On September 19, participants in YAI’s first-ever Management Development Program celebrated their graduation. Led by experts from Smergut Consulting, Rutgers University, and The National Leadership Consortium on Developmental Disabilities at the University of Delaware, the year-long course was open to senior managers whom supervisors had identified as having the potential to transition into top leadership roles at the agency.
On September 26, YAI Network school Manhattan Star Academy (MSA) held a ribbon-cutting ceremony for its Upper School at 150 Amsterdam Avenue in Manhattan, marking the expansion of the school’s capacity and services. The event, which was attended by New York State Senator Brad Hoylman and YAI’s CEO George Contos, embodied the realization of a decade-long plan to expand MSA’s charter to accommodate students with autism, global developmental delays, and other intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD) up to age 21.
Representatives from four of YAI’s leadership groups — our Self Advocates, Family Advisory Council, Board of Trustees, and senior staff — came together on September 19 to celebrate the opening of YAI Headquarters on Manhattan’s East 42nd Street. Nearly 100 people toured the new space and learned from colleagues how elements from its design will help the growing network increase independence for people with disabilities.
On August 28, YAI Queens’ Level II Leadership class celebrated their graduation at the agency’s Dawson Manor residence. For a year, the cohort of eight YAI employees balanced work obligations with monthly, full day training sessions designed to build leadership skills and hone expertise in the intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD) field.
Every year throughout September and October each region in the YAI Network hosts events that celebrate the hard work and dedication of the agency’s 2,225 Direct Support Professionals (DSPs). In addition to offering a day of food, music, and cutting loose with colleagues, these events also provide an opportunity for supervisors and peers to recognize outstanding DSPs for their service.
For as long as he can remember, Hal Rubin, 61, has loved softball. Every summer Saturday for the last 15 years, he’s trekked from YAI’s Rego Park residence to Vito Locascio Field in Ozone Park to play softball, the game that first gave him a sense of belonging.
Every year, YAI’s 4,000 employees help more than 20,000 people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD) live more independent and meaningful lives. And, every summer and fall, these staff cultivate the next generation of I/DD professionals while demonstrating what it means to be a person-first agency.
For Allen Cohen, YAI wasn’t just a place where he received support, it was a place where he found a second family and left a lasting legacy in the field of intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD). “When Allen first came to YAI, there was still a lot of stigma surrounding people with I/DD,” said Bonnie Cohen, Allen’s younger sister. “But YAI saw his potential and he thrived because of it.”
On August 8, a group of job-seekers from YAI Westbury got a taste of what it’s like to work for one of the nation’s largest clothing retailers. During their visit to Old Navy’s store in Hempstead, New York, participants spent the day shadowing employees as part of the retailer’s ON the Job program.
As YAI Headquarters prepares to relocate, staff at Premier HealthCare and YAI’s Center for Specialty Therapy (CST) are making sure that the people they support are equally prepared. The move, which facilitates YAI’s evolution into a more modern and agile organization, will take place over Labor Day weekend and will transition YAI’s administrative offices as well as the Manhattan offices for Premier and CST from Tenth Avenue to the East Side.