Benchmark Blog

Third Quarter Thrive – July, 2023

Jul 06, 2023
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!

In Search of Excellence

By Doug Beebe, Benchmark CEO

“Our goal is to build the finest agency in the country. Anything we do will be done in an excellent manner or not done. – Benchmark Corporate Principles

I often think of our corporate principles when I consider where Benchmark and AWRC have been and where we are going. Our organization has history that extends back to 1960, and the hallmark of our services is to do what other organizations will not do or cannot do. The result of that is states turn to us when facing seemingly unsolvable problems. This includes taking over an operation known as Your Friends and Neighbors in Indiana with less than a day’s notice, taking over homes in New Jersey from a provider that failed to provide appropriate care or fiscal management, rapidly expanding case management in South Dakota from no staff to serving over 2,000 people in six months, and growing our Infant and Toddler services in Connecticut by over five times. Another example in Indiana has been the start of mobile crisis response services. Four agencies were awarded an RFP to start services, and AWRC had theirs up and running for several months before any other provider. We have numerous other examples, and all of them were successfully created great outcomes for the individuals being served. The key is that all of our services grow one person at a time.

The way this has happened is through your work. When I talk with those we serve, their families and guardians, and even state officials, they talk about the work you do on a daily basis and the impact that has had on the person they love or support. I know that we often have training or drills that seem like just another thing to do, but they are all done with a single purpose: to better support those we serve.

As you see trainings focused on things like abuse and neglect or trauma-informed services, they are because so many of those we serve have been abused, neglected, and exploited, and as a result, have had trauma-filled lives. By focusing on what this means for each person we serve, we help them live better and more secure lives. This in turn drives a level of excellence that many in our field never reach. Thank you for all you do for those we serve. Nothing is more important.

From the Front Lines


Kenneth Ennals, DSP, Maryland

What is the best part of your job?
The best part of my job is providing services to the individuals, and seeing my impact in their behaviors, changing from high frequency to low frequency. I like to see that progress.

What is the most challenging part of your job?
The most challenging part of my job is when individuals struggle to reach their full potential under my care.

Other than your cell phone, what is one modern electronic device or appliance you could not live without and why?
I can’t live day-to-day without my TV. I love to watch old TV shows.

Mamie Seigle, DSP, Georgia

What is the best part of your job?
Working with people, knowing and seeing the positive impact I can have on their lives is the most rewarding part of my job. It’s amazing to see how I can help improve someone’s quality of life and help them achieve their goals.

What is the most challenging part of your job?
Managing challenging and sometimes violent behaviors is one of the most difficult aspects of my job. It can be both challenging and rewarding. Whether it is the first instance or one of many experiences, crisis can be a unique opportunity for individuals and families to connect to life-changing treatment, support, and education in an atmosphere of respect and compassion.

Other than your cell phone, what is one modern electronic device or appliance you could not live without and why?
My laptop is an essential part of my daily routine. It provides me with the necessary search engines, resources, tools, and information needed for work, communications, entertainment, and keeping up with the latest news.

Destiney Williams, DSP, Georgia

What is the best part of your job?
The best part of my job is being able to provide assistance to the individuals and make a significant difference in their lives.

What is the most challenging part of your job?
The most challenging part of my job is making sure staff follow the behavior intervention plan. Consistency really makes a difference in decreasing the individual’s behaviors.

Other than your cell phone, what is one modern electronic device or appliance you could not live without and why?
I could not live without my iPad. I love to easily access my television shows while I am on the go to make time pass rapidly.

Jamie Hendry, DSP, Indiana

What is the best part of your job?
The best part of my job is when the individuals I work with tell me I’m like a sister to them. Also, the look on their faces when they learn a new skill. They take pride in their day-to-day routines and activities and it is a privilege to see them happy with their accomplishments and implementing new things in their lives.

What is the most challenging part of your job?
One of the most challenging parts of my job was when an individual experienced a loss in her family. It was a Monday around 9:00 AM when we received a phone call and that was a challenging time to see her grieving somebody so significant in her life.

Other than your cell phone, what is one modern electronic device or appliance you could not live without and why?
One thing that I probably couldn’t live without is a microwave. With constantly being on the go, I have become quite dependent on popping my food in the microwave for a quick bite.

Summer Fun 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 FacebookInstagram, 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.


Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee Update

DEI and Organizational Structure

As Chair of Benchmark’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee, Dr. Antoinette Thornton is passionate about how DEI work plays into the organizational culture of a company. Read more here.

Meet the Committee

Meet Howard Smith. Howard is the director of the System Point of Entry (SPOE) Early Intervention program in St. Louis, Missouri. He also serves as a member of Benchmark’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee. Learn more about why Howard believes DEI is important at Benchmark.

Simply HR to Host Monthly Virtual DEI Training Sessions

Beginning later this month, Hermence Matsotsa, MPH. Ed – Senior DEIA, leadership development, and psychological safety in the workplace Training and Development Specialist with SIMPLY HR, will be hosting monthly trainings via Zoom, open to all Benchmark employees. Topics span a variety of subjects and will be delivered with the intent to foster a workplace culture of inclusion and belonging. Dates, topics, and registration links follow. If you plan to attend please click the link to register. You can find more detailed information about each training by visiting the Diversity & Inclusion page on the Intranet and clicking on Training and Resources.

We hope to see you on Zoom!

Foundations of DEIA: Building Inclusive and Equitable Environments
Wednesday, July 26, 12:00 pm – 1 pm EST
Registration Link

Breaking Barriers: Addressing Implicit Bias for a More Inclusive Workplace
Wednesday, August 23, 12:00 pm – 1 pm EST
Registration Link

Allyship in Action: Empowering Leadership and Employees to Create and Sustain an Inclusive Workplace Culture
Wednesday, September 20, 12:00 pm – 1 pm EST
Registration Link

Nurturing Psychological Safety: Cultivating a Supportive Environment for Quality Services
Wednesday, October 25, 12:00 pm – 1 pm EST
Registration Link

From Awareness to Action: Embracing Disability and Neurodiversity in DEIA Work Cultures Wednesday, November 29, 12:00 pm – 1 pm EST
Registration Link

A Life-Saving Intervention

Benchmark recently received an incredible testimonial honoring the work of Marissa Portee, a licensed professional counselor in the Georgia Crisis Program. “Marissa started with Benchmark as a paraprofessional ten years ago. She worked hard in school to become a LPC. The team has always been aware of our passion for individuals in crisis. She doesn’t hide it well,” said Cindy Driggers, Region 1 Director of Crisis Services. Kudos to Marissa on the vital work she does each day!

“This letter is to acknowledge the excellence in service experienced today with Marissa Portee, LPC as she assisted our school in dealing with a student in crisis. As a school counselor for 26 years, this was the first time a student attempted suicide in my office. As much experience as I have, what I needed at that moment was a third-party professional to assess the situation and guide me through a protocol to help this student and his family. I am so thankful for Marissa, the mobile crisis phone line, and the use of tele-medicine to ensure the crisis could be handled in real-time rather than waiting until a mobile unit could arrive. Marissa took the time to ask me the appropriate questions. She then talked to the mom and the student to assess next steps. Her guidance was integral in getting this family in the right place to receive help.

I know my fellow school counselors will be glad to hear of this excellent service. While it is one that we hope we never need to call, it is very comforting to know that there are people like Marissa who are here to partner on behalf of our student’s mental health.”

– School Counselor, Cobb County School District

Creating Efficiencies and Process Improvement at Benchmark

At Benchmark, we strive to make processes more efficient by incorporating Lean Six Sigma practices into our work, adding value that ultimately benefits employees and individuals served. Our Lean Six Sigma teams recently worked on some process improvements with Marion, IN, South Dakota, and Tandem teams. In Marion, we found clarity about the IST process to make the trainings more effective and take less work and time. In South Dakota, we helped with the admissions and discharge processes to be more effective and repeatable. We also worked with our Tandem team to make more efficient mail delivery routes at the Indianapolis Government Center.

Do you have a process or pain point that could use help? Go to the Intranet, then under Employee Links, click LSS Project Suggestions, and tell us about your idea.

Interested in learning more about Lean Six Sigma and becoming certified as part of the Lean Six Sigma team? Take the Lean Six Sigma White Belt course on the HUB, then email [email protected] to continue to the Yellow Belt and Green Belt levels. Yellow Belt trainings are being planned for September and November.

Benchmark’s Yellow Belt and Green Belt teams:


Yellow Belt
Amanda Musser
Amanda Richardson
Amy Rumpf
Angie Heller
Daniele Quintavalle
Jeff Harris
Kristi Scheer
Leslie Armstrong
Marmiko DeCeita
Nicole Krouse
Rick Adams
Simon May
Todd Staszak

Green Belt
Ben Harrison
Courtney Heiser
David Ross
Eric Weeks
Kim Galaviz
Kim Muhlenkamp
Marc Rumpf
Margie Cantey
Meredith Starks
Sarah Chestnut

An Afternoon Well Spent

Members of our senior leadership team spent the day doing some cleanup work at the homes of individuals in our residential program in Fort Wayne, IN. Thanks to everyone who took the time to help out!



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!


Carly Wysoczanski, Team Leader

Andrea Steen, Associate Licensed Clinical Staff
Shawnta Green, CNA

Trinity Hartnell, Behavior Specialist

New Jersey
Kacianne Sealy, Assistant Director
Raeshonna Hill, Team Leader

Alexandria Luse, Director
Brittney Whaley, Activities Coordinator
Calma Harris, HR Office Coordinator
David Herrmann, Senior Software Manager
De’Carlos Mosby, Supported Living Manager
Douglas Rhoads, Employment Consultant
Eunique Vaughn, Residential Manager
Evan Bonne, Client Financial Specialist
Jamie Williams, Lead Program Coordinator
Jennifer Bauer, Area Director
Jessica Jaquess, Team Leader
Kim Leal, Area Director
Kylie Agne, Clinical Care Manager
Marie Harden, Residential Manager
Megan Adams, Supported Living Supervisor
Ornella Kashala, Supported Living Manager
Tracy Friend, Day Services Supervisor


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


Ammaad Sims – 5
Andrea Garriott – 5
Arita Wheeler – 5
Ashley Griffith – 5
Baseema Butler – 5
Benjamin Thompson – 5
Chad King – 5
Cicerly Clemons – 5
Cindy Ellefson – 5
Cynthia Lockhard – 5
Cynthia Mitchell – 5
Diane Mount – 5
Eric Abban – 5
Ina Young – 5
Jada Singh – 5
James Byrne – 5
Jeffrey Marcum – 5
Kaitlin Lamison – 5
Kathryn Saffer – 5
Kevin Harvey – 5
Lenora Sims – 5
Linda Ford – 5
Malik Lockett – 5
Marissa Myers – 5
Megan Munoz – 5
Michael Nthiga – 5
Mickayla Moye – 5
Mykayla Sims – 5
Onyedika Opara – 5
Radiance Carter – 5
Ramel Abercrombie – 5
Rebecca Denison – 5
Richard Wells – 5
Siera Jackson – 5
Tamlyn Fowler-Lee – 5
Tao Bartleson Mosley – 5
Amanda Brewer – 6
Amie Decker – 6
Amy McNiel – 6
Angela DuBois – 6
Anita Daigle – 6
Antonio Ward – 6
Brian Croft – 6
Clara Hathaway – 6
Courtney Bierle – 6
Courtney ODell – 6
Debbra Anderson – 6
Donna Thomas – 6
Drema Myers – 6
Eboni Calhoun – 6
Ernestine Whitney – 6
Grace Manga – 6
Jamica Taylor – 6
Jariatu Collier – 6
Jawand Brannon – 6
John Martin – 6
Kendra Nolton – 6
Kristina Maxwell – 6
Leah Leidholdt-Bauer – 6
Mandy Ditto – 6
Melanie Ross – 6
Oluyinka Adebisi – 6
Sadie Johnson – 6
Saintecile Theodore – 6
Shana Allen – 6
Shandareen Sanders – 6
Shandrel Riddle-Thelwell – 6
Stacey Stevens – 6
Teresia Gichachi – 6
Te’Zhira Heard – 6
Thomas Dennin-Beebe – 6
Vicky Grubbs – 6
Victoria Heiser – 6
Yves Rutagengwa – 6
Ashlee Okane – 7
Babila Mba – 7
Bernadette Bill – 7
Christopher Diehl – 7
Cindy Stolte Brown – 7
Cleta Griffin – 7
Cynthia Hughes – 7
Daisy Johnston – 7
Darius Williams – 7
Edward Dahlkamp – 7
Elisa Della Ventura – 7
Heather Maas – 7
Jeanne Smith – 7
Jennifer Bush – 7
Joy Scholten – 7
Joyce Aaron – 7
Juliet Ihedike – 7
Kalan Phinezy – 7
Kenneth Keegan – 7

Kenneth MacCutcheon – 7
Martha Williams – 7
Merlande Deravil – 7
Nancy Westmoreland – 7
Nicole Cocce – 7
Nicole Ives – 7
Norma Jackson – 7
Portia Lewis – 7
Richard Adams – 7
Robert Kirkwood – 7
Sharlet Davis-Sandles – 7
Shonta Hazel – 7
Stephanie Dennis – 7
Summer Gerry – 7
Tiana Gaddis – 7
Anna Geething – 8
Annette Powers Kilburn – 8
Anthony Zephy – 8
Ashley King – 8
Brandy Crawford – 8
Emily Grohnke – 8
Joanna Gallagher – 8
Kameisha Johnson – 8
Kelly Kroeger – 8
Laura Kauffman – 8
Lisa Hendrix – 8
Miriam Sisay – 8
Renardo Gleenio – 8
Robertson Asamoah – 8
Rosena Roberts – 8
Ameria Sheriff – 9
Beth Weiss – 9
Brenda Aguilar – 9
Christina Norris – 9
Dennis Meyer – 9
Isaac Ogundairo – 9
Janelle Jansson – 9
Jody Martin – 9
Leshan Dix – 9
Meagan Hemenway – 9
Paula Wynn – 9
Robin Horn – 9
Shadrack Mibeere – 9
Sonya Burnett – 9
Alex Berrios – 10
Angel Ripoll – 10
Ann Wainaina – 10
Brenda Severns – 10
Christy Ware-Payne – 10
Dawn Brown – 10
Eucharia Okendu – 10
JoAnn Taylor – 10
Julia Hooper – 10
Kacianne Sealy – 10
Kristin Adkins – 10
Marissa Spiess – 10
Megan Tracy – 10
Mysti Joye – 10
Noelle Utley – 10
Patrice Buchanan – 10
Patti Greer – 10
Paul Kabutha – 10
Sandra Houston – 10
Shannon Winston – 10
Sue Ellis – 10
Valencia Davidson – 10
Willie Gardner – 10
Andrea Walker – 11
Angela Couch – 11
Brenda Quintana – 11
Bueford McKinney – 11
Christa Smith – 11
Danielle Smith – 11
Diane Ressler – 11
Eureke Moorman – 11
Festus Bolarinde – 11
Gloria Baity – 11
Jason Frame – 11
Karen Geiger – 11
Lamont Johnson – 11
Mallory Leatherman – 11
Maryann Caldwell – 11
Nicole Infante Forsythe – 11
Rodney Geis – 11
Selly War – 11
Sharon Jackson – 11
Tamera Pendarvis – 11
Anjali Joshi – 12
Antionette Godwin – 12
Antwan Byrd – 12
Army Burks – 12
Betty Holloway – 12
Charles Osei – 12

Christine Taylor – 12
Connie Walters – 12
Cynthia Driggers – 12
Denise Good – 12
Franklin Briggs – 12
Franklin Davis – 12
George Harris – 12
Ginger Sunbom – 12
Jayne Spitznogle – 12
Jeanne Warno – 12
Jerri Flowers – 12
John Sesay – 12
Joyce Johnson – 12
Kwabena Boaitey – 12
LaShonda Thomas – 12
Litonlya Lester – 12
Marcia Fowlkes – 12
Max Gilyan – 12
Peter Belsky – 12
Robert Ashlock – 12
Sharon Sanchez – 12
Teresa Salemi-Gumiran – 12
Thomas Foster – 12
William Hopkins – 12
Derrick McGraw – 13
Gladys Muchemi – 13
Jean Beausoleil – 13
John Guercio – 13
Kimberly Finn – 13
Leslie Armstrong – 13
Maritza Baden – 13
Minerva Coker – 13
Olasunkanmi Faturoti – 13
Tony Rainbolt – 13
Vicki Kennedy – 13
Beatrice Macharia – 14
Cassandra Clubb – 14
Christina Narasimhan – 14
Courtney Schaffner – 14
David Muthike – 14
Eileen Baker – 14
Heather Morelan – 14
Jodi Phillips – 14
Joella Wiggins – 14
Katie Flinner – 14
Kristen Gentilini – 14
May Listenberger – 14
Melody Bolka – 14
Nancy McClimans – 14
Peter Mbugguss – 14
Ruth Nothdurft – 14
Solomon Daniel – 14
Victoria Halbert – 14
Alice Pilarski – 15
Amanda Musser – 15
Amber Adams – 15
Deborah Cartwright – 15
Kristina Lambert – 15
Tamara Nash – 15
Dewayne Totten – 16
Erma Wims – 16
Evelyn Gillespie – 16
Gladys Arlotta – 16
Janet Mullins – 16
Jayne Underwood – 16
Philip Boakye – 16
Robert Taylor – 16
Jeffry Harris – 17
Kerrie Miller – 17
Michelle Maio-Venezia – 17
Jason McCain – 18
Rosa Sturgis – 18
Lennie Singano – 20
Mbaso Katundu – 20
Margaret Davis – 21
Tammy Schmitt – 21
David Casebourn – 22
Angela Heller – 23
Wilma Gaustad – 23
Cynthia Graeber – 24
Lorraine Di Novo – 24
Mary Zumbaugh – 24
Holly Eykholt – 25
Joy Dennison – 25
Elaine Berning – 25
Brandy Patterson – 26
Michelle Desmonds – 26
Thomas Titus – 26
Karen Lichtsinn – 29
Anne Titus – 31
Margie Cantey – 32
Karen Shollenberger – 35

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