Aid to the Developmentally Disabled (ADD) has an amazing team of people, who make a powerful and positive difference every day in people’s lives. We’d like you to meet each of our staff members and learn more about them. We’ll be hosting series of blogs highlighting many different staff members along the way.
To start, we are featuring Tara Kolahifar, the deputy director of operations at ADD. She has worked with ADD for “one great year,” as she describes. Her professional career in this industry began when she worked as a direct service professional in a day habilitation setting immediately after completing her BA in Psychology. Tara worked with individuals with behavioral challenges. She had an opportunity to work closely with social workers and psychologists to both develop and implement plans to assist the participants to modify maladaptive behaviors.
“Every day was so rewarding being a part of the progress to assist someone in meeting their goals.” Ms. Kolahifar explains, “I then decided to move forward with my training to work in a helping profession and completed my MA in Mental Health Counseling.”
As part of her program, she interned with At-Risk Youth and worked in case management for individuals with HIV/AID and substance abuse disorders. Later, she worked in case management for the special needs population and began work in the development of programming that would be suitable to address their unique needs. As she moved into development, she again decided to continue her education and completed her MBA with a concentration in Executive Leadership and Organizational Management.
We wanted to learn more about Tara, her work at ADD and her special interests.
Q. What is your favorite part of working for ADD?
A. The people. Our residents and staff have created such an authentic sense of family that I could feel it immediately when I started with the agency. The workforce at ADD is dedicated and has a true passion for helping. I was immediately welcomed in.
Q. What do you find challenges you the most?
A. It is so important to me to invest in our programming, our individuals and our workforce. In a field that is so heavily dependent on State and Federal funding, it has become increasingly more difficult to manage all components under budgetary constraints and cutbacks. I am continually seeking out new and creative measures to meet our goals.
Q. Any specific goals for 2017 or going into 2018?
A. In the upcoming year I hope to be able to contribute to the diversification of ADD’s portfolio of services to include day habilitation and other support services.
Q. Do you have any hobbies or special interests?
A. I enjoy cooking, reading, writing, travel and bad reality TV!
Q. What would we find you typically doing on a day off?
A. On my days off I am typically spending time with my family and my sweet hairless cat; watching a marathon of Snapped or the Golden Girls; or trying out a new recipe.
Q. Favorite food(s)?
A. Mexican, Spanish and Mediterranean cuisines
Q. Favorite color?
A. Yellow, the happiest of all colors
Tara Kolahifar shares her advice to those starting out in this field, “Never know anything alone. Share information and communicate. If you are uncertain of anything, make sure a supervisor is informed and follow through.”
To learn more about the ADD organization, residential housing, job opportunities and advocacy groups, browse our website or call 631-727-6220 ext. 203 with any questions.