AHRC New York City staff members—from Direct Support Professionals and executive leadership to Finance employees and Job Coaches and everyone in between—demonstrated extraordinary commitment to compassionate care throughout the unforgettable year of 2020. Our second annual Staff Recognition Day honored exemplary employees for their work throughout the past year as well as acknowledging staff members celebrating milestone employment anniversaries in 2020.

This event was made possible through the technical expertise of Salesforce and from the support of more than 70 valued corporate partners and private donors.

Exceeding Expectations Awardees

Betsy Lynam, Executive Vice President and Chief Program Officer, and Amy West, Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer, introduced employees whose work in 2020 could only be defined as Exceeding Expectations.

First, Betsy announced the recipients of awards named after the retiring Kathy Broderick. “Kathy has helped AHRC through thick and thin,” Betsy said. “She has shown the most unbelievable determination and grit in the face of the pandemic. We are honored to be able to put in place an award in her name.”

The recipients of the Kathy Broderick Exceeding Expectation Award are Jennifer Natera, Manager at Armstrong residence in Queens, and Leslie Pantor, Manger at 72nd Street residence in Brooklyn. Both houses suffered the loss of beloved residents and colleagues yet remained strong due to unwavering leadership from Jennifer and Leslie.

I’m grateful for being nominated for this award, but it took a lot of the staff to get to where we are today,” Leslie said. “And an extreme thank you to Michael Weinberg. He has been there for me whenever I needed him.”

Ten more staff members were recognized for exceeding expectations during the last year:

  • Tracy McKenzie, Payroll Manager, Finance
  • Tasha Saffold, Director of Payroll and Accounts Payable, Finance
  • Jamellah Cadell, Senior HR Specialist, Human Resources
  • Warren Alley, Senior Staff Trainer, Staff Training
  • Donna Gifford, Special Events Planner, Public Information
  • Denise Polanco, Principal, Brooklyn Blue Feather Elementary School
  • Larry Bush, Staff Trainer, Homecare
  • Justin Perkins, Regional Director, EBS-Brooklyn
  • Jose Espana, Quality Assurance Manager, Day Services
  • Dania Evans Clemmings, Assistant Manager, Armstrong IRA

Part of the experience I had coming to people’s houses, delivering iPads or emergency funds or things like that, I noticed that they needed to see some, they needed to hear people,” said Jose Espana. “When AHRC came to their home, they see hope, they see love, and they see help. I would go to bed and say, ‘I made someone happy today.’ That made me feel great and proud.”

Scholarship Awards

Continuing a tradition from last year’s Staff Recognition Day, several employees who have committed to bettering themselves through higher education received scholarship awards to assist in their scholastic journeys.

I love learning and I feel like an opportunity to become my best self is worth investing in,” said Alakay Robinson,  Program Coordinator at Dickson-Goodman Apartments, who is studying for her Master’s in Social Work with a concentration in Leadership and Management from Hunter College. “This is beneficial in the long run to serve the people we work with.”

Joining Alakay as Scholarship Recipients were:

  • Fatou Jallow, Accounts Payable Coordinator, Accounts Payable – Master’s in Accounting/Finance Management, DeVry University
  • Mayra Condo, AP Bookkeeper, Accounts Payable – Bachelor’s in Accounting, Hunter College
  • Nadia Soto, Entitlements Coordinator, Entitlements and Placement –  Master’s in Social Work, Sacred Heart College
  • Arsen Babayan, Employment and Community Supports Coordinator, EBS-Staten Island – Bachelor’s in Psychology/Social Work, College of Staten Island
  • Francesca Nargentino, Job Coach, Employment and Business Services – Queens – Bachelor’s in Community and Health Services, SUNY Empire State College
  • Raisa Reyes-Sosa, Administrative Operations Coordinator, Homecare – Master’s in Accounting, Hunter College
  • Kirk Murray, Staffing Coordinator, Homecare – Bachelor’s in Law with a Criminal Justice Concentration, John Jay College
  • Alakia Jennett, Quality Assurance/Compliance Assistant, Homecare – Bachelor’s in Sociology, Lehman College
  • Margaret Looman, Program Coordinator, Brooklyn Blue Feather Elementary School – Post-Graduate Degree with a Concentration in School Building Leadership, Stony Brook University
  • Rebecca Gross, Community Support Professional, Day Hab Without Walls (ADS) – Master’s in Disability Studies, CUNY School of Professional Studies
  • Victor Manneh, Manager, Rossi IRA (Residential Services) – BS in Health Science, Union County College
  • Meghan Sharp, PEIR Counselor-Sobriety Community Linkages, Family and Clinical Services – Master’s in Social Work, Hunter College


Staff Recognition Day also honors employees celebrating work anniversary milestones in 5, 10, 15, etc.-year increments. Two people were selected to represent the dedication of AHRC NYC’s long-term employees—Melisa Diaz, Director of Organizational and Employee Development (celebrating 15 years), and Michael Weinberg, Vice President of Residential Services.

As I began to realize that we were helping people grow, working to create a community, a home, and a family, I began to be aware that maybe I didn’t choose this field when I started, but maybe it chose me,” Michael said. “My advice to our newer team members is to do your work to the best of your ability. AHRC has many opportunities to continue to grow. Whether you take this for work or for life, doing your best at this particular moment puts you in place for the next moment.”