Carbondale-based autism services nonprofit names new CEO

Staff report
Peter Bell

Peter H. Bell has joined Ascendigo Autism Services in Carbondale as president and chief executive officer, the organization has announced.

Bell has been a leader and powerful voice within the autism community. Before joining Ascendigo, he headed Eden Autism, an autism service provided based in Princeton, New Jersey. He also was an executive with Autism Speaks, the world’s leading autism science and advocacy organization.

Bell, 53, earned an MBA from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University and a BS in hotel administration at Cornell University. His wife, Liz, will be joining him in the Roaring Fork Valley in late summer with their three children, including a young adult son with autism.

“We are thrilled to bring someone with Peter’s experience, energy and vision to take Ascendigo to the next level,” Sallie Bernard, Ascendigo founder and board chair, said in a statement. “Peter brings a longstanding commitment to serving the autism population, as an advocate and as the father of a young man with autism. His compassionate leadership will be instrumental in building the Ascendigo brand, reach and programs so our innovative approaches to autism can touch more people.”

Ascendigo has been a leader in outdoor adventure programming for autism since 2004. In recent years, it expanded its innovative teaching and therapeutic approaches to include active, community-based adult programs and behavioral health services for children. Its philosophy is that anyone with autism can and should be a full participant in life’s opportunities.

“I am very excited to be adding my experience and passion for autism to the Ascendigo mission and to work alongside a very talented and dedicated group of staff, board members and community supporters,” Bell said in the statement. “Our vision is to build upon a proven model that allows individuals with autism to thrive, reaching their potential within the communities where they live, work and play, regardless of their challenges.”