FOR BREAKING NEWS VISIT www.queenscourier.com AUGUST 6, 2015 • BUSINESS • THE QUEENS COURIER 41 business result, turnover at Human First is less than 1%. The key is making sure everyone feels invested in the mission. Her mantra is simple: “Everyone who works for Human First owns a piece of it.” The relationship she enjoys with her staff is atypical of the employee-executive dynamic that exists elsewhere because it is a partnership rather than a top-down hierarchy. Partnership is also an integral component in her relationship with Human First’s Board of Directors. Ms. Abboud’s working relationship with Board members precedes Human First – in some cases going as far back as twenty years. She is keenly aware that the credibility of non-profi t organizations refl ects directly on the Board of Directors, and she does not take this responsibility lightly. But the mutual respect shared by Ms. Abboud and Board members is evident through the Board’s implicit trust in her leadership, and she draws strength in their confi dence especially when faced with critical decisions. Where do I see Human First ten years from now? Great! Human First is on an upward trajectory toward becoming one of the leading providers for the developmentally disabled. Human First provides: case management; community habilitation (recreational trips or in-home services); day habilitation (educational programs and activities for clients); 24-hour residential facilities; and respite services for families. Individuals enter the programs as young children and remain throughout adolescence and into adulthood. They do not “graduate” out of the organization; instead, Human First makes a lifelong commitment to them and their families. Ms. Abboud takes immense pride in seeing Human First grow into a leading service provider. She has been asked to share her business model and operational guidelines with colleagues throughout New York State. More recently, her guidance has been sought by international governments hoping to emulate Human First’s model in their emerging programs. This is especially remarkable considering many of her international counterparts outwardly express to Ms. Abboud their surprise at seeing a woman at the helm of a successful organization. But seeing Wafa Abboud and the staff preach and live the mission of Human First gives the organization the credibility to overcome the stereotypes. And Ms. Abboud’s steady and consistent leadership will continue to guide the organization as it moves toward the second decade of its existence and beyond.
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