From DSP to Director, with Perspectives' Core Values as Her Compass

By Sara Porcaro | Sep 2, 2020
Career Growth, Success, Employment, Disabilities, Rhode Island, Promotion, College
Director of Non-24 Hour Services Mary Lyons

Oftentimes, it's the opportunities we don't always expect--temporary positions and summer jobs, college internships and volunteer positions--that bring us on the path to work we love. It's difficult for countless students to imagine exactly where they want to go with their skills and interests, or what they want to build their experience in over the course of their career. But when those happy accidents open the doors one didn't even know they were looking for, it creates a wonderful experience--just like it has for Director of Non-24 Hour Services Mary Lyons, who recently celebrated 20 years with us at Perspectives!
As a student, Mary originally pursued her degree in Special Education. She started her academic journey at CCRI, and she was set on exploring the world of special education services in her professional career. However, by time she'd gotten to college, what she didn't know then was that she was already on her way to her current career; during her final year of high school, Mary began volunteering in special education classrooms, and one of her peers suggested she apply for a job as a Direct Support Professional (DSP) since so many of the students she worked with also received supports from local agencies. Mary started with Perspectives' Adult Day Services program as soon as she graduated high school, and while she only intended it to be a summer job, she found that she loved the work.
"The individuals I supported at Perspectives were great," Mary says, "and I loved getting to see how my work impacted others; it felt good to know I helped them succeed in their goals."
From there, Mary's career with the agency evolved--and at a rapid pace. She switched to working nights to accommodate her family life, and so she left Day Services for Residential, where she got to see another facet of the agency. Soon afterwards, she moved up to Site Supervisor of her program, then Program Manager of one specific home. When Perspectives reorganized its positions, she decided to apply to become the Program Manager of three of Perspectives' programs, including one Day Services program. She brought her experience full circle when she got the position in 2009, and there Mary stayed until 2019, when she was promoted to her current position. With the support of her team, as well as the guidance of her mentors throughout the agency, Mary has made steady progress in the work she loves.
"My coworkers and mentors have been amazing; I love working with them," Mary notes. "It was my mentors who encouraged me to keep stepping out of my comfort zone when I didn't feel qualified for the higher positions I was applying for. They saw my potential, and sometimes I wonder: 'would I be here if they didn't give me that push?'"
Senior Director of Non-24 Hour Services Casey Gartland met Mary in her previous role as a Program Manager, but he's only just started working with her more closely. However, Mary's focus on supporting her peers and keeping programs running smoothly with the high quality services Perspectives has always provided hasn't gone unnoticed. Less than a year into he new role, Casey already recognizes the same talent and sharp thinking that Mary's mentors before her have noticed.
"What stands out about Mary is her ability to listen carefully," Casey explains. "She doesn't just wait to talk. Beyond that, she's very bright and skilled, but she also has a quiet modesty; you see her talent best when you work beside her."
Chief Operating Officer Kim Einloth, who met Mary when she still worked as a Perspectives DSP in Narragansett, likewise has nothing but praise for Mary and her work. It was CPNRI's award ceremony for DSP of the Year that Mary won, where her gratitude and great smile impressed on Kim her passion and commitment to the job. From there, as the years went on, Kim has been happy to watch Mary grow and succeed into the director she is today.
"Mary gives it her all every day at work," Kim says. "She is reliable, focused, dedicated, drive, productive, consistent, and cooperative. She's an excellent teacher and holds high standards; she's completely committed to individuals we support and the professionals that support them. I believe that Mary is the kind of person that does the right thing, even when no one is looking."
Those high standards, in fact, are greatly influenced by Perspectives' Core Values, which are the key pieces that informs how the agency operates. Mary believes fully in what Perspectives stands for as an agency, then and now, but beyond that, she also found those Core Values to be solid values not only to work by, but to live by. Certainly, they're a large part of what makes her job so meaningful to her, along with the quality services she oversees to support individuals to live their best lives, and the agency's dedication to always seeking new and innovative ways to improve those services.
"I was very impressionable when I started here, and those Core Values helped me develop as a person. It's the best gift Perspectives gave me," Mary says with a smile. "I also think that young professionals looking for their dream career should advocate for themselves--go for what they're passionate about. Perspectives is a place with so much opportunity, and so many people that are willing to help you achieve more, and now in my current position, I hope to be a mentor to others like mine were for me."
It's been 20 fantastic years of service for Mary, and we're happy to have such a skilled, passionate team member here with us, leading the way forward in our Non-24 Hour Services. With the passion, the drive, and the talent she brings to the table, there's no doubt that she'll continue to brighten the workplace and support her peers in providing the best services possible. Thank you for your work with Perspectives, Mary!


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