Below is the recent edition of DD Connections, it includs a letter from Greg Fenton, our new
Director of Developmental Disabilities.
DHS DD Connections Volume 5 Issue 6, July 16, 2015
A few words from the newly appointed Division Director:
With mixed feelings, I announce that this is my last issue of the DD Connections. As most
of you know, for the last few months, I have been honored to serve as the Acting Director of
the Division of Developmental Disabilities, and am pleased to tell you that Secretary-
designate Dimas has asked me to stay on permanently. I have agreed to do so, and I look
forward to working with you all to continue our important work.
I want to thank all of you for your support and patience since I was named the Acting
One of my first official acts as the Acting Director was to create a communication bulletin to
improve lines of communication and to keep internal and external stakeholders apprised of
important Division initiatives. That communication bulletin was recently named the “DDD
Scoop”, and while the DD Connections is ending, in future issues of the DDD Scoop we will
be including articles similar to the ones that you were accustomed to seeing in the DD
I’ve enjoyed putting the newsletter together each month along with other members of the
Operations Bureau. I can honestly say that your consistent feedback, particularly the
feedback on how the articles touched you, was the fuel that kept the newsletter going.
Words cannot adequately describe how much I’ve enjoyed working with all of you in my role
as Deputy Director of State Operated Developmental Centers (SODCs). I have been so
impressed with the work I’ve seen throughout our entire service delivery system.
Each and every day, I received countless reminders of progressive and determined
leadership in our SODCs supported by hundreds of highly dedicated line staff. It is quite
apparent that our workforce is comprised of staff who are genuinely committed to ensuring
those most in need of critical services receive the support they need to live full and active
Over the years, you have helped me to understand what a privilege it is to serve in a
leadership position. During our eight-year association, I developed relationships with so
many of you that proved to be invaluable, particularly as I sought guidance in navigating
my way through some difficult circumstances.
We didn’t always see things the same way, but even when we agreed to disagree, our
interactions were characterized by mutual respect and a sincere commitment to those we
As I move into my new role, I know that the SODCs are in very capable hands under the
leadership of Jerry Stam. Jerry is an experienced, career professional and has steadily
assumed increasing roles and responsibilities since he began his career as an educator at
the Shapiro Center some 28 years ago.
Writing this newsletter and serving as the Deputy Director of SODCs has shown me that
success in this field is largely about our relationships. I have come to realize that in order
to develop and maintain meaningful relationships – whether they be personal, professional
or spiritual – we have to work at them. Failing to work at relationships is like failing to
water plants – eventually they will wither and die.
I have also learned that for any relationship to succeed, people have to be able to trust
each other, and that means every relationship must be characterized by honesty and
I hope you felt that way about our relationship.
The Division is yet again in a period of great transition with many challenges, high
expectations and limited resources. In order to meet our challenges, it will require total
commitment on the part of all of our stakeholders – both internal and external
I look forward to working with all of you to face our challenges, and I remain committed to
creating and maintaining a climate of open communication and unprecedented
transparency, as experience as shown me that true collaboration can only occur where
I am excited about the future and I look forward to working with you all to create a more
responsive service delivery system.
Thank you for giving me the opportunity to grow with you all.
A very special seed – a story about integrity
A successful businessman was growing old and knew it was time to choose a successor
to take over the business. Instead of choosing one of his directors or his children, he
decided to do something different. He called all the young executives in his company
together.He said, “It is time for me to step down and choose the next CEO. I have decided to
choose one of you.” The young executives were shocked, but the boss continued, “I am
going to give each one of you a seed today – one very special seed. I want you to plant
the seed, water it, and come back here one year from today with what you have grown
from the seed I have given you. I will then judge the plants that you bring, and the one I
choose will be the next CEO.”
One man, named Jim, was there that day and he, like the others, received a seed. He
went home and excitedly, told his wife the story. She helped him get a pot, soil and
compost and he planted the seed. Everyday, he would water it and watch to see if it had
grown. After about three weeks, some of the other executives began to talk about their
seeds and the plants that were beginning to grow.
Jim kept checking his seed, but nothing ever grew. Three weeks, four weeks, five weeks
went by, still nothing. By now, others were talking about their plants, but Jim didn’t have
a plant and he felt like a failure.
Six months went by — still nothing in Jim’s pot. He just knew he had killed his seed.
Everyone else had trees and tall plants, but he had nothing. Jim didn’t say anything to
his colleagues, however, he just kept watering and fertilizing the soil. He so wanted the
seed to grow.
A year went by and the CEO asked the young executives to bring their plants to work
When Jim told his wife that he wasn’t going to take an empty pot, she asked him to be
honest about what happened. Jim felt sick to his stomach, it was going to be the most
embarrassing moment of his life, but he knew his wife was right. He took his empty pot
to the board room.
When Jim arrived, he was amazed at the variety of plants grown by the other executives.
They were beautiful – in all shapes and sizes. Jim put his empty pot on the floor and
many of his colleagues laughed, a few felt sorry for him!
When the CEO arrived, he surveyed the room and greeted his young executives. Jim just
tried to hide in the back. “My, what great plants, trees and flowers you have grown,” said
the CEO. “Today one of you will be appointed the next CEO!”
All of a sudden, the CEO spotted Jim at the back of the room with his empty pot. He
asked Jim to come to the front of the room. Jim was terrified. He thought, “The CEO
knows I’m a failure! Maybe he will have me fired!”
When Jim got to the front, the CEO asked him what had happened to his seed. Jim told him
the story. The CEO asked everyone to sit down except Jim. He looked at Jim, and then
announced to the young executives, “Behold your next Chief Executive Officer — Jim!”
Jim couldn’t believe it. Jim couldn’t even grow his seed. “How could he be the new CEO?”
the others said. Then the CEO said, “One year ago today, I gave everyone in this room a
seed. I told you to take the seed, plant it, water it, and bring it back to me today. But I gave
you all boiled seeds; they were dead – it was not possible for them to grow.
“All of you, except Jim, have brought me trees and plants and flowers. When you found
that the seed would not grow, you substituted another seed for the one I gave you. Jim was
the only one with the courage and honesty to bring me a pot with my seed in it. Therefore,
he is the one who will be the new Chief Executive Officer!”
If you plant honesty, you will reap trust
If you plant goodness, you will reap friends
If you plant humility, you will reap greatness
If you plant perseverance, you will reap contentment
If you plant consideration, you will reap perspective
If you plant hard work, you will reap success
If you plant forgiveness, you will reap reconciliation
So, be careful what you plant now; it will determine what you will reap later.
CARMAN DOTSON ABC AWARD WINNER
Kevin Backs, Mental Health Tech II at Murray Center, was the recipient of the Carman
Dotson Above and Beyond the Call of Duty (ABC) Award for the month of June 2015.
Congratulations Kevin, and to the hundreds of SODC employees who were nominated for
the Carman Dotson ABC drawing for going above and beyond the call of duty for those
FEEL GOOD STORY
A St. Paul, Minn. police officer is leading efforts to ensure that encounters with autistic
people end safely. Rob Zink, whose sons have autism, is a leader in helping police
colleagues to assess and react appropriately. Zink, 45, recently created the Cop Autism
Response Education (CARE) Project, as part of a groundbreaking effort to ensure that
police calls involving people with autism end safely. His first priority has been getting to
know St. Paul families with autistic children and explaining how police respond to domestic
violence calls — a not uncommon scenario involving those with an autism spectrum
disorder. His second is helping police find quieter and gentler ways to defuse those calls.
“We need a general assessment for all officers to be able to see signs of these behaviors
before it’s too late,” Zink said. Cmdr. John Bandemer, the head of patrol for the Western
District where Zink works, said it can be hard for officers to tell the difference between
someone with autism and someone who just doesn’t want to do what police are telling
them to do. Zink’s efforts might keep incidents from escalating, Bandemer said. There
now is talk in the St. Paul Police Department about including training for autism calls with
other mental health training efforts.
(Source/more: Minneapolis Star-Tribune)
Brilliant Lessons of Michelangelo
The artist Michelangelo often stirred up the opposition of the contemporary artists of his
day. Many of them envied his magnificent abilities. One example was the architect
Bramante.Pope Julius retained Michelangelo to build him a splendid tomb. Michelangelo gladly
accepted the project and spent eight months in a marble pit personally cutting and
selecting the most perfect stones. When he returned, he found the pope had
second thoughts. Bramante had turned Pope Julius against the project. The Pope
cancelled it.Later the idea for another special project entered the Pope’s mind. Bramante saw the
project as a time consuming trap for which there would be little public recognition.
Bramante recommended Michelangelo for the job.
The great artist saw the trap. He knew what Bramante was up to. He wished to turn the
project down but did not want to refuse the Pope’s request. So Michelangelo went to
work. He spent many years doing the slow and tedious labor the project required. It was
the Sistine Chapel.
The inspiration that flowed through Michelangelo can likewise flow through any human
being. That is what true inspiration wants to do. It cannot be stopped. It is a living,
powerful river that easily circumvents all obstacles.
Tony Paulauski Executive Director
The Arc of Illinois
20901 S. LaGrange Rd. Suite 209
Frankfort, IL 60423