Harris, N.Y., Oct. 16, 2023 – The Center for Discovery (TCFD) today announced that Chief Executive Officer Patrick H. Dollard, who has led the organization for 43 years, has decided to transition into a new role as Senior Advisor. The Board of Directors immediately named Dr. Theresa Hamlin, its President, to succeed him. The changes are effective at the start of the New Year.

“Patrick is a legend and pioneer who has created a gold standard for the care of people with disabilities,” said Ed Sweeney, Chairman of TCFD’s Board of Directors. “I want to pay tribute to his devotion to the families of those we serve. I have really enjoyed working closely with him over this past decade and the board is delighted he will continue to serve as a Senior Advisor. We have great confidence in Terry and we are excited for this next chapter as we build on the invaluable work The Center does every day to improve the lives and ensure the dignity and well-being of those we serve.”

“Patrick H. Dollard is a visionary leader whose remarkable 43-year tenure as CEO of The Center for Discovery created a groundbreaking institution that has transformed the lives of thousands of individuals with disabilities, and set a new national standard for quality of care. A Sullivan county native, he turned a 30-person agency into the largest pediatric program in the state with 1,700 employees, offering essential educational, residential, medical, clinical, and recreational programs,” said New York Senator Chuck Schumer. “Patrick and I worked hand in hand during the pandemic to safeguard our most vulnerable and to build NY’s first short-term inpatient assessment facility for children with complex conditions. As Patrick transitions into a senior advisory role, we are fortunate to have Dr. Theresa Hamlin assume the CEO position at the start of the New Year.”

“Patrick’s vision for a compassionate care model – one that is linked to purposeful work, sustainable farming and nutrition – set a new standard for the field,” said Eileen Naughton, former Chief People Officer at Google and TCFD Board Member whose son lives at The Center. “Today TCFD is recognized as a national center of excellence thanks to Patrick’s advocacy and thought leadership over four decades. He’s changed many thousands of lives for the better – and for that we are forever grateful.”

“Patrick is a visionary without equal. His ability to see beyond the challenges of the present is truly extraordinary, and has immeasurably improved the lives of countless vulnerable individuals and their loved ones, including my brother and our entire family,” said Nelly Bly-Arougheti, a TCFD Board Member and family member. “For the last forty years, he has not only dreamed big, he has made those dreams a reality – be it using food as medicine, building green architecture and adaptive technologies, integrating with the local community in Hurleyville, New York, conducting groundbreaking research, or designing an entirely new model of care through the Specialty Hospital.”

“Patrick’s vision for residential homes and a school-life skills program in Sullivan County for people who were being taking out of the Willowbrook State School won over the state officials resolving the shame of Willowbrook that was created on Staten Island,” said Nancy McElroy, whose daughter arrived in 1987 and lived at TCFD for 22 years. “Patrick developed an offer they could not refuse. Beautiful new residential homes were developed; staff was hired; and potential residents were interviewed. This also gave the state an opportunity to re-assign out of state children, like my Heather, into a New York state facility, which resulted in significant savings for the state. Patrick was – and remains – a hero and our daughter was the beneficiary. Now she could be with a dreamer who truly knew how to make dreams come true.”

Dr. Hamlin first joined the organization in 1983 and was named President in 2020. She has dedicated her career to The Center for Discovery, has been a leader in the field for more than three decades, lecturing nationally and internationally. She is the author of Autism and the Stress Effect, a guide for parents and teachers to help children with autism regulate the debilitating effects of stress. Dr. Hamlin has developed relationships with scientists and leading universities, and built a research program at the center that has advanced studies into the effects of the environment on children with autism and other complex conditions.

“I am honored to lead an organization that is making such a powerful difference in so many different ways,” Dr. Hamlin said. “Patrick deserves enormous credit for having set us on this course. We have a lot of work ahead of us, but with our incredible staff, nothing is beyond reach. We have exciting plans for the future and I am honored and eager to take on CEO responsibilities in January, and continue the great work that we do here.”

“A smooth transition is the key for any successful and healthy organization, and we are passing that test with flying colors,” sweeney said. “We are grateful to Patrick for his bold vision and leadership, and fortunate to have someone as qualified, enthusiastic and ready for the future as Terry.”

“With the Children’s Specialty Hospital in Rock Hill about to open, we couldn’t be better positioned for these moves,” Dollard said. “The future is bright because of our amazing staff, our families, and the folks we care for who have taught me so much since we started taking people out of the institutions more than 40 years ago. I have more gratitude than I can even express to all of them. In my new role, I will support Terry and The Center and focus on special projects that are near and dear to me. It is also an invaluable opportunity for me to focus on the challenges I have tackled at The Center on a statewide level. I want to help support the entire field at a time it is facing so many critical issues. This is a significant next step for The Center and the field. I am grateful for this challenge and thank the board for the opportunity.”

For information about this release, please contact

To view the release on PR Newswire, click here

Patrick’s vision for a compassionate care model – one that is linked to purposeful work, sustainable farming and nutrition – set a new standard for the field.”

Eileen Naughton

Former Chief People Officer at Google and TCFD Board Member