The state of Georgia may be best known for its juicy peaches, Bulldog fans and world renowned brands such as Coca-Cola, Home Depot and Delta Air Lines. Yet, for parents and siblings of individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities, Georgia may be better known for being home to one of the premier nonprofit organizations in the United States dedicated solely to serving adults with intellectual disabilities and those that have experienced an acquired brain injury.
When Adam Pomeranz joined Annandale Village as CEO in 2004, he inherited an organization in upward transition. Under his leadership, the 47-year-old organization has grown exponentially while its reputation as a nationally recognized leader among nonprofit organizations has flourished. As he eyes his 12th anniversary at the helm of Annandale Village, Pomeranz spoke with Gwinnett Magazine to discuss the business of running a successful nonprofit and the future challenges and opportunities of his organization.
What are some of your organization’s biggest triumphs over the past few years?
Looking back just a few years ago, our annual report outlined several record-breaking milestones and accomplishments. This year, we raised the bar even higher.
In 2016, we welcomed and are currently serving a record number of clients from all across the United States. We implemented new innovative services, adding depth and possibilities to our comprehensive evidence-based program offerings. We completed construction and opened the Keith Keadle Center for Continued Care to meet the needs of clients experiencing a decrease in independent living skills due to aging and/or characteristics of his or her disability. We increased our staffing in key areas to ensure that we could provide more services while upholding the level of excellence our clients and families expect. Finally, the D. Scott Hudgens Center for Skilled Nursing was once again named a top nursing home in Georgia by U.S. News and World Report.
Why do families from across the United States choose Annandale to care for their loved one?
First and foremost, Annandale Village is a place where individuals of all abilities can age in place. We understand that the individual’s needs change over time and therefore we offer a continuum of flexible supports designed to meet those needs throughout an individual’s lifetime. Secondly, Annandale offers families the security of knowing their loved one will be provided a well-rounded life experience with opportunities for success and growth in all areas, daily living, life skills, work, socialization, leisure activities, health and wellness, and the creative and performing arts.
What is the secret to your success?
Quite simply, it is our people. We believe it is our responsibility and privilege to deliver exceptional, quality-of-life-enhancing services. Our commitment to quality is more than a promise – it is the essence of our ability to provide optimal care to meet the highest level of standards expected by our clients and their families.
How has Annandale maintained recognition as a Top Workplace in Metro Atlanta?
We promote a culture of shared respect and believe that each employee and each role served contributes to our collective success. Our employees are as diverse as the services we offer and the individuals we support, but we are one organization working to deliver meaningful outcomes. In turn, this creates an energizing and rewarding experience for our employees.
What’s the biggest challenge facing the developmental disabilities community?
The number of children being diagnosed with a developmental disability is increasing every year and has been for some time. For those of us working specifically with adults with developmental disabilities, we are concerned because we know the numbers of those in need are far greater than the services available. In Georgia, several hundred young adults with developmental disabilities are aging out of the school system each year, without services.
What are two top priorities for Annandale right now?
- As an organization with a $9.4 million operating budget, the financial support of the philanthropic community is vital to our continued success. In order to carry out Annandale’s mission as our founders imagined, we must create a sustainable fundraising model. Therefore, we are working tirelessly to develop a culture of philanthropy by deepening relationships with our current donors and introducing ourselves to prospective donors with an interest in investing in our continued growth and development.
- Our Strategic Plan directs us to have two community based programs this year. One of which, our Independent Living Program, will launch this fall. The other, an off-campus
Day Program, should be opening within a year.
What keeps you excited about your job as CEO?
Sometimes it sounds like a cliche, but it is truly our Villagers, their families, and our staff who keep me excited about my job. As far as the Villagers, seeing their growth and sheer happiness every day is motivating enough; however, when I speak to the families and they communicate the peace of mind we give them, it’s hard for me to think of anything more rewarding. I would also be remiss if I didn’t mention the staff, who come to work each day with a level of enthusiasm that is infectious.
On the flip side, what keeps you up at night?
One of my greatest fears is having to inform the family of an aging client who has called Annandale home for 10, 20, or more years that we are unable to continue to serve their loved one because we have no place for him or her to transition. Luckily, with the addition of our skilled nursing center and our two new assisted living centers I have not had to make that call.
Annandale Villages new Independent Living Program provides a comprehensive range of residential, vocational, recreational, and social supportive services in an off-campus environment that fosters lifelong skills acquisition, community integration, and independence. Services include:
Community-based Residential Living:
The opportunity to choose their place of residence and where and with whom they live on an equal basis with others.
Person-centered Planning and Service Delivery:
Services that reflect the individual’s preferences, goals and unique needs, and that maximize opportunities for success.
Integration of Health Care Services:
Comprehensive mental and physical health and dental care necessary to maintain optimal health.
Coordination of Services:
Assistance in coordinating services and establishing partnerships to optimize the ability to prosper in the community.
Community Inclusion and Socialization:
Support in developing and maintaining family connections and friendships, and assistance in accessing resources and participating in the community.
Vocational & Educational Supports:
Meaningful work, productive activity or appropriate educational opportunities.
Training and support for living in the community and navigating the service-providing system.