Who is Achieva, who does it serve, and how does it make people’s lives better?
Damon Knoche (Current Executive Director): Achieva serves individuals in about a 6-county area in the east and central portions of Indiana. We provide advocacy for Individuals with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (IIDD), a guardianship service – one of 18 certified in the state of Indiana under the Indiana Supreme Court’s guardianship program that allows us to step in and provide people the health care, services, and supports that they need but maybe haven’t had. Sometimes they are living in deplorable conditions, or have no family members, or are in situations where their family is unable to provide the care they need. Family members or others in the community might be exploiting an individual. We’re a resource for the local court systems, law enforcement, and adult protective services to step in and receive emergency guardianship more expeditiously to take care of those folks.
What were some of the biggest challenges you faced during your career with Achieva?
Dan Stewart (Retired Executive Director): When we started out as a small organization, we served two counties, had a budget a little under $2 million, and were directed by a board whose vision was to provide services and supports to special needs children. As we looked to the future, we held a strategic planning session that turned out to be one of the best things we ever did. It really helped the community to be more involved with the organization. And we were able to identify many other financial resources available in the state of Indiana that the agency was not taking advantage of that allowed us to expand our services.
Brady Ware’s Bob Reynolds had been the auditor for Achieva before I joined the organization, and he had always been involved in sharing his concerns and helping us evaluate the things we wanted to do strategically. When we started to grow exponentially in terms of resources, you can imagine the changes that we had with staff and training and accounting and services and supports, and he and his staff were there to guide us, to ensure that we were always doing things by the book. But most importantly Brady Ware gave us the support and encouragement that we were doing the right thing. Bob was really instrumental in helping us grow.