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Organization Announcement

New Director of Programming Announced as AutismUp Founder, Gia Carroll, Retires

May 5, 2017

It is with mixed emotions that we announce the retirement of our dear friend and beloved founder Gia Carroll.  We all recognize Gia for her unconditional dedication, grace, and congeniality.  She will be deeply missed but we can only feel happy for her after many years of service.

A true pioneer, Gia Carroll is a founding member of AutismUp.  One of four moms who found support in a coffee shop, she spearheaded the incorporation of UNYFEAT, now AutismUp, recruited members and launched the first of many direct program opportunities for kids with autism in our area.  She served as President of AutismUp for two full terms before being hired as our first employee in 2012.  Our flagship program — the summer social skill education camp at the YMCA — was her first program initiative, overseeing its growth to multiple locations, multiple sessions, hiring and training staff and managing all aspects since inception as both a volunteer, and later in her role as Program Director.  In addition, she brought iCan Bike camp to Rochester for nearly 400 children facing motor planning challenges.  Her retirement coincides with our 10th annual bike camp program.

Gia has served as Senior Program Director for the past five years, expanding programming to seven days a week, overseeing a dynamic ever-growing staff, and even more volunteers.  She has been an integral part of our strategic planning as we opened the doors to a state-of-the-art multi-sensory learning environment, more than tripling our program offerings, serving thousands of individuals with autism in the past decade.  Gia has worked tirelessly to create opportunities that would not otherwise exist for her own child with autism, and has built a roadmap for families who are following on their own journey.  Now, after nearly 14 years, she has decided that the time has come to retire from her position at AutismUp.

Gia has helped the AutismUp program department grow to insure AutismUp supports individuals of all ages and abilities.  She has personally trained staff members, passing her vast knowledge onto other employees. We are grateful for her dedication to our children and families and will miss her entrepreneurial spirit and compassion immensely.  A farewell celebration in her honor will take place on May 19th from 7-9 PM at AutismUp.  Members and friends (adults only) of AutismUp are invited to celebrate Gia’s retirement.  Please RSVP to bciardi@autismup.org if you would like to attend.

Please join us in wishing Gia all the best and welcoming our new Director of Programming, Phil Mesiti.


Phil has been appointed to fill the position being vacated by Gia Carroll, and assumes his new role immediately.  In April, he celebrated his one year anniversary with AutismUp where he has served as a Program Manager and Personalized Fitness Instructor.  Prior to his position with AutismUp, Phil worked as a student behavior specialist with BOCES and Hillside Family of Agencies, and has over seven years of direct experience working with individuals with autism and related disabilities in numerous capacities.  In addition, Phil is actively involved as a volunteer with numerous youth groups, is skilled in marketing and communications, and enjoys art and music.  His creativity, passion and energy will support the growth of AutismUp.  Phil will focus his efforts on the continued enhancement and expansion of AutismUp programs with particular emphasis on community collaborations, innovative new social, wellness and readiness programs and developing initiatives for adolescents and young adults.  

Phil adds “I’m thrilled to join a team of passionate individuals who work to provide support for individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder and the people who care for them. My passion is to raise public awareness within the local community by shedding a positive light on Autism Spectrum Disorder, as well as educating communities on the challenges it can cause caregivers.”

His program philosophy is simple — facilitate friendships among the ASD community, help ASD individuals find their niche within peer groups, and offer support outlets to those who are caregivers.  We are thrilled to welcome him to our team. 

Please join us in congratulating Phil on his new role.  Come meet Phil and the entire program team at an upcoming open house or email us at contact@autismup.org to schedule a tour! 

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