Our History

May Institute has its roots in a family’s vision of enabling children with autism and other disabilities to lead the fullest lives possible.

May Institute was founded in 1955 when little was known about autism and children with the disorder were typically institutionalized for life. Dr. Jacques May and his wife Marie Anne wanted a better future for their twin boys with autism, and decided to open a school where children with autism could learn with their peers, gain important life skills, and remain integrated in the community.

Dr. and Mrs. May dedicated themselves to creating a community-based school where they would advance the quality of care for these children, and countless others to follow. The Mays developed the foundation for our organization today.

1955   • First May Center Established

Dr. Jacques and Marie Anne May, parents of twin sons with autism, open first May Center for children with autism in Chatham, Mass.

1978   • Innovative Leadership

Board of Trustees names Walter P. Christian, Ph.D., as new Executive Director of May Institute.

1979   • Planning for the Future

Board of Trustees approves five-year plan for comprehensive reorganization and renovation of Chatham campus to create state-ofthe-art facility.

1980   • Family Support

Outreach Parent Training introduced in Chatham.

• Advisory Board Appointed

May Institute establishes Professional Advisory Board and new university/hospital affiliations.

1981   • First Group Home Opens

West Chatham group home opens; community-based teaching expands.

1983   • Early Intervention Partnership

May Institute partners with Children’s Hospital (Boston) in pioneering home-based early intervention services for  children with autism and their families (precursor to Arlington program).

1984   • First Preschool Opens

Integrated preschool for children with autism opens in Burlington (precursor to future May Center in Arlington).

1987   • New May Center Opens

May Institute is asked to take over financially troubled school for children with autism in Braintree, Mass.

• New Venture in Adult Services

The Institute assumes management of three homes for 17 adults with developmental disabilities on Cape Cod as an  alternative to institutional care; first initiative into adult services.

1988   • National Recognition

Chatham May Center is named one of the nation’s “Schools of Excellence“ by U.S. Department of Education; staff receive award in White House Rose Garden.

1991   • Expansion into Western Massachusetts

In partnership with UMass Amherst, the Institute assumes operations of a local preschool (precursor to today’s  West Springfield children’s programs).

• Adult Services/Cape Cod

Vocational program and two new community-based homes open in Centerville, Mass.

1992   • Adult Services/Metro Boston

Revere Center opens, offering employment training to adult consumers.

• Pediatric Brain Injury Services Introduced

May Institute pioneers services for children and adolescents with brain injury with the opening of a two-classroom  program in Braintree, Mass.

• First Community-based Home

The Braintree Center builds and opens a community-based home for children with autism, located in Sharon, Mass.

1993   • Adult Services/Metro Boston and Cape Cod

May Institute expands its adult services, operating a total of 16 homes and apartments by year’s end.

• Emphasis on Quality

To support expanded operations, May Institute establishes Office of Quality Assurance.

• Expansion into Mental Health

May Institute establishes new Mental Health Services Division.

• Internship Opportunities

May Institute begins offering pre-doctoral internships in clinical psychology in collaboration with South Shore  Mental Health.

• Expanded Residential Support

New community homes developed by Chatham and Braintree programs expand service options for children with autism and brain injury.

1994 • Brain Injury Program Relocates

Brain injury program relocates and opens residence in Randolph, Mass.

• Adult Services/Western Mass.

May Institute is awarded contracts to serve 36 adults at homes in Springfield and six area communities.

• Early Intervention Expansion

May Institute opens first Early Intervention program for young children in South Hadley, Mass.

• McLean Collaboration

McLean Hospital-May Health Collaborative is established to manage Somerville Hospital’s adolescent inpatient unit.

• Staff Support

May Institute introduces new initiatives for its growing staff, including first staff satisfaction survey, Staff Input Committee, and first Trustees’ Awards for staff excellence.

1995 • Expansion Into Maine

New preschool opens in Portland, Maine, as first out-of-state May Center (created with University of Southern Maine).


The Institute becomes only New England replication site for Dr. Ivar Lovaas’ UCLA early autism program.

• Adult Services/Western Mass.

West Springfield office opens, offering individualized day services for adults in Easthampton, Mass.

• Norfolk Mental Health Collaboration

May Institute establishes partnership to manage two Norwood-area programs, Cutler Center and HIRE Enterprises.

• Corporate Relocation

May Institute opens new corporate offices in South Harwich and Norwood, Mass.

1996 • JCAHO

May Institute receives accreditation from the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations.

• QUEST Commendation

All adult services receive highest quality rating from the Massachusetts Department of Mental Retardation.

• Expansion Into Connecticut

May Institute opens its first adult residences in Connecticut.

• School Consultation

The Institute collaborates with Sandwich Public Schools to operate a new preschool on Cape Cod.

• Mental Health Partnerships

Norfolk Mental Health Association in Norwood becomes May Mental Health. May Institute affiliates with Hyland House to provide mental health services in Southeastern Mass.

• McLean Collaboration Expands

McLean Hospital and May create Partial Hospitalization Program for Adults with Developmental Disabilities.

• Meeting Mental Health Needs

May Counseling Center opens for outpatient therapy in South Harwich, Mass.

1997 • Among “America’s Best”

May Institute is featured in the book, In Search of America’s Best Nonprofits (Jossey-Bass).

• Professional Development and Applied Research

May Centers for Professional Development and Applied Research open in Norwood; May Institute offers a master’s  degree program in Applied Behavior Analysis with Northeastern University.

• May Behavioral Health Launched

May Institute awarded contracts formerly held by Boston Community Services, establishing what is now May Institute Behavioral Health Services–Boston.

• May Expands Consultation Services

May Institute opens an office in Holden, Mass., and expands its school and home-based consultation services.

• Collaboration With Saint Anne’s Hospital

May Institute and Saint Anne’s Hospital in Fall River, Mass., open Center for Children and Families.

• Largest Clubhouse Provider

May Institute wins contracts to operate five psycho-social rehabilitation clubhouses, becoming nation’s largest  provider.

• Early Intervention

West Springfield Center offers new community-integrated model for early intervention services.

• Mental Health Merger

Hyland House merges with May Institute, adding $5 million of mental health services.

1998 • Southeast Expansion

May South in Georgia is established as a subsidiary of May Institute; first division outside of New England.

• APA Approval

May Institute’s Pre-Doctoral Clinical Internship Program is accredited by the American Psychological Association.

• Career Development and Collaborative Degrees

May Institute creates Career Paths Program and establishes new masters programs with Fitchburg State College and  Bridgewater State College.

• Statewide Early Intervention

May Institute is selected as a specialty services provider for intensive early intervention services across

• Community Rehabilitative Support

May Behavioral Health launches community outreach programs for high priority DMH clients in New Bedford,  Wareham, and Boston, Mass.


The Joint Commission surveys and accredits all of the Institute’s mental health sites.

• After-school Support

Therapeutic After-school Program (Children’s Connections) opens in New Bedford, Mass.

• Psychiatric Services

The Institute expands management of psychiatric services to three Department of Mental Health (DMH) facilities in Fall River, Taunton, and Pocasset, Mass.

• Adult Services/Metro Boston

Revere Center moves to larger site, creating a separate day habilitation program.

1999 • Institute Obtains Millions in Bond Insurance

May Institute receives $16.4 million in tax-exempt “AA” bonds, making it one of the first human service
organizations in the United States to qualify for bond insurance.

• Brain Injury Program Named Official Training Site

The Institute establishes Certified Brain Injury Specialist (CBIS) program, providing advanced studies
in brain injury education and rehabilitation.

• TAPP Program Launched

May South launches Treatment and Aftercare for Probationers and Parolees program to provide case management  support to probationers and parolees with mental illness in Georgia.

• Home-based Expansion

May South continues to expand its home-based services in Georgia.

2000 • Positive Schools Introduced

May Institute implements Positive Schools program in multiple urban districts across the country.

• Active Affiliations

May Institute maintains over 40 affiliations with universities, hospitals, and healthcare organizations.

2002 • CARF Accreditation

The Institute approaches the Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities (CARF) to seek national accreditation from an agency that focuses on community-based organizations.

• Brain Injury Program Expanded

The May Center for Education and Neurorehabilitation relocates to state-of-the-art facility in Brockton, Mass.

• New Children’s Programs Established in Florida

May South opens community-based residential programs for children with developmental disabilities and behavioral  needs in Jacksonville, Florida.

2003 • Graduate Scholars Program Introduced

May Institute creates Graduate Scholars program.

• New May Center Opens

May Institute opens new school in West Springfield, Mass., for children with special needs.

2004 • National PBIS Partner

The Institute is selected as the Northeast regional partner to the National Technical Assistance Center for Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS), a center funded by the U.S. Department of Education.

• Florida Expansion

May South expands its Florida residential services to include adults with mental retardation.

2005 • National Autism Center Established

May Institute sponsors initial development of the National Autism Center, a nonprofit organization dedicated to  supporting effective, evidence-based treatment approaches for autism.

• Dissemination Activities

May Institute staff reach dissemination milestones of 300 peer-reviewed journal articles, book chapters, and  books, and 1500 invited presentations.

• ABCT Honors

May Institute is honored with the 2005 Outstanding Training Program Award by the Association for Behavioral  and Cognitive Therapies.

• State-of-the-art Facility Opens

May Institute acquires 82,000-square-foot facility in Randolph, Mass., to house corporate headquarters,  National Autism Center, and new May Center for Child Development (former Arlington and Braintree schools).

• New May Center School Opens

The Institute opens a new school in Woburn, Mass., for children with special needs.

2006 • ASD Clinic Opens

The National Autism Center establishes an Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) Clinic in Randolph, Mass., to provide  diagnostic screening and assessment services for children suspected of having an ASD or other developmental delay or disability.

• West Coast Expansion

May Institute welcomes The Bay School for children with autism in Santa Cruz, Calif., to its national network of schools and services.

• RTI Programming Introduced

In partnership with the Massachusetts Department of Education, May Institute offers a Special Education Summer Institute on Response to Intervention (RTI) to introduce school systems to effective alternatives to traditional special education placement.

2007 • SABA Honors

May Institute is selected to receive the prestigious 2007 award for Programmatic Contributions to Behavior Analysis from the Society for the Advancement of Behavior Analysis (SABA).

• Autism Speaks Grant Focuses on Early Intervention

May Institute joins $1.2 million multi-state study led by the University of Massachusetts Boston to test the benefits of an early intervention program for young children at risk for or with evidence of autism spectrum  disorders.

• Institute President Joins Elite International Group

Institute President and CEO Walter P. Christian, ABBP, ABPP, is named a Fellow of the Association for Behavior Analysis International. The distinction places him in an elite group of only 47 ABA Fellows worldwide.

• NPR Highlights May Institute

May Institute’s autism services are featured on National Public Radio (NPR).

• New Georgia Center Opens to Serve Military Families

The Southeast Regional Autism Center opens its doors in Columbus, Ga., to serve military and civilian families throughout the Southeast.

• FCCF Celebrates 10th Anniversary

The Fernandes Center for Children & Families (FCCF), a joint partnership between May Institute and Saint Anne’s  Hospital in Fall River, Mass., celebrates a decade of providing outpatient care to children with special healthcare needs.

• Selected as Beneficiary of Rodman Ride for Kids

May Institute is selected as a beneficiary participant of the 2007 Rodman Ride for Kids, one of the country’s largest single-day bike events benefiting at-risk children and families. Through the Ride, May Institute  raise $115,000 for children’s programs in Massachusetts.

2008 • Institute Named Beneficiary of $1M+ Fundraising Effort

Cadence Design Systems, Inc., selects May Institute as beneficiary of $1+ million fundraising effort to create a  Pediatric Specialty Center in San Jose, Calif., to diagnose and treat autism and other developmental disabilities.

• Santa Cruz Campus Expands

The Bay School in California doubles its campus to include a 6,600-square-foot building for the middle and high school transition programs and life skills/vocational training center.

• Photo Exhibition Visits U.S. Senate in Washington, D.C.

The “Faces and Voices of Autism” photo exhibition, presented by May Institute and the National Autism Center, graces the U.S. Senate in Washington D.C. to mark Autism Awareness Month.

• New Autism Book Published

Clinical leadership staff publish new book, Effective Practices for Children with Autism, which provides “an essential framework for evaluating educational and treatment procedures, selecting those that are most effective,  and evaluating outcomes.”

• Institute President Receives Lifetime Achievement Award

Institute President and CEO Walter P. Christian, Ph.D., ABBP, ABPP, is honored with the Boston Business Journal “2008 Champions in Health Care” Award for Lifetime Achievement.

• International Honors for Chief Clinical Officer

May’s Chief Clinical Officer Dennis C. Russo, Ph.D., ABBP, ABPP, is named a Fellow of the Association for Behavior Analysis International. The distinction places him in an elite group of only 56 ABA Fellows worldwide.

2009 • Public Awareness Campaign Educates Commuters

During Autism Awareness Month, and in conjunction with the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority, May Institute unveils the “What Does Autism Look Like?” public awareness campaign.

• May Institute Welcomes Governor

Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick visits the Institute’s campus in Randolph, Mass., and tours the May Center for Child Development school.

• Serving Civilian and Military Families in North Carolina

The Institute opens a May Center for Autism Spectrum Disorders in Jacksonville, N.C., dedicated to serving civilian and military families, including families stationed at Camp Lejeune.

• National Standards Report Released

The Institute spearheads the international dissemination of the National Standards Project’s results — the most comprehensive analysis of treatments for children and adolescents with ASD ever published.

• Randolph Campus Expansion

An expansion of the campus in Randolph, Mass., includes the acquisition and renovation of two buildings: one to expand the May Center school and another to house a new Day Habilitation program for adults.

• NAC Publishes, Distributes Guide for Educators

The National Autism Center publishes and begins dissemination of “Evidence-based Practice and Autism in the Schools,” a guide to providing appropriate interventions to students with ASD.

• Rodman Ride Raises More than $173,000

Thanks to the combined efforts of many supporters, May Institute raises more than $173,000 through the Rodman  Ride for Kids to support its children’s programs.

2010 • Combined Federal Campaign Selects May Institute, NAC

The Institute and its National Autism Center are named eligible beneficiaries of the 2010 CFC’s annual, multi-million dollar fundraising effort.

• Randolph Building Purchased

MassDevelopment issues a $16 million tax-exempt bond to May Institute to be used to purchase 14 Pacella Park Drive  in Randolph, Mass.

• LoJack Teams Up to Promote Autism Awareness

Partnering with LoJack Corporation, the Institute unveils its second annual “What Does Autism Look Like?” awareness  campaign on Greater Boston’s public transportation system.

• Services for Military Families

Expand to Texas and Tennessee May Institute opens its newest Centers for Autism Spectrum Disorders at Fort Hood in Killeen, Tx., and Fort Campbell in Clarksville, Tenn., to serve military and civilian families.

• ASD Clinic Expands Services

The Autism Spectrum Disorders Clinic in Randolph, Mass., moves into a large, newly renovated space and expands its offerings to include therapeutic and support services.

• Leadership Promotions

Ralph B. Sperry, Ph.D., and Lauren C. Solotar, Ph.D., are promoted to Chief Operating Officer and Chief Clinical  Officer, respectively.

• May Institute, NAC Receive Five Communications Awards

The Institute and its National Autism Center win prestigious awards for the launch of NAC’s National Standards Report, the NAC educator manual, and the autism public awareness campaign.

• Supporters Raise More than $193,000 for Children’s Services

Through the 2010 Rodman Ride for Kids, May Institute raises more than $193,000 to help meet the needs of children with ASD and other special needs.

2011 • Government Donors Pledge $291,000 through CFC

May Institute and the National Autism Center receive pledges of more than $53,000 and $238,000, respectively, as beneficiaries of the 2010 Combined Federal Campaign.

• National Accreditation

Home-based, school consultation, and adult services in Massachusetts, Connecticut, Florida, and Georgia receive  three-year accreditation from the Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities.

• Local Kids Promote Autism Awareness on the MBTA

“What Does Autism Look Like?,” a powerful public awareness campaign that puts a human face on autism, returns to the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority system.

• Comedy Central Awards $20,000 Grant

May Institute is awarded a $20,000 grant from the New York Center for Autism. The grant represents a portion of the proceeds from Comedy Central’s 2010 Night of Too Many Stars: An Overbooked Concert for Autism Education.

• NAC Publishes Autism Manual for Parents

The National Autism Center releases its newest manual, “A Parent’s Guide to Evidence-Based Practice and Autism.”

2012 • Leadership Transition Announced

Lauren C. Solotar, Ph.D., ABPP, is appointed Chief Executive Officer of May Institute. President Walter P. Christian, Ph.D., ABBP, ABPP, announces retirement in 2013 after 35 years of service.

• New CCO Named

Deidre L. Donaldson, Ph.D., is promoted to Chief Clinical Officer of May Institute.

• Todd Fournier Center Opens at Randolph Campus

The May Center for Child Development school in Randolph, Mass., expands its campus with the opening
of the Todd Fournier Center for Employment Training and Community Inclusion.

2013 • Solotar Named President and CEO

May Institute’s Board of Trustees announces that its Chief Executive Officer, Lauren C. Solotar, Ph.D., ABPP, has been named President of the organization as well. She succeeds Dr. Walter P. Christian, who has retired after 35 years.

• Blair Named CFO

May Institute announces the promotion of Debra Blair, M.B.A., CMA, CPA, to Treasurer and Chief Financial Officer (CFO).

• Chief Information Officer Named

May Institute announces the appointment of Kevin M. More, M.B.A., to the position of Chief Information Officer.

• Services for Military and Civilian Families Expand to New Jersey and D.C. Area

May Institute opens new May Centers for Autism Spectrum Disorder in Alexandria, Va., and in Mt. Laurel, NJ (for families and their children with autism stationed at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, and in the surrounding area).

• Communications Efforts Result in Six Awards

The Communications and Public Relations team at May Institute is honored with six prestigious awards for excellence in communications, public relations, and marketing from two prominent New England organizations.

• $100,000 Foundation Grant Awarded

May Institute is selected as one of the 100 local nonprofits to receive grants of $100,000 each through Cummings Foundation’s new $100K for 100 program.

2014 • Looking Ahead to New Decade

In preparation for May Institute’s 60th anniversary in 2015, the organization’s leadership team completes an in-depth planning process that culminates in the unveiling of a comprehensive three-year strategic plan, and new mission and vision statements.

• New Center Opens in Colorado

A new May Center for Autism Spectrum Disorder opens in Colorado Springs, Colo., to serve military and civilian families and their children at nearby military installations and in surrounding communities.

• May Center for Evaluation and Treatment Added to Randolph Campus

May Institute opens the May Center for Evaluation and Treatment to serve children, adolescents, adults, and families with autism spectrum disorder and developmental disabilities, as well as those who have behavior disorders and mental health diagnoses.

2015 • Institute Launches its 60th Anniversary Year!