Benchmark Blog

Third Quarter Thrive – July, 2022

Jul 14, 2022
Benchmark Blog

Welcome to 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!

Leaving a Legacy –
A Farewell to Bill Swiss

By Doug Beebe, Benchmark President

Many of you, but not all of you, know Bill Swiss, my predecessor at Benchmark. Bill led this organization for 32 years and has been instrumental in establishing Benchmark as a leader in the field. After 37 years with Benchmark, Bill has decided to enjoy life without a job, and he has left a legacy that will live on. He created 14 Corporate Principles, and I wanted to highlight a few that have resonated with me over the years:

Services should be designed with client (customer) choice in mind. Programs should be wrapped around people rather than forcing people into fixed programs.

This statement is reflected through all of our programs, where person-centeredness and individualized approaches continue to drive Benchmark and create unique and outcomes-oriented programs.

Giving too much service is demeaning and disrespectful and fosters dependence. We should strive to help people “just enough”.

When we speak of seeing the potential in everyone one we support, it has grown from this statement. Our job is to help people reach their dreams, not create their dreams for them. Assisting people to grow rather than controlling their day truly builds independence as well as mutual respect, and sometimes, friendship.

Very few corporations produce a more important service or product. We deal with the things that make life worth living.

What we do, what you do, matters. It matters in deeply personal ways, and it cuts to the heart of why we do what we do and how we do it. The effort is worth it, and I give thanks every day for the heart and skill all of you bring to our work.

Bill, thank you for your leadership and your vision, and for driving the creation of a company and culture like none other. We will do our best to continue the legacy.

From the Front Lines


Leslie Spiegel, Registered Behavior Technician, Georgia Autism

What is the best part of your job?
The best part of my job is being able to directly interact with the families and children we serve and seeing the growth they make on a daily basis. It is exciting to see them interact and enjoy spending time with other kids. It is also exciting to see their reactions when they achieve something they have previously struggled with. It is a joy to come to work every day. Where else can you role-play as a superhero and still accomplish your daily goals?

What is the most challenging part of your job?
One of the challenges I have found in the role of an RBT is being able to consistently and effectively communicate expectations to both families and the children we serve. I have to often put myself in the parent’s shoes to understand what they face on a daily basis.

What is your favorite summertime activity?
Near our center, we have a community water park/splash pad. Our learners always enjoy the time we are able to spend there. When it isn’t too hot, it is always nice to get outside the walls of the clinic and see the kids thrive in the sunshine.

Jessica Dollar, Data and Training Coordinator, Alabama Provider Capacity Project

What is the best part of your job?
I love that I am able to help encourage systematic change in my home state to help better serve people with disabilities. The Provider Capacity Project has the opportunity to really impact the process of individuals receiving services and make efforts on the individual level, provider level, and state level more efficient.

What is the most challenging part of your job?
The most challenging part so far has been simply waiting to get started! This project had a lot of build-up before we could start being in homes providing that extra level of support.

What is your favorite summertime activity?
Typically my husband and I find a new national park to go and explore, but this summer looks a lot different as we have a new addition to our family! We will resume our fun hiking trips when my son can navigate the paths on his own feet. In the meantime, we are enjoying going to the park and finding new places to eat.

Dom Hernandez, Direct Support Professional, Montana

What is the best part of your job?
I love helping the diverse group of individuals I serve.

What is the most challenging part of your job?
Getting to know the individuals was difficult at first, to really understand their particular needs.

What is your favorite summertime activity?
I love to hang out by the lake and take a dip in the water!

Buck Up Funds Contribute to Trip of a Lifetime

In May, four individuals served in Benchmark’s Montana residential program, and two staff, boarded a plane and headed to sunny California. The trip, was partially funded by the Buck Up fund, Benchmark’s annual employee-led fundraising program which directly benefits individuals served throughout the company. The AWS Foundation matches funds $2 to every dollar raised.

The group from Montana stayed at Newport Beach and visited the ocean, San Diego Zoo, Beverly Hills, and Hollywood. It was a once in a lifetime trip, and one that Kristina Lambert, Benchmark director in Montana, says they will never forget. “For some on the trip, it was their first time flying on an airplane. I think we take for granted that most people experience awesome vacations at some point in their lives. But for many people we support, this isn’t necessarily true. We all had a blast and I’m so happy we were able to fulfill this dream for all of them.”

Buck Up funds are totaled at the end of each fiscal year (June 30) and applications to request funds typically go out in August. Over the years, Buck Up has funded trips to Major League Baseball games and amusement parks, furniture for homes in need, adaptive equipment, memberships to YMCAs and other fitness facilities, sensory rooms for day programs, and more. Look for more information on Buck Up in the coming weeks.

If you would like to contribute a dollar per pay period or more to the annual fund through easy payroll deduction, click here to sign up.


Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee Selects Partner for Next Phase

In the April issue of Thrive, we announced that Benchmark’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Committee was in the process of seeking an external partner to help develop a long-term strategic plan for DEI efforts. We are pleased to announce that Benchmark has selected Simply HR to aid in the next steps.

Simply HR is a Human Resources Consulting and Training firm based in Georgia. Their mission is to bridge the generation gap and build generationally friendly workplaces. You can learn more about their work on their website.

As part of Simply HR’s contract with Benchmark, the group will be conducting a company-wide assessment of DEI practices and culture, including reviewing policies and corporate communications and marketing, as well as surveying all employees to gauge the current climate of the organization as it relates to diversity, equity, and inclusion. Look for more information on this soon.

Once the assessment is complete, Simply HR will review their findings with the DEI Committee and help the team to build a long-term strategic plan to ensure Benchmark is continuously working to offer a workplace that is fair and equitable at all levels of the corporation and offers the same culture to those we serve.

Benchmark Breakthrough Series

As a reminder, the DEI Committee is hosting monthly webinars on a variety of topics surrounding diversity, equity, and inclusion. All employees are invited to attend these sessions, which are advertised with registration links through Benchmark email, on the Intranet log in, and on the app. Additionally, recorded sessions are available on the Intranet under the Diversity & Inclusion tab for anyone who is unable to attend.

Please join us July 26 from 1 pm – 2 pm EST for the July Breakthrough Series where we will learn more about the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and its impact on people with disabilities. You can register to attend here.

Summer Sun on Social Media

You know, you don’t have to wait until Thrive comes out to see some great photos of the individuals we serve from all over the country! Follow us on social media, just search Benchmark Human Services on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Also, if you would like to share any photos you’ve taken of or with the individuals in your area on social media, please send them to Simon May.


Benchmark Begins Services in Colorado

We are pleased to announce Benchmark was recently awarded a contract through the State of Colorado and Colorado Department of Human Services (CDHS) to provide Early Intervention (Part C) evaluations in Larimer, Boulder, Broomfield, and Weld Counties, CO.

Through the contract, which began July 1, the Benchmark team is conducting evaluations that determine eligibility for the CO Early Intervention program. Evaluations are led by speech, occupational, developmental, and physical therapists who specialize in working with infants and toddlers.

Angie Heller, Regional Director of Benchmark’s Early Intervention programs, is excited for opportunities in The Centennial State. “We’re thrilled to bring Benchmark’s high standard of care to Colorado,” she said. “This is a small contract, but we’re looking forward to making a mark and growing services throughout the state.”

Introducing Trista DeBolt, HR Director of Recruitment

Trista DeBolt recently joined Benchmark’s Human Resources department, serving in a new position, Director of Recruitment. Trista graduated from Purdue University in 2018 with a degree in Public Health and a minor in Sociology. After graduating from Purdue, she served as an Administrative Assistant at Bayada Pediatrics, moving into a recruitment role a few months later, attracting nurses for home healthcare. After three years at Bayada, she went on to Aveanna Healthcare in a similar capacity. “Recruitment is my passion and I am excited to learn and grow in various fields!”

Trista will review Benchmark’s current recruitment process and utilize her skills and research to come up with new methods to improve recruitment results company-wide. She will also assist in recruitment efforts throughout the company and oversee the Talent Acquisition Specialists.

Trista grew up in Union City, IN and moved to Indianapolis in middle school, where she currently lives with her boyfriend, Hunter. They have two cats, Rose and Archer. Trista’s favorite snack foods are popcorn and Sour Punch straws.

Making America’s Roadways Safer

Did you know that AWRC, Benchmark’s non-profit arm, runs a program called Highway Safety Specialists (HSS) where people with disabilities help construct equipment to keep construction crews safe when working on the highways? Based in Fort Wayne, Indiana HSS helps fulfill a major part of Benchmark’s mission, to help people find and keep meaningful employment.

The awesome HSS team was recently featured in Roads and Bridges Magazine. Check out the article and give the team a shout out for their hard and important work on the Intranet or Benchmark App!

About Your Benefits


Below is a list of employees who were promoted in April, May, and June and the position to which they were promoted. Congratulations to all!


AJ Beyrer, Clinical Director
Krisoula Taylor, Behavior Specialist

Shelly Detcher, Camp Red Cedar Director
Kassanesh Belay, RN
Deosha Sanchez, Residential Manager
Alexis Wright, Supported Living Manager
Nicole Hicks, Supported Living Manager
Daneisha White, Program Coordinator
Tonya Gray, Supported Living Supervisor

Patrice Buchanan, Lead Program Coordinator
Julie Beeman, Lead RBT

Sierra Newman, House Manager

New Jersey
Lisa Goodson, Team Leader

Angela Adkins, Supported Living Supervisor
Natasha Kramer, Supported Living Supervisor
Carrie Wakefield, Team Leader
Paul Emmins, Supported Living Supervisor
Lisa Hermiller, Supported Living Supervisor
Ronnise Showes, Team Leader
Sara Anderson, Team Leader
Tasha Wills, Team Leader


Thrive honors employee hire anniversaries for July, August, and September, celebrating those who have worked at Benchmark for five years and longer.


Amanda Brewer – 5
Amie Decker – 5
Amy McNiel – 5
Ana Banda – 5
Angela DuBois – 5
Anita Daigle – 5
Anthony Edwards – 5
Antonio Ward – 5
Brian Croft – 5
Clara Hathaway – 5
Courtney Bierle – 5
Courtney ODell – 5
Debbra Anderson – 5
Donna Thomas – 5
Drema Myers – 5
Eboni Calhoun – 5
Ernestine Whitney – 5
Gloria Rogers – 5
Grace Manga – 5
Gregory Newport – 5
Heidi Schulenberg – 5
Jamica Taylor – 5
Jariatu Collier – 5
Jawand Brannon – 5
Jennifer Eason – 5
Jessica Lott – 5
John Martin – 5
Kendra Nolton – 5
Kristina Maxwell – 5
Leah Leidholdt-Bauer – 5
Lisa Perkins – 5
Mandy Ditto – 5
Melanie Ross – 5
Oluyinka Adebisi – 5
Sadie Johnson – 5
Saintecile Theodore – 5
Shana Allen – 5
Shandareen Sanders – 5
Shandrel Riddle-Thelwell – 5
Stacey Stevens – 5
Teresia Gichachi – 5
Te’Zhira Heard – 5
Thomas Dennin-Beebe – 5
Tonya Hill – 5
Vicky Grubbs – 5
Victoria Heiser – 5
Yves Rutagengwa – 5
Adelina Zavala – 6
Ashlee Okane – 6
Babila Mba – 6
Bernadette Bill – 6
Christopher Diehl – 6
Cindy Stolte Brown – 6
Cleta Griffin – 6
Cynthia Hughes – 6
Daisy Johnston – 6
Darius Williams – 6
Edward Dahlkamp – 6
Elisa Della Ventura – 6
Heather Maas – 6
Janet Swanson – 6
Jeanne Smith – 6
Jennifer Bush – 6
Joy Scholten – 6
Joyce Aaron – 6
Juliet Ihedike – 6
Kalan Phinezy – 6
Kenneth Keegan – 6
Kenneth MacCutcheon – 6
Martha Williams – 6
Melinda Anders – 6
Merlande Deravil – 6
Nancy Westmoreland – 6
Nicole Cocce – 6
Nicole Ives – 6
Norma Jackson – 6
Portia Lewis – 6
Richard Adams – 6
Robert Kirkwood – 6
Sharlet Davis-Sandles – 6
Shonta Hazel – 6
Stephanie Dennis – 6
Summer Gerry – 6
Tiana Gaddis – 6
Anna Geething – 7
Annette Powers Kilburn – 7
Anthony Zephy – 7
Ashley King – 7
Brandy Fraiser Crawford – 7
Consuelo Rojas – 7
Cynthia Doenges – 7
Emily Grohnke – 7
Jakia Artis – 7

Jessie Bryant – 7
Joanna Gallagher – 7
Kameisha Johnson – 7
Kelly Kroeger – 7
Laura Kauffman – 7
Lisa Hendrix – 7
Miriam Sisay – 7
Renardo Gleenio – 7
Robertson Asamoah – 7
Rosena Roberts – 7
Sharon Hill – 7
Shawna Bowser – 7
Toia Williams – 7
Ameria Sheriff – 8
Ashley Lundquist – 8
Beth Weiss – 8
Brenda Aguilar – 8
Christina Norris – 8
Dennis Meyer – 8
Isaac Ogundairo – 8
Jaime Rodon – 8
Janelle Jansson – 8
Jody Martin – 8
Leshan Dix – 8
Meagan Hemenway – 8
Paula Wynn – 8
Robin Horn – 8
Shadrack Mibeere – 8
Sonya Burnett – 8
Tamela Sizemore – 8
Alethia Bacon – 9
Alex Berrios – 9
Angel Ripoll – 9
Ann Wainaina – 9
Brenda Severns – 9
Christy Ware-Payne – 9
Dawn Brown – 9
Eucharia Okendu – 9
JoAnn Taylor – 9
Julia Hooper – 9
Kacianne Sealy – 9
Kara Richlak – 9
Keyuna Thomas – 9
Kimba Brown – 9
Kristin Adkins – 9
Marissa Spiess – 9
Megan Tracy – 9
Mysti Joye – 9
Noelle Utley – 9
Patrice Buchanan – 9
Patti Greer – 9
Paul Kabutha – 9
Sandra Houston – 9
Shannon Winston – 9
Sue Ellis – 9
Tori McQueen – 9
Valencia Davidson – 9
Willie Gardner – 9
Andrea Walker – 10
Angela Couch – 10
Brenda Quintana – 10
Bueford McKinney – 10
Christa Smith – 10
Danielle Smith – 10
Diane Ressler – 10
Eureke Moorman – 10
Festus Bolarinde – 10
Gloria Baity – 10
Jason Frame – 10
Jennifer Ryan – 10
Karen Geiger – 10
Lakeisha Ross – 10
Lamont Johnson – 10
Mallory Leatherman – 10
Maryann Taylor – 10
Nicole Infante Forsythe – 10
Rodney Geis – 10
Selly War – 10
Sharon Jackson – 10
Tamera Pendarvis – 10
Anjali Joshi – 11
Antionette Godwin – 11
Antwan Byrd – 11
Army Burks – 11
Betty Holloway – 11
Charles Osei – 11
Christine Taylor – 11
Connie Walters – 11
Cynthia Driggers – 11
Denise Good – 11
Franklin Briggs – 11
Franklin Davis – 11
George Harris – 11

Ginger Sunbom – 11
Jayne Spitznogle – 11
Jeanne Warno – 11
Jerri Flowers – 11
John Sesay – 11
Joyce Johnson – 11
Kwabena Boaitey – 11
LaShonda Thomas – 11
Litonlya Lester – 11
Marcia Fowlkes – 11
Max Gilyan – 11
Peter Belsky – 11
Robert Ashlock – 11
Sharon Sanchez – 11
Teresa Salemi-Gumiran – 11
Thomas Foster – 11
William Hopkins – 11
Barbara Brown – 12
Derrick McGraw – 12
Gladys Muchemi – 12
Jean Beausoleil – 12
John Guercio – 12
Kimberly Finn – 12
Leslie Armstrong – 12
Maritza Baden – 12
Minerva Coker – 12
Olasunkanmi Faturoti – 12
Tony Rainbolt – 12
Vicki Kennedy – 12
Beatrice Macharia – 13
Cassandra Clubb – 13
Christina Narasimhan – 13
Courtney Schaffner – 13
David Muthike – 13
Eileen Baker – 13
Heather Morelan – 13
Jodi Phillips – 13
Joella Wiggins – 13
Juliann Darlington – 13
Katie Flinner – 13
Kristen Gentilini – 13
May Listenberger – 13
Melody Bolka – 13
Nancy McClimans – 13
Peter Mbugguss – 13
Ruth Nothdurft – 13
Solomon Daniel – 13
Victoria Halbert – 13
Alice Pilarski – 14
Amanda Musser – 14
Amber Adams – 14
Deborah Cartwright – 14
Kristina Lambert – 14
Tamara Nash – 14
Tamra Stauffer – 14
Dewayne Totten – 15
Ella Ayers – 15
Erma Wims – 15
Evelyn Gillespie – 15
Gladys Mushatt – 15
Janet Mullins – 15
Jayne Underwood – 15
Philip Boakye – 15
Robert Taylor – 15
Jeffry Harris – 16
Kerrie Miller – 16
Michelle Maio-Venezia – 16
Staci Wimes – 16
Jason McCain – 17
Pascaline Ruhaya – 17
Rosa Sturgis – 17
Lennie Singano – 19
Mbaso Katundu – 19
Margaret Davis – 20
Mary Martin-Lawrence – 20
Tammy Schmitt – 20
David Casebourn – 21
Angela Heller – 22
Wilma Gaustad – 22
Cynthia Graeber – 23
Lorraine Di Novo – 23
Mary Zumbaugh – 23
Holly Eykholt – 24
Joy Dennison – 24
Elaine Berning – 24
Brandy Patterson – 25
Michelle Desmonds – 25
Thomas Titus – 25
Karen Lichtsinn – 28
Anne Titus – 30
Margaret Cantey – 31
Karen Shollenberger – 34

© Benchmark Human Services   |   Privacy Policy