In 1972 when Dwayne Markey was born to his young parents, DJ and Ursula Markey, little was known about autism. DJ and Ursula didn’t even have a word for Dwayne’s strange behaviors. Their quest to answer the question, “Why does Dwayne behave this way” and “How can we help him become the self actualized person he has the potential to become,” became a life long journey. They became Dwayne’s teacher and he became theirs. On that journey DJ and Ursula had to become advocates for their children, Dwayne and Tico. They discovered as African American parents with a child with a disability that they were a part of an underserved population. They led the creation of national organization called the Grassroots Consortium that brought together disability leaders from underserved populations to fight for expanded services and resources to these communities.
They had learned from years of struggle to get Dwayne the educational and other supports he needed they needed to create an organization to train parents to be leaders and advocates for equal quality inclusive education for all children. That’s when they decided to create the Pyramid Community Parent Resource Center.
Ted and Brenda Quant, life long friends of the Markey’s, had been on this journey with them since Dwayne’s birth. They joined them in creating the training programs for parents. While DJ, Ursula and Brenda worked together developing Operation Positive Change to teach parents Positive Behavior Support, Ted Quant through the Twomey Training Center created the leadership development curriculum and conducted the leadership workshops for Pyramid that included leadership development, team building, organizing and advocacy, conflict resolution, mediation and negotiation skills to help parents become effective advocates on school leadership teams, school boards and impacting state and national policy.
Pyramid's founders, D.J. and Ursula Markey were awarded the prestigious Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Award in recognition of their accomplishments.