Benchmark Blog

Fourth Quarter Thrive – October, 2022

Oct 21, 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!

Why D.E.I. Matters at Benchmark

By Doug Beebe, Benchmark President

“Go and love someone exactly as they are. And then watch how quickly they transform into the greatest, truest version of themselves. When one feels seen and appreciated in their own essence, one is instantly empowered.”

– Writer Wes Angelozzi on Acceptance

I like this quote for what it represents for us as a provider and an employer. As we touch the lives of thousands of people across the country, a common goal is to support those individuals to reach their potential and become the version of themselves they hope to be. For all who work to support them, it is often reflected in the saying that we should be free to be our true selves while at work.

In essence, this is what our efforts in Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion truly represent. Do we, or can we, have a culture that truly empowers everyone to be who they are and one that appreciates the gifts they bring? The DEI survey is one of the ways we are trying to answer that question and develop an approach to improve any areas that may be falling short. Your thoughts, perceptions, and feelings are crucial to us moving forward together.

Everyone within Benchmark brings their own viewpoints and talents, and our goal is to be sure those talents have an avenue to be expressed and appreciated. Please take a few minutes and share your feedback through the DEI survey sent from Simply HR via link to those on the Benchmark email network. DSPs and employees without company email addresses can scan or click the QR code at left to complete a short questionnaire to receive their individualized survey link to a personal email address. The survey truly is anonymous, so you can be completely open to how you feel life is as an employee at Benchmark.

Thank you for all you do. I know of no business that has a more important product than ours, and the lives we touch are often changed forever.

From the Front Lines


Glenda Agostino, Employment Services Consultant, Indiana

What is the best part of your job?
The best part of my job is working directly with the people in services one on one — specifically, when they get the job they have been working toward. Seeing someone realize that what they do has true value and that employers are willing to pay them for their time and their expertise is without a doubt the best part of what I get to do at Benchmark and with the individuals I serve.

What is the most challenging part of your job?
The most challenging part of my job is when people lose or quit their jobs. One has to have enough respect for the individuals in our program to realize they have every right to make their own decisions, even if it is not one that I hoped they would make. It’s hard for Employment Services staff to watch someone quit a job because we go through every step with them. We are very invested. At the end of the day, I have to step back and remember it is their job and their life. I have to remember that the people we serve are more important than the jobs we do (one of our Core Operating Values).

Tell us about a memorable Halloween costume!
My favorite costume was a beautiful white rabbit costume that my dad made for me when I was about 10. I had stuffed big ears and a big pink ribbon around my neck. I loved that costume. Halloween was big stuff in my family. We had big Halloween parties, and everyone would come. One year after the party we went to the Hannah Haunted House in Indianapolis and then to Red Lobster (which was a big deal in the early 80s). It was quite the evening 😊. This is one of my favorite Halloween memories!

Lena Pearce, Registered Behavior Technician, Arkansas

What is the best part of your job?
The best part of my job is going into a program or visiting an individual and seeing their progress. I love teaching staff about preference assessments, and how to look at challenging behavior as a skill deficit. Once I can get them to look at behavior that way, the individual benefits because the staff starts teaching them instead of coming from a place where they are a problem.

What is the most challenging part of your job?
The most challenging part of my job is getting everyone on the individual’s care team on the same page and doing the same things to support them. Consistency is essential in handling challenging behavior and promoting quality of life.

Tell us about a memorable Halloween costume!
The most memorable Halloween Costume was when I dressed up as the Corpse Bride and won 2 costume contests in town that same night!

John McKenney, Job Coach, Maryland

What is the best part of your job?
Getting the individuals into the community through employment or volunteering services. This is the best part because it exhibits the value they hold in the community and maximizes their potential.

What is the most challenging part of your job?
The most challenging part of my position is to remember to always have your RADAR on. It is very important for the people we serve to have RADAR on and active at all times.

Tell us about a memorable Halloween costume!
I’d have to say that the most memorable Halloween Costume I have seen is that of my childhood dog named Hugzy. It stuck out in my memory because it was a hilarious elf costume that covered the front of her body and had little doggy elf feet that swung around when she walked.

Cherrie Hawes, Direct Support Professional, Indiana

What is the best part of your job?
The best part of my job is the relationships and friendships I’ve built with the individuals. I really enjoy spending time with them and helping them day to day.

What is the most challenging part of your job?
I think the most challenging part is getting the individuals to trust you, and after you have that trust saying goodbye to them is very hard if they move to another provider, or a different department, or even pass away because you really do grow to love them and care for them like you would you own family.

Benchmark Names Brian Gill, VP of Behavioral Health and Crisis Services

We are excited to announce the addition of Brian Gill to Benchmark’s senior leadership team. Brian will assume a newly developed position, Vice President of Behavioral Health and Crisis Services, overseeing Georgia, Oklahoma, and Indiana Crisis programs and Alabama and Arkansas contracts, as well as any future contracts that align with behavioral health.

Brian has worked in the behavioral health field for nearly 30 years in both operations and administrative oversight. He has served as Regional Operations Director for Community Health Systems, Fort Worth, TX; Vice President of Behavioral Health for Saint Thomas Health, Nashville, TN; and Chief Executive Officer at Millwood Hospital, Arlington, TX. He holds a Master of Social Work from Walla Walla University, College Place, WA, and a Master of Business Administration from the University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ. He is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker.

Brian has been married to his wife, Heather for 25 years. They have an 18-year-old daughter, Bailey, whom Brian admits, “gets her determination from her mother and her geekiness from me.” They also have four dogs, all Boykin Spaniels. Brian enjoys weightlifting, golfing, reading a good book, and watching a good movie — just not all at the same time.

Brian begins his role with Benchmark on October 31. He will work remotely from his home in Fort Worth, Texas.

National DSP Week Recap!

Benchmark truly appreciates the incredible commitment of our front-line staff. As a special acknowledgment of this year’s National DSP Week, we asked staff from across the country to describe themselves using just one word and featured their responses on the company’s social media pages. Here are some of our favorite snapshots! Please visit the Benchmark Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter pages to see more. Thank you all for the incredible work you do!


October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM)

By Lisa Rector, Director of Employment Services

As we celebrate NDEAM this month, we honor the contributions, skills, and talents of people with disabilities as well as the important impact they have on our society. From job seeking and training to continued support, Benchmark helps individuals find employment that provides income, builds enrichment, and supports community. We start by working with individuals to identify their goals, then assist them through the job search and interview process, provide training, and continue to support them throughout their employment, providing them with on and offsite supports as they start their work, and then help them maintain their positions.

This year’s theme for NDEAM is “Disability: Part of the Equity Equation.” This recognizes the fact that people with disabilities need better employment opportunities and outcomes. According to the Census Bureau, disabled Americans make up 12% of the U.S. population, but face systemic access barriers to independent, high-quality work. The unemployment rate for people with disabilities is 10.1% which is three times the national rate for unemployment for all people.

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) became law in 1990. It prohibits discrimination and ensures equal employment opportunities for persons with disabilities. It also mandates equal access to government services, public accommodations, commercial facilities, and transportation for disabled people. While complying with accessibility laws is an adequate foundation, businesses should strive to move beyond basic compliance and achieve true equity of experience for people with disabilities.

Through Benchmark’s mission surrounding Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, our vision is “to create a diverse and equitable environment where individuals of all backgrounds and experiences have a voice and participate in making decisions that help Benchmark Human Services fulfill its mission to drive person-centered outcomes for individuals served.” In addition to providing programs that assist people with disabilities in finding and maintaining employment, we at Benchmark see that we are responsible for growing and maintaining an inclusive and barrier-free workplace, where disabled employees feel a sense of belonging.

It benefits Benchmark to discuss with and serve as an example to other employers about how to recruit, train, and hire to ensure we are opening up the process to everyone who may be a good employee. After all, an inclusive and diverse workforce includes people with disabilities.

Here are a few questions to consider when hiring:

1. What unintentional barriers are we are creating?
2. Is there a way to carve out positions based on the needs of an individual that don’t require driving, standing, lifting, or transferring, etc.?
3. Are organizations that need staff willing to fund necessary and additional training people may need due to limitations because of their disability?

Finding solutions to these questions would not only open opportunities for the people we serve in the Benchmark Employment Services program but could benefit people with disabilities who are out searching for jobs on their own and are being excluded. Benchmark can achieve our mission by encouraging changes in our society that create opportunities for everyone to equitably contribute their skills and talents to the workforce and exceed their goals.

Summer Sun on Social Media

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 Forms Partnership with Community Bridges, Inc.

Benchmark recently formed a partnership with Community Bridges, Inc., an Arizona-based organization focused on behavioral health and addiction recovery. The partnership serves to enhance services and outcomes for individuals experiencing mental health crises. Read more about this collaboration, as well as our first shared contract in Oklahoma HERE.

HomePointe HealthCare awarded Best Home Health Care 2022 by Fort Wayne Newspapers Readers’ Choice

HomePointe HealthCare has received community recognition among readers of the Fort Wayne Newspapers in Northeast Indiana as the Best Home Health Care agency in the area. In celebration, a journalist met with one of their local kiddos who is served not only by one of HomePointe’s highly trained nurses, but also by her own mother who has been trained in the new Attendant Care program. Read more about HomePointe HealthCare and the Attendant Care program HERE.


About Your Benefits


Below is a list of employees who were promoted in July, August, and September and the position to which they were promoted. Congratulations to all!


Alexandria Luse, Team Leader
Allisha Abling- Supported Living Supervisor
Angel Baker, Account Coordinator
Beth Bergen, Lead PC
Cathy Malcolm, Residential Manager
Cynthia Lockhard, Program Coordinator
Jaclyn Williams, Day Services Supervisor
Jeff Frady, Vice President
Jenee Kelly, Supported Living Manager
Kenyone Williams, Supported Living Manager
Nancy Johnson, Program Coordinator
Nicole Wickliffe, Family Preservation Case Manager
Regina Bailey, Supported Living Supervisor

Jariska Rodriguez, Crisis Zone Lead
Nancy Westmoreland, Licensed Clinical Staff

Virginia Cole, Board Certified Behavior Analyst

New Jersey
Brittany Syms, Team Leader
Donald Woodlin, Team Leader
Waidia Riddle, RN

Amy Harner, Team Leader
Andrea Walker, Team Leader
Francis Essilfie, Team Leader
Gena Moorman, Team Leader


Thrive honors employee hire anniversaries for October, November, and December, celebrating those who have worked at Benchmark for five years and longer.


Alexander Wanney – 5
Alhaji Kargbo – 5
Angela Cook – 5
Anita Proxmire – 5
Barbara Montgomery – 5
Brenda Gomillia – 5
Bridgette Barnett – 5
Brittany Harrison – 5
Catherine Shilue – 5
Chanise Harris – 5
Cynthia Marvel – 5
Deja Brown – 5
Denesha Green – 5
Dennis Arnos – 5
Diane Ziegenfelder – 5
Donald Cross – 5
Elizabeth Wambu – 5
Gina Eschman – 5
Grace Otoo – 5
Guadalupe Chavez – 5
Jane Otieno – 5
Janiya Hall – 5
Jill Prishivalko – 5
Joseph Crumbacher – 5
Kaitlin Lancaster – 5
Kari Hoover – 5
Kimberly Saffold – 5
Kiona Mayweather – 5
Krisoula Taylor – 5
Mary Waymire – 5
Megan Kosters – 5
Nancy Johnson – 5
Nathan Gadson – 5
Nicholas Keitzer – 5
Penny Bennett – 5
Qualin Redd – 5
Raad Al Mandil – 5
Robin Jennings – 5
Samantha Townsend – 5
Sandra Coons – 5
Sarah Brown – 5
Sarah Miller – 5
Shameria Jones – 5
Shanqua Smith – 5
Shari Barnes – 5
Susan Boyd – 5
Tabatha Crawford – 5
Timika Owens – 5
Tracy Friend – 5
Virgil Vigil – 5
Yusuf Issack – 5
Zipporah Jones – 5
Amy Bean – 6
Amy Williamson – 6
Brian Hegg – 6
Brianna Frankman – 6
Burie Carmichael – 6
Caryn Rice – 6
Cassandra Krebs – 6
Chelsea Gerbers – 6
Colleen Allison – 6
Daniel Becher – 6
Jacqueline Ellis – 6
Ja’Kyra Cole – 6
Jamikah Kelsaw – 6
Jasmine Dubose – 6
Jennifer Kenyon – 6
Jermika Jackson – 6
Jernita Morris – 6
Kassanesh Belay – 6
Kelli Burrous – 6
Kenna Bauer – 6
Kit Johnson – 6
Laura Sanchez – 6
Leigh Watson – 6
Linda Danielson – 6
Marc Daniels – 6
Mary Gardeman – 6
Michael Shinkle – 6
Myasia Young – 6
Nicholas Webster – 6
Nicole Henderson – 6
Odumamwen Egharevba – 6
Oluwayemisi Fawumi – 6
Patricia Johnson – 6
Samuel Nkopuruk – 6
Sana Kendrix – 6
Sara Scholten – 6
Sarah Rose – 6
Steven Janson – 6
Susan Brown – 6
Susan Sofferin – 6
Vanecia Harris – 6
Allen Ward – 7

Amy Gant – 7
Angela Kirchner – 7
Ashley Woods – 7
Austin Thomas – 7
Brian Graham – 7
Danny Boatner – 7
Erica Daniels – 7
Jacob Strole – 7
Jordan Bruner – 7
Kristy Holloway – 7
Latonya Sanchez – 7
Leales Rapp – 7
Luis Capestany – 7
Marie Hunt – 7
Mark Vella – 7
Michelle Truesdale – 7
Monique McRae – 7
Nadia Pronik – 7
Olajumoke Oladapo – 7
Ousmane Diallo – 7
Quentin Horton – 7
Rebecca Smith – 7
Rita Klosterman – 7
Sarah Meagher – 7
Stacy Vann – 7
Susan Cook – 7
Tamara Parchment – 7
Amanda Miranda – 8
Audrey Cooper – 8
Benedicto Luque-Camargo – 8
Breanna Saylor – 8
Brittany Ingram – 8
Calandera Smith – 8
Daniele Quintavalle – 8
Deloris Moore – 8
Ebere Uko – 8
Elizabeth Fasbinder – 8
Georgetta Mason-Brown – 8
Gwendolyn Suggs – 8
Janelle Archer – 8
Jennifer Patterson – 8
Jessica Wesley – 8
Jill Mayo – 8
Jolene Pettigrew – 8
Joseph Gallagher – 8
Judith King – 8
Kehinde Adeoba – 8
Lisa Goodson – 8
Nichelle Powell – 8
Oluwakemi Adedoyin – 8
Pamella Munson – 8
Penny Leas – 8
Rachael Chege – 8
Robin Kinney – 8
Samantha Brown – 8
Sol Laboy – 8
Albert Jaramillo – 9
Anette Houghton – 9
Beth Mills – 9
Coty Johnson – 9
Cynthia Lewis – 9
Damon Dear – 9
Daniel Linger – 9
Ethan Oakes – 9
Grace Lazum – 9
Helene Ettang – 9
James Paul – 9
Jessica See – 9
Jose Morales – 9
Joshua Campbell – 9
Kathy Newland – 9
Kimberly Galaviz – 9
Mario Baker – 9
Michael McKinney – 9
Ruth Perez – 9
Terry Phillips – 9
Thomas Spaur – 9
Thomas Stark – 9
Amber Moppin – 10
Cherrie Hawes – 10
Debora Baskerville – 10
Diane Smith – 10
Elizabeth Shinolt – 10
Jeffrey Nicholson – 10
Jennifer Gilbert – 10
Jessie Rush – 10
Kathy Cesar – 10
Katie Noel – 10
Latoya Jackson – 10
Samuel Ofosu – 10
Shannon McAllister – 10
Sharron Jones – 10
Stephen Agyeman – 10
Stephen Gyasi-Mensah – 10
Tori Fuhrmann – 10

Adrienne Norman – 11
Brenda Kromah – 11
Camille Solga – 11
Carolyn Cuffer – 11
Chantal Cardriche – 11
Debra Sorg – 11
Dericka Jones – 11
Devin Long – 11
Edward Agyemang – 11
Jeffery Gootee – 11
Latosha Hansley – 11
Leo Carvalho – 11
Margarita Espinosa – 11
Robert Mtika – 11
Tamera Blount – 11
Wendy Harris – 11
Abdul Barrie – 12
Amanda Richardson – 12
Amie Mansaray – 12
Angelia Glosser – 12
Bessie Sanders – 12
Craig Schmitt – 12
Crystal Toney – 12
Dawn McPheron – 12
Deborah Hatfield – 12
Donald Pozil – 12
Dorothy Wesley – 12
Jana Bunch – 12
Jennie McAllister – 12
Judy Lattanzi – 12
Laura Wadsworth – 12
Linda Griffy – 12
Lisa Hicks – 12
Marie Romulus – 12
Marla Manifold – 12
Marti Spaulding – 12
Melissa Taylor – 12
Michelle Whalen – 12
Mikeion Ewing – 12
Nakia Robertson – 12
Nicole Price – 12
Pamela Ford – 12
Patricia Everage – 12
Paul Hicks – 12
Rebecca Holladay – 12
Selam Ayele – 12
Sharon Goerler – 12
Theodore Hamilton – 12
Valerie Showalter – 12
Antonia Gatewood – 13
Harold Graham – 13
Sharon Ward – 13
Abimbola Olugbenga – 14
Andre Ottley – 14
Andrew Bostic – 14
Barbara Parks – 14
Brandon McGill – 14
Charone Logan – 14
Jackie Stuck – 14
Jasman Lyles – 14
Tyra Poindexter – 14
Esther Gichanga – 15
Frank Rousey – 15
Joshua Slone – 15
Lois Dada – 15
Michael Burdine – 15
Ryan Knodel – 15
Christine Henderson – 16
Linda Thomas-Carlisle – 16
Lucille Sweet – 16
Mamon Trotter – 16
Mariann Tindall – 16
Mary Crawford – 16
Melissa Dykes – 16
Natujwa Kivaria – 16
Deborah Ungemach – 17
Eric Weeks – 18
Josiah Chisale – 18
Karen Lewis – 18
Hellen Chimbuka – 19
Kimberly Bolen – 19
Shannon OConnell – 19
Charity Shumba – 20
George Haldar – 21
Julie Kent – 21
Lucy Maina – 21
Shari Bail – 21
Sandra Ffrench – 22
William Kartholl – 24
Ada Wilkinson – 25
Carol Telley – 27
Carl Lampton – 28
David Ross – 30
David Howe – 36

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