KenCrest employee Kelly Sesay enriches the lives of people with disabilities by mobilizing resources and exploring possibilities.
By Sydney Kerelo
In 1997, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, Kelly Sesay began her career in human services as a Direct Support Professional (DSP) at Lynch Homes. Now, nearly 26 years later, she’s one of the Directors of Quality Outcomes at KenCrest, ensuring everyone receives person-centered support and services based on their needs.
“I have always been interested in working in the human services field,” says Sesay. “There are many populations and target groups at risk and in need. However, my experience working as a DSP sparked my interest in working specifically with individuals with an intellectual or developmental disability (IDD) and autism.”
According to Sesay, individuals with an IDD are more likely to experience trauma or abuse, and are more vulnerable to being hurt by those caring for them. She discovered that many of these events are underreported because the individual may be unable to process their thoughts, are unable to communicate, or aren’t fully aware of their rights.
She wanted to ensure that people with an IDD are safe, healthy, and living meaning-filled lives. So, she became a Certified Investigator for the Office of Developmental Program (ODP), and made it her mission to investigate abuse, neglect, and individual rights violations. When she joined KenCrest in 2013, she began working with colleagues, her supervisor, and each individual’s team to implement a plan to mitigate the vulnerabilities throughout the Agency that would cause harm.
In her current position, Sesay lives out KenCrest’s mission to mobilize resources and explore possibilities to enrich the lives of the people supported so they can live as independently as possible. Her years of service as a DSP, Program Manager, Project Supervisor, Project Director, Program Specialist, Assistant Director of Residential Services, and Quality Manager ―allowed her to have insight into what worked within the homes, what didn’t, and where there could be vulnerabilities that might hurt the people supported. Plus, she was able to create some incredible relationships.
“When I held the live-in Program Manager position, I worked Monday through Thursday, including sleepovers,” Sesay says. “I lived with four female individuals during the week for about two years, and it was very challenging due to some of their behaviors. But the more time I spent with them, the more we got to know each other. We developed a strong bond. They all are smart, brave, funny, and strong-willed, and I admired that nature because it showed they were determined to do things on their terms.”
She remembers many days when she would join the other staff to take the people they supported on shopping trips, day trips to the shore, hayrides in the fall, and even amusement parks. They would work on goals important to the individual and collaborate with their family members to find new and exciting things to do.
Sesay’s dedication and commitment to the people KenCrest supports earned her the Agency’s Siebott/Hibbard Award in 2018. She was recognized for her tireless support of the direct care professionals she works with and her strong advocacy for all staff.
“I was totally caught off guard and humbled by this honor,” says Sesay. “It’s a moment I will never forget.”