- How did you get into this field?
- I joined what was then called the New York State Department of Mental Hygiene in 1972. My first assignment was as a personnel administrator. While I quickly became very interested in how administrative functions supported the important work of the staff engaged in providing direct services to individuals with disabilities, the real hook for me was getting to know and understand the strengths as well as the needs of the individuals themselves. Thus began thirty-five years of having the great privilege of serving individuals with disabilities.
Who would you consider to be your mentor and why?
- I had two wonderful mentors. While one taught me the fundamentals of administration, the other, was the first Commissioner of the New York State Office of Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities, who showed me over and over again, how government could make a powerful and positive difference in the lives of individuals with disabilities. He taught me both the importance of having a clear vision of how individuals could be best supported and served, and the importance of persistence and perseverance when working in government.
What quote do you live by?
- President John F. Kennedy once noted that individuals with mental retardation were the victims of fate but should not be the victims of our neglect. For me, this has been a career long guiding principle.
What has been the most memorable moment of your career?
- The closure of the Willowbrook Developmental Center in 1987 was a hallmark event for me. Willowbrook had been the subject of Geraldo Rivera's television expose "The Last Great Disgrace" in the early 1970s and closing this sad chapter in New York's history of serving individuals with disabilities was especially significant It was very personally important to me since I had served as a Deputy Director and Director of that facility in the late 1970s when over 2000 individuals lived there.
Can you share an interesting fact about yourself that your colleagues wouldn't necessarily know?
- This is my second time serving as a Commissioner, having served previously as Commissioner of the New York State Office of Mental Retardation. I am also residing in Massachusetts for the second time, having grown up in Malden and Melrose.
Is there anything you'd like people to know about your agency?
- DDS is deeply committed to providing the highest quality supports and services to individuals and to their families throughout the Commonwealth. As an agency, we highly value our partnership with individuals, families, advocacy organizations, private sector providers, our state employees and other state agencies with whom we work to address the needs and wishes of those we serve.
This information is provided by the Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission.