Stanfort J. Perry will become executive director of AHRC Nassau, one of the Island's largest providers serving the developmentally disabled, when Michael Mascari retires at the end of the year after 26 years at the helm.
As director, Perry, 54, will oversee more than 3,000 employees and operating budgets of $194 million. He joined the Brookville-based organization as associate executive director in 2013, after 14 years as executive director of a similar agency in Onondaga County. In that post, serving the Syracuse area, Perry found new methods of matching disabled individuals with employment, also a goal of AHRC. He helped establish an internship program between Syracuse hospitals and high schools to train and employ the disabled at competitive-wage jobs such as data entry, kitchen and janitorial work, filing and sorting. Perry began his career as a direct support professional in a group home after graduating from Stony Brook University.
What are you learning as you work alongside the current executive director?
Michael [Mascari] is one of the smartest men I know. I'm learning a lot about Long Island and the families that we support. And I'm learning a lot about the progression of the field and our movement toward managed care and our ability to create new opportunities for growth and development.
Why did AHRC develop a managed care arm?
A large driver of this need to go to managed care has been the high cost of services to a very vulnerable population. A care coordinator basically organizes all of the services that an individual would need under one umbrella -- all of the information and data related to that person's life, whether it be medical, social, recreational, rehabilitative, you name it. It helps to avoid duplication of services.
How does AHRC get the disabled ready for careers?
We conduct vocational assessments to determine the person's interest and skill set and what else the individual might need to do well in the workforce. And we will actually come to work and provide whatever level of support is needed for that person to understand that job, and then we gradually fade away as the person becomes better at the job.
Tell me about your eWorks electronics recycling business.
We are talking about getting high school kids employed after they graduate. We have a major problem with people with developmental disabilities, once they leave high school, sometimes there's a void. EWorks, which refurbishes and resells electronics, has spun off to become its own corporation.
Why are you hiring for a new social entrepreneurship position?
As [government] funding is decreased I have to find ways to bring in additional funding to this organization. The job would be to come up with business ideas ... to create revenue streams and employment opportunities for people with developmental disabilities.
What's your advice on getting promoted from within?
I knew coming in the door that I wanted to be management, from day one. If people do their jobs and do them well, they'll grow, they will be noticed and opportunities will seek them out ... Staff who remain positive in spite of the challenges that we face are those people who rise to the top.