S: 20 Years in Review of Shirley Walker as President and Chief Executive Officer of PAR
BC: 1991 | 2011
FC: 20 YEARS IN REVIEW
1: Congratulations Shirley Celebrating 20 Years of Excellence | February 24, 2011
2: Shirley Walker 20th PAR Anniversary Celebration February 24, 2011 In 1975, I began working for the Office of Mental Retardation in the Southeastern Region. After 11 plus years ... and with the encouragement of two colleagues who were also good friends, David Miller and Henry Lynch ... I left the state and joined the private sector. That was the best work related decision I've ever made. The second best decision was hiring Shirley Walker ... 20 years ago. Few people are recognized by their first name ... it's a sign of respect and a recognition that the person has made a significant and lasting impact in their field. Mention the name ... Mel ... and everyone knows what I'm talking about. Mention the name ... Shirley ... and there is instant recognition and respect for what she has been able to accomplish in PA and beyond. Shirley has elevated PAR's status during these 20 years to an organization that has helped shape public policy and practice for people with intellectual disabilities and autism. Shirley didn't do it by herself ... she surrounded herself with a great staff and PAR members who were committed to what she was preaching ... but she was our leader. Shirley is the consummate negotiator ... in fact, she really doesn't know when to stop. She negotiates at work, at the mall, at church, on the street, in restaurants ... any place she happens to run into someone who can help with PAR's mission. I was first introduced to Shirley's negotiating skills during the interviewing process. Shirley was one of two candidates that made the cut to become the new Executive Director of PAR. It wasn't long before I was convinced that Shirley was the person PAR needed ... and the Board agreed. So ... when I offered Shirley the position, she actually tried to negotiate a 4-day work week at 4/5ths the salary. Shirley was quite persuasive and convincing ... and while her dissertation on the subject was impressive, I just smiled and told her that just wasn't possible given everything PAR needed to accomplish. Shirley took her best shot but understood PAR's reality and accepted the position on March 18th ... which just happens to be my birthday. As it turned out, it was one of the best birthday presents I ever gave myself. However, today, I want to formally apologize to the Board and the membership for not accepting Shirley's 4-day proposal at 4/5ths the salary. You see ... I had done my homework and talked to a number of people who had worked with and for Shirley in the past ... and they all told me ... she would work many, many more hours than was expected in order to get the job done. If I had accepted Shirley's 4-day work week proposal, Shirley would still have worked 6 days a week and I could have saved PAR a bundle on her salary and benefits. I do apologize. I never thought PAR would get 20 years out of Shirley Walker ... and I don't think Shirley ever expected to stay this long either. But like any good marriage, Shirley took the good with the bad but she was committed to making it work ... and most importantly, you have to work ... to make a good marriage work. Shirley is a workaholic and we all need her to continue to work her magic. Shirley is simply one of the best people I've ever known. She has the skill, motivation, integrity, morality, character, personality and persistence to make things right for people with disabilities, the providers she works with and for and the state system that throws us challenges and opportunities every single day of the year. Shirley is simply the best thing that ever happen to PAR and, I do believe, PAR is one of the best things that ever happened to Shirley. Thank you Shirley. From your friend, colleague and admirer ... Russ
4: Shirley, Your most important specific accomplishment for Lynch Homes took place in 1996. Like many state initiatives applied to community homes, the letter requiring the replacement of all door locks with panic bars was written with good intentions. Like many state requirements, there was the need for specific exceptions, but the letter offered no procedure for appeal. Because of your intervention, good judgment prevailed, and, for a few people, Lynch Homes was able to keep the necessary locks in place until they could safely be removed. Those people and I thank you, and want you to remember and take pride in that very important accomplishment. Of course, I could list many other accomplishments that benefited our members and the consumers they support. For example, you prevented the promulgation of those poorly constructed residential regulations that were supposed to be generic for efficiency, but were instead misdirected and expensive. You also persuaded legislators to "carve out" our already highly regulated services from several well-intentioned bills that would have been duplicative and expensive. Because of your competence and tenacity, there are too many accomplishments to mention. Thank you, sincerely, for all that you have done for PAR members. Those many accomplishments benefit the consumers in so many ways that you will never know directly, but be assured you have touched the lives of many, many people in a wonderful way. I'm proud that I participated in the decision to hire you in 1991. Henry Lynch
5: First, a disclosure: I have worked both sides of the street and I know effective advocacy when I see it. I spent fourteen years in some top jobs in the PA Department of Public Welfare: I was PA’s first Commissioner on Aging and subsequently Commissioner of Family Services responsible for Public Assistance, Child Welfare, Medicaid, Services for the Blind, Juvenile Delinquency and community organizing for a variety of home and community based services---long before there were any of the so-called “Medicaid Waivers”. And then, I went to law school and wound up at PILCOP. Along the way, I had the great privilege of representing one of your stellar Presidents, Henry Lynch---who, with Shirley Walker taught me about advocacy for people with disabilities and the great community based facilities that make their lives fulfilling and wonderful. Shirley Walker’s leadership has made PAR the most effective, honest, useful advocate for people with disabilities and community living arrangements. The materials developed and processes engaged are models any advocacy organization can utilize. Executive branch and legislative branch leaders have long recognized that PAR’s advice is reliable, honest, well thought-out and dependable. PAR’s record of advocacy---indeed, Shirley’s record of advocacy----represents that wonderful and unusual blend of public interest and private organizational interest. We are all enhanced by this long, consistent and remarkable record of leadership. Here’s to Shirley!!! Live and be well, Eli Elias S. Cohen, Esq.
7: Thank you Shirley for leading the charge to help defend provider agencies’ right to own property and to use the equity in our property to support our business. The State was seriously considering changing their long standing policy and claiming all equity in a property belonged to the State. This would be a business model that would have been unsustainable. Shirley helped bring the knowledge and pressure to the State so that they could see that this would be a mistake. It may seem a minor issue but in fact it went to the very root of our survival. Thanks for defending our clients and our business. Thank you, David H. Crosson Executive Director Indian Creek Foundation
8: CONGRATULATIONS, SHIRLEY ON 20 YEARS OF EXCELLENT LEADERSHIP!!!! You have been able to balance the various needs of PAR members with the realities of a large government funded system. You and your staff are always on top of every important issue for PAR members. I look forward to working with you for many years to come! Karen F. Snider
9: At times it must feel like you carry the weight of the world on your shoulders. Well lady, at times you do. Because of you and your vigilance with ODP/DPW as well as various legislative agendas you monitor we are able to focus on our agency and the mission. I also want to extend appreciation from MAX on the support we have felt from PAR over the last couple of years. There is no one like you when it comes to forging partnerships and building successful alliances. Your grace, determination and dedication make PAR the organization that is is today. Promise us another 20 years. Deb Deb Kunsch CEO / Ex. Director ALTEC
10: On behalf of the consumers, staff and Board of Directors of United Cerebral Palsy of Northeastern PA, we would like to express our gratitude to Shirley for all that she has done for people with disabilities and their families. Her commitment and dedication to the people that we serve has been unwavering. But it is the manner in which she presents herself, and in turn the members of PAR and the people we serve that is truly unique. She is one of the few people that I have met that when they discuss an issue or give an opinion, all involved in that issue stop and listen. The respect that she has earned, and which is deserved, is a rare occurrence. We are thankful for the support she has provided to UCP of NE PA and the people that we are entrusted to serve. We wish her many more years of good health, smart wit, and continued success! I put a call into Shirley about a year ago. When she returned my call, she was in Colorado,with her parents, on vacation. Although many of us work when we are on "vacation", answering important calls and urgent matters, my call to Shirley wasn't in that category. I think this example speaks volumes about Shirley's commitment and dedication. Congratulations Shirley! Sarah A.Drob Executive Director UCP of NE PA | In 1995, I had decided to do something different with the rest of my professional career. I had worked for 25 years in the management and administration of Addictions services. Shirley was instrumental in encouraging me to consider getting involved in mental retardation. She additionally gave me suggestions and contacts that helped me secure a position in the field, as the administrator of a small day services program in Lancaster County. I joined PAR but gradually got frustrated that most of the emphasis was on residential services. Shirley heard my concerns, even making a personal visit to our facility in Lancaster County and she promised to bring changes to PAR to better incorporate the issues of the outpatient and other nonresidential providers in the Commonweatlh. She pleaded with me to stay in PAR with the commitment that if I didn't see better inclusion for nonresidential providers that I should let her know and/or feel free to move on. Lighthouse has a large Mennonite and Amish constituency who stood opposed to several of the sweeping unfunded mandates imposed by the Commonwealth and the Department of Public Welfare. Primary among these was: the invasiveness and cost of Incident Management, required submission of confidential data through the Internet, and the manner in which Self Determination was interpreted and enforced. Under the encouragement of parents and constituents, I took opposition to these policies with the Department of Public Welfare. Although Shirley did not directly involve herself in these conflicts, I know that she did a lot of behind the scenes lobbying for our causes. She also encouraged me to seek counsel and help from PAR's attorney. It was a long and challenging struggle through which Shirley offered a shoulder to cry on and emotional support and encouragement to "keep up the good fight". In the end we won the right to respect the concerns of our constituents and to continue functioning in full compliance with the Commonwealth. Shirley carries a big hammer when it comes to dealing with obstacles to the provision of services to consumers and their families. Frank King
12: There aren’t enough words in the English language to describe Shirley’s passion, influence, and integrity. PAR, and the autism and intellectual disability community, is privileged to call her a leader and a friend. We know the next 20 will be the best yet!! NJW Nathaniel. J. Williams, Ed.D, MHS, MPA, MBA President/CEO HumanWorks Affiliates, Inc. (HWA) | Shirley, My tenure on the Board was a long time ago. I was just a kid, (so were you :), and pretty intimidated around the likes of Russ Rice, Henry Lynch, Dave Wyher, and all the other “big guns.” But you lifted me up every chance you could and made me feel as if I belonged. Your support meant a lot to me and it still does. Congratulations on 20 years of lifting all of us to great heights. Mark Bernstein
13: I unfortunately do not have any stories or photos. I am a newer leader for my organization. I can say the first PAR membership meeting I attended, Shirley was very kind and made me feel welcome that says a lot about her character, especially in an organization this size. Thank you! Lorrie Hetager Home Nursing Agency | Friendship Community wishes to express our sincere Congratulations to Shirley on her 20 years of outstanding service to Pennsylvanians with Intellectual Disabilities and Autism. Words that come to our minds when we think of Shirley include passion, persistence, political savvy, compassion and personable. Shirley is demonstrated a deep commitment to the cause we remain dedicated to. The service system is more effective and people’s lives are better, as a result of Shirley’s diligent work. We say, “ THANK YOU and CONGRATULATIONS, SHIRLEY!!!!!” With Warm Regards, Gwen Gwen Schuit, BSN, MEd, NHA Chief Executive Officer Friendship Community
16: 10 February 2011 Dear Shirley, In 1991 I answered a call to participate in Philadelphia’s “Community Collaborative,” taking a turn in my career path that has led to 20 years of wonderfully satisfying work in the building of Pennsylvania’s system of community supports for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Eager for allies, and for any information that would give us strength to accomplish the work, I asked my director if we could join PAR. His answer was, “It costs too much money. You can go to the conference, but we’re not joining.” I was ripe for the lesson: there will never be enough money, and it’s not about the money; you have to find a way to do the right things. Joining PAR was one of the right things. I will forever cherish the way you welcomed me into the association, and I have witnessed that same embracing hospitality extended to so many others who have joined as the years go by. Thank you for helping each of us to see that we are an important to you, and to the success of the whole. I have always admired your ability to bring diverse people together and to be the champion of common interests. Most of us recognize the importance of doing this, but it is a select few who can accomplish the work with such gracious ease. Thank you for attending to the connections that unite us, for indeed we are better together. For me, this work is personal. What we do has direct impact on my family and loved ones, and I am energized by the knowledge that our efforts are strengthening the commonwealth. Every once in while, I see something even deeper than that. Shirley, I see it in you all of the time. I think that I respect your work most because it is evident to me that, for you, this is spiritual. Not in an overtly religious way, but with a strong and centered strength that comes with some sort of vision that is more than human intelligence. A few weeks ago, as the Scripture was being read in my church, I thought of you. I was thinking about what to say in this letter, of course, but there it was! The story is told from 3000 years ago that when the people were in exile, they had begun to think that God could not hear them cry. They wondered where they had gone wrong, and they wanted to know what they needed to do to return to the favor of the Lord. “Tell us the sacrifice You expect, so that we can pay it!” The answer, just like the lament, is as relevant today as it was when Isaiah spoke it: God is not pleased by our pious oblations, but when we bring people back from the margins, when we work for justice and self-determination, when we provide food and shelter to those who struggle, and when we are careful to include everyone in the family; THEN your light will shine like the morning sun, then your healing will begin, and then you will recognize that God is with you to the end! Shining like the morning sun, that is you, my friend. That is what is showing in your life. It is fitting that you are honored now at the milestone of twenty years of leadership with PAR. Not in an obituary or eulogy, and not in retirement speeches; but at the beginning of a new day, another opportunity to answer the call. Maybe not for 20 more years, and probably not to see everything to completion, but there is so much more to do. There are so many ways to still be faithful. Let your light continue to shine in the months and years ahead as we move this work forward. And thanks be to God for a little less darkness, for all of us who share the path with our sister and friend Shirley Walker. Yours as ever, Gary Johnson-McNutt
17: The historian Shelby Foote once described General Ulysses S. Grant as having 4 AM courage. He meant that you could wakeup General Grant in the middle of the night and in the middle of a battle he would be able to keep his wits about him and make the correct decision. Shirley Walker has the same attribute. She has been able to help the provider community stay afloat during very critical times. She helped our agency, Valley Community Services, when revenue reconciliation was threatening our very existence. 4 AM has arrived, and our General has answered the call. We congratulate Shirley for 20 successful years and wish her many more. Bill Janes, Executive Director Valley Community Services | Dear Shirley ---------- Congratulations on twenty years as the Executive Director of PAR. It is very hard to believe that that much time has passed. I was just looking at the plaque that you sent me in 1993 for the years of service. Here we are 18 years later, together again in 2011 ------ my very best wishes for your continued success. Sincerely, Celeste Emrick |Executive Director Laurel Highlands Foundation, Inc.
18: From: CBM, colleague, friend and fan and the entire Verland family RE: Congratulatory testimonial for Shirley’s 20th Anniversary as PAR’s CEO Dear Shirley, Please accept our most loving congratulations on your 20 year tenure at PAR; you are simply “the best of the best” and a true “legend in your own time”! I remember as a member of the search committee being so delighted when we found you. The vote was unanimous to hire you and we are so grateful, now, more than ever, that you accepted our offer. Your accomplishments are legendary, innumerable, victorious and worth celebrating! You are a champion for all involved with PAR, especially the individuals whose lives have been immeasurably enhanced by your tireless, noble work. May God bless you and keep you at the helm of PAR for many years to come. Your grateful friends, Carol and all of Verland
19: I would thank Shirley for all the support she has offered Philadelphia Coordinated Health Care over the years. There have been times in the past few years when many questioned the purpose of HCQUs but she has steadfastly understood the wealth of services we offer to support providers and individuals with intellectual disabilities. Personally, it has been a pleasure to work with Shirley, and our discussions have always been interesting and enlightening. Congratulations on 20 years! Dina McFalls, M.S. Director, Philadelphia Coordinated Health Care
22: Anyone who has heard of PAR knows Shirley Walker; anyone who has heard of Shirley Walker knows PAR. For twenty years the names have been interchangeable. I have had the pleasure of knowing her for the last sixteen years. In that time, I have witnessed PAR’s growth not only in membership but in recognition from legislatures, ODP, CMSS and the list goes on and on. So many have benefited from the what she has accomplished, not only providers but individuals. Thank you Shirley for all that you give and all that you have done to make PAR the organization that it is. I look forward to many more years and many more battles to fight! Mona Buschak Executive Director Supportive Living Services, Inc.
23: Celebration of 20 Years of Service to PAR Shirley Walker is a dynamo! (Spend 5 minutes with Shirley to see that her knee never stops shaking under the table.) Only superlatives can be used to describe Shirley. She has boundless energy, tireless commitment, and endless enthusiasm. Throughout her tenure at PAR, Shirley has heightened our confidence as a provider community, pulling us all together to address common issues and concerns. With her leadership and guidance, we have gained credibility with legislators, advocates, families, consumers, and our peers. Over the years, Shirley has directed us through a myriad of challenges including of recent: funding limitations, regulatory change, property ownership, HCSIS and Promise implementation, rate setting, and provider qualifications. And she knows and is known by more people and groups than anyone can imagine. Shirley is persistent, focused, determined, and driven – driven by our mission to support people with disabilities Clearly, Shirley’s many strengths, her determination to forge ahead, her capacity to generate ideas and resolutions and her ability to set a vision makes her a “force to contend with”. Shirley Walker is the face of PAR – an alliance of dedicated, innovative, and collaborative provider agencies who support the mission of serving people with ID/D and autism. It is Shirley who has guided PAR through its own transformation; she is the image of what PAR is and has become. We are seen as a resource, a partner, a “doer Congratulations to Shirley Walker on her 20th Anniversary as PAR President and CEO! As a long standing member of PAR, I am grateful for her leadership to PAR and proud to have Shirley lead us into the future. Carol A. Oliver State Director Devereux Pennsylvania
24: Congratulations, Shirley, on reaching the 20-year milestone in your splendid career with PAR! Your endless skills, vision and intelligence have made it a distinct pleasure to serve as PAR's legal counsel. You know the right questions to ask and never fail to understand the responses your receive. No lawyer ever had a finer client with whom to work. I wish you the very best of everything in life as well as continued success in your professional career. John Killian, Esquire Killian and Gephart, LLP
25: On September 16, 2010, CI and MAX hosted a Rate Setting Forum for CEO/CFO’s here at CI. Shirley made a trip to CI to be our guest speaker at the forum. We appreciated the time and interest that she took in helping both CI and MAX get out some needed information to local providers and help us establish a good base for conversation that supported our forum. Shirley’s knowledge and grasp of the information and issues affecting all providers is astounding! Her commitment to the creation of relationships has significantly helped PAR become a “power behind the throne”. All the staff from Community Interactions congratulates Shirley on 20 years of service to people with disabilities! Robyn A. Zippilli President & CEO Community Interactions, Inc. | Among her many attributes. Shirley has an amazing ability to see the larger picture, connect the dots and frame a perspective to engage a problem or an issue. She’s done that for me countless times over the years, most recently providing invaluable advice and counsel during our battle with ODP over cutting our rates due to late cost report submission.The fact that we prevailed was due in no small part to her wisdom, leadership and advocacy. Bob Fleese, President and CEO Keystone Community Resources, Inc.
26: THE PHILADELPHIA COALITION Shirley, I would just like to congratulate on your 20 years of service to the IDD providers of PA and the individuals and families they serve. When I came to my job with the Coalition (13+ years ago), I knew almost nothing about Mental Retardation/Intellectual Disabilities, despite having spent many years in the human services field. Being able to be a member of PAR has really helped me do my job, in so many ways over the years. I attribute that to not only your professionalism and knowledge, but your willingness to listen to my concerns, as well as those of the Philadelphia providers, and treat me as a trusted colleague. I have learned so much from you and I am certain that the IDD system – individuals, families, state leaders, legislators and providers -- would be far worse off, were it not for your skills with people, political sensitivities and dedication to the rights and needs of individuals with disabilities. Thank you so much for your friendship and the wonderful work you do. I look forward to continuing to work with you for a number of more years to come! Sincerely, Polly Schaller, Executive Director | Best wishes that all goes well with the surprise. I really don’t have anything to add as most of my experience has been with the PAR conference, which I love! Sue Formichella, MCBHC | Never one to shy away from making a point to a variety of stakeholders Shirley has always served the providers well. Her intelligence and diplomatic skill when it comes to interactions with ODP has, over the years, been interesting to observe. She has the ability to make a point with clarity and respectfulness, while at the same time “making them squirm”. More often than not it is because the ODP hasn’t properly thought things through the whole way. I particularly enjoy her presence at the ICF/MR Task Force Meetings where she always entertains by giving them a “run for the money”. On behalf of the people whom we proudly serve at St. Edmond’s Home for Children, Don Guanella Village and Divine Providence Village, “Happy Anniversary Shirley”. Mark Fitzgerald Director, Developmental Programs Division Catholic Social Services Archdiocese of Philadelphia
28: I was on the interview committee when Shirley was a candidate for the Executive Director position and I liked her from the start and lobbied hard to ensure that she was the chosen candidate. Obviously we all know that hiring Shirley was the best decision the Board made that year; she fits PAR like a glove. We all know that Shirley is a hard worker; receiving emails from her in the middle of the night was a first clue. Among Shirley’s many assets is her thoroughness in fact finding and verification of facts no matter what the issue; she doesn’t like surprises! Persistence and determination when pursuing information or conclusion to an open issue are probably Kevin Casey’s favorites of Shirley’s qualities. Shirley has a keen sense of fairness and is willing to give people, even oppositional people, a fair hearing. Over the years she has been instrumental in bringing together and keeping together the MR Coalition, no easy task. I also remember the amazing objectivity that Shirley maintained during the time when PAR was contemplating merging with another statewide organization. Shirley had a lot at stake personally like potentially her job. Yet, she presented all sides to the Board and carried out all the due diligence activities with extraordinary objectivity. I guess one could say that Shirley is the consummate professional. It has also been fun to share in Shirley’s life as a Mom over a few glasses of Merlot and to commiserate over the balancing act that we all perform in living our many faceted lives. Congratulations Shirley on your many accomplishments. May you continue to be as passionate about the work we do as ever and may you enjoy many more years as the President and CEO of PAR. Trina Losinno, Executive Director SPIN, Inc.
29: Shirley, It is my pleasure to offer congratulations to you on your 20th anniversary as the CEO of PAR. PAR is very fortunate to have a CEO of such caliber and integrity. Your vision, not only for PAR but for the provider community and for individuals with disabilities, has resulted in significant improvements in services and supports over the 20 years. Your leadership, intelligence and understanding of the system are outstanding. You are a tireless advocate for both consumers and providers. We can feel confident that you are always working in our best interest. You have an excellent relationship with both appointed and elected officials, which enables you to be very effective. PAR’s successful advocacy on budgetary and regulatory issues is the result of your leadership, commitment and perseverance. Shirley, you have been especially helpful to EHCA in taking the time to review our proposed comments on regulations and on various issues. You have then gone a step further and incorporated them into PAR’s comments on the issues. With your work ethic and boundless energy, the “energizer bunny” would certainly be an apropos nickname for you. You have been especially helpful to EHCA in enabling us to successfully appeal a provisional license issue. No matter how busy you are, you have always been there to listen and offer sound advice. Shirley, on behalf of everyone at EHCA, I offer congratulations on your 20 years at the helm of PAR. We are proud to call you our friend and wish you continued success at PAR and in all your future endeavors. Paul Carpenedo, Executive Director Erie Homes for Children and Adults, Inc.
30: Shortly after becoming the President & CEO of Access Services in 1998 was asked to serve on the PAR Board. I enthusiastically agreed. Since then I have had the opportunity to work closely with Shirley and what a wonderful experience it has been! I can honestly say she is one of the most extraordinary people I have ever known. My initial impression of Shirley was of the fantastic leadership she provides. She is so passionate, persevering and mission driven you cannot help but be inspired by her. Her ability to build high performing, competent teams is well known and her unwavering focus on strategic goals keeps PAR incredibly productive. Warren Bennis once said “Good leaders make people feel that they're at the very heart of things, not at the periphery. Everyone feels that he or she makes a difference to the success of the organization. When that happens people feel centered and that gives their work meaning.” How true this is of Shirley and my experience with PAR. In the movie “It’s a Wonderful Life” Jimmy Stewart was able to go back and see the impact he had on the lives of others. We may never have the opportunity to see what our world would have been like without Shirley Walker, but I do know that she has created an incredible legacy for the people we serve. For 20 years she has advocated for needed changes in our system. Her contributions have created better opportunities and quality of life for people with intellectual disabilities and autism. I have been truly blessed by my association with Shirley and find myself continually striving to be more like her. Rob Reid, President and CEO Access Services, Inc.
31: I have had the privilege of providing advice and counsel to PAR for a number of years. More than anything that has meant working with Shirley. And as everyone knows, that can mean tight timelines, "having it tomorrow would be fine, but if it's doable this evening would give us a chance to go over it once more before it's given out tomorrow" 24 hour-a-day emails "I was just thinking about this and wanted to jot this down before I forgot about it" coalition building "They're all on board except maybe _______, and I bet we'll have her support after the next meeting.... as long as we don't push too hard on..." bureaucracy busting "well Kevin, no one is going to do it if you won't tell them to" and celebrating "I'll try the cabernet" As I look back, helping Shirley pursue PAR 's mission of serving people with disabilities has been some of the most rewarding work of my career. Bill William D. Lenahan Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney PC
33: Reflections on Shirley My perception of Shirley from the beginning was that she is a driven, results oriented, dedicated, super bright, knowledgeable, connected professional – just the kind of woman you want to have at the helm of your Provider Association. Over the years as I have observed her, at the PAR General Membership meetings, at conferences, in meetings with government leaders, I have added some other traits to my perception of Shirley: tough as nails, super passionate, won’t stop till the job is done – just the kind of woman you want to go to bat for you when getting a home run really matters to the game (or to the season). Since becoming a Board member for PAR for 2011, my perception of Shirley has added even more characteristics; warm, caring, funny, engaging, open, interested and inquisitive – just the kind of woman you want at the helm of your organization, going to bat for you and as your friend. Thank you, Shirley and congratulations on being a leader with extraordinary results for 20 years! Kathy Brown McHale SPIN, Inc.
34: One memory I had when I was President of the Board was the discussions about the merger with PARF . I remember that we had a consultant to come and coach us on how to merge with integrity. After one of those meetings I said I felt that we are mission driven organization and not a trade association. Shirley agreed and we felt that our cultures were not compatible. In spite of the time and investment we made merger discussions we decided not to pursue this further. I also remember Shirley's excitement in anticipation of her adoption of her children in Moldova. Janice Wenger , who was a mutual friend of ours helped link Shirley and Jim to the orphanage and the authorities in Moldova. I was very supportive of Shirley's selection as Executive Director of PAR, but I thought that she would attracted to a more prestigious job after several years because abilities and creativity. I am so happy that Shirley chose to devote her time to advocating for programs that served the needs of persons that society has devalued. Her Christian values and heritage made her the person of integrity that she is. Charles Bauman
35: To whom can I compare Shirley Walker: a missionary ? a maestro ? Twenty years ago she embraced a challenging position with optimism, hope, confidence and a sense of adventure. For twenty years she has lovingly and assiduously created and strengthened harmonious networks between people, agencies and even adversaries. Shirley is a woman of unflagging courage. I liken her to a description made by Romano Guardini: " Courage is the confidence requisite for living with a view to the future, for acting, building, assuming responsibility and forming ties. For, in spite of our precautions, the future is in each case the unknown. But living means advancing into the unknown region, which may lie before us like a chaos into which we must venture." I pray that Shirley continues to believe and to be present to the mission she embarked on twenty years ago. Sister Vincentia Dorsey
36: In celebration of Shirley Walker’s 20th Anniversary. There was so much growth through and with Shirley that in some ways it is difficult to pick a memory from all the good that Shirley did for those whom I represented at PAR from 1984 -1997, first as an agency rep and then a few more years as an Associate Member, much of it as a Board Member and Officer. It represented the growth of PAR to far more emphasis on services beyond residential, especially as I represented non-residential services. Some were tumultuous changes in regulations and funding, and even in program models of service. And we sat on so many committees that promoted positive changes. But here is one that alone would astound anyone who did not understand the history and laws at the time. Her leadership in forming the Eagle Trust (for private-funded Workers Comp) led to such a savings in my Division that was passed on to our direct service workers and represented the largest raise we were ever able to give (including the Human Service Worker Initiatives). That kind of leadership from Shirley and our senior Board Members was historic. Felix Roy
37: Congratulations Shirley. Twenty years sounds like a long time and it is. Twenty years can also seem to be just a moment in a lifetime dedicated to service. Some of the names and issues may change but, my guess is that you are as fresh and engaged as always – seeking ways to support members and speak on behalf of those who so desperately need a voice in Harrisburg. You should know that you have made a positive difference in the big picture and also on an individual basis. We share many memories and the one I recall today is your support of KenCrest and of me personally almost fifteen years ago when you took the time to break bread with me in Plymouth Meeting and just “be there” in a time of trial. Thank you Shirley and enjoy the spotlight. Pax, Bill Nolan KenCrest Services | Fayette Resources joined PAR shortly after Shirley became Executive Director. Words that come to mind after our first general membership meeting remain the same after 20 years. Shirley is inspirational, tireless, enthusiastic, relentless (in the kindest way) and loyal to our mutual missions. I could fill the entire page with a list of Shirley’s qualities but time and space prohibit. Shirley has assisted Fayette Resources with many issues, but I’m sure Real Estate is the one we’ll both remember the most. Many, many late night emails went back and forth with words of reassurance from Shirley that I had chosen the right path. No matter what the problem, Shirley is there with guidance and optimism. So, with a wine glass in hand, I toast Shirley on a more than successful 20 years of service to people in the disabilities community. Thank you so much Shirley for everything you do and what you will accomplish in the future. Kathy Susano-Morris, President and CEO Fayette Resources
38: Congratulations Shirley, on your 20th anniversary at PAR. I had the privilege of being one of the executive committee members at the time of your interview for the position of Executive Director. PAR was in the position of facing serious challenges on all sides. I recall how you stood out from all the other candidates. We wondered “How can someone this young have accumulated so much experience?” There was quite a range of applicants, and you were on the end of the continuum I would call “more than you could possibly hope for.” In these twenty years PAR’s decision and your willingness to our CEO have put PAR in the best possible position to grow through the considerable challenges along the way. Under your leadership PAR has developed as an organization that is an exceptional example for its members. In fact, one of the most valuable benefits of PAR membership is the window into how to manage at a benchmark level, consistently keeping ahead of ever higher expectations. The choices of staff to partner with you in doing so have been keenly insightful. Your mentoring of each of them has brought value to their work for PAR and to each of them in their careers. It is a real tribute to your leadership that PAR staff has such longevity and evidence such professional growth. We are regularly surprised by the capacity for work and ability to be ahead of the information flow on most everything that happens. We are not surprised by your ability to hold information close when necessary or requested, a characteristic that has built your reputation for integrity and trustworthiness. We know your effectiveness with public officials, members, colleagues and staff is born out of unusually deep reserves of character, wisdom and insight. PAR’s growth in relation to the other associations over time has been the direct result of your influence on the Board, membership and the community in which we operate. Under your leadership PAR has been the predominant influence for good in the service system. Your ability to guide discussion and assemble the best set of ideas on an issue has a way of validating everyone’s point of view. If there is one aspect of your leadership as PAR’s CEO to which our growth and influence can be ascribed, I think that may be it. It is evidently grounded in your deep caring for people. Thank you for these twenty years of leadership. We only ask for twenty more! With sincere gratitude, Dave Wyher, President and CEO Delta Community Supports
39: Shirley, I remember your phone call in 1989 welcoming me as the new Executive Director of EMAN Community Living, your invitation for the agency to join PAR, and your generous support in helping me connect with other programs in the community. For the next 18 years, I had the privilege of working with you. There were the frequent PAR office meetings to go through manually all the legislative initiatives that ultimately became the “Black Book”. That was before e-mail and all the ways we retrieve and share information today! It was a good time getting to know you and the PAR staff and developing proactive strategies on behalf of the PAR membership. I have always been impressed with your compassion, competence, ethics, and knowledge of the system. Your commitment to the people and families we support has always been outstanding. Pennsylvania is very fortunate to have your service and leadership. I valued your personal support to me and appreciated your encouragement and wisdom. Shirley, some of the old time Lewes people often say, “both faith and fear may sail into your harbor, but allow only faith to anchor.” You have been a faith anchor for providers and families alike throughout Pennsylvania. It is with great pleasure that I share this milestone occasion with you. Congratulations and all the best! Jim Elliott Former Board Member | Shirley Walker 20 years Leading PAR What’s most remarkable to me about your 20 years with PAR, Shirley, is that you still have the passion and drive to do whatever the members need to thrive and produce quality services for people with disabilities. I’ve only been around for of those 20 years, but there are a couple things I want you to know. I will always appreciate the grace with which you informed me that I was in attendance at a meeting I wasn’t invited to; and then you allowed me to participate anyway, and even made me feel welcome as a contributor to the discussion. And in my current capacity as the executive director of a local association for over 10 years now, I learned a lot of how I function in that capacity from observing you and interacting with you, sharing thoughts and analyses. You listen, as well as articulate beautifully; you make each member feel special, including your associate members. Shirley, you have been a great model to follow. Thank you. Tim Wilson Executive Director The Philadelphia Alliance
40: Dear Shirley, Congratulations on your 20th Anniversary as President and CEO of PAR! St. Joseph’s Center is grateful for the leadership and vision that you bring to your important work as the executive administrator of PAR. This milestone of 20 years is an illustration of your tremendous commitment to people who are vulnerable and organizations that seek to provide support. Over these years, you have worked to ensure that PAR is a recognized advocate for those whose needs might otherwise be overlooked. Through your collaborative efforts, we can speak with a strong and unified voice to public officials, media and the broader community. We are grateful for your sincere concern for the ministry of St. Joseph’s Center and the friendship shared with many SJC administrators over the years. May God continue to bless you with all good gifts that you may be renewed in peace and strength each day. With Best Wishes and Gratitude, Sr. Vincentia Dorsey, Sr. Terry O’Rourke, Sr. Maryalice Jacquinot Bob Gordon, Ann Rink, Mary Ellen DeSiderio, Andy Hurchik Board, Sisters, Staff, Residents, Clients and Families of St. Joseph’s Center | Congratulations, Shirley, as a deserving candidate for our P.R.I.D.E. award! First and foremost, the Professionalism shown in your years of service with the membership of PAR extends to your routine interactions with elected officials, advocates and other stakeholders. Your work is grounded in the basic value of Respect for and with persons with intellectual disabilities. Above all, you have demonstrated and modeled the highest level of Integrity in all phases of your role as leader of the largest member agency association in the State of Pennsylvania. The longevity and consistency of work, at the high standards of performance you have set, demonstrate your true Dedication. Those high standards you set for yourself, your staff, the PAR Board and our general membership produce the Excellence that translates to a better life for those we serve. Congratulations on your milestone of 20 years of faithful service to a most worthwhile mission! Keith R. Peterson, CEO Penn-Mar Human Services
41: The memory that I always keep in the back of my mind regarding Shirley occurred when I was working at ODP and Nancy Thaler was Deputy. Nancy regularly brought up her relationship with Shirley at our executive staff meetings because Nancy was frustrated by Shirley’s tenaciousness in communicating and advocating for an open and transparent dialogue between PAR and the office. The conversation that ensued led to executive staff telling Nancy that Shirley was just doing her job and if roles were reversed, Nancy would do the same thing. Nancy agreed, but decided that the best way to work with Shirley was for Nancy to assign executive staff members to be the office point person to work with Shirley. I volunteered to be the first person to be the office point person to work with Shirley because I had already developed what I thought was a good working relationship with Shirley by getting Shirley’s input on proposed policy and draft regulations prior to their being issued for public comment. The end result was that Shirley and I kept working together as nothing had changed and Shirley continued to keep the pressure on Nancy for openness and transparency government doing her job for PAR. Mel Knowlton | Shirley is one of the most persistent and determined individuals I have ever met. But her persistence and determination are matched by her fairness, compassion and sense of community. These attributes, her enviable knowledge and understanding of autism and ID services, policies and procedures, and her willingness to actually listen to and genuinely appreciate competing interests and perspectives, have been to the good fortune and benefit of PAR and its members as well as to the individuals and families the members of PAR provide services to, without fail, every day. John A. Kane, Esquire Kelley & Murphy
42: Dear Shirley, Congratulations on 20 years of passionate dedication and commitment to excellence. Your belief in the power of possibility for people of all abilities is evident in all that you do and I recognize and appreciate your many contributions to enhanced services and supports. It has been true pleasure to work with you and I look forward to much more. Thank you for your intensity and your caring efforts. Your work is an inspiration. Best wishes, Judy Dotzman | Dear Shirley, There are not enough words in the English language to adequately describe all you have done on behalf of people with Autism and Intellectual Disabilities, in addition to the support you provide to the members of PAR. Your involvement and leadership over the past 20 years simply amazes me and my respect and admiration for you both as Executive of PAR and as a person is off the chart and simply cannot be measured. It is an honor to know you. The energy, focus and pursuit you tirelessly display are exemplary. It’s these attributes, among many others you possess, that encourage me to continue working in this very challenging field. CONGRATULATIONS on achieving this milestone and I am thankful for all that you do and confident you will continue to “fight the good fight”. With sincere appreciation, Roman Shahy, Executive Director Renova Center | It is hard to believe that this year marks Shirley’s 20th year as the executive of PAR! I remember the day I met Shirley as if it was yesterday. I was introduced to Shirley from Jack Smith. I was impressed on that day with her irrepressible spirit and dynamic energy. Today she continues to transmit this spirit, energy and power to others. This is proved by the enviable reputation, influence and prestige of PAR under Shirley’s leadership. As a leader of our community, she has demonstrated courage and vision. I am honored and happy to join her many friends today in paying tribute to her and wishing Shirley continued success! Denise Clofine Administrator St. Edmond’s Home for Children Catholic Social Services
43: I am so appreciative to Shirley for her leadership and guidance, especially during this time of change with ODP and Providers. We joined PAR because other providers had shared with me about the great work Shirley was doing with and on behalf of providers in this ever changing world we live in. And then I came to a PAR meeting and was struck by Shirley's professionalism, take charge attitude and was amazed at the relationships she had built ( which I have come to realize are a key to success, especially in our field). Shirley is an inspiration and a role model to me of what a strong woman, working in the field of Human Services, can accomplish! Thanks for giving me this opportunity to reflect on what I have learned From Shirley! Sue Soderberg Senior Vice President Workforce Development Goodwill Keystone Area | Shirley! In my 2 years with PAR, the meetings have certainly gone on forever, so lets see in dog years, ten times forever means your experience at PAR is immeasurable. Thanks for your immeasurable impact upon our system. It’s a better place because of you, (and god knows those meetings would have been even more immeasurable without you)! Now, let’s take on a new administration! We’re in your corner, thanks for being in ours, Paul Coleman, CEO LIfePath
45: We come from a variety of backgrounds and circumstances, a handful of states (and countries!) It is doubtful any of us could have predicted our career paths would lead us to PAR. But here we are, collectively spending a lifetime – 70 years – working together to support those who support people with autism and people with intellectual disability. What keeps us here? We are driven by the mission of PAR, and by the challenge of performing as well as Shirley believes we can. Shirley has a way of sparking a fire. Of picking out a person’s strengths and making them stronger, of seeing the good in someone and helping them develop that good into great. And for that we thank you. Thank you for your dedication to your staff, for your friendship inside and outside of the office, and for the leadership you have shared with PAR and with us for the last 20 years. With Respect and Admiration, The staff of PAR Carol Albert Laura Bennett Capone Kurt Butler Candy Condran Mel Knowlton JoAnn Reitz Gabrielle Sedor John Snyder Marita van Aswegen Andrea Verbos