Member Spotlight: Debbie Ide


Meet Debbie Ide

Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Cornerstone Autism Center, a CASP member organization

Debbie is known for multi-tasking and thrives on being busy. A perpetual list-maker and planner, she delights in the details. From home remodeling and organization to the many demands of running Cornerstone, she often has several projects happening simultaneously. Traveling is a passion, so her favorite thing to plan is trips to new locations. Past favorites have included roaming the countryside in Ireland, snorkeling in Belize, and going on safari in Kenya. She enjoys spending time with her children and taking trips to Michigan to enjoy time on the lake with her family. An avid reader, she has a steady stream of bestsellers on her nightstand, considers herself a competitive shopper, and is trying to improve her photography skills so future travels will be well captured.

Her goal is to one day live on a lake or near the ocean and be blessed to travel to all the places she has dreamed of visiting.


How did your personal experience with an autistic child inspire you to found Cornerstone Autism Center?

My late husband and I set out to create a center that would have everything we wanted for our son to thrive, surrounded by caring staff that would help him grow and learn. We figured that if we satisfied our own very high standards, like-minded parents would find us and be excited about the opportunities for their own child. We knew that if we focused on the pillars of our mission statement—"Maximize Those That Struggle, Embrace Those Who Love, and Fulfill Those Who Serve”—we would have a winning formula that addressed not only the needs of our clients, but the families that love them and the talented staff that serve them. It does really take a village as the saying goes, so you need to appeal to everyone in a child’s life to move them forward.

Why are Cornerstone's facilities designed to be "homey" rather than traditionally clinical?

From the start, I wanted to design our centers to feel like home, and not like a clinical setting. We spend a lot of time in these spaces, and I wanted the clients, staff, and visitors alike to feel comfortable and welcome. Our work is challenging, and I think having comfortable surroundings equipped with everything you need to provide therapy goes a long way to making the days fun! Over the years we have redesigned spaces again and again to keep things fresh and exciting!

What are you most proud of about Cornerstone?

So many things come to mind, but honestly, one thing we are most known for is our incredible training program and the quality of our intervention. We cover everything from the terminology and methods of implementing ABA, to role playing, to writing session notes to crisis management techniques and everything in between. We truly want folks to be well trained before they are ever assigned to work with a client. We feel our clients and their parents deserve that.

The training we provide continues throughout an employee’s time with Cornerstone. Those that find their passion in ABA can build a career at Cornerstone, and in fact, countless individuals have done just that. We started a Tuition Assistance Program only one year after we opened, and the program has allowed over 100 individuals to achieve their dream of becoming a BCBA! All our current BCBAs and Directors at Cornerstone started as RBTs, but invested themselves and Cornerstone returned the favor. Cornerstone has launched the careers of so many clinicians, and even if they are not with us anymore, they have gone on to other organizations, created their own businesses or moved to other states to continue impacting the lives of those affected by autism. In that way, Cornerstone has a widespread and lasting legacy!

What's the 5- to 10-year plan for Cornerstone Autism Center?

To continue to maximize children’s lives, and by extension their families, buy providing the high quality of care we are known for. It would be nice to finally emerge from the hiring slump that has plagued the industry (and the planet!) for the past couple of years. We have waiting lists of clients we would love to serve but need dedicated staff willing to give of themselves and commit to making a difference.

As an autism service provider, what have you found to be the biggest benefit of CASP membership?

My clinical staff has really enjoyed the CEU library and look forward to new content being added to supplement their clinical knowledge. We have also enjoyed the “voice” of CASP on a larger scale when it comes to issues that affect us all, such as updates on licensing or reimbursement rates.

When you're not working, what do you like to do for fun?

I love to read, shop and travel. I also like to spend time in the summer on a lake in Northern Michigan. I’m trying to get better at photography so that is my latest pursuit!