Agency Change in the Time of COVID
Lori Sedlezky, a former director of knowledge translation at the Research and Training Center on Community Living (RTC-CL) at ICI, this month became chief executive officer for Ardmore Enterprises, a Maryland disability service provider.
She will guide the organization’s pivot to become a completely community-based service provider, a transformation that has been accelerated because of the pandemic. Until COVID-19, Ardmore still offered day programs for people with disabilities. Now the organization is planning to sell its main building and provide all of its services in integrated community settings, retaining just a couple of small satellite offices for administrative functions.
“It’s an exciting time to go to a new organization because it’s an opportunity to do things differently,” Sedlezky said. “Building on our existing quality of services, we can move toward more progressive delivery options, including remote services, and better engage people through the use of technology. It’s a great, but exciting, challenge.”
To meet that challenge, she brings along key career experiences.
Most recently, she spent four years as director of knowledge management at SEEC (Seeking Employment, Equality and Community for people with developmental disabilities) in Silver Spring, Maryland.
At SEEC, she helped lead a provider consortium that created a new competency-based, statewide DSP-II credential and advocated for commensurate pay structures for Direct Support Professionals. The project, funded through the Maryland Department of Labor’s EARN (Employment Advancement Right Now) program, has now bestowed credentials on more than 100 DSP-IIs and 40 mentors. An expansion plan will bring the competency-based training and credentialing program to providers across Maryland beginning this fall, and Ardmore will be among them, Sedlezky said.
Prior to joining SEEC, her work at ICI focused on research, training, and systems change efforts to address the crisis-level shortages in the DSP workforce.
“If we don’t support and provide for the ongoing development of our DSPs, and professionalize the workforce, we’ll never achieve the quality of services we need to support people to live meaningful, self-determined lives,” she said. “It has been a consistent priority throughout my career, and I attribute much of that to Amy [Hewitt, ICI director].”