Logo for: NAFI Connecticut

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.

Gabby Zone – Multisystemic Therapy for Emerging Adults (MST-EA)

Gabby Zone accepts the award from Mindy Baller
Gabby Zone accepts the Rookie of the Year award from Program Supervisor Mindy Baller

Gabby has been with MST-EA for almost one year. She started MST EA new to the field, fresh out of school and has pushed herself beyond her comfort zones in all areas of her work. She demonstrates strong work ethic, timeliness in meetings, trainings and paperwork, and can be counted on to rally creative ways to keep her clients engaged.

She was the sole team therapist on her team for most of her first year. With her team’s addition of two new therapists, she is welcoming and supportive in acclimating her teammates to the EA world and paperwork. She works with EA emerging adults and has evidenced doing whatever it takes to engage her clients whether this means: late Friday sessions to engage a client that was hard to get to meet; playing tennis or basketball (not a fan of outdoor activities but would never let on); attend AA meetings; hosting sessions at a cat-café with her cat at client’s request; or attending college orientation with a client.

Gabby builds and sustains great relationships with stakeholders/referral sources and her the families. She is open to feedback which means sometimes hard conversations…..which don’t feel so hard as Gabby is so open to feedback and transparent about her thoughts and how she sees herself.

We so appreciate her sense of humor and dry wit and fondness for scary movies and MTV! Congratulations, Gabby!

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.

Karl Anderson accepts the award from Maria Guerrera
Karl Anderson accepts the Award of Excellence from Program Manager, Maria Guerrera

Karl Anderson – LeClair

Karl is a wonderful addition to the NAFI staff. He thinks outside of the box and is invested in the emotional wellbeing of the individuals we service as well as their general care. Karl provides strength, stability and consistency. Whenever times get difficult, I know that I can rely on him to help with any situation. Karl comes in early, works late, picks up extra shifts not just at his home location but, other locations throughout NAFI as well. He is solution driven, whenever there is a problem that he cannot solve, he works with his colleagues and supervisors to come up with ways it can be solved.  As the house manager, I have witnessed the positive impact he has made when it comes to engagement and motivation but, most importantly managing the day to day needs and demands to provide the best lives to our individuals.

Spirit of the Community Award

NAFI’s Normative Community Approach creates a culture where people work together to achieve individual and community successes. We have come to think of this phenomenon of working together towards a greater mission as the “Spirit of the Community.” The Spirit of the Community award recognizes individuals who exemplify this dedication to the greater good of their community, NAFI and beyond, throughout the year.

Mindy Baller, Multisystemic Therapy for Emerging Adults (MST-EA)

Mindy Baller accepts the award from Vernell Watson on left and Diane Thompson on right
Mindy Baller (middle) accepts the Spirit of the Community Award from MST Assistant Program Director Vernell Watson (left) and Project Director Diane Thompson (right)

Mindy has been an incredibly steadfast and loyal employee over the 14 years plus she has been with NAFI. She can be counted on to be in the team boat bringing it on with both arms rowing, body fully engaged and feet solidly planted. Not striving to get ahead of anyone else or seeking approval and/or recognition but more inclined to lead in an unassuming way. She may sometimes fall under the radar but would be deeply missed if she left us as she is inherently core to our program foundation.

  • Mindy has been in a leadership position since coming to NAFI, first as Director of Building Stronger Families, then as Supervisor of FFT with YES, then Supervisor with CYFSC and most recently returning to MST as Supervisor of the DCF Hartford MST EA team.
  • She is a natural leader, often taking risks in larger meetings to share her thoughts to help generate discussion. She brings a maturity and experience to discussions always with the tone of positivity. Mindy is also very good at assessing the pulse of the group in meeting settings and jumping in at any point to help keep the momentum of the meeting strong.
  • She leads her team with respect, is good at training her staff always supportive of her therapists noticing and celebrating their strengths.
  • Mindy is known to frequently send out emails to the program, reaching across teams to plan team builders or to host meet and greet for new staff.
  • Feedback from her consultants is always positive… Mindy demonstrates high adherence to the EA model…..no easy feat with EA.
  • Mindy often volunteers with initiatives put forth no matter how small or large, i.e. Safety Committee, collecting items for gift baskets, etc.
  • Mindy is our resident consultant on all things doggy. She especially has heart for rescue doggies, volunteering for many years at animal shelters in CT.

We are full of joy announcing that the Spirit of the Community has been awarded to Mindy.

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. 

Andy Torres – Director of Developmental Services, NAFI Connecticut

Andy Torres accepts the award from Lynn Bishop
Andy Torres accepts the Executive Director’s Choice Award from NAFI CT Executive Director Lynn Bishop

Andy Torres has made countless contributions to NAFI, youth, adults and colleagues for over 26 years! His passion for helping those in need has never wavered both personally and professionally as he will go above and beyond any job description in order find ways to make peoples’ lives better. Historically, he could be found finding youth out in the community to lend an ear or a hand, working with foster parents to help build safe homes and ALWAYS building positive cultures within and across programs so staff feel supported. He actively participates in the greater agency though his involvement in committees, donations for other organizations and always supporting other NAFI programs whenever and however needed. Just ask him – he will be there. Over the past year as the Director of Developmental Services, Andy approached and met the challenges of staffing shortages and high service demands with personal grit, tenacity and time. He took the time to listen to others, be present and bear witness, lend a hand and give others some well-needed time of their own. Where and how people choose to spend their valuable time is a significant indicator of what is important to them. Andy has clearly shown his dedication and genuine care for employees and participants in the Pierpont, Milton, IS, LeClair and Corey programs and all of 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.