Benchmark Blog

First Quarter Thrive – January, 2024

Jan 04, 2024
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!

Some Thoughts on Thriving

By Doug Beebe, Benchmark CEO

I recently had the opportunity to meet and spend time with two different groups of aspiring Benchmark leaders through our Management 202 efforts in Georgia and New Jersey. They represented a wide array of programs, but touched on a common theme. How can they, as leaders, and Benchmark, as a company, address the stress and burnout our staff experience as a result of being so intimately involved in other people’s lives?

There are several approaches we can take, but before anything else, we need to acknowledge these feelings are real and can happen to any of us. Sometimes it is ok to say “I need to tap out.” When we don’t, ordinary interactions can take on a new weight. Many of us come to work carrying the stress of firsthand or secondary trauma from our personal lives. Events at work can act as a trigger and provoke a strong response, one that is often not therapeutic, and unfortunately, sometimes abusive.

No one comes to work with a goal of hurting someone else, and we need to assist and support each other to ensure things never escalate to that level. This month, we kick off a year-long campaign focused on preventing abuse. Part of the I am Aware campaign will focus on understanding one’s own triggers and taking care of ourselves. There are a few things we can do to that end.

Benchmark offers free counseling as a staff benefit, open to any employee who can use the support. In addition to taking advantage of free counseling, I highly recommend switching staff out, including yourself, when stress is building. We need to recognize tapping out as a sign of strength rather than weakness, and give each other permission to let go and step out when needed. Eat a good diet and don’t get in the habit of eating quick and empty calories. Exercise regularly — whether you go to a gym, walk a dog, play some ball — as long as you move several times a week. Lastly, try to remember what you did with your days before you had total access to social media feeds. I encourage you to put down your phones and try making real life connections. These are just a few things we can do to improve our mental and emotional health – all of which leads to providing better care to those we serve.

As always, thank you for all you do to make other’s lives a little better every day.

From the Front Lines


Megan D’Aquino, Case Manager, Georgia

What is the best part of your job?
The best part is knowing I get to positively impact the lives of the families we serve. There is no better feeling as a case manager than hearing a parent’s appreciation for your support or the success stories of their children.

What is the most challenging part of your job?
The most challenging part would have to be the obstacles we face when trying to meet a need for a family. Lack of resources, simple access, insurance coverage, and the availability of mental health services are limited in many rural areas.

What is your favorite holiday cookie?
My favorite holiday cookie is a pudding cookie. This is a family recipe that has been passed down from several generations. Some of my favorite childhood Christmas memories are making cookies with my grandma and mom as we look through our family recipe books.

Kyre Barbour, DSP, Ohio

What is the best part of your job?
The best part of my job is knowing I can make a difference in someone else’s life. Whether it is making them a hot meal, taking them to the doctor, or just being there for them.

What is the most challenging part of your job?
The challenging part of my job is getting them to talk with me and trust me. I believe trust can go a long way with the people we serve. Without trust, we have nothing.

What is your favorite holiday cookie?
My favorite holiday cookies are the Royal Dansk Butter Cookies and Christmas tree sugar cookies. My grandmother always purchased them when she went to the store during the holidays. They would all be eaten within a couple of days. I look forward to the butter cookies every year!

Holiday and Winter 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!


DEIA Committee Welcomes New Members

The Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Accessibility (DEIA) Committee is pleased to announce we have added two new members to our Committee. Angie Honshell, area director overseeing supported living and day services in Cincinnati. Ohio and Amber Edwards, mental health clinician for the Georgia Community Action Treatment Program, were selected through an application and interview process to join the Committee.

Angie started her career with Benchmark as a DSP, and will celebrate 13 years with the organization this year. She began supporting people with developmental disabilities in high school. “Instead of spending time in study hall, I would volunteer my time with peers in specialized learning classes,” Honshell said. “I have a proven track record of creating positive and meaningful relationships with the people we support and our employees.” Angie is passionate about DEIA work and has spent much of her life cultivating relationships with people from all walks of life. In her free time, you can find her with ear pods on a hiking trail somewhere in Ohio with her 6-year-old Boxer, Lucas, or in a crowd watching her favorite student-athlete.


Amber Edwards joined Benchmark in August working with the new Georgia CAT team. She has a variety of experience in the behavioral health field, from being an intensive community-based clinician to working in the psychiatric crisis unit in an emergency department to working in a multidimensional family therapy group home with teenage females. She is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) and registered play therapist. Amber says her mission is to support the community by healing the hearts of families and bringing them closer together through the services she provides. “I value faith, family, and being the change that I want to see in the world. If I grow, you grow, and we all grow.” Outside of work, Amber enjoys bible study, attending faith-based services and activities, cooking, baking, knitting, crocheting, getting outdoors, and exercising.

Meet the Committee

Meet DEI Committee Member, Courtney Heiser. Courtney is the Chief Culture Officer for Benchmark and is deeply invested in helping to ensure Benchmark is a place where every person – whether an individual served, employee, or partner — feels a sense of belonging.

Employment Services Helps Logan Find Success

Meet Logan. Logan was referred to Benchmark’s Employment Services program in the fall of 2022 in the hopes of finding community employment. He worked with employment consultant Brook Patterson to discover his interests, experiences, and employment goals. Logan was eager to work but hesitant because he is highly sensitive to noise, and this was a barrier in the past.

With Logan’s goals and needs in mind, the Employment Services team turned to their well-established partnership with the City of Indianapolis to explore finding a position for him. They arranged an informal interview with the Indianapolis International Airport (G2), where Logan was able to meet the employer and preview the tasks of the job – a job he was offered and began in December of 2022.

Logan performs a variety of tasks as an oversized baggage clerk. He is responsible for picking up oversized luggage, stocking the security buckets, and interacting with guests. Logan is contributing to his community and is valued by his supervisors at the Airport.

Logan has grown in his confidence. He recently accepted additional duties with higher pay and was able to buy a car. The Employment Services team is very proud of Logan and his success!

The Impact of Lean Six Sigma is Growing

Benchmark is using Lean Six Sigma (LSS) to make our work more efficient and impactful! LSS is a team-focused approach that seeks to improve performance by eliminating waste and error and streamlining processes.

Is there a process in your day-to-day work that could be more efficient? Tell us about it HERE.

Want to know more about LSS? Take the Lean Six Sigma White Belt course on the HUB and sign up for our next Yellow Belt class on 03/07/24 from 1:00-4:00 PM. Contact Ben Harrison for more information or if you would like to receive further LSS training.

Georgia Advisory Group Provides Frontline Perspective

In 2013, Benchmark’s Crisis Services team in Georgia developed an internal advisory committee comprised of direct care and clinical staff from the mobile crisis and IDD crisis homes. From the perspective of the staff closest to the provision of services, the Committee advises leadership on how to increase the quality of services. In other words, Benchmark’s leadership in Georgia seeks input from staff who are doing the work.

In 2023, the Committee held two Zoom meetings – in June and September, then came together for an in-person meeting in Milledgeville on December 7. In 2024, the Committee has decided to focus on the theme ‘eliminate power struggles.’ Georgia leaders will implement refresher trainings for staff, especially those who work in crisis homes, on how to avoid engaging in power struggles when serving individuals in crisis.

“We are very excited to have this advisory group,” said Georgia Crisis Services Director, George Harris. “We look forward to seeing what we can accomplish in improving our services by having such talented staff lead us with their guidance.”

Benchmark Works to Bring People Home

In two states, Benchmark is working to bring individuals closer to home. When local service providers are unable to meet an individual’s needs, individuals may be relocated to providers several hours away from home or even moved out of state. Sometimes, individuals are relocated hundreds of miles away from home, disconnecting them from their families and communities.

In Allen County, Ohio, Benchmark partnered with LODDI Inc. and Allen County Children Services to bring three teenagers closer to home. Instead of staying in residential centers several hours away, these individuals can receive services in their home county.

In October 2023, a house was purchased. The boys moved in, and Benchmark provides services in their home.

In New Hampshire, Benchmark is working to open intensive treatment homes. In addition to bringing individuals currently served out-of-state closer to home, we aim to move individuals out of institutions and into the community.

Anne Titus, a vice president with Benchmark, is leading this project. Titus has a history of leading major deinstitutionalization projects.

“The New Hampshire intensive treatment homes are another chapter in our Company’s long history of returning folks to their communities,” says Titus. “We are eager to continue this work.”

Benchmark’s New Hampshire intensive treatment homes are slated to open in late spring of this year.



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!


Ashley Hogan, ACCESS Director
Melanie Bald, State Director

Quantry Harris, Team Leader
Stephanie Luster, Residential Manager
Tamika Brantley, Residential Manager

Amy Morff, St. Louis City Zone Lead
Trinity Hartnell, BCBA

Amy Underkofler, Team Leader
Stephanie Perry, Director

New Jersey
Crystal Brooks, Team Leader
Kenechukwu Anosike, Residential Manager
Kevaughn Street, Team Leader
Kristen Davey, Team Leader
Shaunae Seals-Williams, Team Leader

Briana Griffin, Team Leader
Christoper Balogna, Team Leader
Leslie Lolley, Team Leader


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


Abby Roebuck – 5
Aisha Jefferys – 5
Albert Crumbley – 5
Caroline Herman – 5
Connie Nicholson – 5
Corey King – 5
Deborah Meacham – 5
Eureka Scales – 5
Femi Oshin – 5
Haley Seeley – 5
Idowu Oladugbagbe – 5
Kebrina Salisbury – 5
LaToya Bostic – 5
Lisa Howle – 5
Mary Njomo – 5
Michael Hockaday – 5
Montrell Palmer – 5
Muhammad Khan – 5
My’Quell Warfield – 5
Paula Pike – 5
Rhonda Keeney – 5
Salome Thuo – 5
Semika Roach – 5
Shannon McGlynn – 5
Stella Fosu – 5
Timothy Stewart – 5
Amy Clure – 6
Angela Smith – 6
Ayesha Thomas – 6
Barbara Walden – 6
Brookelynn Kiester – 6
Charlotte Ellis – 6
Chinyere Okebe – 6
Hellen Waruingi – 6
Jaden Gordon – 6
Jared Bess – 6
Jeannie Anderson-Rapp – 6
Jennifer Imlay – 6
Kara Emery – 6
Kendra Butler – 6
Kristina Fought – 6
Laura Christiaens – 6
Lauren Lloyd – 6
Mamie Holden – 6
Nadine Sims – 6
Nazaire Nicolas – 6
Patience Stewart – 6
Penny Fawbush – 6
Rose Filteau – 6
Stella Carlson – 6
Suzy Morris – 6
Tanya Higgins – 6
Vicky Bollinger – 6
April Evans – 7
Balinda Fonner – 7
Damilola Lawal Bankole – 7
Darla Downey – 7
Deirdra Sago – 7
Donald Oshiomah – 7
Dorianne Schmidt – 7
Geoffrey Avery – 7
Jacqueline Hightower – 7
Jamaal Sanders – 7
Jamal Green – 7
Jane Schriefer – 7
Jeff Miller – 7
Jeffrey Frady – 7
Kaia Zelt – 7
Kathryn Wilkinson – 7
Kelli Saine – 7
Kezia Jackson – 7
Ryan Haley – 7
Sean McCaulay – 7
Shawnlisa Nevels – 7
Sheila Canada – 7

Taneka Borders – 7
Taylor Berg – 7
Theresa Fisher – 7
Tracee Smith – 7
Tracy Gregory – 7
Afolabi Ogunbowale – 8
Alandra McGhee – 8
Brandon Riley – 8
Cheryl Bilbrey – 8
Christa Raines – 8
Craig Whonsetler – 8
Deborah Welby – 8
Dimitris Katsaounis – 8
Glen Henderson – 8
Jacqueline Shuppert – 8
James Bain – 8
Karen Agaiby-Mena – 8
Kevie Thomas – 8
Lakeshia Horne – 8
Latonya Elliott – 8
Loretta Taylor – 8
Lorry Augustin – 8
Maria Hainline – 8
Michaela Jan Carpenter – 8
Motunrayo Owolabi – 8
Reeta Masih – 8
Shaina Baldwin – 8
Sharday Mabins – 8
Tanisha Colon – 8
Traveon Stevenson – 8
Tyree McCreight – 8
Adriana Garcia – 9
Ami Clancy – 9
Andrew Harris – 9
Barbara Lane – 9
Christine Sellers – 9
Claudia Jackson – 9
Deandra Burnett – 9
Dymond Davis – 9
Elizabeth DeMarquez – 9
Elizabeth Hohman – 9
Heather Macbeth – 9
Irene Omboga – 9
John Miller – 9
Karen Bischoff – 9
Kelly Foster – 9
Lacesha Jeffers – 9
Linda Powers – 9
Maureen Zink – 9
Pamela Parker – 9
Rachael Nelson – 9
Rebecca Mays – 9
Sharon Wilkins – 9
Steven Bright – 9
Tatiana Johnson – 9
Tedwick Theodore – 9
April Clerkley – 10
Christina Briggs – 10
Darryl Harmon – 10
David Herrmann Sedano – 10
Deaundra Lewis – 10
Dennis Stroup – 10
Douglas Beebe – 10
Jamal Cooper – 10
Jason Crowder – 10
Jeremy Joyner – 10
Jerry Mote – 10
Lateachca Carswell – 10
Shaunna Turner – 10
Stacie Fitzgerald – 10
William Exner – 10
Yvonne Kreigh – 10
Cawanna Wadley – 11
Claudia Springer – 11
Edward Mowen – 11

Herbert Sheftal – 11
Jonathan Rushton – 11
Joseph Gootee – 11
Kathleen Manegre – 11
Keith Miller – 11
Laurie Heckman – 11
Melissa Shaw – 11
Michael Dow – 11
Modester Nnona – 11
Nikki Cotterman – 11
Ragna Urberg – 11
Renee Broughton – 11
Tondaleah Eversole – 11
Belinda Christensen – 12
Calma Harris – 12
Dedria Handerson – 12
Erika Moore – 12
Frances Cline – 12
Jeremy Wimbley – 12
Kimberly Leal – 12
Latasha Green – 12
Lori Blanco – 12
Orlando Wash – 12
Rosita Stewart – 12
Ruth Bates – 12
Sycilla Smith – 12
Tammy Carroll – 12
Alocia Robertson – 13
Angela Honshell – 13
Anthony Bryant – 13
Benjamin Harrison – 13
Debra Williams – 13
Dorothy Robbins – 13
Julie Heiges – 13
Rasheda Patterson – 13
Susan Brown – 13
Timothy Fitzgibbons – 13
Andrew Baden – 14
Casey Lolmaugh – 14
Douglas Houser – 14
Jeffrey Cross – 14
Laine Muston – 14
Stacy Christopher – 14
Ann Williams – 15
Harold Eagleson – 15
Lucy Ngwenya – 15
Shirley Morgan – 15
Souleymane Adamou – 15
Theresa Prentice – 15
Jill Tatalovich – 16
Rhonda McAuley – 16
Rosalind McCall – 16
Shawn Fields – 16
Jennifer Smith – 17
Justin Tucker – 17
Kim Stephens – 17
Tyaan Winn – 17
Yared Belew – 17
Kathy Thorson – 18
Kimberly Larson – 18
Nathan Heimann – 18
Barbara Grote – 19
George Sewell – 19
Julius Kerkula – 19
Clara Chibweya – 20
Sherri Morris – 20
Courtney Heiser – 21
Jean Kambela – 21
Kelly Stahl – 21
Timothy Cline – 21
Deborah Hanan – 22
Gary Brabson – 25
Joyce Wright – 25
Todd Staszak – 28
Curlie Young – 34

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