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Meet our Vice President: Sallyanne Burgess

From DSP to V.P.

From Direct Support Professional (DSP) to Vice President of Citizens Options Unlimited, Sallyanne Burgess has worked in disability services for nearly 35 years.

Sallyanne Burgess poses for a photoDuring her career, Sallyanne has held numerous positions like Division of Quality Improvement (DQI) surveyor for the Office for People with Developmental Disabilities (OPWDD) where she used to have Citizens on her caseload. She began with Citizens in November 2021 after a position opened. She had wanted to work for our agency due to overseeing the tremendous success of our Compass designation and CQL accreditation.

“The CQL distinction and Compass accreditation are a huge honor and representative of the pride we put into our work here at Citizens,” Sallyanne said.

During her time here, she has seen the expansion of our residential, respite, and self-direction services with the opening of three new group homes and two new respite locations across Suffolk and Nassau county as well as reaching our OPWDD-set max capacity for people supported through self-direction.

2024 will bring new goals like decreasing larger congregate settings, like ICF group homes. The Rainbow Commons ICFs will be closing to better accommodate people supported across our community-based Settings IRAs and two other ICFs.

“We’re also aiming to expand into the larger community and really put Citizens on the map,” she said.

Sallyanne as well as house managers, DSPs, and project coordinators across our agency are working together to build relationships throughout the communities they are a part of. They hope the relationships will be mutually beneficial and bring the community together.

Sallyanne hopes her impact is one of positivity, accountability, and structure on both staff and people supported. She is known for her hands-on approach and can often be found visiting at a group home.

“I started as a DSP, so I know what it’s like,” she said. “The DSPs make it happen; they change the world.”

During Sallyanne’s three decades in the industry, she is able to reflect on the growth of acceptance and inclusion for the disability community.

“I started working when people were coming out of places like Willowbrook and when the field was still forming,” she said. “DSPs changed the world’s perspective one interaction at a time.”

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