After 16 years of serving people with intellectual and developmental disabilities through ADEC, Vice President of Programming Sally Russell retired from the organization on Dec. 1, 2017.

Sally joined us in 2001 after spending several years working at a similar agency in Fort Wayne. During Sally’s time here, ADEC’s program has expanded greatly, with her rising to meet the challenge each time. When asked what she enjoys most about this job, Sally was quick to assert that it was working with people, both clients and staff. Sally also enjoyed being a part of a community agency and seeing how ADEC clients have been welcomed and embraced in Elkhart and St. Joseph counties.

“Sally is a very kind and compassionate leader. In decision making or changes that are made at a state level, her first thoughts are on our clients and the employees,” said Donna Belusar, CEO of ADEC. “Her experience and knowledge of our industry and ADEC’s services makes her an excellent first call for parents who are reaching out to find out how they can get help for their loved ones. Her genuine compassion and care is evident when she visits the day service centers and our group homes. The respect she has from colleagues across the state is witnessed at INARF meetings or state functions.”

Those that worked for Sally also have fond memories of the time that she has spent working for ADEC.

“Sally was a great leader, her calm nature was always comforting when dealing with stressful situations. Sally was a great listener and always gave positive feedback,” said Jennifer Canen, supported living QIDP at ADEC. “I enjoyed working under Sally for the past five years; she shared her knowledge on waiver with me and guided me to become a better leader.”

Supported Living Director Dawn Akins shared a personal story about the first day she met Sally:

“I first met Sally in August of 2003 when I interviewed for the QIDP position in Supported Living.  It was the same day I had my first tour of ADEC Industries, while wearing open toed shoes.  At the time, she didn’t tell me that I wouldn’t be able to wear those “kinds of shoes” to work, that came later.   I remember her walking me through the building stopping to introduce me to several staff and making sure I knew where I was going, making sure I had a connection.

Though I didn’t have much experience in the field of disability services at the time, Sally had confidence in me.  Now, here I am, fourteen years later.  During the that time, Sally provided support and guidance.  No matter how many times I may have asked the same question, she always answered.  Her door was always open and she was ready to listen.   Sally was a mentor and friend.

Though she will be missed, I wish her well in her retirement. She has earned it!”

ADEC employees celebrated Sally’s career with a party on Nov. 16, 2017, at ADEC Industries.

Check out the gallery below for more photos from Sally’s retirement party.