Nadine started at CFS in June 2007 as a residence manager in Staten Island. Today, she is CFS’ first Chief Diversity Officer, as well as the Director of Advocacy and Innovation.
Of her work at CFS, Nadine says, “It is one of the most rewarding jobs that I’ve ever done. What we do may be captured under social work, but here, you get to wear many hats – from planning to creation – and you get the sense and direction of the whole entire field. You can enter the agency from any position, and from there you can go where you want.”
Nadine came to CFS from the world of protection and prevention services and was new to the field of disability. But as she encountered more and more of the individuals we work with, she felt that there was an opportunity for her: to touch the world.
On Innovation and Advocacy
She moved into innovation and advocacy – CFS’s unique program that finds creative solutions to the issues and needs that participants identify themselves through our person-centered approach using the CQL-Certified Personal Outcome Measures. Nadine says, “The person centered approach is all about affirming that the individuals we support are the experts in their lives. Innovation is built on asking ‘What are we doing? What do we have to get better at?’ It’s about honoring and celebrating people as they manage their lives.”
For example, Nadine describes her experience with Anita, an individual who is part of CFS, and who has a lot of capabilities, but did not have a lot of ways to express herself. But Anita participated in CFS’ voting rights education workshops, learned she had the right to vote, held a voting rally in Brooklyn to mobilize others who experience disabilities. “Now,” says Nadine, “she volunteers every year at the polling station, so she can facilitate people with disabilities to vote without trouble. See, this is how it is – seed starts somewhere, and different flowers emerge.”
In her role as Director of Advocacy and Innovation, working across all our departments, Nadine has built an advocacy program so that every individual has a voice – to ask for what they need and say no, too! CFS now has 3 advocacy groups – in New York City, Long Island, and New Jersey.
As Chief Diversity Officer
Most recently, Nadine was named CFS’ first Chief Diversity Officer, where she is aiming to develop the understanding across the agency that this work of diversity, equity, and inclusion, are part of the agency’s mission, and for everyone to be part of. “A diversity officer may be leading the charge, but it has to be embedded in our thought process,” she says. “It is in all aspects of our work – from who and how we recruit, how we nurture the talent of our staff, whom we source money from, our language. It’s understanding that though each of us has a role, it’s what a socially responsible organization is here to do, how CFS can have an impact in this work, and in this world.”
As Chief Diversity Officer, Nadine is working with all departments to identify and implement changes across the organization so that CFS can fulfill its mission and aims to be more diverse, equitable, and inclusive.
Even while Nadine has some very big responsibilities, and system-level work, she still finds great fulfillment in the roots of her time at CFS. First, she always looks forward to change and challenging the status quo. “I lean into “why,” is it a policy, or is it an assumption?”
Then, she says, “I love the advocacy part – when it’s you screaming for change– for me! Now that’s advocacy.”
And finally, her favorite part of her job is speaking with the individuals and being a part of their lives and they, part of hers as well. For example, she says, “Oscar called me the other day, and said, ‘I know 25 people who have died during the pandemic,’ and he was hurting. And I was too. It’s having the feeling that I’m an integral part of their lives, that is what matters.”