Christine Crissinger and Mohamed Toure with their mentor, David Trainor, pictured center

After retiring from a successful career in sales and business development in 2020, David Trainor was looking for a way to give back. With extensive experience in leadership and helping former colleagues grow their careers, David searched for an organization that could benefit from this knowledge. That’s when he met Jo Ann Simons, Northeast Arc’s president and CEO, and Tim Brown, Northeast Arc’s chief innovation and strategy officer.

“I told them I didn’t really know anything about [human services] work, but I know about business,” Trainor says. “I [knew] I could help the organization and the leadership with the business aspects in the good work they are doing.”

Trainor’s first step was connecting with Nicole DiStefano, a Residential social worker at NeArc, and  Chair of the agency’s Professional Development Working Group (PDWG). The PDWG was formed with the goal of educating, engaging, and empowering employees to help them grow in their careers at Northeast Arc. With Trainor’s help, the Committee developed a series of knowledge expert presentations where employees could learn about networking, public speaking, budgeting, and other important job and life skills.

The Committee also created a mentoring group, which is now entering its third year. As part of the program, more senior NeArc employees act as mentors working with NeArc employees seeking career guidance to help them develop professionally. Trainor didn’t just help create the group; he acts as a mentor himself.

“David brings a perspective of genuine, experienced leadership and commitment to the PDWG as a member and a mentor,” says DiStefano about working with Trainor. “This is David’s third year with us, and his motivation and desire to give back to the agency shows through his dedicated efforts, helping support each mentee with attainable goals, while encouraging and reminding them of their worth and abilities. I would say David is one of the sincerest people I have ever met, has a positive perspective on growth and personal development and puts all his effort in to truly help others plan and reach their goals.”

Last year Trainor had the chance to mentor Matt Lacorazza, Northeast Arc’s pre-employment director, who works with individuals in NeArc day programs to accelerate their track to community employment.

Trainor’s first step in working with Lacorazza was identifying his goals for the year, which included developing a new program where Lacorazza would collaborate one-on-one with individuals exploring different career paths. A key area of focus was looking at Lacorazza’s assessment process with the goal of getting people jobs within six months.

“I was able to help him streamline the process. How do you figure out if someone [fits into bucket] A, B, or C. Can they serve coffee at Starbucks, can they just make coffee, or they’re just going to sweep the floor,” says Trainor, who also helped Lacorazza put together a program to evaluate progress. “And then if you’re getting money from the state, they want to see results. So how do you track those results? So instead of waiting until the end, when you have to put a report together, it becomes monitoring it on a weekly or bi-weekly basis. So, when it comes time to submit that report, you’ve already got all the data.”

Not only did Trainor help Lacorazza develop the operational parameters of the program, but he also gave him something just as important: the confidence to propose it and run it.

“Something that David really helped me with is just being assertive,” says Lacorazza. “Many times, we just get in the habit of doing what we’re doing. And you do not really like speaking up and advocating for yourself or taking outside-of-the-box chances. And he helped me do that.”

Trainor says that’s the entire goal of a professional development program, like the one he helped develop at Northeast Arc. For Trainor, it’s about investing in employees and showing them a path forward. It’s also about differentiating between leadership and management.

“Good people don’t need a manager. They need to be led. They need to understand what the goal of the organization is and their responsibility in contributing to that. People get excited and motivate about their personal growth,” says Trainor. “So, how do you accomplish that? You pay attention to them, you listen to them, you help them, you provide them support so they can succeed. If you can zero in on what skills that individual has and what skills you need in your organization to help them along and coach them and train them, then you’ll all have success.”

Throughout 2024, Trainor will be mentoring two employees: Mohamed Toure, production supervisor on Northeast Arc’s Maintenance and Facilities team, and Christine Crissinger, a skills trainer in the Personal Care Management program.

“I’ve really enjoyed my time here and I’m looking forward to this coming year,” says Trainor. “And I’m looking forward to being continually inspired to do the best that I can for the organization.”

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