2011 Graduate Updates

Caroline Arakelian and her children

Caroline Arakelian

April 2012:

“I was in LEND and Leadership last year and it was the best year ever,” said Caroline to Beth Dixon recently.  “From 2009-2011, I worked at the Institute on Disability with David Hagner on the Family Centered Transition Project which focused on working with high school students experiencing a disorder on the autism spectrum.”

Currently Caroline is the Transition & Work Experience Coordinator for students with disabilities at Winnacunnet High School in Hampton, NH. She is also pursuing her doctorate at UNH in the education department. “I am focusing my doctorate on transition, administration, and funding policy concerning high school students with disabilities.”

Caroline is quick to tell you her main priorities are at home.  “I am first and foremost a mom of 2 wonderful children; a nine year old daughter and a six-year-old son. My son was diagnosed with a speech disorder called Apraxia of Speech.  I founded the first support group and fundraising walk in NH through www.apraxia-kids.org. I have since handed the walk off to another parent with much more event-planning savvy and time as we head into our third year, but I still run the support group and love it!”

Written by Tamara Le

Gary Carpenter

Gary Carpenter

Winter 2013:

Gary Carpenter has not wasted a minute in putting his newly-honed leadership skills to work.

“Since graduation I have joined the Board of Directors and am now chair of the planning committee for the Veterans Business Owners Association. I’ve also joined the Protection and Advocacy for Individuals with Mental Illness (PAIMI) Advisory Committee at the Disabilities Rights Center."

Gary has also pursued community endeavors close to home. “I ran for a seat on the School Board with SAU 1”, the Contoocook Valley School District (ConVal) serving the communities of Antrim, Bennington, Dublin, Francestown, Greenfield, Hancock, Peterborough, Sharon and Temple. Gary was not elected but had inspirational words to share: “Well I stood outside the polling station (townhouse) most of the day from 8:00 to 7:00! I sure did have fun! I met many nice folks and I even met my opponent Joel Green whose wife is a teacher at PES. I lost but am not out! Never give up! I will be back!"

Gary, who holds a M.Ed., CAGS, and CRC, is currently working toward a master's level license in Alcohol & Drug Counseling. Undoubtedly, his new knowledge and skills will support his company "Right Fit Careers," where he offers career advice, business coaching, and training to veterans and people with disabilities.

by Tamara Le

Winter 2014 Update:

Here are some of my accomplishments for 2013!!

  • I was elected Co-Chair for a 501c3 called "Reality Check" in the Monadnock Region.  I was also chosen to be the Director of Veterans Outreach. MISSION: Reality Check, Inc. invests in the mental, emotional, and behavioral health of children, families, and communities in New Southwestern Hampshire by providing comprehensive education, prevention, treatment, and recovery services and advocacy for sustainable change. www.realitychecknh.com/
  • Elected Chairman for the Protection and Advocacy of Individuals with Mental Illness (PAIMI Council) for the Disability Rights Commission -  www.drcnh.org  - educate and advocate for individuals with mental health challenges
  • I am Fine tuning my vocational planning group at the Phoenix House, a 28 day substance abuse facility.  I added a module called Grief and Secondary loss ( job or small business). 
  • Right Fit Careers Group - I will be adding webinars and online counseling called Career and Business Consulting. It offers training and coaching to Veterans, people with disabilities, and people with addiction challenges. -www.rightfitcareers.org

Winter 2016 Update:

I am the founder and director of a sober living home called the "Warrior Addiction Support Home" (WASH) which will launch in January 2016.   We reclaim recovering addict’s lives!!  Further I am on the Economic Development Authority in Peterborough.  Our WASH uses a holistic approach educating and guiding through nutrition, exercise, spirituality, business enterprise and careers and more. 

We Build Warriors From the Outside In! We are All Warriors!  Our Mission: To provide and create a healing and supportive home where veterans and others can regain sobriety, feel safe, learn new skills and make something of their lives. We provide a person centered approach to reclaiming lives in a safe environment. We teach our residents how to thrive in this society by teaching good coping skills to fight addiction.

Kelly Maginnis

Kelly Maginnis

Winter 2016:

Right now, I'm not working, but I feel I am doing something just as important; working on myself. I have battled severe anxiety and depression for most of my life. In the last five or six months, I have been taken off what I was on and put on something new. It has made a world of difference. I have been able to say yes to more things, and travel without any problem.

For the first time in years, I feel hopeful about a future for myself, that doesn't include anxiety! I am also actively looking for work, something I didn't even bother trying to do, figuring the anxiety would get in the way. Now I know that it doesn't have to.

I still have that ultimate goal in taking an active role in helping veterans and I will do that after taking care of myself for just a little while longer.

Kristen McGraw

Kristen McGraw

April 2012:

“Since graduating in 2011, I have become very interested in the political scene, particularly here in New Hampshire.  Prior to Leadership, I had little understanding of how I could influence what happens at the State House,” said Kristen McGraw.

During her time in Leadership, Kristen had the opportunity to meet and to get to know Peter Fleming, Vice President of the NH Council on Developmental Disabilities.  “He sparked my interest in the council and in October 2011, I was appointed to the NHCDD!” added Kristen. 

Kirsten is also currently involved in the Medicaid Managed Care Advanced Leadership Group. 

“Thanks to Leadership for not only the knowledge I acquired, but also the inspiration!”

Written by Tamara Le

Kara Stanley

Winter 2013:

Kara Stanley reports the New Hampshire Leadership Series has helped her three-fold.

“Since graduation, I have refocused my financial planning practice to help families engage in futures planning for their loved ones with special needs. One of the biggest fears I hear from other parents and family members who have am individual with special needs is “what is going to happen to them when I’m gone?”

In working with attorneys that set up special needs trusts, Kara is able to assist families in the trust funding process. Whether it is through funds that are readily available to invest, or through the benefits like life insurance, her goal is to bring peace of mind to a family, even if it is just financially.

Stanley, along with two other mothers, has also presented her family's story at a "Contemporary Issues in Autism Spectrum Disorders" class at the University of New Hampshire. Since then, the women have been asked to do their presentation at a teacher’s workshop in southern NH. Stanley notes, “I am excited about the opportunity and will be working on doing more presentations in the future.”

“I love to talk about the effect New Hampshire Leadership has had on me as a mother of a child with autism. I am a much more effective IEP team member. I now have the knowledge and confidence to work with the school and make sure that my child is getting every opportunity possible to engage in a great school experience. I thought I had a good handle on getting his needs worked into his IEP--elements such as speech therapy, occupational therapy and so on--but it was Leadership that taught me how important the socialization piece was to facilitate friendships with his classmates.”

Stanley concluded, “I now know that I am not only a great advocate for him, but for others as well, and have been able to focus my professional and private lives into helping others in the special needs world.”

Written by Tamara Le

Kathleen Washburn and family

Kathleen Washburn

Summer 2013:

Kathy Washburn from Greenville has been busy in the legislative arena. She is Co-Chair of Greenville’s Democratic Committee. She writes, “During the last election we held several visibilities in our Town center, wrote letters to the editor, held house parties for Senator Peggy Gilmour, Congresswoman Annie Kuster, and our local town representatives. We raised funds for and posted signs, made phone calls and attended house parties in neighboring towns. We all worked very hard and it did pay off in the end. Two Representatives from our town of 2200 were elected to the House. How cool is that?” says Kathy.

Kathy also testified at the Senate budget hearing and has made many calls to reps and senators regarding DD issues and the budget, waitlist, etc. “My daughter is now 36 and it is every bit as important that I stay involved and informed on DD issues as it was when she was young. I encourage all parents to get and stay involved with the Legislative process,” she says.

Kathy’s daughter is now enrolled in consumer directed services so she and her husband oversee staff, contracts, programs, and draft her budget for the next year. She is 36 and has been accepted into Project Search. She will begin her training at Cheshire Hospital in Keene at the end of August. “We are very excited for her. As we are all well aware, employment continues to be a problem for people with developmental disabilities and we are hoping this training will result in Renee finding a job in our local hospital, Monadnock Community Hospital, in Peterborough.”

Kathy works at Gateways in Nashua as a Medical Biller & Coder. She can be reached at kwashburn@gatewayscs.org