boy until Wahlberg met with M. Night Shyamalan to inquire about rights for a theater production and ended up convincing the writer/director that no one else but he could play the role. Also, he co-starred with Mel Gibson in “Ransom” directed by Ron Howard, and starred in the independent film, “Southie.” Other film credits include “Saw II,” “Annapolis” and the independent film, “Marilyn Hotchkiss’ Ballroom Dancing & Charm School.” He also co-starred with Al Pacino and Robert DeNiro in “Righteous Kill.” Wahlberg co-wrote the feature “What Doesn’t Kill You,” in which he co-starred with Mark Ruffalo and Ethan Hawke, and also co-starred opposite Kevin James in “The Zookeeper.”
Wahlberg’s television credits include co-starring with Harvey Keitel in the miniseries “Path to 9/11,” the award-winning miniseries “Band of Brothers,” “The Kill Point” and “Boomtown.”
The eighth of nine children, Wahlberg began performing in plays and banging on pots and pans as early as the first grade. In high school, he attended a fledgling arts program and became involved in theater, acting, writing and directing plays. At age 14, he started a band that, in just a few years, went from playing at high school parties to becoming pop music sensation New Kids on the Block. At the height of the group’s popularity, Wahlberg decided to go in another direction by focusing on writing and producing for his brother, Mark. He then chose to explore his interest in acting and landed a role in “Bullet” with Mickey Rourke and Tupac Shakur, a project that lit a spark and motivated him to devote his energy to the craft of acting.
Wahlberg was born in Boston. His birthday is Aug. 17. Follow him on Twitter @DonnieWahlberg.
Rowena Salas is a registered nurse, active charity supporter, and passionate entrepreneur. As a graduate in nursing with an extensive background in Neurology and Psychiatry, her work experience has branched out from healthcare to areas of business leadership and management, as well as philanthropy in her contributions to many nonprofit organizations such as Fox Valley Volunteer Hospice, Living Well Cancer Center and more. As a proud participant of Generation Rescue, the organization’s cause is especially close to her heart due to her nephew’s diagnosis on the autism spectrum. Salas is also the owner of the historic Hotel Baker in St. Charles, IL, where she currently resides with her family.
Meet Our Scientific Advisory Board
Jerry Kartzinel, M.D.
Science Advisory Co-Chair
Dr. Kartzinel is Board Certified pediatrician and a Fellow in the American Academy of Pediatrics. He specializes in the recovery of neurodevelopmental, chronic neuro-inflammatory diseases, and hormonal dysfunctions. His clinical approach is to treat the whole patient by carefully obtaining a full and complete history and—based on this history—obtaining very detailed laboratory evaluations. Individualized plans are implemented integrating the very latest medical interventions that include both traditional and complimentary medicine approaches. After receiving his medical degree at St. Louis University School of Medicine, Dr. Kartzinel completed his residency in pediatric medicine in the Air Force. Following Desert Storm, he began practicing general pediatrics. Ten years into his in private practice, his fourth son was diagnosed with autism. A nationally recognized speaker and New York Times best-selling author, Dr. Kartzinel has presented medical interventions that work to improve the lives of his patients who suffer from many types of medical condition, including autism, allergies, inflammatory bowel disease, chronic constipation, chronic diarrhea, sleep cycle disruptions and hormonal imbalances. He regularly teaches Continuing Medical Education courses on children’s health issues to physicians and other health professionals.
Dan Rossignol, M.D.
Science Advisory Co-Chair
Dan Rossignol, M.D., President of the Medical Academy of Pediatric Special Needs (MAPS), has been part of the International Child Development Resource Center (ICDRC) in Florida and is current faculty at the IHC Centers in Irvine, California. He had previously worked as a Clinical Assistant Professor at the University of Virginia Department of Family Medicine. He received his Doctorate of medicine at the Medical College of Virginia and completed his residency in family medicine at the University of Virginia. He is the father of two children with autism, ages five and three. Coming from an academic background, Dr. Rossignol searched the medical literature looking for a solution after both of his children were diagnosed with autism. He has made it his mission to research and publish in autism. In the last 6 years, he has 26 publications and 3 book chapters concerning autism and related conditions. Dr. Rossignol has a special interest in autism spectrum disorders, PANDAS, cerebral palsy, and related neurological and developmental disorders as well as medically complex children and adults. One of his clinical interests is the use of hyperbaric oxygen therapy in neurodevelopment disorders including autism. He has published peer reviewed studies and many articles on the biomedical therapies for autism, including Hyperbaric treatment for children with autism: a multicenter, randomized, double-blind, controlled trial BMC Pediatr 2009;9:21 and his most recent published article, Hyperbaric oxygen treatment for inflammatory bowel disease: a systematic review and analysis Med Gas Res 2012;2(1):6 Dr. Rossignol is a Fellow of the American Academy of Family Physicians (FAAFP).
David Dornfeld, D.O.
Science Advisory Committee
David Dornfeld, DO, has been practicing Family Medicine for almost 30 years, with extensive experience covering the full spectrum of clinical family medicine, including children beyond the age of two. Throughout this time, he has developed a special interest in working with children that have Autism Spectrum Disorders. His experience encompasses all spectrums of family medicine, spinal manipulation, chelation therapy, IV infusion therapy and hyperbaric therapies. Focusing on whole body and alternative therapy techniques, he alleviates pain in patients through hands-on osteopathic therapy, manipulation and nutritional support, with additional experience that encompasses nutritional counseling, diving medicine, chelation therapy, weight loss and many areas of holistic medicine and primary care medicine. He received his degree in Osteopathic Medicine, from the University of New England College of Osteopathic Medicine – Maine, then completed his residency and internship at Rocky Mountain Hospital, Denver, Colorado, and Doctors Hospital of Stark County, Massillon, Ohio. He is Board Certified, Family Practice 1995 ACOFP, and Board Certified in Anti-Aging Medicine by International Society of Anti-Aging 2000. Dr. Dornfeld has been a member of ACAM , the American College for Advancement in Medicine since 1994 and became Certified in Chelation Therapy. He completed his Fellowship training with MAPS. in 2013. Recently he was the only US physician asked to participate in an Autism Summit in Cairo Egypt, expanding his guidance, to help Physicians in the Middle East combat the issues associated with recovering Kids and Adults suffering with Autism Spectrum Disorders. His Family Wellness Center is in Middletown, NJ.
Richard Frye, M.D.
Science Advisory Committee
Richard Frye, M.D., PhD is the Director of Autism Research at Arkansas Children’s Hospital/ University of Arkansas Medical Sciences in Little Rock, AR. Dr. Frye is a well-recognized expert in the diagnosis and treatment of ASD and other developmental disorders. Dr. Frye has a broad background including specific training in neurodevelopmental disorders, physiology, psychology and biostatistics. He is fellowship trained in Behavioral Neurology and Psychology and has clinical expertise in the assessment, diagnosis and treatment of children with ASD. While at the University of Texas he developed a medically based autism clinic, which was specifically designed to diagnose and treat neurological and metabolic abnormalities associated with ASD in order to improve quality of life and promote recovery. Over the past two years he have completed three clinical studies related to ASD, including an open-label trial examining the metabolic and behavioral effects of tetrahydrobiopterin, a clinical study of the metabolic and genetic characteristics of children with ASD and mitochondrial disease, and a clinical study on the prevalence of the folate receptor alpha autoantibody in children with ASD as well as the response to leucovorin treatment in ASD children with the folate receptor alpha autoantibody. As Director of Autism Research at the Arkansas Children’s Hospital his goal is to develop an integrated autism program that includes a multi-specialty autism clinic, a translational research program focusing on biomarkers and clinical-trials, and a basic science program focusing on mitochondrial and redox metabolic metabolism.
Anju Usman, M.D., FAAFP, ABIHM, Hom-C
Science Advisory Committee
Dr. Anju Usman is director of True Health Medical Center in Naperville, Illinois and owner of Pure Compounding Pharmacy. She has been using evidence-based integrative medical interventions to help children diagnosed with ADD, autism, allergies, gastrointestinal issues and related disorders for over 15 years. She has conducted research involving copper/zinc imbalances, metallothionein dysfunction, biofilm related infections, vitamin D in pregnancy, and hyperbaric oxygen therapy. She is also co-founder of ACE (Autism Center for Enlightenment) a nonprofit which supports research, education and biomedical therapies for families in need. Presently she acts as science editor for the magazine “The Autism File.” She also serves on the executive board of the Autism Society of Illinois as well as the scientific advisory board for Generation Rescue. A faculty member of the Medical Academy for Pediatric Special Needs (MAPS), Dr. Usman received her medical degree from Indiana University, where she completed a residency in Family Practice at Cook County Hospital in Chicago, Illinois and received a board certification in Family Practice. In addition, she is board certified in Integrative and Holistic Medicine, and holds a certificate in Homeopathy.
David Foss, D.C.
Science Advisory Committee
Dr. David Foss received his chiropractic degree from Palmer College of Chiropractic in 2000 and since then he has focused his skills in pediatrics and neuro-developmental disorders. Dr. Foss has been a member of the International Chiropractic Pediatric Association since 2002. In his post-graduate training, Dr. Foss has become an expert in his field at identifying potential causes of autism and how to correct them. Dr. Foss’ chiropractic practice has a central focus in neurology and utilizes integrative therapies including nutrition, supplementation and detoxification to name a few. Dr. Foss’ passion for autism stems from having an older brother with neurodevelopmental disorders. He understands the stresses and joys that parents experience in raising children on the spectrum. Dr. Foss enjoys life with his beautiful wife Jaime and son Gabriel.
David P. Traver, M.D., FAAP
Rescue Family Grant Advisor
Dr. Traver earned his undergraduate degree graduating with high honors in Biology at Boston University. He was accepted early in his undergraduate years into The Modular Medical Curriculum as a Commonwealth Fund Scholar and, in so doing, gained entrance into Boston University’s School of Medicine upon graduation. After receiving his Doctor of Medicine, he completed his internship and residency in pediatrics at Boston City Hospital, now known as Boston Medical Center.
Following this, Dr. Traver served as a physician for various international relief efforts throughout Asia, including The Philippines, Vietnam and Cambodia. It was in Phnom Penh where he and his wife helped start the internationally acclaimed national teaching hospital The Sihanouk Hospital Center of Hope.
After returning to the states, Dr. Traver worked at a large managed care medical group, where he served as Volunteer Clinical Faculty for Stanford University’s School of Medicine. It was during this time that he became aware of friends’ children who had been diagnosed with autism, and he soon became deeply interested in this set of conditions. Subsequently, Dr. Traver spent two years at Stanford University Medical Center’s Division of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. There, in The Pervasive Developmental Disorder Neuropsychiatry and ADHD Clinics, he became familiar with the treatment and management of individuals with Autistic Spectrum Disorders and ADHD utilizing psychopharmacology as well as performing individualized assessments as part of the clinic team.
Dr. Traver has been directly involved with autism research, and for the past fifteen years, has continued to stay current by attending numerous conferences, meetings and webinars devoted to autism research and treatment.
Uniquely, Dr. Traver personally travels to the academic centers performing ongoing research in this field to meet and to talk with the scientists performing ground breaking studies. He is a regular speaker in the community and has delivered lectures at both hospital Grand Rounds and on the media.
Brian Udell, M.D., FAAP
Rescue Family Grant Advisor
Dr. Udell is a leader in the healthcare industry with over forty years of experience. Dr. Udell started the first Autism Clinic in Broward County. Presently, he is practicing Special Needs Pediatric Medicine at The Child Development Center of America in Davie, FL. He was the first pediatrician to present medical research regarding the use of computers to record documentation and to calculate infant intravenous support. He helped to start two medical organizations ; Pediatrix Medical Group, treating high risk infants throughout the United States, and Applied Medico-Legal Solutions to provide medical malpractice insurance to physicians. Dr. Udell attended Temple University (BA), Thomas Jefferson University (MD), and the University of Miami (MBA). He is Board Certified in Pediatrics and Neonatal-Perinatal Medicine. He writes a weekly blog entitled The Autism Doctor Dot Com, where his essays discuss the polarized world of autism diagnosis and treatment.
Candace McDonald is a nonprofit leader with a sweet spot in her heart for a good cause and a bite of really dark chocolate. A fundraising professional by trade and a philanthropist by choice, she currently serves as the Executive Director of Generation Rescue. She’s left her mark with over 13 years of experience in nonprofit development, helping to grow Generation Rescue to be a leading national organization for families affected by autism. While at the organization, she discovered her brother, Iain, had autism, burning a deeper passion inside her. Among her many roles, including a recent run as Board Member for the Association of Fundraising Professionals, her most important is being a dedicated mommy to her son, Bodhi. In her free time, you’ll find her enjoying a cold glass of rosé, reading a good book (in between emails and brainstorming her next big idea). And it’ll most likely be in another country, alongside her family. But first, coffee!
Keep up with Candace on Instagram @candacemcd.
Controller & HR Manager
In her role as Controller and HR Manager, Sylvia Baca manages the finances and human resources of the foundation. Having served in the public and private sectors, Sylvia has over 25 years of financial, accounting, operational, legal, and human resources experience. Earlier in her career, Sylvia has served as a Court Appointed Trustee and Receiver, Expert Witness, legal field and public accounting. She holds a Doctorate in Business with a concentration in Finance and Accounting and MBA with concentration in Accounting and Finance and Bachelors in Economics. She serves as an Adjunct Professor at National University Graduate School of Business & Management, Department of Accounting where she enjoys lecturing on Governmental and Nonprofit Accounting, Taxation, Financial Accounting and Economics. She has also served on the Board of Habitat for Humanity of Ventura County on their Executive Committee, Treasurer, Finance Committee, and Audit committee and Step Up Ventura for homeless children. She joined Generation Rescue in August 2008. Her deep commitment to GR’s mission makes her a part of a dedicated team concerned and engaged in the recovery of children with autism spectrum disorder.
When there’s an urgent matter to be handled or an invoice to be paid, it’s Sylvia to the rescue!
Family Support Coordinator
Shannon Fillion is a mom, wife and advocate. Her son Tyler was diagnosed with autism at age 2. She has spent the last 4 years working on his recovery and advocating for his needs and the needs of others. Shannon is no stranger to our Rescue Family Grant Program, her family was a part of the program in 2013 shortly after her son received his diagnosis. Since the Grant, her son has made remarkable strides and Shannon has continued to stay a supporter of Generation Rescue. She is a strong advocate for families and is involved in a variety of community service, problem-solving and continued education for our kids.
National Programs Manager
Julie Obradovic is an educator, author, advocate, and mother of three beautiful children, one of whom is affected by autism. For over a decade, she’s focused on improving the lives of families with autism through her philanthropy, writing, and political activism. Her many hats include Contributing Editor for the Age of Autism blog, savvy host of Generation Rescue’s #ChatAutism podcast, assistant to Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., and consultant on the groundbreaking documentary, Trace Amounts. She and her husband co-host the annual Rescue Our Angels event in Chicago to help raise money to provide medical grants to families in need. Her new book, An Unfortunate Coincidence by Skyhorse Publishing, share’s her journey as a Mommy Warrior, from her daughter’s regression into to autism to her recovery and the lessons learned along the way. Prior to her advocacy, Julie was a full time educator and administrator and holds a Master’s Degree in each. She currently holds down the fort for GR in Chicago, where she lives with her husband and children.
PR & Marketing Coordinator
Zack Peter’s passion for activism and philanthropy began after his brother Ethan was diagnosed with autism in 2005. Through research and a talent for navigating Google, he found Generation Rescue and began volunteering for the organization at age 16. With a natural love of all things new media and pop-culture, his volunteer efforts grew into a full time position, now coordinating PR and marketing for Generation Rescue seven years later. He has published a total of four books, including the autism sibling memoir, A Shot of Hope and he is currently producing the forthcoming documentary, Sibling Warrior. His heart pumps with a dedication for the cause, the love of a job well-done, and a little too much coffee.
Actress, TV/Radio Host
Actor, Singer, Producer
Jac & Chris Laurita
TV Personality, Lawyer
Former NFL Star
2012 Miss America, Author