Team Member Spotlight: Courtney Harless

Posted on November 16, 2021

Each month, we’re highlighting a “behind-the-scenes” team member whose work supports our mission, but whose face you might not often see on our social media pages.

We’re excited to help you get to know our innovative team and the complex work we do.

So, tune in for our #TeamMemberSpotlight, where our team members share in their own words a bit about themselves!

What is your job title? Employment Support Manager for Pennsylvania 

What’s an average day like for you? An “average” day for me is overseeing the day-to-day operations of the Employment Department, organizing the Employment Transportation in PA, monitoring billing for the Department, attending meetings to discuss potential new individuals who are interested in the program and learning their work desires. I also handle all referrals for PA services and love to educate the community with presentations on Penn-Mar and the population we support. One thing that makes me happy is showing team members appreciation. This is both those on my team as well as those just passing by in the halls. I work with all departments within Penn-Mar and have developed relationships with everyone I work with. I work with outside entities as well such as OVR and MHIDD. I hold POMs (Personal Outcome Measures) conversations with those I supervise daily to ensure the people in the program that we support are getting person-centered support in their employment services through Penn-Mar. My job allows me to work remotely, in the office or out in the community, which is nice that things switch up every so often. You may see me providing direct support at times with facilitating a Discovery process or assisting in coaching at a new job placement.

What’s one thing you wish people realized about your job? Employment of those we support is just as important as our own employment. The process of customizing a job for those we support is long and detailed for the result of a successful, independent position integrated in the workforce. 

In another life, your career path is . . . Sign Language Interpreting. I fell in love with the language when I was in 5th grade. I went to the back of the classroom where the little library was and found a sign language dictionary. Since that moment, ASL became a passion of mine – still to this day! I went to college for my Interpreting Degree.

Why is Penn-Mar’s mission important to you? I am a strong supporter of advocating for those we support, allowing their voices to be heard and not silenced. I have always had a helping heart since I was young and practice the mission of Penn-Mar every day I work! 

What’s one thing you wished the general public knew about people with IDD? Respect them, they are people. You can talk with them and learn from/about them. Don’t develop a picture or understanding of the person just from what you see. They can have a bad day just like you and me, and that behavior or way of communication does not define them.  

What’s your favorite food? Anything Italian! Or a good ole pizza and wing night 😉 

Any hidden talents or fun facts someone wouldn’t know about you? I began volunteering at the age of 13 as an Explorer in an ambulance agency in NJ. At the age of 16, while a junior in high school, I attended evening and weekend classes to become an EMT. At that time upon completion from the courses and state testing, I was the youngest person in NJ to hold an EMT certification at 16. I have 2 successful CPR saves under my belt. I continued as a Career EMT in NJ until 26 when I moved to PA and started at Penn-Mar. 

If you could travel anywhere in the world, you’d visit . . . I’m low-key and would have to say Disney World – 1,000,000 times! I am a Disney fan!

In your spare time, you’ll be found . . . Chasing around my almost 3-year-old, cooking or camping with my family.

A book, movie, TV show, sports team, etc. you love: FRIENDS is my obsession! But also love me a romantic comedy – specifically thinking The Proposal! 

Something fun, interesting, or meaningful about yourself if you feel like sharing/we didn’t already ask: I am a talker (anyone who encounters me will back that up!) and very much down to earth! I love talking to people and learning from others. I love making others laugh! If we had a meeting or just a conversation, I am sure you had a laugh at my expense! I am also a dog person! Growing up, I always had a rescue or shelter dog – always was a German Shepard. I love supporting Rescues or Humane Societies to animals in need. Especially All Four Paws, where we rescued our Dory 7 years ago this January! Lastly, My favorite color is orange.