Administrative Team

Sid 2008

Sidney Blanchard, Executive Director

Sidney Blanchard is the founder and executive director of Community Access Unlimited (CAU).  CAU began in 1979 from the back seat of Sid’s Volkswagen beetle. Soon outgrowing the car, Sid oversaw the growth of the organization from its initial three staff and $90,000 budget to its current 1100 staff and combined $100 million budget.

Sid is a pioneer, leader, and ardent advocate in providing community supports to people in need. In addition to founding and leading a multi-million dollar human services organization, he is a founding member of the New Jersey Residential Provider Association. He was a founding board member of Families and Community Together, Inc. (FACT), a care management organization for children and youth services in Union County. Sid is the president of the New Jersey and Region IX chapters of the American Association of the Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (AAIDD), which is the oldest professional association of intellectual and developmental disabilities in the country.

Sid’s vision and foresight led CAU to be one of the first nonprofits in the nation to pursue the federal low-income housing tax credit to acquire property.  Today, he is the founder and chief executive officer for two real estate holding companies, Creative Property Management of New Jersey, Inc. and Community Access Institute, Inc., representing over $60 million in assets, over $3.0 million in operations, 235 units of housing and 130,000 square feet of commercial space.

Sid is a current member and active participant in many organization including:

In 2012, Sid was appointed to the Union County Task Force on Homelessness by the Union County Board of Chosen Freeholders and the NJ Task Force on Homelessness by Chris Christie, the Governor of New Jersey.

Sid has authored numerous papers and led presentations on the topics of affordable housing, at-risk youth, and people with disabilities. His papers and presentations include the following:

  • “Housing Policy for Special Needs Population in New Jersey” Powerpoint presentation, multiple governmental and provider associations, 2011 – Present
  • “Thinking and Acting Out of the Box : Funding for Housing, Programs, and Services”, Framing the future of CWLA’s Family Unification Porgram National Training Conference, Washington D.C., January 19-January 31 2003
  • “Alternative Funding for Housing Programs and Services”, Changes Conference Region II, Federal A.C.Y.F., September 12 2002
  • “Independent Living Housing Cross Systems Forum”, National Special Invitation Conference, NILA January 14, 2002, Washington D.C.
  • “Building Agency Assets and Developing Housing for Our Kids”, National Conference Workshop, National Independent Living Association, August 16, 2001
  • “Community Living as a Movement and Developing the Resources to Survive”, WC/ARC Convention, 1996
  • “Agency Purpose and Structure and the Person Served”. Region IX, AAMR, 1995
  • “Housing Symposium”, University of New Hampshire, by invitation only – National Conference for NIMH, 1992
  • “Creative, Holistic, Community Based Alternatives; Services and Financing.” American Association on Mental Retardation, National Convention, May 31, 1989
  • “State Planning for MR/DD in NJ.” First Annual Social Workers’ Forum, Kean College Social Work Program, May 18, 1989
  • “Creative, Community Based Services: Your Place or Mine?” National Symposium on Creative Financing of Services and Homes for People with Disabilities, April 10-13, 1989
  • Presenter at the Low-Income Tax Credit Seminar, National Housing Institute. Funded by the NJ Department of Community Affairs, May 7, 1989
  • “Where Will Home Be?” Symposium on Creative Financing for Community Housing for Persons with Retardation, Mental Illness, or Physical Disabilities, November 18-19 1988. Sponsored by the Advocacy Center for persons with Disabilities, Inc. (Formerly the Governor’s Commission on Advocacy), State of Florida
  • “DYFS: The Issues of Aging-Out of Services.” Thirteenth Annual Adult Protective Services Institute, Kean College, 1988
  • “The Non-Profit Agency; Cultivating and Preserving an Atmosphere of Creativity for Success, American Association on Mental Retardation”, National Convention, May 30, 1988

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bernadette Griswold,  Associate Executive Director of Supports and Programs

Bernadette graduated from East Carolina University with a dual degree in elementary education and family & community services. Her career began with writing independent living skills curriculum for adults with disabilities and at-risk youth. She later became actively involved with the advocacy movement within Community Access Unlimited.

Bernadette continued on to teach independent living and anger management skills at the Union County Jail in Elizabeth, NJ. She became involved with the developmentally disabled support services aspect of CAU, which led to her most recent position as the managing assistant executive director over DD Support Services. Bernadette is dedicated to enhancing the members’ quality of life and providing members with skills and supports that will allow them to live independently in the community.


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Tanya Johnson
Senior Assistant Executive Director
Youth Services

Tanya began her career as a childcare worker at the Berea Children’s Home in Berea, Ohio and after 14 years in the Ohio social service world; she decided to make a change. After relocating to the tri-state area in 1998, Tanya began her career at Community Access Unlimited as a coordinator.

In 2000, she was promoted to assistant director, and shortly thereafter was promoted to director. In May 2005, Tanya was promoted to senior director, then to assistant executive director over Youth Services in January of 2006. Tanya was then promoted to senior assistant executive director January 1, 2008.


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Paul LaMaine
Senior Assistant Executive Director
DD Support Services

Paul’s career in social services began in 1990 in a part-time care position at Keystone Community Residence while attending college. While at Montclair State University, Paul completed a cooperative education program which further motivated him to choose a field where he could experience different opportunities to work with individuals with developmental disabilities. After graduating in 1992 with a BA in psychology, Paul was promoted to a resident manager at Keystone while also working as an assistant teacher for children with autism at the Douglas Developmental Center at Rutgers.

Over the next 14 years, Paul held various positions at Keystone, one of which was a director of support services & behaviorists which led to his role of director of community living. Paul became a member of the CAU family in 2008 as a director of DD services and was recently promoted to assistance executive director for the DD3 cluster. Over the past 20 years, Paul has focused his efforts in promoting quality care, community integration, family support and most of all helping individuals achieve their goals. In 2013, Paul was promoted to senior assistant executive director of DD support services.

Paul has been a proud coach for the Special Olympics as well as a committee member helping to train athletes to compete for local and state championships. In 2002, Paul and his unified softball team won a gold medal at the state championships and had an undefeated record of 8-0. He truly enjoys his work!

 

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Rolando Zorrilla
Senior Assistant Executive Director
Disability Services

Rolando joined Community Access Unlimited in 2007, as the director of clinical services for the Transitional Opportunities Program. Over the past six years, Rolando has continued to show personal and professional growth while taking on added job responsibilities. In 2011, he was named Youth Services Employee of the Year and was later promoted to assistant executive director for the DD4- Supervised Apartment Programs.

Rolando graduated from The College of New Jersey with a bachelor’s degree in sociology and is currently working on obtaining his Master of Social Work Degree from Capella University. Rolando has over 12 years experience working with and advocating for those that require support services. He thoroughly enjoys helping others and is honored by having the ability to actively participate in Community Access Unlimited’s mission.

 

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Rosemary Schaefer
Senior Assistant Executive Director
Quality Assurance and Training

Rosemary graduated from Kennesaw State University with a degree in Psychology but knew that she wanted to be influential in creating better lives for people with disabilities long before that. It started with her first position as a recreation organizer & direct care position for a mental health provider and progressed into quality assurance work and trainings.

Rosemary has held 4 titles in the timeframe that she has been with Community Access. She was originally hired as the Quality Assurance Coordinator in 2004 and has continued to grow and learn with each promotion. The Quality Assurance team started with just her at the helm and has now grown to encompass two additional QA staff members, one trainer, and ten nurses in varying roles at CAU including program support, quality assurance, home health care, and assistance at the CAU Day Program. Her personal belief in maintaining high “quality of life” standards for our members and her eye for detail has helped her direct CAU’s staff so that they remain on top with each licensing success and CARF accreditation.

 

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Sheila McDowell
Assistant Executive Director
DD Support Services

Sheila graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in psychology from Upsala College and has served in the social services field for over 14 years. She started her career at Community Access Unlimited in 1996 as a residential coordinator for the supervised apartment program. Since then, she has consistently taken on more responsibility and used her expertise to grow into her current position as assistant executive director. Sheila is also responsible for direct managerial and programmatic responsibilities for DD services.  Sheila focuses on assisting individuals in improving the quality of their lives and on providing quality services to all persons with disabilities.


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Fredia McKinnie
Assistant Executive Director
DD Support Services – Employment

Fredia graduated from Rutgers University with a BA in urban studies in 2004. Shortly after graduation, Fredia began her career in the social services field as an employment specialist. Fredia enjoyed assisting men and women with finding employment, but wanted to expand her experience and knowledge in the field. In 2006, she went on to receive a certified employment specialist certification from the University of Buffalo. Fredia continued her career in employment services for several years and was promoted to an assistant director position before joining the Community Access Unlimited family in 2008.

Since becoming a member of the CAU family, Fredia has worked for various programs. Fredia is a very positive person and enjoys working with the members of her team. She tackles every task with a smile and hopes to pass on her positive energy to the staff and members of Community Access.


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Aisha Arroyo
Assistant Executive Director
DD Support Services

Aisha graduated from Rutgers University in 2007 with a BA in sociology and minor in psychology. While at Rutgers, Aisha completed field work studies at the Douglas Developmental Disabilities Center and after that experience, decided she wanted to pursue a career in the social services field.  She became a part of Community Access Unlimited shortly after graduation as an assistant support counselor at the Summit program and quickly showed her commitment to ensuring the quality of life of her members daily. Within two years, Aisha was promoted to a coordinator position and ran her program efficiently.

In 2010, Aisha was promoted to director of Residential Services and has shown her constant dedication to the members at CAU.  Shortly after in 2011 she was promoted to assistant executive director. Aisha continues to remain a positive person and dedicates her time to ensuring the individuals at CAU are getting the best quality of life and are seeking other ways to improve that quality of life.

 

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Maxine DaCosta
Assistant Executive Director
DD Services

Maxine is a graduate of Montclair State University where she acquired a bachelor of science degree in Family and Community Health. Maxine began her professional career as an elementary school teacher but stepped away from that role to work with individuals with disabilities, with whom she knew her skills as a teacher would make the greatest impact in affecting  positive changes in the lives of others and being a devoted  advocate for needed support services.

Maxine began her career in social services 16  years ago and joined the Community Access Unlimited family in 2004.  Since then, Maxine has been promoted several times from program Assistant Director to Director and then to her current position as Assistant Executive Director.  Maxine is a leader in CAU Family Connections team and  provides mentorship supports to staff and families of individuals with disabilities. Maxine is also a member of the American Association of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (AAIDD) since 2010. Her passion and dedication for the work she does with her members and staff  at CAU have lead her to be well regarded among peers and those she supports.

 

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William Busch
Assistant Executive Director
Membership Development

Billy graduated from Eastern Connecticut State University in 2006 with a BA in sports and leisure management and a minor in physical education. While at ECSU Billy worked part time in a group home providing daily supports to individuals with developmental disabilities. During that time Billy found his calling in assisting individuals with disabilities and made it his full time profession. In 2009 Billy relocated to New Jersey and began his career with Community Access Unlimited as the Quality Support Specialist and then the Director of Quality Assurance. Currently the Assistant Executive Director of Membership Development, Billy works with individuals and families throughout the state to secure service and ensure individuals are getting the best quality of life. Billy is committed to advocating for people with disabilities and finding news way to enhance their lives.

 

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Joann Harper
Assistant Executive Director
Disability Services

Joann began her career in social services in 2004 working with individuals with developmental disabilities as a Skill Instructor with the Arc Morris in Morris County, NJ after excelling in the Retail Management field for years.   After wanting a change in careers, falling in love with the field and feeling she wanted to advance, Joann began her career at Community Access Unlimited as a Support Leader in September 2009.

In 2010, she was promoted to Coordinator/Assistant Director, and two years later she was promoted to Residential Director.  Shortly after she was promoted to Assistant Executive Director where she now oversees the entire DD6 cluster.  Joann has earned employee of the month in August 2010 and Disability Services Employee of the Year in 2016 as she continues to show growth while taking on additional responsibilities as assigned.   She has always been a direct care professional that manages the personal health, safety and welfare of individuals as they carry out their routines. Joann is dedicated to the care, support and advancement of people with intellectual and related developmental disabilities and their families.  Joann thoroughly enjoys assisting others and improving their quality of life in way she can.