BY Bill Gettman, CEO, Northern Rivers
March 2017

On the Road

There’s a lot going on at Northern Rivers, and we understand that sometimes it can be hard to keep up with all the developments. We are a large, complex, geographically and programmatically diverse organization, and everyone is busy every day, but we still need to make the time to look each other in the eye and communicate face-to-face.

That’s why we’re embarking on the Northern Rivers Listening Tour. I, along with Audrey LaFrenier, Katy Hoffman, and other leaders will be visiting offices throughout our service area over the next month. Katy will talk about open enrollment and our benefits for 2017–2018, while Audrey and I will discuss the ongoing transformation of our organization as we adapt to a changing landscape in our industry.

Most importantly, Audrey, Katy, and I will be listening to you. We want to hear how you’re feeling, what’s working, what needs improvement, and what we can do collectively to come closer together and provide even better care for more kids. We urge you to attend one of these events and to make your voice heard. Check your email for a schedule, and don’t hesitate to contact your senior leader for more details. We look forward to seeing you.

Spring Fever

springIt might feel like winter won’t let us go, but luck is on our side, spring is here and summer is right around the corner. We sent out a list of St. Patrick’s Day facts and jokes a few weeks back and Rose Fera from the day treatment team at the School @ Northeast responded with this picture of four four-leaf clovers she grew in her garden.

summerThe team in Oneonta has spring fever as well, decorating their office doors in preparation for sunny skies and warmer weather. Before you know it, our kids (and our staff!) will be playing out in the sunshine. Then it’s prom time and graduation season, and before you know it we’ll be looking at fall. Send us your best summer photos and we’ll share them with the organization.

COA Thank You

The Council on Accreditation (COA) site visit is done, and we wanted to thank everyone who participated. This is a huge undertaking, between case record reviews and a four-day site visit, and we appreciate your efforts throughout the process. We also want to thank Mark Snyder and the QM team for supporting every program during the process.

We know we do great work for children, adults, and families every day, but it’s nice when someone else recognizes us. The COA reviewers raved about your training, passion, dedication, and commitment, and while there’s work still to be done, they agreed that our future is bright. In the words of one peer reviewer, “It makes me feel good to be with professionals like you.”

Advocacy Update

peopleAs the state budget deadline loomed, we stepped up our advocacy efforts to call for legislative support for our Workforce and infrastructure. On March 22, we joined our partners with Restore Opportunity Now to hold a human services bake sale at the Capitol in Albany. While we couldn’t actually sell our $60 million brownie, we made our point in a creative way. Damarise Alexander-Mann from Foster Care spoke at the press conference, and we were also joined by Marylynne Brady-Johnson, Candice Ferritto, Katy Hoffman, Renee Hunt, Demi Iverson, Alicia Mance, Rich Marini, and Kathy Wright.

We also began a letter-writing campaign, targeting messages to our respective state representatives urging them to pay attention to our cause, and hundreds of you responded. We’ve made it simple for you to participate by employing a software tool that lets you be heard by filling out a few lines. We aren’t done speaking up, so watch your email for the next campaign.

Best Guess

triviaWe held our fifth annual Northern Rivers Trivia Challenge on March 29, and it was the best one yet. We had a full house, raised about $15,000 for our kids, and had a great time with our friends. Thank you to Stephanie Douglas and the Development team for putting the event together, and thank you to our staff teams—better luck next year!

eventWe also wanted to thank the following Workforce members for volunteering at the event:

  • Antoinette Bradley
  • Alexis Collins
  • Cindy Frisch
  • Melissa Jerominek
  • Becky LaForest
  • June Poltorak
  • Art Servidone
  • Paul Stamas
  • Sharon Sulz
  • Kendra Turcotte
  • Kristen Woodworth

And a special thanks to Tyler Kellogg, the official photographer at the event.

Website and WIC

In recent months, we’ve welcomed two new senior leaders to Northern Rivers—Chief Communications Officer Therese Myers and Chief Information Officer Paul Stamas. They’ve been getting their feet wet and they’ll be joining us at many of the Listening Tour events, and they’re looking forward to meeting you.

As you probably know, recently our internet hosting company experienced a serious server failure that took down our external websites and our Workforce Information Center (WIC). Therese, Paul, and their teams had already begun work on new versions of these properties, but the server failure meant that we had to launch our new sites and WIC ahead of schedule. We appreciate your patience and understanding—we’re working out some of the details on the fly.


•     Pi Day: Neil Hellman School held Pi Day on March 16 (since Storm Stella closed school on the actual Pi Day, March 14). Students who earned PBIS behavior credits threw whipped-cream pies at faculty and staff volunteers. It was a great (and messy!) time.

•     Shop on Park: The Shop on Park, our free clients-only thrift store, bid a fond farewell to Shirley Wilcox, who volunteered and worked at the shop for more than 20 years. The dedication of longtime team members like Shirley is a testament to our mission and our culture.

•     Privacy Poster Contest: Those new privacy posters you see on walls throughout our organization didn’t come from a store. They were created by our kids. The QM department held a compliance poster contest, and we think the winning posters are a lot more effective than anything we could buy.

April showers bring May flowers, and things are looking brighter all the time. Spring Break is almost here, and there’s a rumor going around that we’ll see the return of the dunk tank. And we’re closing in on the Lawn Festival. (June 7, save the date!) Thank you for everything you do for children, adults and families, and as always, let me know how I can help.