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.

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Our Background

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.

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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

    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

    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

    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

    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

    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

    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

Our Team

Candace McDonald Candace McDonald

Candace McDonald

Candace McDonald

Executive Director

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.

Sylvia Baca Sylvia Baca

Sylvia Baca

Sylvia Baca

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 a invoice to be paid, it’s Sylvia to the rescue!

Shannon Fillion Shannon Fillion

Shannon Fillion

Shannon Fillion

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.

Julie Obradovic Julie Obradovic

Julie Obradovic

Julie Obradovic

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.

Zack Peter Zack Peter

Zack Peter

Zack Peter

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.

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