Chief Executive Officer
DONNA COLONNA joined Services for the UnderServed (SUS) in January 1997 and was appointed President/CEO in January 2002. SUS is an $85 million nonprofit founded in 1978, which, with a staff of 1,000, each day serves close to 4,000 of the most vulnerable individuals in New York City society — individuals with special needs due to a developmental, mental or physical disability often compounded by poverty, homelessness, inadequate education, substance abuse or a history of institutionalization.
Ms. Colonna has dedicated her entire career to creating opportunities and services for individuals with disabilities, having begun her career in 1974 at Catholic Charities as a live-in staff member in a group home for individuals with developmental disabilities who had lived at the Willowbrook State School. This experience shaped her philosophy, beliefs and career path. After leaving Catholic Charities, Ms. Colonna joined the League School for children with special needs and developed their first residence for young adults with severe autism and challenging behaviors, and their first vocational program for young adults graduating from the school.
For eight years during the late seventies through the mid-eighties, Ms. Colonna worked for the OMRDD and OMH NYC regional offices as part of a team that created the beginnings of community-based services for individuals with developmental disabilities and supported housing for individuals with mental illness.
After leaving state government, Ms. Colonna served as the Executive Vice President of a not-for-profit called PSCH which provided services for individuals with developmental disabilities and individuals with mental illness. During a 12-year tenure, she developed $35 million in services–including specialty health and habilitation clinics, day programs, employment programs including a consumer-run business, residences and in-home case management and habilitation services. Just prior to joining SUS, Ms. Colonna consulted for UCP/NYC to help improve and expand its Article 28 health clinics for individuals with cerebral palsy and other developmental disabilities.
Over the years, Ms. Colonna has served in industry leadership positions in statewide and NYC trade associations, and has served on numerous government committees that have shaped policy and program implementation. She served for 10 years on the board of the Association for Community Living (ACL — a statewide mental health association) and also held the position of President of ACL. Ms. Colonna has served on the board of NYAPRS (New York Association of Psychiatric Rehabilitation Services — a statewide consumer/provider advocacy group), and on the board of the Coalition for Behavioral Health Agencies, Inc. for 8 years – four of those as Vice President, and two as President.
She is currently President of the InterAgency Council of Developmental Disabilities Agencies, Inc., and is the Immediate Past President of the Coalition for Behavioral Health Agencies, Inc. Both organizations are trade associations, each representing about 150 service providers. Ms. Colonna serves on the board of NAMI NYC Metro (National Alliance on Mental Illness, a support, education and advocacy organization serving families and individuals whose lives are affected by mental illness). Ms. Colonna also serves on the CDCH Charter School board and on the Leadership Council of the Support Center for Nonprofit Management, an organization dedicated to increasing the effectiveness of nonprofit leaders and their organizations.
In 2009, Ms. Colonna was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award by the National Association for Women Business Owners (NAWBO New York City). The award recognized her for exemplifying the commitment, determination and endurance it takes to create a successful, long-term business.
In 2011, Ms. Colonna was chosen to serve as a member of the New York State Medicaid Redesign Team’s Behavioral Health Reform and Affordable Housing Work Groups. Governor Cuomo established the Medicaid Redesign Team by Executive Order upon taking office in January 2011, bringing together stakeholders and experts from throughout the state to work cooperatively to reform the system and reduce costs. The efforts of the MRT will result in a multi-year road map that will lead toward a more efficient program and system that is affordable and will achieve better health outcomes for New Yorkers.
Ms. Colonna is a founding member and Board Chair of Coordinated Behavioral Care (CBC). CBC is a nonprofit established in 2011 for facilitating citywide collaboration among a consortium of NYC progressive, nonprofit, community behavioral health providers and is taking a leading role in taking advantage of the unprecedented opportunities created under Medicaid redesign.
Ms. Colonna is also a founding member of New York Integrated Network (NYIN), established in 2012. NYIN is a collaborative venture of five successful and trusted agencies that will become a sustainable network. The sustainable network will be a system of high quality, integrated services and supports across multiple systems that will develop new and innovative models of care, utilize best practices, improve quality of services and demonstrate effective and efficient delivery of care. The network promotes quality of life.
Throughout her career, Ms. Colonna has been a vocal advocate for the rights of, and services for, individuals with disabilities.
Chief Operating Officer
TERRY BLACKWELL, BCBA, SAS, CAS. Following graduation from the University of Pennsylvania with an MS in Counseling and Psychological Services in 1980, Terry worked as a Direct Care Counselor for a large community residence in the field of developmental disabilities. After a promotion to Clinical Coordinator in 1985, Terry worked as a Behavior Specialist. During the next three years, he focused on developing adaptive solutions for integrating persons with DD and severe behaviors into the community from the Developmental Centers where they had lived for many years.
In 1988, Terry joined the Volunteers of America Greater NY as a Division Director. Comprised of an assembly of programs including education, early intervention, developmental disabilities, alcoholism and substance abuse services, the Division grew 400% within five years. As a licensed school principal (SAS), Terry opened several handicapped pre-school programs under the authority of the NY State Education department, and expanded existing programs operated under SED and OMRDD throughout NYC. In 1992, as a participant in a US State Department exchange for “Glasnost,” Terry hosted and subsequently visited the USSR, as an expert on treatment of substance abuse disorders (CAS) and as a US Diplomat, level II. In 1996, the Bronx Early Learning Center was one of two programs in NYC selected by the NY State Education Department as a “model early child education center,” an accomplishment at a time when the South Bronx, where the school was located, was known to be one of the most challenging neighborhoods in the country. The programs of the Division were credited with numerous awards during this time, including a prestigious “Boston Society of Architects Award for Urban Innovation.” The award was for a playground built entirely of recycled materials and funded through grants – to create an exterior play space modeled after a large pirate ship where children experience an array of sensory stimuli, beneficial for early childhood.
After a brief interim working with a major teaching hospital as a VP for Business, Terry developed a specialty consulting practice in 1997. From 1997—2009, he worked as a consultant in the area of healthcare, Medicaid reform (NJ), and early childhood education. In 2001, responding to the increased incidence of autism spectrum disorders, Terry completed the work required for the Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) and turned more of his attention and practice to that arena. In 2009, Terry joined a vocational rehabilitation agency, Fedcap, as the VP of Business, and in addition to obtaining federal grants for veterans services, spearheaded program expansion of $20 million dollars into northern NJ, including an outpatient mental health program and an approved private school, funded through the NJ Department of Ed.
Terry joined SUS Inc. in March 2011, as the VP of Strategic Initiatives and Service Innovation, bringing his years of experience in healthcare and innovative program design. He was soon promoted to the position of Executive Vice President and now serves as Chief Operating Officer.
Executive Vice President - Developmental Disabilities Services
Louis Cavaliere joined SUS in May 1987 as the Psychologist for the Valentine Avenue ICFs. Subsequent promotions led to his appointment as Associate Executive Director for the Developmental Disabilities Division in 1997 and additionally as the AED for AIDS Services in 2001. Currently, as the Senior Vice President for Developmental Disabilities Services and Children Services, Mr. Cavaliere has supervisory responsibility for ensuring that quality housing, clinical and support services are provided in accordance with all applicable regulatory, funding and agency requirements. He is also responsible for the development of budgets and the monitoring of resources. Mr. Cavaliere spearheaded SUS’ early efforts to monitor quality through the development of agency-wide committees such as Policy & Procedure, Training & Education, Incident Management and Quality Assurance.
In 2005 Mr. Cavaliere assumed responsibility for SUS’ new affiliates, the CDCH Charter School and the CDCH Preschool and Early Intervention Program. In 2007 Mr. Cavaliere assumed additional responsibility as the Senior Vice President for SUS’ Home Attendant Program. Mr. Cavaliere has dedicated his entire professional life to providing services and advocating for people with special needs. He began his career in the disabilities field as a paraprofessional working with adolescents with autism. Before coming to SUS he was an Educational Therapist at Albert Einstein College of Medicine, working with substance abusers and people with HIV/AIDS. He holds BA and MS Degrees in Psychology from St. John’s University. As part of an initiative by the National Association for the Dually Diagnosed (NADD), he contributed to the development of a training manual to guide staff training in the field of dual diagnosis. He currently serves as Vice President on the Board of the New York State Association of Community and Residential Agencies, a statewide membership organization representing the New York City region, and is Co-Chair of the Residential Committee of the Interagency Council. Mr. Cavaliere participates in the Developmental Disabilities Provider Council Centers of Excellence for Dual Diagnosis and The Urban Institute for Behavioral Health. He has volunteered with the NYC HIV Prevention Planning Group, the Gay Men’s Health Crisis and Memorial Sloan-Kettering Hospital.
Chief Compliance/Privacy Officer - Quality Assurance and Corporate Compliance
Priscilla Fuller, Senior Vice President, Quality Assurance and Corporate Compliance Officer, joined SUS in 2003. Prior to that, Ms. Fuller had spent 25 years creating opportunities for individuals with developmental disabilities while working in various capacities at the New York State Office of Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities. During her career, Ms. Fuller has been involved in numerous initiatives to improve the quality of life for consumers in the developmental centers as well as in community settings. She was instrumental in the successful placement of consumers from Willowbrook State School into community settings in New York City and Upstate New York. While acting as Director of Programs at Brooklyn Developmental Center, she played a key role in the implementation of pre-vocational training which prepared consumers for competitive jobs, deviating from the traditional workshop activities. As a Developmental Service Representative at the New York City Regional Office, she assisted numerous voluntary agencies in the development of waiver services for residential and day programs.
Ms. Fuller attended Winthrop College, where she received a BA in Sociology and did graduate work at Kean University in Union, New Jersey.
Chief Development Officer
David L. Hertz
David L. Hertz, Ed.D., joined SUS in June 2008 as the first Chief Development Officer in the organization’s 30-year history. Mr. Hertz is responsible for developing SUS’ resources in the private sector—individuals, foundations and corporations—as well as creating a sustainable fundraising capacity. Prior to joining SUS, he served five years as the Senior Director of Institutional Advancement for Boys & Girls Harbor, NYC, where he led an annual campaign ranging between $5-7 million from private sector donors and consistently increased new donor giving. Previous to that position, Mr. Hertz was Founder and Managing Director of QED Consulting, a management consulting firm serving Fortune 500 clients with strategies and programs targeted to address issues of organizational change and management education. Mr. Hertz’s earlier career was as an administrator and teacher at NYC independent schools, including the Ethical Culture Fieldston, Dalton and Collegiate schools. He is a Life Trustee of the Albert G. Oliver Program, which provides access to selective independent schools for African American and Latino youth in New York City. Mr. Hertz earned his doctorate at Teachers College, Columbia University.
Chief of Staff
Judith Jackson, Chief of Staff, has been employed at SUS since July 1990. Ms. Jackson began her employment as the agency’s first Director of Development, and has earned progressively more responsible positions over the years. In her current position, she coordinates and manages internal communications activities related to promoting a sense of community among staff members at all levels, coordinates community relations activities related to community outreach events and oversees the management of the Human Resources Department. Ms. Jackson is also the staff liaison to the Board of Directors, working with the CEO to support the Board in its governance role. Prior to joining SUS, Ms. Jackson worked in Development at the Door, the National Audubon Society and the United Nations Environment Programme.
Ms. Jackson received her BA from the University of the West Indies and her MS in Social Sciences from Long Island University. She volunteers with Mustard Seed Communities USA, an organization dedicated to improving economic and social conditions in the Caribbean, Central America and Africa. As the legal guardian and sibling of an individual with a developmental disability she is a staunch disability rights advocate.
Chief Financial Officer
Michael Whelan, ACA joined SUS in July 2009 as Chief Financial Officer. In this capacity Mr. Whelan manages the Finance, Facilities, Purchasing and Information Technology functions of SUS. At SUS Mr. Whelan aims to improve business processes and leverage technology to drive continuous improvement.
Prior to joining SUS, he was CFO of AC Nielsen which is one of the world’s largest market research companies with revenues of over $2 billion. At Nielsen he led cost reduction initiatives in response to increased competitive intensity. Earlier in his career, Mr. Whelan gained his public accounting qualification in the UK, where he was employed by Peat Marwick, now KPMG. He then joined the pharmaceutical industry, starting in internal audits and progressing to CFO of a global consumer medicines business. At BIC, a producer of consumer products including pens and shavers, he served in various finance and general management roles. He is a Chartered Accountant and also an international member of the Connecticut Society of Certified Public Accountants. Mr. Whelan is energized to bring the experience he garnered in the corporate world to the not-for-profit sector.