Change Makers: ACHIEVE’s CEO reflects on nearly 20 years of making a difference

Published: Mar. 14, 2023 at 4:30 PM EDT
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(WBNG) -- ACHIEVE CEO Amy Howard has been a staple at ACHIEVE since June 2005 and earned the Chief Executive Officer status in 2018.

“ACHIEVE is an organization where you really do get that joyful experience when you walk in our door,” said CEO Howard. “A lot of the opportunities here are about skill building and habilitation services. We have a lot of fun and there’s really good energy throughout the programs.”

She said the not-for-profit serves about 2,200 individuals with varying abilities per year throughout Broome, Tioga and Chenango Counties with a large continuum of care. In the coverage area, they offer 20 group homes, family support services, employment services, day habilitation services like “On The Pond~At Cutler” we were able to tour in Binghamton, and more.

“They have the bistro tables, movie night, and dancing; it is just the place to be,” said Howard. “It’s very much almost like a social program more than anything else.”

Under her leadership, new beginnings are in the works. In Norwich last week, there was the groundbreaking for “New Beginnings Norwich” as they transform an old warehouse into a space for new opportunities.

“We are going to relocate our existing day habilitation from a very remote location where the individuals who attend are not really able to access their community,” said Howard. “And we’re going to relocate that day habilitation to Downtown Norwich where they can enjoy the local restaurants, they can have jobs at local businesses, and they can access transit options.”

Even before the ACHIEVE days right after college, her resume has always been about public service.

“I was fortunate enough to be offered a job as a teacher’s aide at the Children’s Home Residential Treatment Facility in Greene, NY and that was working with children who had behavioral and emotional disturbances,” said Howard. “So at the very young age of 21, I believe, I started doing that work and realized how much I enjoyed really nurturing and caring for these children.”

To get to where she is today, she says her mentor of about 25 years and the former CEO of ACHIEVE, Mary Jo Thorn, was instrumental in the process and encouraged her to get her Masters.

“She really kind of held my hand along the way,” said Howard. She then went from mentee to successor for ACHIEVE.

“I decided to make that application and the board and I agreed for six months that we would be in an evaluation period,” said Howard. “At the end of the day, I chose them and they chose me and it’s been a perfect match since.”

When it comes to the next generation of women, Howard stressed the importance of seeing other women in community leadership roles.

“They need people to look up to and to aspire to, to mentor them, just to give advice when it’s needed,” said Howard.

When it comes to Howard’s work ethic and success in the professional world, she credits much of it to her earlier involvement in basketball, soccer, and softball. During this phase of her life, she also made it to the NCAA College World Series.

To learn more about ACHIEVE’s mission, visit this website.