Hosted by Lora Lewis, Philadelphia Focus introduces you to the people and organizations making a difference in our community, from health and safety issues to education, employment, and even entertainment opportunities. Philadelphia Focus looks for solutions and positive action to make our region a better place to call home.
Charles J. Fuschillo, Jr. has made serving, helping, and empowering others a focus of his professional and personal life.
Fuschillo has served as President & Chief Executive Officer of the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America (AFA) since 2014. Under his leadership, AFA has seen tremendous growth in its membership, programs, services, revenue, and presence across the nation, while earning Charity Navigator’s highest rating of four stars for six consecutive years in recognition of its commitment to fiscal responsibility, transparency, and accountability.
During Fuschillo’s tenure, AFA expanded its National Toll-Free Helpline hours and accessibility, creating a web chat and text message feature that can serve individuals in more than 90 different languages. AFA’s membership has grown to more than 2,000 member offices. It launched a national, multi-year “Educating America Tour” which brings free educational conferences to communities across the country to connect them with information about Alzheimer’s disease, brain health, caregiving tips and strategies and care planning. AFA also grew its memory screening efforts into a year-round National Memory Screening Program that provides free, confidential memory screenings to individuals across the country.
Fuschillo created AFA’s Education & Resource Center, which enabled AFA to greatly increase the number of professional training seminars and therapeutic/activity programs it can provide, as well as the AFA Teal Room, an online-based library of free, daily programs to help individuals with dementia and their caregivers stay active and engaged from anywhere. Additionally, he led the creation of The Apartment—a model studio residence built in AFA’s headquarters to showcase ways that practical design and technology can greatly increase the quality of life and safety for someone living with dementia.
Fuschillo spearheaded the creation of new grant programs for community-based services and research across the country, including Project Lifesaver grants to public safety agencies to fund wandering prevention programs for individuals with cognitive conditions such as dementia-related illnesses and autism. He also guided AFA’s efforts to create a first-in-the-nation Respite Care Relief Park, a dementia-friendly place where individuals with Alzheimer’s disease and their caregivers can go to enjoy the outdoors, socialize, and learn about services available to help them. The park serves as AFA’s model for future sites across the country.
Prior to joining AFA, Fuschillo served as a member of the New York State Senate for nearly 16 years, authoring more than 200 state laws, including ones to protect individuals with cognitive conditions. He authored New York State’s landmark autism insurance reform law, which enables individuals with autism spectrum disorders to receive insurance coverage for the screening, diagnosis, and treatment of autism spectrum disorders, including behavioral health treatments, speech therapy, occupational therapy, and physical therapy. The law saved families with autism tens of thousands of dollars a year in out-of-pocket costs for autism treatment and therapies which many insurance companies refused to cover. This built on a prior law he authored to ensure that individuals with autism receive equitable coverage from insurance companies. He also authored a law creating a state license for providers of applied behavior analysis (ABA) services to individuals with autism spectrum disorder.
As a member of the Senate’s Health Committee, Fuschillo worked to connect his more than 300,000 constituents with health services by regularly holding free/no-out-of-pocket-cost breast cancer, prostate cancer, and skin cancer screenings throughout his Senate district. He authored the law strengthening New York’s Clean Indoor Air Law to make worksites and public places smoke-free. He sponsored “Leandra’s Law,” which makes it a felony to drive drunk with a child in the car and requires all convicted drunk drivers to use ignition interlocks to prevent them from drinking and driving again. He sponsored laws which lowered New York State’s legal blood alcohol content (BAC) level from .10 to .08; enacted tougher penalties for repeat offenders and those who drive with an elevated BAC.
Fuschillo authored New York State’s Telemarketer “Do Not Call” Registry law, a first-in-the-nation initiative which served as the model for the federal government’s “Do Not Call” Registry and sponsored a statewide ban on over-the-counter products containing the dangerous dietary supplement ephedra. Fuschillo has authored child safety laws and helped secure new educational technology for local school districts. Additionally, he sponsored a statewide ban on dangerous drop-side cribs, which have been linked to numerous child deaths and injuries.
Partnering with breast cancer advocacy organizations, he wrote the law that requires New York State to match donations made to the state’s Breast Cancer Research and Education Fund listed on state income tax return forms. He also fought to end the practice of disqualifying adoptive parents on the basis of being a survivor of cancer or any other serious illness.
Prior to his tenure in the Senate, Fuschillo was the Chief Operating Officer of a New York-based nonprofit family service agency.
In recognition of his lifetime of community service, Fuschillo has been recognized with numerous honors, including the Autism Advocacy Award and Legislative Champion Award from Autism Speaks, The Harry Chapin Humanitarian Award for Individual Leadership and Service; the Pendl Badge of Courage Award; and the Lifetime Achievement Award from the New York State Grand Lodge Foundation. He was also awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from the State University of New York and is a member of the Adelphi University Board of Trustees.