Benchmark Blog

First Quarter Thrive – January, 2021

Jan 14, 2021
Benchmark Blog

Welcome to the electronic edition of Thrive, the Benchmark employee newsletter. Enjoy, and please share any stories you would like to include in a future issue with Courtney Heiser or Simon May!

From the Front Lines – Advice from Long-Term DSPs

The Human Resources Department is reaching out to some amazing Direct Support Professionals who have worked for Benchmark for five or more years. They ask them a variety of questions including “What’s the best advice you have for someone new to the DSP position?” We share these regularly on our company Facebook page, but check out some great advice from three DSPs below!


Laurie Heckman, St. Marys, OH, DSP since 01/21/13

Stick with it, please! While this job can be challenging at times, it is worth it to know that you are making a difference in the lives of the people we serve. Don’t be afraid to ask questions from others with more experience. Your fellow team members want to see you succeed and are willing to help you in areas you might be uncomfortable or struggling with.


Mamie Anderson, St. Louis, MO DSP since 04/14/14

Pay attention while training; watch and learn. Learn the books, MARs, get to know the individuals. While shadowing, watch and learn from staff. Ask staff who are familiar with the individuals for help with understanding the people you serve.


Stephen Agyeman, Columbus, OH, DSP since 10/29/12

To people that are new to the field, I would say be prepared to learn. Understand you are working for the individual and each individual is different.


2020 Reflections and Thanks

By Doug Beebe, Benchmark President

As I reflect on 2020, I am overwhelmed by what we have been living through and the way we responded to it. The year brought three huge events that will have lasting impact on everything from the way we provide supports to the way we conduct business. The year started and ended with COVID-19, which we know is real in our work and personal lives. In the midst of the trauma caused by the coronavirus, the unlawful and unjustified killing of black people reignited Black Lives Matter and brought to the foreground critical issues surrounding racial equity in our country. Finally, the presidential election was essentially run based on those two issues and caused great division and angry feelings that continue to ripple though out America. Through all that, Benchmark teams stayed focused on providing the best supports and services possible to the individuals we serve.

There are so many of you to thank for your fearless dedication and focus on trying to keep vulnerable people safe under such daunting conditions. None of us was ready when we got hit with the virus in March, yet our team responded quickly and comprehensively. Some things, like shortages on meat and toilet paper, were inconvenient. Others, like having no personal protective equipment and unclear and contradictory guidelines on what to do to keep people safe, were potentially deadly.

Across the country, DSPs, team leaders, and residential staff jumped in and answered the call with long hours and crazy schedules. I cannot ever properly thank the staff who worked in COVID+ houses for days on end under great uncertainty and more than a little fear. Likewise, our first responders on the crisis teams in Georgia, who provided an amazingly high level of service as tensions rose and crises accelerated, never missed a beat and adapted quickly. They jumped into those situations in a truly professional manner and undoubtedly saved many lives.

Our children’s services went from face to face visits to telehealth in a matter of days and did their best to stay in touch with families and kids in new ways. Similarly, our case management teams had to adapt their vital services to a virtual environment with little notice and keep their crucial relationships with people, many of whom would struggle without that support. Behind the scenes, our IT team had to support all of these demands on the system and keep it going so that all of you in the field could do what you needed to do to keep people safe.

Other people working behind the scenes were our day services teams. In many cases, those staff jumped in a started picking up hours in residential services, while a small but dedicated team in Fort Wayne made about 6,000 masks so everyone could have a ready supply until we could get access to PPE. Our work services teams were truly challenged by the sheer number of people who stopped coming to work when we started having shut downs across the country. Quietly, Post Masters were declared essential workers and not only kept all their services going, but maintained an incredibly high level of accuracy, producing 10 of millions of pieces of mail with zero errors.

These examples signify why Benchmark can provide the services it does, often for people few other providers choose to serve. The ability of our staff to adapt and keep going, continues to amaze me! Whether I directly mentioned the service you provide or not, I want to thank you for the effort and focus you provided. This has been a most trying year, but one that tells me how fortunate I am to lead a truly incredible group of people, and I simply want to say thank, thank you, thank you. You have truly made the world a better place for the thousands of people we serve.

Our goal is to build the finest agency in the country. Anything we do will be done in an excellent manner or not done. Thank you for your continued excellence.

Diversity Committee Welcomes New Member

The Benchmark Diversity Committee recently welcomed a new member, Marmiko De Ceita. Marmiko joined the Benchmark/AWRC team in 2016 after Post Masters won the print and mail contract from the State of Indiana. Marmiko shares more about her role at Post Masters and what compelled her to join the Diversity Committee:

I was hired to create and execute a seamless transition of all print/mail processes from the previous vendor to Post Masters. I now manage the contract and operation from the Indiana Government Center.

Throughout my career, I’ve been fortunate to live in different states across the country. I also have a great love of travelling. In doing so, I have developed wonderful friendships with people from all walks of life. My “portfolio of friends” (as I call it) consists of many ages, abilities, races, sexual orientations, nationalities, ethnicities, and cultures. In developing said relationships, I have had the opportunity to have very poignant conversations with people who may or may not have ever been exposed to someone who looks like me, let alone have an honest conversation.

Yes, there are differences. But as a whole, people are the same. In 2020, the world took notice of the treatment of Blacks in America and around the world. And while the murders of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, and countless others were horrifying to watch, they weren’t unfamiliar to me. My goal in joining the Diversity Committee is to help eradicate the marginalization of all minorities. I’d like to assist in designing the world that I would like myself and my daughter to live in. I think there are beliefs and behaviors to be unlearned, across all races. Furthermore, I want to help push us past simply being tolerable of one another. The goal of the human race, because we are truly one race, should be inclusion.

Committee Update
The first round of Diversity Training/workshops proctored by Alonzo Kelly will begin in mid-February and will include Benchmark employees from Indiana, Ohio, Missouri, Maryland, New Jersey, New Mexico, and South Dakota.

#CrushingCOVID with Vaccines, Shared on Social Media!

Benchmark essential staff who have direct contact with individuals served have begun receiving COVID-19 vaccines! To celebrate and help lead by example, we are sharing photos of our frontline staff helping to stop the spread and flatten the curve by receiving their COVID-19 vaccines. If you have recently received a vaccine and took a selfie either in progress or with your vaccine card or sticker, please email it to [email protected] to be included in this #CrushingCOVID photo campaign on social media!


Benchmark Awarded Contract in Arkansas

Benchmark was recently awarded a two-year contract in the state of Arkansas with Summit Community Care, a provider-led shared savings organization contracting with the Arkansas Medicaid program under the State’s managed care initiative.  Summit partners with Anthem’s Amerigroup.  Benchmark was selected from a group of four organizations based on our experience in crisis response services and model for building provider capacity to support persons with complex needs.

The project is designed to directly support and increase the effectiveness of local IDD providers in responding to individuals and their families experiencing behavioral challenges, trauma, and other crisis situations. Benchmark will hire a team comprised of nine staff including: A director, two licensed clinical social workers (LCSWs), two board certified behavior analysts (BCBAs), three behavior specialists, and one training/data coordinator.

Core deliverables to be achieved over the course of the two-year contract include:
• Implement an acuity-based, referral-based system to direct delivery of targeted on-site and virtual clinical intervention to providers supporting persons in crisis
• Assess current provider/system capacity to support persons with complex needs in order to direct resources and training; create a provider capacity baseline
• Routinely evaluate behavioral/incident data in order to intervene with training and technical assistance to prevent major crises
• Establish a system to monitor persons in crisis or at high risk for recidivism
• Develop IDD crisis response standards and assessment protocol for providers
• Implement tele-health/e-therapy support to assist in crisis resolution/prevention
• Develop quality/outcomes measurement standards
• Implement a strategy to develop BCBAs and registered behavior technicians (RBTs) from existing provider staff
• Develop and deliver crisis training for providers, including a virtual learning hub

Movin’ On Up!

Below is a list of employees who were promoted in October, November, and December and the position to which they were promoted. Congratulations to all!


Stephanie Velleca, Team Coordinator

Barbara Carrasquillo, Clinical Specialist

Christa Raines, Regional Director
Jacqueline Rainey, Registered Behavior Technician (RBT)
Whitley Grindle, RBT
Erin Jones, Licensed Clinical Staff

Betty Hudgins, Registered Nurse
Nicole Donahue, Team Leader
Lavonia Coleman, Supported Living Manager
Vicky Grubbs, Supported Living Supervisor
Teresa Domsic, Team Leader
Tori McQueen, Residential Manager
Sondra Buckhardt, Residential Manager
Alicia Belton, Supported Living Supervisor
Laura Sutton, Clinical Manager
Joan Wall, Lead Program Coordinator
Christopher Rollins, Residential Manager
Debra Gillam, Supported Living Supervisor
Zachary Greathouse, Program Coordinator
Denisha Pace, Team Leader
Christy Drake, Team Leader
Michelle Miller, Supported Living Supervisor
Tina Minton, Residential Manager

Kenneth Johnson, Supported Living Supervisor

Julia Beeman, RBT

Tessa Thennis, Residential Manager
Russel Danaher, Residential Manager
Tawnee Lambert, Residential Manager

New Jersey
Jennifer Adamcik, HR Assistant
Leviticus Gillis, Lead Program Coordinator
Jasmine Ortega, Team Leader
Damon Hickman, Assistant Director
Tamia Martinez, Team Leader
Neitra Jackson, Team Leader

Garnett Goodwin, Day Services System Manager
Ben Aigbevboile, LPN
Rachael Mitchell, Program Manager
Heather Reese, Program Manager
Valerie Jones, Team Leader


Thrive honors employee hire anniversaries for January, February, and March, celebrating those who have worked at Benchmark for five years and longer.


Afolabi Ogunbowale – 5
Alandra McGhee – 5
Angela White – 5
Angelique Palmer-Robinson – 5
Anthony Curtis – 5
Brandon Riley – 5
Brock Ayers – 5
Cheryl Bilbrey – 5
Christa Raines – 5
Craig Whonsetler – 5
Damian Tapia – 5
Deborah Welby – 5
Dimitris Katsaounis – 5
Emma Mendoza Aguilar – 5
Glen Henderson – 5
Jacob Bore – 5
Jacqueline Shuppert – 5
James Bain – 5
Janel Woodford – 5
Karen Agaiby-Mena – 5
Kevie Thomas – 5
Lakeshia Horne – 5
Latonya Elliott – 5
Leon Powell – 5
Loretta Taylor – 5
Lorry Augustin – 5
Maria Hainline – 5
Mary VanWienen – 5
Michaela Jan Tolemy – 5
Mignon Boone – 5
Motunrayo Owolabi – 5
Nicole Jimenez – 5
Paulette Patrick – 5
Reeta Masih – 5
Shaina Baldwin – 5
Sharday Mabins – 5
Susan Maitin – 5
Tanisha Colon – 5
Theresa Shillingford Stovall – 5
Tommy Brown – 5
Traveon Stevenson – 5
Tyree McCreight – 5
Adriana Garcia – 6
Ami Clancy – 6
Amos Kimani – 6
Andrew Harris – 6
Barbara Lane – 6
Brian Hanson – 6
Christine Sellers – 6
Claudia Jackson – 6
Deandra Burnett – 6
Dymond Davis – 6
Elizabeth DeMarquez – 6
Elizabeth Hohman – 6
Emily Luce – 6
Heather Macbeth – 6
Henry Woodfork – 6
Irene Omboga – 6
John Miller – 6
Karen Bischoff – 6
Kelly Foster – 6
Lacesha Jeffers – 6
Linda Powers – 6
Maureen Zink – 6
Megan Shurtleff – 6
Mirian Brown – 6
Pamela Parker – 6
Rachael Nelson – 6
Rebecca Mays – 6
Shaleia Holland – 6
Sharon Wilkins – 6
Steven Bright – 6
Suzanne Caudill – 6

Tatiana Johnson – 6
Tedwick Theodore – 6
Tonjua Pearson – 6
Vanessa Coleman – 6
Ztasha Kirkland – 6
April Clerkley – 7
Cesar Mendoza Aguilar – 7
Christina Briggs – 7
Darryl Harmon – 7
David Herrmann Sedano – 7
Deaundra Lewis – 7
Dennis Stroup – 7
Douglas Beebe – 7
Jackulynn Hightire – 7
Jamal Cooper – 7
Jason Crowder – 7
Jeremy Joyner – 7
Jerry Mote – 7
Lateachca Carswell – 7
Noble Alexander – 7
Peter Bishop – 7
Rose Ochoa – 7
Shaunna Turner – 7
Stacie Fitzgerald – 7
Teresa Walker – 7
William Exner – 7
Yvonne Kreigh – 7
Angela Resovsky – 8
Casey Jackson – 8
Cawanna Wadley – 8
Claudia Springer – 8
Dajuan Quilling – 8
Dawn Stump – 8
Edward Mowen – 8
Herbert Sheftal – 8
Hugo Ochoa-Marquez – 8
Jonathan Rushton – 8
Joseph Gootee – 8
Kathleen Manegre – 8
Keith Miller – 8
Laurie Heckman – 8
Melissa Shaw – 8
Michael Dow – 8
Modester Nnona – 8
Mohamed Koroma – 8
Nikki Cotterman – 8
Ragna Urberg – 8
Renee Broughton – 8
Ruth Chege – 8
Salinda Moore – 8
Shaun Jasper – 8
Tara Froelich – 8
Tondaleah Eversole – 8
Zora Artis – 8
Alicia Warren – 9
Belinda Christensen – 9
Calma Harris – 9
Dedria Handerson – 9
Erika Moore – 9
Eunice Hutchins – 9
Frances Cline – 9
Jeremy Wimbley – 9
Karen Evans – 9
Katherine Zmeskal – 9
Kimberly Leal – 9
Latasha Green – 9
Lori Blanco – 9
Maurice McKenzie – 9
Orlando Wash – 9
Pamela Weston – 9
Rosita Stewart – 9
Ruth Bates – 9
Sycilla Smith – 9

Tammy Carroll – 9
Travis Robertson – 9
Alocia Robertson – 10
Andrea Kinnard – 10
Angela Jeffrey – 10
Anthony Bryant – 10
Benjamin Harrison – 10
Debra Williams – 10
Dorothy Robbins – 10
Geidy Melara – 10
Judith Vaughn – 10
Julie Heiges – 10
Rasheda Patterson – 10
Susan Brown – 10
Timothy Fitzgibbons – 10
Amy Miller – 11
Andrew Baden – 11
Casey Lolmaugh – 11
Douglas Houser – 11
Jeffrey Cross – 11
Laine Muston – 11
Stacy Christopher – 11
Ann Williams – 12
Chad Biddle – 12
Eva Jacobson – 12
Harold Eagleson – 12
Kristy Stemen – 12
Lucy Phiri – 12
Shirley Morgan – 12
Souleymane Adamou – 12
Theresa Prentice – 12
Beth Barger – 13
Donna Kuntz – 13
Jill Tatalovich – 13
Rhonda McAuley – 13
Rosalind Winston – 13
Shawn Fields – 13
Isiah Harris – 14
Jennifer Smith – 14
Justin Tucker – 14
Kim Stephens – 14
Linda Riecke – 14
Theophilus Kungang – 14
Tyaan Winn – 14
Yared Belew – 14
Cindy Rousey – 15
Kathy Thorson – 15
Kimberly Larson – 15
Nathan Heimann – 15
Paige DeCook – 15
Barbara Grote – 16
George Sewell – 16
Glenn Heath – 16
Julius Kerkula – 16
Amy Spears – 17
Ava Churchman – 17
Clara Chibweya – 17
Nancy Bobay – 17
Sherri Morris – 17
Courtney Heiser – 18
Diane Robinson – 18
Jean Kambela – 18
Kelly Stahl – 18
Lubasi Kekelwa – 18
Melissa Bushong – 18
Timothy Cline – 18
Deborah Hanan – 19
June VanTilburg – 19
Gary Brabson – 22
Joyce Wright – 22
Paula Elward – 25
Todd Staszak – 25
Curlie Young – 31

© Benchmark Human Services   |   Privacy Policy