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    Natalee Mace: Lighting the Path for the Cornerstone Autism Foundation


    The Cornerstone Autism Foundation is a recently established nonprofit that provides grants and sponsorships to Indiana-based nonprofit organizations, schools, and charitable events that serve and benefit children living with an Autism Spectrum Disorder.

    In the short time since its inception in December 2011, the Cornerstone Autism Foundation has already made massive waves:

    photo1At the helm of the vibrant foundation is the Director of Development, Natalee Mace.

    Natalee has over 10 years of experience in the non-profit sector, running major fundraising campaigns, and planning and hosting dozens of awareness raising events.

    She has her own personal familiarity with autism too. Natalee is the mother of two young boys on the spectrum and devotes much of her life to the betterment of theirs.

    Jarrad: You are the Director of a newly established autism foundation! How does that make you feel being in charge of something that is so dear to your heart?

    Natalee: It’s like a dream come true! I am living my passion and I am fortunate to also be able to help others affected by autism. Since I have two boys diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASDs), this is very near and dear to my heart. My boys attend Cornerstone Autism Center, where their wonderful therapists are improving their lives and making miracles happen. It’s great to work for the Foundation and be a part of this special place. I am honored to be a part of such an amazing team at Cornerstone.

    Being in this position, has also allowed me to learn more about resources for children on the spectrum and meet other parents in the community. I am always grateful to meet others who face the same challenges and learn from their experiences. It gives me hope.

    Jarrad: You mentioned you have two children on the spectrum. How does that affect your job as Director of an autism foundation?

    Natalee: Since I have two children on the spectrum, it’s my life, my passion, not so much a job. I love being a part of this environment and learning all I can about autism and immersing myself in this field, so that I may better serve my boys. Plus, I know, first hand, the financial hardships of having a child/children on the spectrum. I am always grateful to anyone who supports our cause, in any amount, or in any way, because it is ultimately benefitting our children. I have met some lifelong friends and it helps to know that you are not alone. We are all in this together, fighting to improve the lives of our special children.

    Jarrad: In an interview I conducted with David Ide, he also expressed that being CEO of Cornerstone didn’t feel like a job for him.

    So, the Cornerstone Autism Foundation is still relatively new. What have been challenges you have faced that you are particularly proud of overcoming?

    Natalee: Where do I start?! There are SO many things that make me proud! Yes, we are new, but our accomplishments are many. In less than one year, with just a few folks and a lot of Center friends, we have had four events and continue to partner with others on more. What fills me with pride is having a dedicated group of people who support our mission to raise awareness and help those affected by autism. We have raised the bar for unlimited success. Within the first six months of being formed, we accomplished some unbelievable feats and had tremendous support from Cornerstone families, businesses, and volunteers. We have had four major events thanks to our supporters and loyal volunteers, and have also awarded grants to organizations like TherAplay, Bauer, GLASS, and The Johnson County Support Group. All of whom work with individuals diagnosed with autism in Indiana. We have had the opportunity to partner with other reputable businesses and organizations who want to help us raise awareness about autism.

    Jarrad: I’ve heard you’re becoming pretty famous for using the line “You Rock!” to people, lol.  Where did this come from and why is it one of your favorite things to say?

    Natalee: Ah yes, Lol, “You Rock” derives from my son’s former and incredible therapist, Anesa Doyle, who works for the Cornerstone Autism Center. She would say, “You’re a Rockstar” or “You Rock” for praise, encouragement and reinforcement during sessions. Now when people inspire me or go above and beyond, I like to say “You Rock” because it’s a constant reminder of how two little words can make a big impact on someone and their self-confidence. Like, “Hey, Jarrad, you rock for all of your blogs about Cornerstone Autism Center & Foundation”.

    AND it comes from this quote…

    “Autism Rocks! (and Rolls and Spins and Flaps and Loves and Laughs)”~ Author Unknown

    Jarrad: You accomplished an amazing feat by planning and hosting 3 major fundraising events for the Foundation, in one weekend (Cornerstone Fall Festival)! With such an extremely tiny crew, how were you able to do all 3 events and all 3 turn out so successfully?

    Natalee: When you have a passion for something, anything is possible! You have to believe in your cause and your people, then the rest will happen.  Because autism has become more prevalent in the last few years and more people are either affected by or know someone with autism, there are so many people who want to do something to help give back to this great cause.

    Trust me, I did not do it alone Jarrad, as you well know.

    “We have raised the bar

    for unlimited success.”

    Jarrad: Lol! Sure, I remember all too well the meetings, searching for donors, and the stream of online content I pumped out. But where did the rest of your support come from?

    Natalee: We had an amazing team of supporters who stepped up and worked tirelessly to make these events possible.  Our donors and volunteers were key to making these events successful. The many corporations and organizations, like Purdue Research Foundation and Shook Commercial Realty, were a tremendous support in helping to ensure our success! It was a combined effort really, and it took all of us to make it happen.

    Yes, we are a very small crew, but we are mighty and determined. We are also surrounded by people who give their lives for the betterment of children affected by autism.

    Jarrad: Well, that was just great Natalee! Thank you for taking the time to chat with me. Do you have anything you would like to leave with our audience?

    Natalee: Yes, I am inspired by quotes from parents about autism and this is one of my faves…

    “AUTISM Means I Won’t Lead An Ordinary Life…. I Can Lead An Extraordinary Life!”~ Author Unknown

    img_9141-1-resized-600Jarrad Shaw is a recent Purdue University graduate in Human Services where he studied community & relationship building & program implementation. Jarrad hopes to soon have a full time role in Public Relations. He is the Cornerstone Autism Center & Cornerstone Autism Foundation‘s content, social media, & events intern. He manages several forms of web & blog content, and building inter personal relations with communities across various social networking sites for the two organizations. Jarrad has a facination for the always evolving tech world & gaming industry. When Jarrad is not reading the latest in the social marketing sphere, he spends his time playing video games with his friends & working on his new side project, producing electronica music for mobile gaming platforms. You can contact him by e-mail at: