The Joseph Maley Foundation believes that education is the cornerstone of building a more inclusive, accepting, and empathetic community. Many of our programs, like disABILITY Awareness and HOPE, center on in-school education efforts, to start by reaching children at the beginning of their educational journey. Now, in our twelfth year as a Foundation, JMF is expanding our educational focus, to reach not just children – but the adults that directly impact them, and those who have a presence in the professional workforce.

Over the years, JMF has offered a number of professional development opportunities, for teachers, corporate companies, and other nonprofits. As of summer 2019, we officially welcomed Erica Christie to our staff, as Director of Professional Development. With a staff member focused on hosting JMF professional development events that range in length and scope of topics, we hope to continue to engender a community that shows respect and kindness for all.

For this week’s blog, Erica will give some insight to this new JMF offering, and reflect on her experience with both professional development events, and with community outreach and education as a whole.

What areas of professional development does JMF offer?

We offer a variety of high-quality educational opportunities personalized for your business, school, or organization. Some of our most popular topics for professional development are: The Power of Words: People-First Language and Respectful Communication, Strategies for Creating a More Inclusive School/Workplace, Why Disability Awareness Matters, Overcoming Mental Health Stigma, and Self-Care Strategies for Managing Stress and Avoiding Burnout.  

What does a professional development session with JMF look like?

Each professional development experience is truly unique because it is personalized to the needs of the business, school, or organization. We utilize expert presenters in the fields of medicine, mental health, education, and law, as well as guest speakers who share their own experiences living with a disability. Interactive exercises and hands-on activities engage participants with the topic in a relevant and meaningful manner. This year we successfully hosted professional development workshops during staff meetings, at employee resource group gatherings, and at “Lunch and Learn” events.

Personally, why do you think that receiving professional development training with JMF benefits not only individuals, but an organization as a WHOLE?

Continuing to learn and grow is vital for the success of any organization. Through JMF’s professional development offerings, individuals gain powerful knowledge about disabilities, wellness, diversity, and inclusion. Participants are better equipped to empathize, understand, and communicate effectively with people who are different from them, whether it be students, colleagues, or clients. When organizations invest in the personal and professional growth of their employees, it builds a strong sense of community, improves job performance and satisfaction, and contributes to a more positive and inclusive workplace culture for all people. 

If an organization is interested in receiving professional development training from JMF, how can they schedule this?

We would love to work with you! The first step is to contact me at Together we will assess your organization’s needs, tailor a topic, identify learning outcomes, and select the most appropriate methods, format, and speakers. 

Finally, what is your favorite part of being the Director of Professional Development at JMF, and largely, what has this experience been like?

This job is very rewarding!  I love working with people from all sectors who are passionate about deepening their organization’s understanding of disability, wellness, diversity, and inclusion. I enjoy the process of brainstorming, planning, and delivering content in fresh, relevant ways that genuinely benefit participants and organizations. It is exciting to use the skills I learned as an educator of young people for over fifteen years with adult learners and be a part of making a positive difference in our community through building empathy, understanding, and respect.