Int’l Falls program specialist promoted to dual role covering Baudette.
We happily announce the promotion of Mary Beth Gibson, current program specialist at the International Falls division, to an expanded role serving the community of Baudette.
Promoted to her current role only last September, Mary Beth has contributed to creating a significant shift in mindset as she has prepared her facility and staff to provide services with an eye to future needs and the goal of engaging and employing clients within the community.
“I love the work … it’s such a rewarding job, you can’t even call it work,” she said, continuing: “I get to come here every day and hang out with the best people in the world.”
With a degree in business administration management and over 18 years experience in various performance, training and development, and operations management positions, Mary Beth has contributed her background and passion to ODC as she advances programming for I. Falls.
Some of the positive changes she has helped enact include restructuring this location as more of a short-term training facility. Mary Beth explained, “We’re building opportunities for our clients to really get the training and accommodations that they need to pursue their interests in the community.”
Unifying the staff and reorienting them around a proactive and person-centered approach to serving clients was a key component in moving the division forward. This was accomplished by cross training staff and helping shift focus onto what’s best for their clients. Staff take their meetings and lunches together and work closely as a cohesive unit.
This approach was informed by the years of retail experience that Mary Beth has under her belt. “With a retail background you have experience interacting with every make, model and age of person as far as staff goes. So many different personalities crammed into one space,” she said. “I used to manage a chain of 35 retail stores. The experience I earned there is not because I was great, but because I made so many mistakes.”
Not having a fear of failure is her hallmark. Working together with several longtime staff members, ideas were shared and plans developed in order to keep momentum going forward.
Some changes suggested by staff included ways of encouraging clients to see after their own needs. These involved making small adjustments to daily routines that encouraged independent choices, like making their own lunches and having a workout routine.
“I really want to give kudos to Cortney Christie, our lead HTC instructor,” Mary Beth said. “She has worked here for 13 years, and has been onboard and heavily involved in the changes since day one. I am so impressed with how well she is doing, and how strong a leader she is.”
Engaging staff is only half of the equation, however. Driving strong partnerships in the community is crucial to offering the training and experience that clients seek. “I’m really humbled by how the community has been so receptive to us,” Mary Beth shared. “Talking to the businesses in town, we’ve been met with a lot of positivity and willingness to provide on-the-job experiences for our clients. It’s been wonderful getting to know our community partners.”
A longstanding partnership that she has helped strengthen is one with Vocational Rehabilitation Services. Client referrals have increased as a result. “We’ve received 7 clients just this month. We’re bringing in younger clientele and getting them training to get right back out in the community,” she explained. “You can see that it’s really making a bigger difference in the lives of these individuals.”
“Mary Beth’s dedication to the independence of people with disabilities and her commitment to community based employment has been exemplary,” shared June Schelde, president and CEO of ODC. “Her management of the International Falls division over the past year has provided a solid foundation for future growth and will be an asset to the Baudette community.”
Mary Beth will be familiarizing herself with the Baudette division and community over the next few weeks. “I can’t wait to get over there and dig in. This is my skill set, so it’s fun to get to stretch my wings,” she said. She looks forward to maintaining upward momentum in both locations.
ODC is a nonprofit organization that specializes in offering employment training and support for populations with diverse disabilities and vocational needs. Working in tandem with community businesses and partnerships, ODC provides options for inclusive and sustainable employment that results in greater independence.
The International Falls division is located at 1600 20th Avenue West. The Baudette division is located at 107 East Main Street and includes the Kaleidoscope Thrift Store.