The Alaska Association on Developmental Disabilities (AADD) was founded over 30 years ago to unify the voice of providers to share, develop and advocate for individualized community-based services for people who experience developmental disabilities. AADD is the largest network of agencies serving community members who experience developmental disabilities in Alaska. We have formed strategic alliances between providers, national associations, the State of Alaska, the Governor’s Council on Disabilities and Special Education, and the people we serve and their communities.
The AADD Board is comprised of elected members from provider organizations in diverse regions of the state to learn, share and work together toward person-directed disability services for Alaskans.
Amanda Faulkner became the Executive Director of Frontier Community Services (FCS) in 2015, which provides services to the Central Kenai Peninsula and Valdez. Amanda started... at Frontier Community Services (FCS) in 2002, as a Developmental Specialist for the Infant Learning Program. She received her B.A. in education and psychology from Whitworth College in Spokane, Washington in 1997, at which point she relocated back to their hometown of Soldotna, Alaska. She was raised in Alaska and understands the unique challenges that are specific to the geography and weather that make Alaska both a beautiful and challenging place to live and work. In 2005, she graduated from the University of Anchorage Alaska with a Master’s Degree in Education. Her passion for person directed services has been evident throughout her career.
Cindy is the CEO/President of Cindy and Vic’s R&R, Inc., which celebrated their 20th year of being a service provider agency in June 2019. Cindy got... her master's in special education from the University of Oregon. She came back to teach with the Anchorage School District for several years before taking the leap to focus full time on her dream of providing services and supports to the students who were graduating from the ACE/ACT Program where she and Vic, now her business partner, both taught. Today Cindy and Vic’s R&R, Inc. provides services and supports to over 60 individuals and employs over 30 staff.
Cindy is thrilled and honored to be nominated to serve on the AADD board of directors. As a person who continues to work on the ground, providing direct services when needed, Cindy is proud to be a representative for the smaller agencies. "In today’s changing and growing economy, I see small Agencies popping up more and more. There’s a need for all of us to work together and to share information so that we can continue to provide the BEST support and services to the Individuals we have the privilege to support."
When Cindy is not hanging out at the agency, she can be found serving at her spiritual center, doing yoga, hiking, and playing with her dog Max. Cindy feels that she is "blessed" to have two beautiful homes in two amazing States, Alaska and Hawaii, although she does report that Alaska is her "soul home". Cindy says, "Alaska is where I grew up and continue to grow in my skills and knowledge working within this amazing field. There is truly no place more special to me than our 49th State."
For the past twenty-five years, Susan has been the Finance Director of Mat-Su Services for Children and Adults. She has been part of the change in the IDD world from grant based services to Medicaid... reimbursement, and from individual consumer negotiated rates per service per provider agency to flat service rates for all IDD providers. Wow, what a change! Susan became a member of the AADD executive board of directors in November 2015 and feels that this has been a wonderful and challenging opportunity. As chair of the AADD's CFO workgroup, she facilitates teleconferences and moderates conversation between AADD provider agencies so that no one feels alone in facing today’s challenges of providing services to people with intellectual and/or developmental disabilities. Susan says, "I know that several minds are better than one!"
Bess Clark has been the Executive Director of Community Connections for the past fourteen years. Community Connections is a non-profit corporation that provides supports to children... and their families and adults who need supports to live independently in the community. Prior to becoming the E.D. she worked as a program developer for the UAS Health and Human Program while simultaneously facilitating quality assurance site reviews for the State of Alaska Department of Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities Services. This position allowed Bess to travel throughout the state and evaluate other programs that serve children and adults. She received her MBA and is a certified Special Education Teacher. Her interest is in promoting healthy communities in which all people may meet life goals for learning, earning, belonging and having valued roles.
Beginning an Alaska adventure in 1995, Michael worked for Trident Seafoods Corp as a Support Services Manager covering the Aleutian and Pribilof areas until 2001. Moving... into Anchorage in August 2001 marked a career change beginning with employment as a Direct Service Professional at Hope Community Resources, and commencing educational pursuit of a Bachelor in Human Services through University of Alaska Anchorage. He continued to pursue his MBA in Management through Wayland Baptist University Anchorage, completing this in 2016. Gaining experience as a care coordinator, and then the Director of Billing, he held the position of Controller from January 2009 to June 2015 before being appointed CFO. Seizing the opportunity to participate in Key Campaign trips to Juneau over several years, also led to increased involvement with AADD. Michael accepted a nomination to become an AADD representative in 2011, Vice President in 2012 and President in 2016. Michael enjoys spending time with his wife and two children in the Alaskan outdoors skiing, sledding, hiking, fishing, and berry-picking depending on the season.... on, his fate was sealed. When not working on the farm, Brian spent his time drawing houses. After receiving degrees in Architecture and Architectural Engineering, with concentrations in Art, Landscaping, and City Planning, Brian moved to Alaska to begin his first career in design. Drawing inspiration from his roots, Brian's first project was a remote Alaska post and beam cabin, and over time, his focus would skew toward interiors, though he maintains a passion and talent for landscape design. When Brian walks into a home, he understands its structure and absorbs its history, allowing him to see what it's meant to become. A true lover of the natural world, Brian explores what Alaska has to offer in camping and traveling, never knowing where he will find inspiration for his next project.
Rick has spent his entire professional career in the pursuit of improving the lives of adults, adolescents, children and families. He has over 20 years of experience supporting... individuals with physical and developmental disabilities as well as youth with behavioral health issues. Rick has worked in both direct service and administrative roles. Currently, Rick is the Community Living Director for REACH Inc. He is a strong believer in community. “When community builds resources, our resources build strength, and all individuals benefit and grow. Giving back moves everyone forward”. As an AADD board member, Rick is proud to be on the forefront of advocacy for individuals with disabilities, as well as a fellow collaborator for positive change with the State of Alaska and our partner provider agencies. Rick lives “Out the Road” in Juneau with his wife and two dogs. He enjoys being outdoors, fishing, hiking, camping, playing guitar around the campfire, as well as tele-mark skiing and ice hockey.
Jamie Kassman is from Bethel, Alaska and works for Yukon-Kuskokwim Health Corporation (YKHC) as the Director of Developmental Disabilities. He has worked in the Behavioral Health field... for the past 18 years, 14 of which have been at YKHC. Most of his experience has been working at McCann Treatment Center as program coordinator. In September of 2017 he was given the opportunity to become the Director of DD Services. I am interested in becoming a board member for a couple of reasons. First, I think that our region often unrepresented and there are many issues and/or changes that we concerned about. Electronic Visit Verification (EVV) an Individual Services Waiver (ISW)are a couple of examples. Another reason I am interested in becoming a board member is to learn more and to be better informed about DD services. I truly believe that people need to participate and contribute for the system(s) to work and is one way I can help.
Matt Jones is currently the Executive Director of Assets Inc, a non-profit that provides services to individuals with severe mental illness and/or intellectual and developmental... disabilities. Matt has an M.A. in mental health counseling. He has been with Assets for 28 years. Prior to that he earned an applied science degree in developmental disabilities while working in Alaska’s now closed ICFMR, Harborview Developmental Center. Matt’s organization was part of the community effort to downsize the State’s Psychiatric Hospital in 2000 and numerous other efforts to provide community based services to individuals with challenging histories.
Care Coordinator Representative
Meghan Heim is the owner of Infinite Options Care Coordination Services in Fairbanks. Meghan was introduced into the disability community when she was born. She has an amazing older sister who was born... with Down syndrome and has been the reason she has continued advocating for people with disabilities. Her parents were big advocates in the interior for people with disabilities and she has followed in their footsteps. Meghan worked for Fairbanks Resource Agency in many capacities including Residential Site Supervisor, Care Coordinator, Care Coordination Manager and Residential Director. During her time at FRA, she was able to learn all sides of the service system. She gained extensive knowledge about a non-profit budget in all departments within the agency. While at FRA, she had the opportunity to start an Adult Siblings Group and continues to be actively involved in the local People First Advocacy Group. Meghan volunteered with Special Olympics for many years and coached the local SO swimming team for five years. Meghan has also traveled to Juneau for the Key Campaign and accompanied her sister twice. Being involved in the Key Campaign has been very educational for Meghan and has taught her what happens at the legislative levels. Care coordination services always seemed to be Meghan’s passion so when Conflict Free Care Coordination began, she waited for someone in the Interior to open an agency. When no one moved forward, she took the big risk of opening her own agency. She opened Infinite Options in October 2015. During that time, Meghan was halfway through her master’s degree in counseling but due to the high demands of the business and providing care coordination services, she has had to put her degree on hold. Since opening, Infinite Options has six care coordinators (including Meghan) and are currently serving all waivers in Fairbanks, North Pole, Delta, Valdez, and Cordova including TEFRA in Valdez. Meghan is a born and raised Alaskan and intends on staying in the beautiful state long term. Meghan’s hope is to continue to grow Infinite Options and one day be able to serve the entire state of AK. Meghan’s mission is that individuals with disabilities have access to the community, equal rights, inclusion into society, and the freedom to choose.
I want to introduce myself, with great excitement, as the first Executive Director for the Alaska Association on Developmental Disabilities, more frequently known as AADD. It is a thrilling opportunity for me to once again work closely with the Association. I served as Treasurer for four years (2002 – 2006) and in that role completed the IRS 501 (c) 3 paperwork, making AADD a formal non-profit.
In my forty years in Alaska I have worked in Alaska's Department of Health and Social Services and in the field. Upon first arriving in Alaska I worked for Hope as their Director of Services. Three years later, Bob Gregovich, from DMHDD (now reconfigured as SDS), offered me a contract to research and document a prioritization of services for individuals experiencing developmental disabilities. The framework I developed and subsequent publications were used by the Governor’s Council for many years to follow. I worked next in DHSS’s Division of Public Health as a Program Manager helping to develop the... Early Intervention system in Alaska. Eleven years later I moved back into the field as the Executive Director of FOCUS. During my seven years as their director many developmental disability services were added to a well-respected Infant Learning Program.
Attempting retirement unsuccessfully, I returned to FOCUS’s Infant Learning Program (ILP) for the next eight years, eventually becoming the ILP Director for three Infant Learning locations. I was excited about AADD’s new half time position, applied and was offered the Executive Director role which began on June 2, 2014.
As the new Executive Director, I’m excited about the opportunity to connect and work with you as AADD implements our mission and the goals of our strategic plan to build and maintain strong alliances with your important organization. It is as we work together that the system serving individuals with intellectual and physical disabilities is strengthened. Thank you for the work you do in this field.
Executive Director, AADD