IPPI clinical team honored with the Organizational Behavior Management (OBM) Network’s 2019 Outstanding Applied OBM Interventions award

Liz Sellinger (last on right), Katie Cyr (2nd from right), Tamara Shook (4th from right)

IPPI clinicians Elizabeth Sellinger, Director of Education and Behavior Analysis Services; Katie Cyr, Program Director; and Tamara Shook, Clinical Supervisor, spearheaded a three-year project and an on-going effort to empower employees through a comprehensive performance management plan at the IPPI Learning Academy in Connecticut.

The Learning Academy, with locations in Stratford and Naugatuck, serves students in kindergarten through grade twelve with a variety of disabilities including autism, emotional disturbance, ADHD, and intellectual disabilities. Referrals to the school are made by school districts and/or parents.

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Mid-Atlantic Human Service Corporation Opens First of its Kind Center For Kids with Autism in Forest Hill, MD

Pieces of Wonder (POW) Center for Behavior Services ribbon cutting

Lou Giramma (IPPI CEO), Sandy Chilton – (MD State Dir.), Kristen Colyer – (MD Dir. Children’s Services), Mike Chater (IPPI Board Chair).

On Wednesday, June 12th, Mid-Atlantic Human Service Corporation opened the Pieces of Wonder (POW) Center for Behavior Services. The center will offer early interventions for children up to the age of six who have received a diagnosis of autism and have been recommended for intensive Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) services.

At Wednesday’s open house and ribbon cutting, nearly 100 people visited the center, touring treatment rooms, learning about the services offered and hearing from agency leadership about its vision for the work ahead.

POW Center is the first of its kind in Harford County and will provide access to families and children who would not otherwise have access to these types of services. “Our staff will help our children learn to talk and communicate, learn life skills like going to the bathroom and getting dressed, social skills such as making and playing with friends,” said Kristen Colyer, Director of Children Services for Mid Atlantic Human Service. “We’re going to transform the lives of the children that we serve and I’m proud to be a part of that service.”

Mid-Atlantic Human Service Corporation is a division of The Institute of Professional Practice, Inc. (IPPI), which provides services to adults and children with developmental disabilities and other special needs in Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Connecticut, and Vermont.

“Our mission is to build strong communities by empowering individuals, and I can’t think of a better way to build community than to work with kids so that they can grow to be healthy, powerful adults,” said Lou Giramma, IPPI CEO. “It is the foundation and building blocks of any community. This is a momentous occasion.”

View the Grand Opening Photo Album here

To learn more about the Pieces of Wonder Center for Behavior Services, visit www.ippi.org/powcenter 

About Mid Atlantic Human Service Corporation, a division of The Institute of Professional Practice, Inc.

The mission of The Institute of Professional Practice, Inc. (IPPI) is to build strong communities by empowering individuals. For more than three decades IPPI, a non-profit human service agency based in Vermont, has provided treatment and supports to people living with developmental disabilities and special needs throughout New England and Maryland. For more information, visit www.ippi.org

IPPI foster parent Ellen McDermott receives the Connecticut Alliance of Foster & Adoptive Families (CAFAF) 2019 Outstanding Foster Parent award

Ellen (center) receiving her award. Ellen (left) and IPPI Clinical Case Manager, Angela Ferrucci.

Our Permanency Services Division is thrilled to announce that longtime IPPI foster parent Ellen McDermott was honored by the Connecticut Alliance of Foster & Adoptive Families (CAFAF) as the recipient of the 2019 Outstanding Foster Parent award. The award recognizes outstanding foster parents based on nominations from the fourteen Dept. of Children and Families offices working with foster families in Connecticut. Ellen was nominated by social worker Cynthia Putney, of the Waterbury, CT office.

IPPI Clinical Case Manager, Angela Ferrucci, who has been working with Ellen for over fifteen years, had this to say, “Ellen is one of our most experienced and dedicated parents. Her ability to work with this challenging population, understand their behavioral and clinical needs, and advocate for them is admirable. Her commitment to sticking with them through extremely challenging times is commendable and embodies the true meaning of permanency. Ellen’s ability to work collaboratively with outside providers and various systems of care is amazing; she is an excellent representation of our agency. I cannot think of anyone that deserves this recognition more than Ellen.”

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Erica Marriott’s story is one of empowerment and determination.

Overcoming incredible challenges, Erica is running towards a very bright future. One of her biggest fans, IPPI case manager Abiba Jimma, couldn’t be happier. Erica says she is grateful for Abiba’s help and support during her tenure with the Foster Care program at IPPI. Erica has found the family she was searching for. She said of foster mother Isatu, an IPPI Direct Support Professional, and her son, “I have a family that isn’t related to me by blood, but they’re my family.” Watch Erica’s story by NBC Connecticut.

IPPI foster parent Pauline McRae receives the Gordon Hartman Family Foundation’s 2019 Excellence in Caregiving award

Pauline McRae (center) with her niece, daughter and Gordon and Maggie Hartman at awards ceremony.

Pauline McRae (center) with her niece, daughter, and Gordon and Maggie Hartman.

Recognition honors caregivers with “hearts of gold” who go above and beyond for their clients and friends with special needs

IPPI’s Permanency Services Division is thrilled to announce that Pauline McRae was presented with the Gordon Hartman Family Foundation’s 2019 Excellence in Caregiving award. Joining twenty-four other recipients, Pauline received her award at Morgan’s Wonderland Resort in San Antonio, TX on April 1, 2019.

Pauline and her husband Anthony specialize in fostering youth with special needs. For close to two decades, Pauline and Anthony have provided exceptional care to several children. One child has been with the family since 2001.

The couple parents with compassion and integrity. They are committed advocates who serve as a voice to the youth they serve. Pauline makes each child feel like a valued member of the family. The youth in her care thrive in an environment where they are respected and appreciated, gaining the confidence to participate in activities they may have shied away from previously.

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ANCOR names Nicole Dufour and Marian Mulbah-Poquee DSP of the Year 2019


Described as “fearless and trustworthy” by her colleagues, Nicole Dufour is a strong and compassionate advocate for the individuals she supports.

For the last 25 years, Nicole has been the home provider for an individual with intensive support needs. When he first came to the agency, “people were afraid of him because of how dangerous his behavior was,” while his limited vision and verbal skills made communication nearly impossible. Nicole was unwavering in her belief that this individual could live a fulfilling life, so she began working hard on his communication, behavior and self-soothing skills. Today, she has not only helped him to safely and meaningfully socialize with family and friends, but has taught others how to interpret his preferences. One colleague who witnessed this transformation happily reported that he now has “numerous people in his life who appreciate and value his presence.”

Nicole’s natural talent for compassionate service combined with over 30 years of experience as a DSP makes her an obvious candidate for leadership. She has served as a mentor among her agency peers, a statewide trainer, a member of several teams committed to improving service quality and staff retention initiatives, and an effective Transition Coordinator. When an individual with intensive needs transitions to her agency, Nicole works with the team to learn about the individual’s priorities, select a DSP who is a good match for their needs, and provide tailored training for support staff.

It’s no wonder, then, why Nicole was named New Hampshire’s 2019 DSP of the year! they are and what is most important to them—and making sure that their voices are heard.

Watch Nicole’s ANCOR interview here.


Described as a “role model for other DSPs in the agency,” Marian Mulbah-Poquee is a strong and silent supporter for the individuals she serves. She lets them take the lead and “dictate what they want for themselves,” then figures out how she can assist them.

A critical part of facilitating independence is supporting individual choice. Marian encourages the women she serves to pay for their own purchases and handle their own money. In this way, they not only exercise agency over their shopping choices, but also learn about financial responsibility. Marian also supports autonomy inside the home, where she teaches them safety skills, gardening and basic home care so that they can spend more time living independently.

These skills for self-advocacy and autonomy translate into civic participation in the public sphere: each of these women is an active participant in a local advocacy group. The group provides the women with an opportunity to learn about issues affecting their community and provide their opinions. The women have become so active in the group that Marian supported their efforts to attend Developmental Disability Day in Annapolis, so that they could advocate for themselves with lawmakers.

Marian wants the individuals that she supports to be involved in their community in as many different ways as possible. As a tireless advocate for “her ladies,” Marian provides them with the space and choice to lead full and independent lives.

Watch Marian’s ANCOR interview here.

Natureworks organic garden center partners with IPPI’s Once Upon A Farm

From Natureworks May 2019 Newsletter:

Natureworks is proud to partner with Once Upon a Farm in Bethany, CT to offer you specialty annuals for cutting and drying.

Farmer Andrew Keene is working with marketing manager and farmer Suzanne Duesing to grow a wide range of specialty annual seedlings as well as bunches of dried flowers. All plants and cut flowers will be grown organically.

The mission of The Institute of Professional Practice, Inc. is to build strong communities by empowering individuals. Relationships, like the one with Natureworks, helps IPPI fulfill its mission by providing a variety of experiences and opportunity for individuals who are supported by IPPI to learn, develop, and have fun through tending plants.

This winter, I carefully selected lots of different seeds and had them shipped directly to the farm. My goal was to be able to offer annuals I couldn’t find anywhere. They are organically grown in 4 packs which makes them a great value.

There are 7 varieties of zinnias, crested and feathery celosias, giant strawflowers in 3 colors, Craspedia (those cool yellow orbs that are often called “Billy Balls”), two very cool annual China asters that will make you swoon, 3 colors of globe amaranth, Didiscus ‘Lacy Lavender Blue’, larkspur, statice, pearly everlasting (Ammobium) and two types of RED cosmos. The plants are absolutely gorgeous. We get some in each week, as they become ready (not everything will be here for this weekend.) Wait until you see them! Our goal is to do many workshops on growing and arranging cut flowers from the garden in the summer and then do workshops on drying flowers and making wreaths and arrangements with them in the fall.

Learn more about Once Upon A Farm Click Here


NH ABA Services team’s Parent Survey yields positive results

Congratulations to our NH ABA Services team whose recent Parent Survey results found that in addition to, high marks in quality of services and progress made, 100% of responding parents found the team to be flexible, accommodating, and would recommend IPPI to other families seeking ABA services. Our team of credentialed behavior professionals provide both school and home-based services.

On-site, school-based services develop a plan to help students acquire new skills and make behavioral changes. The plan is shared with those who spend time with the child, including teachers, classroom aides, parents and family members. Services include periodic follow-up assistance as students’ progress through school, academic planning and monitoring, after-school activities, and extended school year programs.

Home-based services, where a clinician comes to child’s home, offers solutions that reduce stress and create a better quality home life for families. A behavior plan is provided for parents to follow on a daily basis. The plan serves a guide for encouraging positive behavior and exploring learning options. Home visits are scheduled to meet the family’s needs, and the plan is evaluated adapted based on what is and what is not working.

Much like our youth in foster care, the Kangal brothers acclimated to changing homes, integrated into a new culture, and learned new skills from the ground up

Meet Mehment, Ahmet, and Nazim Kangal, owners and operators of Three Brothers Diner in Hamden, Connecticut. The three brothers, natives of Turkey, came to Connecticut in 1992. The siblings started their careers working in the food industry at a diner in North Haven. Ahmet, the most vocal of the three, started as a dishwasher. He quickly advanced to waiter, then to manager where he served for four years.

The dream of owning a business started with their father, Mustafa Kangal, who came to the United States in 1984. The family briefly resided in Maryland, where they operated a diner. They returned to Connecticut in 1998 and the siblings set their sights on opening the Three Brothers Diner. It has become a well-known and loved spot in the Hamden community.

Through perseverance and hard work, the Kangal brothers realized their dream. The family embraces the idea of community, and IPPI is very grateful for their support in our efforts to bring awareness of the need for foster care to the community. The Three Brothers Diner serves as an information hub for the IPPI foster care permanency team. The diner has played host to a number of IPPI open houses and Lunch and Learn sessions during the past year.

Learn more about Three Brothers Diner on their website or Facebook.

National Disability Provider Association Names Nicole Dufour and Marian Mulba-Poquee Recipient of 2019 DSP of the Year Award 

Recognition honors excellence in workforce providing long-term supports and services to individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities

Friday morning, the American Network of Community Options and Resources (ANCOR) announced that Nicole Dufour and Marian Mulba-Poquee, both Direct Support Professionals at The Institute of Professional Practice, Inc., have been named the recipient of the 2019 DSP of the Year award. Dufour and Mulba-Poquee join more than four dozen other recipients of ANCOR’s 2019 Direct Support Professional of the Year awards, chosen from a field of nearly 350 outstanding nominees.

“IPPI is overwhelmingly proud of Nicole Dufour and Marian Mulba-Poquee for their award recognition of course, but more importantly for their dedication and commitment to true community inclusion for the individuals we support,” said Lou Giramma, IPPI CEO. “We cannot think of two people who more clearly demonstrate the power of person-centered supports, and we’re so grateful that ANCOR has recognized both Nicole and Marian with this high-profile honor.”

Awarded annually since 2007, ANCOR’s Direct Support Professional of the Year awards recognize outstanding professionals who provide long-term supports and services to individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD). The awards and the accompanying presentation at ANCOR’s Annual Conference were created to celebrate the important role Direct Support Professionals (DSPs) play in ensuring individuals with I/DD can be included and empowered in their communities, and to raise awareness about a direct support workforce in crisis. Nationally, turnover rates near 50 percent amount to a significant shortage of DSPs.

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