I started at Pressley Ridge in July 1991. I was living in NJ, visiting my grandparents in Philly and saw an ad in the newspaper for a Teacher/Counselor position at a school in Ohiopyle, PA. I had been a camp counselor between my junior and senior year of college and took a group of kids to Ohiopyle to go white water rafting. I thought it was the most beautiful place I had ever seen and that it would be amazing to live there one day. After a 24-hour interview and a job offer, I moved to Ohiopyle and spent two years there – one as a Teacher/Counselor, the other as a supervisor. I met my husband there and we decided we needed to be off the same two days. We had the choice to move to Logan, WV to work in Treatment Foster Care and Community-Based services or to Pittsburgh to work at the Day School and a program we had at the time called PRESS. We picked Logan, and I spent two years there; one as a Treatment Coordinator and the other as the supervisor.
When White Oak – a large residential program in Parkersburg, WV – opened, I was offered the Coordinator position, and we moved to Parkersburg WV with our one-year-old son. We lived in Parkersburg for 16 years and had two more children. I was promoted to Assistant Director at White Oak and then Senior Director of Residential Services – WV. Eventually, I became the Chief Operating Office, a position I have held for nearly nine years.
Pressley Ridge has changed a lot over the past 30 years. We have grown significantly. We have become more diverse in the services we deliver. We are providing more services in the home than when I started. We are also more sophisticated in our clinical understanding, and as a result, have changed how we work with people and each other. But, at the core, our connectedness and care for each other and love of the work we do and the support we give to families and individuals feels the same. I know we are a national leader because professionals across the country try to emulate what we do and how we do it.
There are two moments over the past 30 years that stick out for me. The first was when Jim Natural pulled me aside after about six months at Ohiopyle and told me they wanted me to help reopen a new group that had been closed. He finished by saying, “you do alright,” and I knew I must have been pretty good. The second moment was after Susanne offered me the COO position. I quickly texted my husband and then called him when I got in my car, wishing my dad was still around so I could tell him.
I have stayed at Pressley Ridge because of the staff and the culture. I don’t get to help those we serve directly anymore, but I get to support our staff and programs and I love those pieces. It is because I can identify key people in every program I worked in who believed in me, encouraged me, stopped me from getting into my car when I was frustrated (twice) and told me I was good at what I did. They showed me the way and encouraged me to keep going. There have been hard days, but I LOVE this work and this organization. At Pressley Ridge, I found a career I love, a soul mate to share life with and have three amazing children as a result, and a group of people I started with in 1991 that will be a part of my life for the rest of my life. Deciding to work at Pressley Ridge is the single most important life decision I ever made.