Member Spotlight: Seth Powers, MBA, MPH of The Center for Children with Special Needs


It’s About Important Things Like Family, Patients . . . And Winnie-The-Pooh

CCSN’s Co-Director Seth Powers Shares His Thoughts On The Biggest Challenge Faced By Autism Service Providers

Seth Powers MBA, MPH is Co-Director at The Center for Children with Special Needs (CCSN) in Connecticut and a Council of Autism Service Providers (CASP) member.  CCSN was founded over two decades ago and is an interdisciplinary center specializing in the diagnosis, evaluation, and treatment of children, adolescents, and adults with complex developmental disabilities, including Autism, Asperger Syndrome, and related Pervasive Neurodevelopmental Disorders.  Together with CCSN’s Clinical Co-Director, Dr. Mark Palmieri, Seth works to drive the organization’s mission of supporting individuals, their families, and their communities.

When not providing strategic and operational leadership to a 75-member team at CCSN, the Yale School of Public Health graduate stays active outdoors with family hikes, exploration of Connecticut’s many wineries (who knew!?), and spending a good deal of time watching Winnie-the-Pooh episodes with his toddler.

We caught up with Powers recently, and he agreed to answer a few questions.  Here’s what he had to say.

Q: Tell us about The Center for Children with Special Needs.  What are you most proud of?

The Center for Children with Special Needs (CCSN) is a multidisciplinary mental health organization supporting individuals with autism and related neurodevelopmental disabilities across the lifespan.  CCSN provides direct care and consultative support in the service of advancing evidence-based approaches to treatment for individuals and broader systems of care, both domestically and internationally. I consider myself tremendously lucky to have the opportunity to lead and serve such a motivated and talented team as we have at CCSN.  Perhaps more than anything, I am most proud of the resilience and determination displayed by our entire organization – both clinical and administrative team members – in adjusting to the unprecedented realities of COVID-19 over the past year.  The team worked together to quickly establish and execute service delivery solutions such that we could continue to support our patients and school districts to ensure continuity of care for those individuals whom we treat.

Q: What, in your opinion, is the single biggest challenge faced by autism service providers today?

The primary challenges for any healthcare service delivery organization will always be ensuring that clients and patients are receiving the highest quality care and that the care that they receive results in measurable clinical outcomes and leads to meaningful improvements to their quality of life.  Our industry is in a period of rapid growth, and we see that with the proliferation of new organizations, as well as outside capital, being infused into established organizations.  While the supply-side increase is critical to meeting the needs of individuals with ASD, it is incumbent upon us as an industry to ensure that we are providing supports and infrastructure to incentivize organizations to provide the highest-quality, evidence-based care in an equitable manner.  Through CASP, we collectively have a uniquely consolidated platform through which we can create those standards of excellence and work in conjunction with patients and families, payors, policymakers, researchers, educators, and related stakeholders to ensure that we are creating both a clinical quality-driven and fiscally sustainable model for service delivery.

Q: Why did you join CASP?  What has CASP meant to your organization?

We joined CASP at the urging of existing CASP member organizations, and through the years, we have found CASP to be an invaluable resource for CCSN.  CASP offers a peer community to discuss challenges and best practices, all in the service of supporting individuals with ASD, their families, and their communities.  I firmly believe that our association with CASP and the opportunities for collaboration that our participation has facilitated have made CCSN a better organization and helped us in fulfilling our mission of supporting individuals with autism and related neurodevelopmental disabilities.

Q: When you are not working, what do you do for fun?

My family and I spend a lot of time exploring and trying to be active outside (when the Connecticut weather allows).  With the onset of the pandemic, we started to do a lot of hiking which has been a blast and is an activity that we will continue into the future, even as the pandemic fades.  I also am a photographer and have been photographing families for a local magazine for the past few years, which is a lot of fun and a great way to meet other families in our area.

Q: What’s the first thing you are looking forward to doing once COVID restrictions ease a bit?

Visiting extended family – it is so encouraging to start to see the light at the end of the tunnel, but this 12+ months of relative isolation has meant that we have family members who have not yet met our daughter, so it will be a lot of fun to have those introductions!  Also, vineyard trips – there’s surprisingly good wine produced in Connecticut, and in the warmer months, my wife and I love traveling to local vineyards for tastings.

Q: What is the last good book you read or movie you watched?

COVID has given us the opportunity to work through nearly the entire Disney+ catalog with our toddler, but when we aren’t watching Winnie-the-Pooh, I try to find time to work through an endlessly growing stack of books waiting to be read.  I’m currently reading The Two Most Important Days by Sanjiv Chopra and Gina Vild and re-reading The Great Influenza by John Barry, which explores the 1918 flu pandemic (lots of interesting parallels to what we’re seeing today).

For more information and to join CASP, click here.