Posted by Sara Freedman
Two of the best parts about working at JF&CS are being able to have a positive impact on our clients and witness their growth and being surrounded by passionate, smart, and amazing colleagues! Recently, I nominated my colleague, Sue Stellick, Associate Division Director of Day and Employment Supports, for the Association of Developmental Disabilities Providers (ADDP) Marty Martini Leadership Award and shared how great she is with the Massachusetts disability community. Her achievements and accomplishments are undeniable and last week, she was announced as the winner of the award, which will be presented at a luncheon in April.
Sue started at JF&CS in 2006 as the Program Director of CHAI Works, a new community-based day support program. Over the past ten years, Sue grew CHAI Works from a small program of ten participants to a lively, well-respected program with more than 80 participants. In December 2015, Sue opened a second CHAI Works location in Canton in response to the high demand for her amazing program south of Boston. In addition to expanding CHAI Works, Sue has started several other day and employment support offerings at JF&CS, including Pathways to Employment and Meaningful Days Employment Services.
I first met Sue in July 2006 when I was an intern in CHAI Works. Although Sue was also new to the program, I knew from the beginning that she was someone with whom I was fortunate to work. Her passion for ensuring that individuals with disabilities have fulfilling and meaningful lives was apparent. When she entered the program area each day, Sue would greet each client individually, ask how he or she was doing, and inquire about activities or family, often referring back to prior conversations. This personal approach is so important to the participants because it provides them with reassurance that they are listened to and valued. Although CHAI Works has grown tremendously since then, her personal connection with each participant remains. She continues to engage each participant independently, even if it means working longer hours to complete her administrative tasks.
I am fortunate to be just one of the many staff Sue has mentored and taught. She encourages her staff to be curious, ask questions, and never hesitate to ask for help. Sue’s training, support, and modelling has resulted in many staff, myself included, pursuing careers in the field of disabilities. She is a great leader in the field and I’m thrilled that her personal dedication to working with individuals with disabilities and her strong work ethic has been recognized by ADDP! Congratulations, Sue!
Sara Freedman joined the Services for People with Disabilities team in 2006 as an intern in the CHAI Works day program. She has held a variety of roles within the department and is currently the Associate Division Director of Programs, overseeing program development and external partnerships. She has a degree in human development and psychological services as well as psychology from Northwestern University and is currently pursuing her MSW at Boston College. Sara enjoys hiking, baking, travelling, and spending time with her friends, family, and dog!
Originally published on the JF&CS blog.