More than 500 people packed the Picasso Ballroom at Encore Boston Harbor to help Northeast Arc celebrate An Evening of Changing Lives. With support from donors and attendees the agency raised nearly $600,000 to support programs that help people with disabilities or autism live as full members of their communities.

Northeast Arc honored RoAnn Costin, Founder and President of Wilderness Point Investments, with the Changing Lives Award in recognition of Costin’s long-time support of the agency and her commitment to creating inclusive opportunities for people with disabilities. Kim Driscoll, Lieutenant Governor for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, presented Costin with the award.

Lieutenant Governor Kim Driscoll, RoAnn Costin, and Jo Ann Simons. Costin is holding a painting of her home done by ArcWorks artist Polyvios Christoforos

Lieutenant Governor Kim Driscoll, RoAnn Costin, and Jo Ann Simons. Costin is holding a painting of her home done by ArcWorks artist Polyvios Christoforos

“RoAnn’s passion for equity in health care resonates deeply with the Arc family. RoAnn champions equity and excellence for everyone, every time,” said Driscoll. “RoAnn – your selfless work to make our community a better place for all residents to call home truly changes lives each day.”

In accepting the award, Costin spoke about her passion for Northeast Arc’s mission, and praised the leadership of Jo Ann Simons, Northeast Arc’s president and CEO.”

“As Jo Ann has often said, she did not choose her career. It chose her after her first child was born with Down Syndrome and four heart defects. At that time, she did not see a world that she wanted for her son, so she set out to build one for him and for others with similar disabilities,” said Costin. “Through her keen business, acumen and tireless efforts, Jo Ann has given those with disabilities opportunities to become full participants in the community while challenging the mindset and attitude of many about the capabilities of folks with disabilities. That is leadership that is changing lives.”

Simons said she has been proud to call Costin her friend for many years—dating back to childhood, adding that Costin is among the many community partners who make Northeast Arc’s work possible.

“RoAnn is the type of person who is always willing to find a way to help someone else, and I’ve been fortunate to call her a friend since we were kids swimming competitively at what is now the Demakes Family YMCA in Lynn,” said Simons. “Partnership with individuals like RoAnn is critical in bringing Northeast Arc’s mission of inclusion and opportunity to life. Collaboration with government, business, and community leaders, and with each of you, makes our goals achievable.”

During the event, incoming Chair of the Board of Directors, Heidi Ellard, announced that Jenny Holaday, President of Encore Boston Harbor has been elected to the Board of Directors , and Jackson Skane, an autism advocate and student as Essex North Shore Agricultural and Technical High School, was selected to represent youth voices to the Board.

The highlight of the evening was an inclusive fashion show, with Holaday serving as the honorary chair. During the show individuals and families supported by Northeast Arc walked the runway with local celebrities. The fashion show highlighted the diversity of services provided by Northeast Arc – supporting people with disabilities and autism from birth through end of life. The fashion show ended with former New England Patriot and three-time Super Bowl Champion James White tossing footballs to donors in the crowd.

Holaday walked the runway with Skane, and the other models were:

  • Heidi Ellard, Incoming Northeast Arc Board Chair, walking with Ethan Kearney, Best Buddies Volunteer Group, St. John’s Prep
  • Heather MacLean, United States Track and Field Olympian, Peabody Resident, walking with Cathryn Lally, Young Women’s Group, Young Ambassador, and Armahn Parker, Steps to Independence, Recreation
  • Lisa and Peter Orall, Petey’s Parents, walking with Petey Orall, Northeast Arc Clinical Services
  • Kevin McGovern, New England Managing Partner, Deloitte walking with Mariel Torres, Deaf Services, Journeys Program, Shredding
  • Katherine Stemberg, Philanthropist, walking with Emily Gawrys, Steps to Independence, Recreation
  • Mary Beth McMahon, President, Special Olympics Massachusetts, walking with Jimmy Keith, Actor, ”Champions”
  • Cassie DiOrio, Autism Advocate, walking with Joey DiOrio, Early Intervention, Autism Support Center
  • Rick Hayduk, CEO, Good Shepherd Hospitality, walking with Abe Hayduk
  • RoAnn Costin, Honoree, President, Wilderness Point Investments, walking with Jamison Hayduk
  • Colby Boulay, Inclusive Fitness Instructor, walking with Nick Zemkem, Endeavor Program and Stella Puzzo, CP Warrior
  • Elizabeth Hailer, CEO, The Women’s Edge, walking with Pranaav Suresh, Steps to Independence, Supported Employment
  • Marylou Sudders, Former Massachusetts Secretary, Health and Human Services, walking with Wade Edwards, Deaf Services, Residential
  • Carolina Trujillo, Executive Director, Citizens Inn, Inc., walking with Danny Spagnola, Patton Center Day Habilitation Program
  • Patrick Tutwiler, Massachusetts Secretary of Education, walking with Tatiana Chhot and Deeasia Man, Pathways to Opportunities
  • James White, Former New England Patriot, walking with Jacob Yellin, Steps to Independence, ArcWorks, Recreation

Northeast Arc would like to thank its Presenting and Community Sponsors, Encore Boston Harbor and PLAN of MA & RI for their support. Engagement Sponsors were Quinn Brothers Ironworks and New England Biolabs. Shining Star Sponsors were Eastern Bank Foundation, Ralph and Janice James, and OneDigital. Visit to see all sponsors and visit Northeast Arc’s Flickr page to see more photos.


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