Marc Brandt, NYSARC, Inc. Executive Director congratulates new OPWDD Commissioner — Laurie Kelley

From Marc Brandt, NYSARC, Inc. Executive Director

A Good Move!

The last time one of NYSARC’s own moved up to take the job of OPWDD Commissioner was in 1978 when former Jefferson County Chapter Executive Director, Tom Coughlin, was appointed by Governor Carey to the job. Since then no Governor has looked to NYSARC, let alone the voluntary field, for a new Commissioner. That is until now. Two weeks ago, Governor Cuomo announced that he had appointed Laurie Kelley, formerly our Ulster-Greene County Chapter Executive Director, as the new Commissioner. 

We congratulate the Governor on his choice and, of course, we congratulate Laurie for being given the honors. This was a particularly timely appointment. As the field moves towards managed care; as a greater reliance on the voluntary sector is contemplated in the wake of a decision to close remaining DCs; and, as the field wrestles with the issue of scarce resources, Laurie brings just the right combination of knowledge and experience to the job.

She has a grasp of managed care. She successfully managed a large agency in the face of economic adversity. And she has proven herself politically skilled with legislators, union leaders and bureaucrats alike. Most important, her years at NYSARC marked her as a fine advocate, a trait which distinguished her as a member of NYSARC’s Governmental Affairs Committee.

All of this will come in handy because we know that especially now Laurie’s new job will be a tough assignment. She will have a broad, vast and varied constituency of family members, providers, bureaucrats and elected officials. And, of course, NYSARC too will hold her to the exact same rigorous standards to which we hold all Commissioners.

But for now, like Tom Coughlin 35 years ago, we are once again made proud by having one of our own in the driver’s seat.

Laurie, we wish you the best of luck and extend our heartiest congratulations.