Starting a New Era of Human Services: Dale's 40th Anniversary

By Sara Porcaro | Nov 9, 2021
Anniversary, Administration, Employee Loyalty, Career Building, Celebrate, Disabilities, Rhode Island
Senior Director Dale Smalley

At the turn of the decade, we all saw how quickly things could change in just one year--how entire ways of living could be re-imagined, and how we could adapt to new environments and philosophies on how to do what's best for us. But what about five years? Ten, twenty?
Or even forty?
In the human services industry, these past forty years especially have been explosive in the way its professionals understand how to design and deliver those services. With the Ladd School officially closing its doors for good in 1994, the era of institutional care is not nearly so far behind us as we think.
Nonetheless, the many professionals who committed themselves to imagining a brighter future for people with disabilities after Ladd's closing--and the many individuals who re-imagined their own lives, deciding how they wanted to live in their own homes--are forever looking to improve the future of I/DD services, always striving to put individuals at the forefront. One of those professionals, there at the beginnings of what is now Perspectives, is none other than Senior Director Dale Smalley--and this November, she's celebrating forty years of growth, leadership, and commitment to the people we support!

Stepping Into the Future of Human Services

"I was proud to be a part of the [Ladd School] closing," Dale says. "I was proud to be a part of helping individuals come into their own homes and overcome the challenges they faced in living in a community--with neighbors, their own kitchens, places to go and people to see."
Dale, a graduate of the University of Rhode Island with a degree in Psychology, started off in the workforce with a story that rings familiar for many: looking to bring her schoolwork alive with hands-on experience, yet not knowing exactly what she wanted to do yet. She took her education and found herself doing internships--then known as field placements that went towards her degree requirements--at places like Eleanor Slater Hospital, where locked wards were still running, and facilities like the Adeline LaPlante Memorial Center, getting to know individuals she supported. She later found full time work at ALMC, but it was later in 1981 when Dale was looking for another part time job to go along with it.
From there, Dale's shift to full-time work with Perspectives began, and she found herself with many opportunities for training and advancement, rising to where she is today as Senior Director over the course of her career. With hard-working team members at her side--some of which are still with Perspectives today, and some who have gone on to advocate for the rights of individuals with disabilities in law, government, nursing, or other roles--Dale had no shortage of great experiences. She's grown with the agency, watching the leadership of President Dave Ruppell and CEO Judy Niedbala guide Perspectives towards bigger and better things, and throughout it all, they've made sure Perspectives continues staying consistent in their mission and providing the best supports possible.
"Learning and laughing with the individuals we support is both hard and extremely rewarding work, and I can't say enough how proud I am to be a part of it all with this agency."
"I was young with little life experience when I started at Perspectives, and working here was impactful for me and others," Dale notes. "It's work that challenges your intellect and nourishes the soul. Learning and laughing with the individuals we support is both hard and extremely rewarding work, and I can't say enough how proud I am to be a part of it all with this agency."

Finding a Career's Worth of Inspiration and Growth

And that impact stays with her. Throughout the 40 years Dale has spent with Perspectives, she's seen many things--inside and outside the agency, as Perspectives professionals have long been part of the activist work to stand by and advocate for the rights of individuals with disabilities--and it's given her a worldview that continues to push her forward and learn new things. It was in this career that Dale had experienced supporting someone from their first day living in a home, not an institution through end of life. It is inspiring to see how many lives people touched. Many times, memorial services full of the professionals that spent so many years by their side.
It's a job where the professionals she worked with, she's come to know well as more than just coworkers, but as friends. And as she watches the industry continue to expand--as she steps into new roles herself, 40 years later, taking charge of Self Directed Services and Shared Living Arrangements--she believes in the future professionals who are coming to work with that same passion and drive to do well. There are opportunities waiting for them, and she's happy to share her advice with them, just as her mentors have always shared their advice and expertise.
"Work for the job you want, not the job you have," says Dale. "When you pick a passion, not a position, and really put in the extra time, you'll find the career path that you love--and career paths are always changing, too, so there's always new places to go and new things to learn."
As Dale's career continues, we're happy to celebrate not only forty years of the hard work and leadership Dale has brought to Perspectives, but also the commitment she has to individuals we support--willing to always keep learning, always keep innovating, and always keep building new opportunities for individuals who, like her professional mentors, have taught her incredible life lessons. Her career is one steeped in memories of not just work, but of people--of challenges she's overcome with others, and of the laughter, good conversations, and impactful moments spent together with people determined to lead their own lives. We're happy to celebrate 40 amazing years with Dale, and we're glad to continue to work with her as 2022 approaches!


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