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Dear Friends of Kerr,

Happy 2024! I hope you’ve navigated through January’s chilly embrace with resilience. Despite the frosty weather, our dedicated team provided unwavering support to clients across our residential homes and essential care to the youth at our inpatient crisis psychiatric care facility. Their commitment and support remain the foundation of our success, and we thank all our staff for their service.

Our year began with the graduation of eight outstanding Project SEARCH interns. Albertina Kerr facilitated this life-changing program in Marion County with the City of Salem. We were honored to have City of Salem Mayor Chris Hoy and City of Salem Deputy City Manager Krishna Namburi join us for this celebratory occasion. Over the past nine months, these interns have explored their potential within the various City of Salem departments, such as the Police Department, Fire Department, Public Works, Payroll, and the Library. They assumed different roles, acquired invaluable skills, and discovered their talents. These remarkable individuals developed new job skills and demonstrated incredible determination. (Pictured top left: Project SEARCH team. Also pictured: Project SEARCH intern presentations)

The New Year marks a fresh journey of ongoing organizational transformation for Kerr. This month, 40 individuals from across Kerr initiated their participation in CQL (Council on Quality and Leadership) training to form the steering committee for CQL accreditation. CQL employs a proven framework encompassing data collection, provider self-assessments, interviews, site visits, and focus groups to continuously improve the quality of support provided to people receiving services. Accreditation, in this context, is not merely a binary pass/fail recognition; instead, it provides a path to organizational improvement and transformation. Our CQL Steering Committee will oversee the first step of this process, an agency-wide self-assessment of our systems of support.

In order to better support our youth with I/DD experiencing mental health challenges, Kerr is piloting a new way to provide support. Kerr has initiated a Registered Behavior Technician (RBT) Pilot Program in three of our youth residential homes. Youth in these homes already receive mental health services that include individual and family therapy, medication management, and family reunification support. In this pilot program, all staff working in these homes will receive training as Registered Behavior Technicians and clinical supervision from Board-Certified Behavior Analysts (BCBAs). This investment will equip our staff in these homes with additional skills to support positive behavioral health and grant them official RBT certification upon completing training and supervision requirements.

We were thrilled to have Representatives Lisa Reynolds and Andrea Valderrama visit our teams in December. I admire and support these impactful legislators dedicated to positive changes in Oregon. Thank you for your outstanding service! (Pictured bottom right, L to R, Rep. Reynolds, Rep. Valderrama, Dr. Naomi Fishman, Kerr Medical Director, myself, and Derrick Perry, Kerr Chief Program Officer)

I am deeply honored to share that I have been appointed to the System of Care Advisory Council. I eagerly anticipate collaborating with Anna Williams and SOCAC members to effect meaningful change for Oregon’s youth.

And finally, I am humbled to be recognized among the Portland Business Journal’s Women of Influence, alongside remarkable women from our region who significantly impact our communities. I could not fulfill my role without an exceptional Kerr team and a bevy of supporters.

Thank you, as always, for standing by us. Your support fuels our mission of empowering people with I/DD and mental health challenges to lead self-determined lives in their communities.

Allison Stark
CEO, Albertina Kerr