Each year, NAFI recognizes and celebrates employees for the outstanding work they do in providing the highest level of innovative human and social services to individuals and families.
Lynn Bishop, Executive Director of NAFI operations in Connecticut, Rhode Island and New York, recently announced this year’s award winners. (Also see the stories on the Rhode Island winners and New York honorees.)
Rookie of the Year:
The Rookie of the Year award is presented to someone who has worked for the agency for less than one year but has already made a notable mark on their program, having shown great enthusiasm for their job and commitment to professional growth.
Andi Brown – Tress Road Group Home, NAFI Connecticut
Andi joined Tress Road’s team in June of 2021. From the beginning she’s demonstrated excellent communication and organizational skills. She’s flexible (has worked at all of the group homes without hesitation) and is natural leader. She has developed healthy helping relationships with each of the clients and is honestly a FAVORITE at the group homes for her ability to interact, motivate and support the clients as well as her teammates. Andi can be relied upon to complete any task that’s assigned to her with quality that exceeds expectations. Her presence in the milieu is unparalleled and her desire to make a difference apparent. It is without a doubt that Andi Brown is deserving of NAFI Connecticut’s 2021 Rookie of the Year Award.
Awards of Excellence
The Award of Excellence is presented to someone who serves as an example of superior performance in their agency, having made significant accomplishments during the year. Recipients are recognized for exemplary leadership, innovation, or initiative.
Celine Conti – Multisystemic Therapy, NAFI Connecticut
We have long recognized Celine’s strong clinical skills, teammanship and compassion. However, during this past year while covering for her supervisor who was on leave, Celine emerged as one bright shining star. Celine mastered multiple supervisory tasks while also juggling all the extra time-sensitive details inherent in her team’s participation in MST EA’s Research Clinical Trials. She supported her team’s clinical development and prepared and facilitated mini trainings as part of group and consult. Celine embodies the Normative Approach in her day-to-day interactions, striving to create a safe and strength-focused problem solving culture! She set the tone right off the bat by leading the team in a collaborative fit assessment to help them identify their needs during their supervisor’s absence. Several staff gave feedback about how grateful they were for her guidance. Celine was a core participant in our MST program efforts to increase connections between staff during the most difficult COVID months. Two noteworthy initiatives come to mind: She initiated a monthly MST Program-wide Lunch Bunch, leading an interactive learning opportunity for MST staff covering staff selected topics. And she co-hosted peer-led groups called Real Talk. These conversations were intended to invite real themes impacting staff during the COVID months. The identified themes served to inform meaningful direction for MST program planning.
Martin Jones – Pierpont, NAFI Connecticut
Martin has stepped up all year with his delivery of impeccable service to our individuals every day. He comes in with a smile on his face that becomes infectious and everyone around him can’t help but to be in a great mood. He is someone who will see a need and move in to ensure that the need is met with care and is addressed in a timely manner.
Martin has been an amazing support during our staffing shortage and has been coming in to pass meds to our individuals over the last year. Martin role models all these traits and his colleagues and supervisors truly appreciate everything he represents.
Danielle Soule – NAFI CT/RI/NY Finance Team
Danielle joined NAFI less than a year ago and has showcased her professionalism, ability to learn, and willingness to tackle any responsibilities given to her.
Danielle approaches her workday with appreciation, focus, maturity, consideration of others, and lots of humor! On the business side of the agency, attention to detail, accuracy of work and meeting deadlines are core to our success. Danielle owns these values naturally and executes them with grace and respect. Thank you for your hard work and commitment to NAFI’s vision. You make a difference.
Thank you Danielle for being a part of our team. We are so lucky to have you.
Executive Director’s Choice Award
Each year, the agency’s Executive Director selects one individual to receive this distinguished award. It recognizes an individual who has made a significant impact on the organization based both on performance of job responsibilities as well as contributions to the overall mission, goals, and values of NAFI.
Tracey Pearson – Director of Residential Services, NAFI Rhode Island
Capable, competent, dedicated and energetic are words that come to mind and fully describe Tracey. As the Director of Residential Services in RI, Tracey has given 110% to the residential programs over the past year, filling positions and acting as the Program Director in a time of a staffing crisis. Helping with transports, doctor’s appointments, grocery shopping and so much more, she has proven to be a true leader. She has spent countless hours interviewing and helping to hire and train staff because she understands the urgency and importance of supporting our staff. She is an advocate and has worked endless hours supporting and guiding the staff and kids at all four of RI’s group homes. Bottom line: Tracey is a true inspiration to others through role modeling and having a “we’re all in this together” attitude.
Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Champion
The DEI Champion Award is presented to a NAFI employee who is actively working toward achieving a welcoming, supportive and inclusive work environment. It is intended to celebrate those who embrace the value of diversity and recognize how it helps advance the mission of NAFI.
Giselle Lopez, LYNC, NAFI Connecticut
We have found in Giselle an inspirational mentor. She has voice, volume, vibrancy and virtue. She is the embodiment of human centered connection and she inspires in us the courage to open our hearts, start the conversation, take a stand, and connect across cultures, races, religions, and genders. Giselle goes above and beyond to incorporate cultural sensitivity and respect in all of her communications. She educates colleagues about the differences in Latino cultures, language, and norms. She continuously helps to keep us grounded in our goal to be inclusive and welcoming to all races, ages, ethnic origin, gender, sexual orientation, and religious backgrounds. Giselle has recorded PSAs in English and Spanish, and across many NAFI CT programs has translated documents and supported us with interpretation. She also participated in the Cultural Diversity Sub-Committee as part of NAFI’s strategic planning. Giselle is currently serving as the chair of a committee working to start a Latino Center in Willimantic. The focus of the committee is on supporting undocumented immigrants to connect with community and mental health services.
About NAFI CT
NAFI CT is a multi-service agency that provides programming, consultation, and individualized support services to youth, families, and adults in a variety of settings across Connecticut. Our core services include foster care, developmental services, residential treatment, and in-home services and consultations. We take a respectful and dignified approach to all care services, with the mission of empowering individuals and strengthening families. To learn more, call NAFI CT at 860.284.1177 or see the website at www.nafict.org.