The Hidden Heroes Among Us - Penn-Mar

The Hidden Heroes Among Us

Posted on August 24, 2020

By Gregory T. Miller, President and Chief Executive Officer, Penn-Mar Human Services | Chief Executive Officer, Penn-Mar Foundation

This month we are putting the spotlight on Penn-Mar’s Program Managers, the people who frankly have what I believe to be one of the most difficult roles of any position in our organization. As a group, they are one of the true linchpins of our success.

Appropriately we often refer to them as “hidden heroes.” Their most important role is building and managing quality teams of Direct Support Professionals (DSPs) who work on the front lines in the day and residential programs with the individuals with disabilities we support.

Program Managers are the behind-the scenes problem solvers; the motivators and collaborators who hire, evaluate and support team members; the schedulers who ensure proper staffing and substitutions round the clock; the administrators who monitor and implement changes in state regulations; and the primary liaison with families when issues arise that require thoughtful solutions. They are experienced managers who lead by example and are willing to roll-up their sleeves to support their teams whenever necessary.

Each of our Program Managers has oversight for a cluster of 4-7 residential homes and a number of individual support programs. They have relationships with the many residents in the homes under their direction and make it a point to get to know families by keeping in regular contact.

In the midst of the COVID crisis, they are consistently exemplifying one of Penn-Mar’s Core Values – Collaboration – by working with their peer group and senior management to prioritize respect, teamwork, inclusivity and shared goals.

They have played a huge part in monitoring the collective needs of our residential homes and programs in terms of supplies, resources and services, stepping outside of their direct report responsibilities to serve the greater good. Communicating daily, our Program Managers have led by example. They have adopted an all-hands-on-deck mentality, doing whatever it takes to keep each Penn-Mar home running smoothly during this extremely disruptive and unsettling time.

Not surprisingly, many of our Program Managers are former DSPs so they have a unique understanding of their teammates’ job requirements, expectations and challenges. Their length of tenure at Penn-Mar and participation in ongoing Coach Approach training coincides with their job growth, as they leverage their relationships and experiences to become successful leaders.

The most effective Program Managers are proactive. They help their teams to be as healthy as possible so that they, too, can be efficient and effective in their direct support role. By communicating openly and often with families, Program Managers are able to stay in front of any concerns or issues that can impact the best lives of the people we support.

We are so fortunate to have such an outstanding group of Program Managers at Penn-Mar. The extraordinary work they do reveals itself in the many positive comments we hear about Penn-Mar in general and their contributions specifically.

I have a tremendous amount of respect for these men and women who expertly perform this complex and challenging role each and every day.

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