Benchmark Blog

Fourth Quarter Thrive – October, 2023

Oct 05, 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!

Thoughts on the Pursuit 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

My predecessor, Bill Swiss, crafted these words as part of our Corporate Principles. They have always been aspirational to me, and we have designed and implemented programs that we believe are the very best. Part of my job is to talk to state leadership teams and managed care insurance leaders about what we do and how we do it. Last week, I joined members of our development and leadership teams on a call with leaders from a state asking us to provide services. One of the state leaders made a comment that made me immensely proud. She said she checked out some of the things we say we do with states with whom we have partnered and found out we do exactly what we say we do.

In addition to being a service provider, Benchmark provides consultative work to help providers and states build capacity to care for individuals with complex needs. However, we are not typical consultants because our organization has been doing the challenging, hands-on work since our founding. At a recent meeting of leaders across Benchmark, about a third of the leadership team in attendance had started in direct care. Close to half of the leaders there had been with the organization since before Benchmark was created from the original not-for-profit in 2007. The combination of mission continuity and deep program experience has made us stand out from our competitors.

Today, a company that started as a small not-for-profit in Fort Wayne, Indiana, back in 1960 is an agency providing services in 18 states to thousands of individuals. The beauty of that growth has been the enduring focus of “one person at a time.” No matter what program you serve in, from early childhood to behavioral health crisis, each person we serve is honored and supported as an individual – at least that is our goal, which is why we continue to focus on how we improve services and reduce risk.

In 2024, we will launch an awareness campaign focusing on preventing abuse, neglect, and exploitation (ANE) and providing care through a trauma-informed lens. An unfortunate truth of our services is that many of the people we support have experienced trauma or have been repeatedly traumatized throughout their lives. This area deserves our best efforts with a focus on zero incidents of ANE. Zero. I want all of us to aspire to that as another measure of the excellence we bring in so many ways. Look for more details about the campaign soon.

Thank you for being part of something very special. Your work is truly appreciated, and it is an honor to work toward the pursuit of excellence alongside each of you.

From the Front Lines


Bruno Taylor, Family Preservation Case Manager, Indiana

What is the best part of your job?
The best part of my job is seeing the families succeed and being able to help others. I feel I was called to serve others, and I want to see people be the best version of themselves.

What is the most challenging part of your job?
The most challenging part of my job is working with difficult people who want it their way or the highway and not what’s best for the family. It’s hard to work with an official or family member who has been doing the same thing for so long and get them to try something new.

What is your favorite road trip snack and why?
Grippos and a pop. Grippos are a chip made in my hometown, Cincinnati, OH.

Lamontti Carter, Qualified Development Disabilities Professional (QDDP), Arkansas

What is the best part of your job?
I do not think there is just ONE best part of my job. Working with people with different backgrounds and coming together to support individuals in the community is very rewarding. Building relationships with the individuals we work with, seeing a smile on their face when I visit, and knowing that when I leave, I have made a positive impact on their life is gratifying. Having supervisors that are supportive of my needs to be successful and being able to grow is another good part of my job. Having teammates who are dependable and up for problem-solving challenging situations for a better outcome is very encouraging.

What is the most challenging part of your job?
The most challenging part of my job is not having enough time to support everyone and feeling like the individuals I cannot see that day are in need.

What is your favorite road trip snack and why?
Some of my preferred snacks are hot pickles, BBQ Lays chips, snickers or Milky Way candy bars, sour candy, and Coke. When I was younger, my family would travel from Michigan to Arkansas, and we would stop at a gas station in Missouri called Boom-Land. They have some of the best hot pickles and sour candy. Today, when I travel, I stop at gas stations looking for a hot pickle or some sour candy. Every morning, I stop at a gas station here in Little Rock right off the highway to get a Coke or water, a Snickers, and a hot pickle to start my day.

Jill Prishivalko, PT, DPT, Physical Therapist, Virginia

What is the best part of your job?
The best part of my job is working with children and their families. I love watching “the wheels turn” as a child is learning a new skill. It is also very rewarding to empower parents to support their children to reach their full potential.

What is the most challenging part of your job?
The most challenging part of my job is that I spend a lot of time worrying about my most medically fragile clients.

What is your favorite road trip snack and why?
As a kid, when my family would travel, we would pack a picnic lunch to eat at a rest stop along the way. I prefer to do the same with my kids when we take trips. Not only is it healthier than most fast food options, but we also get a chance to stretch our legs to break up the car ride.

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 Benchmark’s awesome DSPs, “What is your favorite hobby or activity to do off the clock?” 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!


Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee Update

Meet the Committee

Meet DEI Committee Member, Marmiko DeCeita! Marmiko manages the print and mail contract at the Indiana Government Center under AWRC’s Tandem division. Additionally, Marmiko works with Benchmark programs, particularly start-ups, on project management and implementation. She has been with the Company since 2016 and joined the DEI Committee when it was formed in 2020. Learn more about Marmiko and why this work is important to her.

Employee Resource Groups Coming Soon!

We are thrilled to share some exciting news that underscores our commitment to fostering a diverse, inclusive, and supportive workplace environment here at Benchmark.

Over the past few months, the DEI Committee has been diligently working on an initiative that is influenced by your feedback from our DEI survey and comments you have shared, which we believe will greatly enhance our workplace culture and employee experience. We are in the process of developing Employee Resource Groups (ERGs), which are designed to create a sense of belonging, provide support, and champion diversity and inclusion within our organization.

In the coming weeks, we will be reaching out with more information on ERGs and details on how you can join and contribute. Look for more soon!

Simply HR to Host Monthly Virtual DEI Training Sessions

Hermence Matsotsa, MPH. Ed from SIMPLY HR, will continue 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!

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

With You Until the End – One DSP’s Promise

It’s no secret that DSPs and front-line staff are the backbone of this organization. The work these employees do each day has a significant impact on the lives of those we serve. For Robert Ruddy, an individual Benchmark served in New Jersey, Denise, one of his DSPs, was more than just an employee who worked with him; she was the person who would hold his hand while he transitioned from this world.

At 59 years of age, when Robert was diagnosed with metastatic cancer that advanced quickly, Denise Thompson, a DSP with whom Robert had forged a bond, committed to being by his side. Robert was in and out of the hospital and rehab throughout his illness, but eventually entered hospice care. For the last month of his life, Denise visited Robert nearly every day – when she was off the clock. Together, they enjoyed singing and listening to music. Denise brought Robert all his favorite foods. But that wasn’t all – Denise helped Robert prepare for the end of life.

Karen Bischoff, Director of Nursing for Benchmark in New Jersey, shared Robert and Denise’s story, which had an enormous impact on her and the entire NJ team. “Denise was with Robert until the end,” she said. “She laughed with him, cried with him, helped him plan his funeral, and helped him to reach a place of acceptance,” Karen said. Robert passed away in July, but before he did, he made sure to ask Denise if she was going to be okay. She reassured him she would.

“The hardest thing to do in life is to help someone die,” said Karen. “Denise was such a gift to Robert. We should all be so lucky to have someone so dedicated by our side until the end.”

End of 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.


New Business

In Georgia, Benchmark launched the new Community Action Treatment (CAT) teams pilot program.

Led by Director Nikhol B. Jackson (LPC, MFT, BC-TMH, CPCS), the CAT program serves youth up to 21 at risk for out-of-home placement. We provide community-based therapy to young people and their families, working together to build comprehensive support that promotes family unity and fosters long-term stability and resilience.

In Alabama, Benchmark began providing Intensive Care Coordination (ICC) for children with Autism to coordinate extensive support needs in the home and community.

“Our team is already making a meaningful impact,” says Melanie Bald, Alabama State Director. “We are grateful for the opportunity to improve the lives of those we serve as a new provider in the state of Alabama.”


Camp Red Cedar had Another Banner Year!

One of the goals of Camp Red Cedar for 2023 was to reach out to more members of the community than ever before, through camp attendance, special event hosting, and wedding and corporate rentals.

Camp Red Cedar hosted 9,787 total visitors, participants, and campers this year! In addition to camps, they hosted a variety of events, including multiple sensory-friendly movie nights, field trips, and Equine Assisted Learning opportunities. 7,654 persons visited CRC through wedding and corporate rentals, and a total of 857 community patrons attended special events including Showdeo, Fall Fest, and the Fort Wayne All Abilities Co-op.



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!


Lisa Ferrentino, Team Leader

Lori Heayberd, HR Generalist
Vonda Jackson, CNA
Magalie Brun, Registered Behavior Tech
Jamesha McCray, CNA
Corwin Smith, Paraprofessional
Cecily Brown, Licensed Clinical Staff

Rachel Johnson, Residential Manager
Whitney Parker, Residential Manager
Eunique Vaughn, Residential Manager
CW Halfacre, Program Coordinator
De’Carlos Mosby, Program Coordinator
Jamie Williams, Assistant Director

Tyree McCreight, Supported Living Manager
Kyra O’Conner, Registered Behavior Tech
Qualin Redd, Program Coordinator

Heather Novak, Residential Manager
Rory Martin, Residential Manager

New Jersey
Daniele Quintavalle, Director of Staffing Operations
Christina Rodriguez, HR Generalist
Vanessa Jones, Residential Manager
Holly Baran, HR Generalist

Dale Oldenburg, Team Leader


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


Alexus Aubuchon – 5
Alice Njoroge – 5
Alyssa Rupp – 5
Bianca Jainagerker – 5
Brandi Blue – 5
Cathleen Baudendistel – 5
Cedrick Cox – 5
Charles Harris – 5
Connie Parrish – 5
Demetria Hill – 5
Dennis Smith – 5
Gabrielle Maufas – 5
Haymanot Tariku – 5
Jennifer McGillicuddy – 5
Kaitlyn Chainey – 5
Karen Belgrave – 5
Kristi Scheer – 5
LaQunietta Andrews – 5
LaShawn Brown – 5
Leena Nair – 5
Lisa Ford – 5
Lori Stethem – 5
Markevia Barber-Paschal – 5
Mary Kungu – 5
Mildred Davis – 5
Nathaniel Kramer – 5
Odalys Barnett – 5
Overton Chiphwanya – 5
Patrick Iyakaremye – 5
Pontien Nibasumba – 5
Shannah Schnur – 5
Tara Kaiser – 5
Teaera Newson – 5
Tramayne Lyons – 5
Whitney Marcum – 5
Wileyka Sherrod – 5
William Scott – 5
Alexander Wanney – 6
Alhaji Kargbo – 6
Angela Cook – 6
Anita Proxmire – 6
Barbara Montgomery – 6
Brenda Gomillia – 6
Brittany Harrison – 6
Catherine Shilue – 6
Chanise Harris – 6
Cynthia Marvel – 6
Deja Brown – 6
Denesha Green – 6
Dennis Arnos – 6
Diane Ziegenfelder – 6
Donald Cross – 6
Elizabeth Wambu – 6
Grace Otoo – 6
Guadalupe Chavez – 6
Janiya Hall – 6
Jill Prishivalko – 6
Joseph Crumbacher – 6
Kaitlin Lancaster – 6
Kari Hoover – 6
Kimberly Saffold – 6
Kiona Mayweather – 6
Krisoula Taylor – 6
Mary Waymire – 6
Megan Kosters – 6
Nancy Johnson – 6
Nathan Gadson – 6
Nicholas Keitzer – 6
Penny Bennett – 6
Qualin Redd – 6
Raad Al Mandil – 6
Sarah Brown – 6
Sarah Miller – 6
Shameria Jones – 6
Shanqua Smith – 6
Shari Barnes – 6
Susan Boyd – 6
Tabatha Crawford – 6
Timika Owens – 6
Tracy Friend – 6
Virgil Vigil – 6
Yusuf Issack – 6
Zipporah Jones – 6
Amanda Cashen – 7
Amy Bean – 7
Amy Williamson – 7
Brian Hegg – 7
Brianna Frankman – 7
Burie Carmichael – 7
Caryn Rice – 7
Cassandra Krebs – 7
Chelsea Gerbers – 7
Colleen Allison – 7
Daniel Becher – 7
Jacqueline Ellis – 7
Ja’Kyra Cole – 7
Jamikah Kelsaw – 7

Jennifer Kenyon – 7
Jermika Jackson – 7
Kassanesh Belay – 7
Kelli Burrous – 7
Kenna Bauer – 7
Laura Sanchez – 7
Leigh Watson – 7
Linda Danielson – 7
Marc Daniels – 7
Mary Gardeman – 7
Michael Shinkle – 7
Myasia Young – 7
Nicholas Webster – 7
Odumamwen Egharevba – 7
Oluwayemisi Fawumi – 7
Patricia Johnson – 7
Samuel Nkopuruk – 7
Sana Kendrix – 7
Sara Scholten – 7
Sarah Rose – 7
Steven Janson – 7
Susan Brown – 7
Susan Sofferin – 7
Vanecia Harris – 7
Wendy Machado – 7
Allen Ward – 8
Amy Gant – 8
Angela Kirchner – 8
Ashley Woods – 8
Austin Thomas – 8
Brian Graham – 8
Danny Boatner – 8
Erica Daniels – 8
Jacob Strole – 8
Jordan Bruner – 8
Kristy Holloway – 8
Lakeesha Burnett – 8
Latonya Sanchez – 8
Leales Rapp – 8
Mark Vella – 8
Monique McRae – 8
Nadia Pronik – 8
Ousmane Diallo – 8
Quentin Horton – 8
Rebecca Smith – 8
Rita Klosterman – 8
Sarah Meagher – 8
Stacy Vann – 8
Susan Cook – 8
Tamara Parchment – 8
Audrey Cooper – 9
Benedicto Luque-Camargo – 9
Breanna Saylor – 9
Brittany Ingram – 9
Calandera Smith – 9
Daniele Quintavalle – 9
Delores Saxton – 9
Ebere Uko – 9
Elizabeth Fasbinder – 9
Georgetta Mason-Brown – 9
Gwendolyn Suggs – 9
Janelle Archer – 9
Jennifer Patterson – 9
Jessica Wesley – 9
Jill Mayo – 9
Jolene Pettigrew – 9
Joseph Gallagher – 9
Judith King – 9
Kehinde Adeoba – 9
Lisa Goodson – 9
Nichelle Powell – 9
Oluwakemi Adedoyin – 9
Pamella Munson – 9
Robin Kinney – 9
Samantha Brown – 9
Sol Laboy – 9
Albert Jaramillo – 10
Anette Houghton – 10
Beth Mills – 10
Coty Johnson – 10
Cynthia Lewis – 10
Dale Toth – 10
Damon Dear – 10
Daniel Linger – 10
Ethan Oakes – 10
Helene Ettang – 10
James Paul – 10
Jessica See – 10
Jose Morales – 10
Kathy Newland – 10
Kimberly Galaviz – 10
Mario Baker – 10
Michael McKinney – 10
Ruth Perez – 10
Terry Phillips – 10
Thomas Spaur – 10
Thomas Stark – 10

Amber Moppin – 11
Cherrie Hawes – 11
Debora Baskerville – 11
Diane Smith – 11
Jeffrey Nicholson – 11
Jennifer Gilbert – 11
Jessie Rush – 11
Kathy Cesar – 11
Katie Noel – 11
Latoya Jackson – 11
Samuel Ofosu – 11
Shannon McAllister – 11
Stephen Agyeman – 11
Stephen Gyasi-Mensah – 11
Tori Fuhrmann – 11
Adrienne Norman – 12
Brenda Kromah – 12
Camille Solga – 12
Carolyn Cuffer – 12
Chantal Cardriche – 12
Dericka Jones – 12
Devin Long – 12
Edward Agyemang – 12
Jeffery Gootee – 12
Margarita Espinosa – 12
Robert Mtika – 12
Tamera Blount – 12
Wendy Harris – 12
Abdul Barrie – 13
Amanda Richardson – 13
Amie Mansaray – 13
Angelia Glosser – 13
Bessie Sanders – 13
Craig Schmitt – 13
Crystal Toney – 13
Dawn McPheron – 13
Donald Pozil – 13
Dorothy Wesley – 13
Jana Bunch – 13
Jennie McAllister – 13
Judy Lattanzi – 13
Laura Wadsworth – 13
Linda Griffy – 13
Lisa Hicks – 13
Marie Romulus – 13
Melissa Taylor – 13
Michelle Whalen – 13
Mikeion Ewing – 13
Nakia Robertson – 13
Nicole Price – 13
Patricia Everage – 13
Paul Hicks – 13
Selam Ayele – 13
Theodore Hamilton – 13
Valerie Showalter – 13
Harold Graham – 14
Sharon Ward – 14
Abimbola Olugbenga – 15
Andre Ottley – 15
Andrew Bostic – 15
Brandon McGill – 15
Charone Logan – 15
Jasman Lyles – 15
Tyra Poindexter – 15
Frank Rousey – 16
Joshua Slone – 16
Lois Dada – 16
Michael Burdine – 16
Ryan Knodel – 16
Christine Henderson – 17
Linda Thomas-Carlisle – 17
Lucille Sweet – 17
Mamon Trotter – 17
Mariann Tindall – 17
Mary Crawford – 17
Melissa Dykes – 17
Natujwa Kivaria – 17
Deborah Ungemach – 18
Eric Weeks – 19
Josiah Chisale – 19
Karen Lewis – 19
Kimberly Bolen – 20
Shannon O’Connell – 20
Charity Shumba – 21
Jennifer Welch – 21
George Haldar – 22
Julie Kent – 22
Lucy Maina – 22
Shari Bail – 22
Sandra Ffrench – 23
William Kartholl – 25
Ada Wilkinson – 26
Carol Telley – 28
Carl Lampton – 29
David Ross – 31
David Howe – 37

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