internal & external communications, volunteer coordination, media relations, grant writing, fundraising, community outreach, advocacy
Since ADEC was founded in 1952, the organization was quiet and hid in the dark shadow cast by stigma.
As Communications Director, I aimed to celebrate disability – specifically, the 1,200+ people with intellectual and developmental disabilities served by ADEC. I had the opportunity to manage a team of 4 FTE cross-functional employees to advance the mission of ADEC, which is to provide choice and possibility to individuals with disabilities. The four letters of ADEC's name outline the organization's four core values:
A Life of Their Own
users reached with "65 Stories for 65 Years" campaign
cross-trained team members under my leadership
increase in self-referrals to services
A Birthday Resolution
65 Stories for 65 Years
ADEC operates a fleet of 55 vehicles that travel more than 17,000 miles each month, transporting clients to day programming, medical appointments or jobs in the community. When severe weather was in the forecast, I coordinated with ADEC's VP of Operations to communicate any delays and closings via media and internal alerts.
I also led three crisis response efforts, bringing ADEC leadership and counsel together to draft statements and discuss how to communicate about the situations effectively and tastefully. In one case, another well-respected organization offering services to individuals with disabilities in the community was closing immediately. The ADEC team answered the call in the middle of the night to ensure no individual was left without shelter, food or services.
Sadly, people with disabilities face abuse and neglect at higher rates than other populations. When cases needed to be reported, I ensured the news was communicated in a way that maintained dignity for the individual.
Using my background as a newspaper reporter to build relationships with local media outlets, ADEC achieved more than 50 earned media mentions during my tenure as Communications Director.
Because ADEC is subject to HIPAA regulations as a health provider, coordinating media coverage proved to be a challenge. Although we aimed to celebrate the people we served through stories – and only if the individual was comfortable with sharing their story – we were still required to navigate PHI and media consents.
To allow for greater media access while also preventing HIPAA violations, I coordinated with ADEC's technology and program teams to implement a streamlined photo release and media consent process. A media release was added to the intake process for every client, and the consent was stored with an expiration date in ADEC's primary client reporting and documentation tool. When a representative from the media visited any ADEC site, a member of my team could now quickly pull a report and tell the media with confidence which individuals could not be photographed.
“I'm not allowed to vote.”
When an individual that ADEC serves told me that while I was visiting a Day Service location, my heart broke and I knew the organization could do a better job at emphasizing self-advocacy.
In addition to championing self-advocacy within the organization, I planned and executed advocacy efforts that would ensure local leaders as well as state and national lawmakers thought of ADEC when drafting policy surrounding Medicaid or disabilities. I worked closely with two state organizations on advocacy projects: INARF and The Arc of Indiana.
Each Valentine's Day, I would recruit a small group of individuals served by ADEC and coordinate the delivery of handmade cards to mayors, council members and state representatives. The Valentine's cards served as a “thank you” from ADEC for supporting our mission, and often provided positive media coverage.
In recognition of ADEC's 65th anniversary, I also worked with Rep. Doug Miller to draft a resolution recognizing ADEC's legacy and the impact the organization continues to have on the lives of the people it serves. A delegation of ADEC executives and clients traveled to the Indiana Statehouse in 2018 as Rep. Miller brought the resolution to the House floor.
The 65 Stories for 65 Years storytelling campaign reached more than 1.3 million users on Facebook, including Justin Timberlake.
With more than 200 employees, many of which have never accessed their email, employee engagement can be difficult. My team successfully requested grant money to help with a #teamADEC campaign to recognize the difference ADEC employees have on the lives of the people they serve.
I oversaw the generation of the annual report and helped ADEC through two major accreditation surveys. I also served on the Strategic Planning committee and helped create accessible messaging to include all stakeholders in the process.