News & Events

2022 Employee Recognition

Rising Ground honors Employee Excellence

On May 18, for the first time since 2019, we gathered together for our annual Employee Recognition Evening to recognize our incredible employees for their years of service and excellence of work. Eight individuals were honored with Employee Excellence Awards for their exceptional work performance, and they include:

Employee Excellence Award for Accountability

Gerald Best
Youth Care Counselor, Residential Treatment Center, 
Known for his boisterous voice on campus, Best lives up to his name with equal enthusiasm for motivating kids and coaching sports. Hands-on and empathetic, Gerald ensures no one is left behind and that everyone succeeds by working together.

Employee Excellence Award for Connection

Rhonda Drakes
Office Manager, Intimate Partner and Gender-Based Violence Services 
A dedicated employee who never says no to a task, Rhonda makes it a point and finds every opportunity to collaborate with departments outside of her home unit, STEPs. A true team player, she’s respected for her flexibility, compassion, and hardworking attitude.

Employee Excellence Award for Tenacity

Marlene Cancel
Housing and Community Resource Specialist, Family Foster Care
Marlene is always reliable to provide the clearest information when needed most to help both staff and families. Often described as “cooperative,” “knowledgeable,” and “resourceful,” Marlene knows what to do to accomplish the goals of getting necessary assistance to families for urgent housing.

Employee Excellence Award for Service

Lissa Carabajo
Clinician, Passage of Hope Unaccompanied Migrant Child Services (POH)
Lissa is adept at making life’s worst experiences a little easier to manage. She is known to connect and engage with those children experiencing the emotional challenges of familial separation. Her positive mood and determination to find new ways to serve define her sense of caring and her passion for her work.

Employee Excellence Award for Innovation

Caitlin Scott
Speech Language Pathologist, Biondi School
A champion for children who always looks for different ways to engage her students. Caitlin is described by her colleagues as a “caring hard working team player, who is committed to change, and perfectly Quirky!”

Debra Buny
Clinician, Biondi School
Always willing to go the distance, Debra perseveres through challenges with innovative solutions. Emotive words like “kind,” “caring,” and “driven,” are how she is observed working on behalf of the children at Biondi School.

Employee Excellence Award for Managerial Excellence

Lilly Prasad
Manager, Payroll
When Covid struck the organization, few people were as dedicated and as diligent as Lily, braving all elements, natural and pandemic, to get to the office to keep our workforce of more than 1,400 paid. Her personal values reflect everything our organization tries to accomplish every day: selflessness, dedication, and professionalism.

Employees of the Year

Erika Concepcion
Assistant Manager, Pre-vocational Employment, IDD Services
Erika is wholly committed to our mission in supporting people with Intellectual & Development Disabilities. She has spent the last 5+ years in our work readiness program, before being recognized this year for her leadership and skills with a promotion to assistant manager. Erika’s person-supported focused work and leadership style are the embodiment of what employee excellence means, and the IDD department and Rising Ground are extremely fortunate to have her.

Martin Farrell
Youth Care Counselor, Bensonhurst Limited Secure Placement (LSP)
Martin sets the structure for the day with our scholars in our LSP program; although he receives pushback sometimes, he always maintains his cool and get the young men on track. Martin works in the school with the scholars and assists them when they are struggling, he always encourages the scholars to do their best and lets them know you can only do your best if you try.

See photos from the Employee Recognition Evening here!

Recognizing Years of Service

5 Years
Yezid Acosta
Diana Addo
Grace Adeseluka
Patricia Barrett
Natalie Basora
Niomi Belle
Cristal Bernardino
Sharron Blagrove
Brandon Brown
Jacqueline Brown
Robin Brown
Shamieka Bruce
Debra Buny
Raquel Cardenas
Andre Carter
Leshawn Cooper
Sydnee Corriders
Tiffany Crews
Alivia Curl
Abigail David
Perfecto Delgado, Jr.
Tevin Denton
Jack Dickerson
Erika Doomes
Marie Dyer
Nimotali Edidi
Yanira Fernandez
Augustine Fokuo
Kisha Forcheney
Michael Greene
Deanna Hailey
Chrystal Harvard
Derrick Haynesworth
Daniel Henriquez
Alicia Hill
Danielle Jean Baptiste
Eric Jenkins
Erika Jimeno
Paris Johnson
Tewogbola Jolaoso
Marlon Jones
Larry Kennedy
Purmela Kuldip
Herrick Lindsay
Chazz Lynes
Johana Manzueta
Ashante Matos
Donald Merrick
Taryn Miller
Cindy Mirabal
Crystal Moore
Kim Neblett
Justina Nketsiah
Adalgiza Nunez
Olukayode Ojo
Tiffany Pabon
Paula Palmer
Tonasiah Palmer
Donna Patrick
Karina Perez
John Pirgi
Gipsys Rodriguez
Alba Roman
Robert Russell
Diana Santiago
Sandra Saunders
Millicent Serebour
Jatava Sevorwell
Diamond Stewart
Eddy Villacis
Jermala Walker
Atiya Ward
Alexis West-Hyman
Angela White
Ila Williams
Loreen Williams
Shanta Worley
Chiwana Wright
Danielle Wynn

10 Years
Samirra Anderson
Ivy Bazemore
Chelsea Beckett
Carlene Brown
Tomiko Brown
Flora Burgos
Elrett Carr
Ann Chan
Shantell Cowart
April Crawford
Kathleen Curry
Marla Darby
Cheyann Degree
Maria Etor
Marvisha Gordon
Andrea Harris
Melanie Jacks
Camille McPherson
Betsy Pabon
Miriam Perdomo
Jodalys Ramirez
Orlando Ramos
Robert Rosado
Chicketa Smith
Dexter Squires
Mariela Valdez

15 Years
Jose Bonilla
Terren Brown
Paulette Howell
Connie Marquez
Dwayne McCollum
Adrienne Phillips
Leroy Tuthill
Kathryn Waters


20 Years
Marshall Booth
Nykisha Brown
Jacqueline Callejas
Elaine Clarke
Maria Diaz
Antoinette Douglas
Henry Green
Dawn Johnson
Joy Marshall
Anthony Mattis
Luis Ochoa
Umeki Poole
Scott Washington

25 Years
Sharmin Jones
Darryl Lyons
Roxwell Massop
Debra McCall
Erick Philpotts
Lisa Quinones
Althea Reid
Milagros Vasquez

30 Years
Sandra Freeman
Jose Reyes

35 Years
Carlton Mitchell

40 Years
Ava Shepard

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