Molly Little has been enjoying her position as CEO of The Arc of Delaware County since the retirement of former CEO George Suess in January 2016. She shared that inclusive experiences and positive supports for people with disabilities was instilled in her from early childhood. Molly’s journey of growing up with children with disabilities began at age 4 when she was enrolled in an integrated preschool program and continued throughout her school years. “My framework for life has been we all have abilities and disabilities. Some of my friends from preschool had speech therapy, leg braces and I just thought, this is life.”
Throughout high school and college Molly worked in residential departments, day camps, and day programs for people with disabilities. Once she completed her undergraduate degree a family member encouraged her to apply for a position at The Arc of Delaware County because they thought that its positive, no restraint policy would be a great philosophical fit.
In February 1995 Molly accepted a position as Social Worker Assistant at The Arc of Delaware County. She thought that this position would be rewarding but temporary. However, she never left because “I fell in love with the agency”. She accepted increasingly responsible positions including Program Coordinator, Assistant Director, and Director of Day Services. Her experiences provided a broad perspective and knowledge of the functioning of the agency from many levels. And she shared that she always loved every position that she was in.
She made the decision to throw her hat in the ring for the CEO position mainly because of the timing. She wanted to have the opportunity to learn from key long term employees whose retirement is on the horizon.
She is fully aware that she became CEO at a very challenging time in the field. Allowable services, funding, and regulations are all changing. “There are a lot of unknowns but we will figure it all out together.” She feels she can be a good influence at a crucial time. “This is an awesome team, this has been a smooth transition and the former CEO George Suess and the board have been very supportive. And because people are so talented at this agency I don’t lie awake worrying about things.” She shared that believing in what she does, making a difference in people’s lives and working in a positive, proactive atmosphere with talented and dedicated people makes it all easy.
If she had a dream “bucket list” Molly would love to see smaller group homes and people being able to have their own bedrooms. And as workshops change she would like to make sure that the people we support continue to have the highest quality of supports and services that are very person centered. “We can help the others in this field understand that people with disabilities can and do learn and grow.” She also would like to explore a variety of mental health services for people with disabilities.
During the first months of her tenure she spent time in all of the departments, gaining a different level of understanding of the agency and more importantly getting to know all of the people in the departments.” I knew I was going to see a lot of talent. It is really fun to see everything going on.”
Molly has come to love and appreciate all of the benefits of living in Delaware County. “I am grateful that this agency is located in Delaware County, small town America at its best. One of the things that I love about Delaware County is that people embrace everyone; we don’t have to fight a lot of discrimination or segregation. People with disabilities are not tucked away somewhere. I know that can be a big issue elsewhere.”