Allies Honors First Graduating Class of the New Horizons Essential Managerial Skills Program

Allies was proud to honor the first graduating class of the New Horizons Essential Managerial Skills Program at a ceremony at the administrative office. Fourteen managers were applauded for their successful completion of the program, which aims to provide Allies front-line staff with the skills and knowledge needed to effectively work with community support staff (CSS). The program also supports managers in developing facilitative and influential relationships with these staff members; and promotes their competency in teaching and guiding community support staff in their roles.

New Horizons is comprised of 12 modules, with each module defining a core set of competencies based on best practices within human services. Each module features an introductory page containing learning objectives and key terms, and a list of skills and tasks to perform. As program participants learn, they role play, demonstrating procedures and how they would manage various situations.

The program covers a wide range of topics that support managers in excelling in their roles, communicating with others and maintaining their own well-being. Topic areas include an introduction to managerial and communication styles, problem-solving, time management, delegation, diversity, documentation, preventing harassment in the workplace, trauma-informed care and more. In addition, modules teach managers about motivation, coping with difficult people and managing work-related stress. 

Michael Haggerty, President and CEO of Allies, kicked off the graduation ceremony. He remarked, “The strength of our management team is directly correlated to how we develop and invest in our team. The New Horizons program is one of these investments. It allows our managers to learn, grow, develop their professional skills, and opens the door to various new opportunities for them.”

Michael also expressed how proud he was of the graduates and encouraged them to utilize and continue developing their news skills, especially in the area of trauma- informed care. “Take the energy, knowledge and philosophy you’ve received and invest it back into your own teams. Help your teams adopt a culture of continued learning and opportunities for advancement,” Mike said.

Anita Bogdan, Senior V.P. of Human Resources at Allies, also reflected on the program and the graduates’ progress. Anita participated in the program’s pilot in October 2020. She said, “It was exciting to see how the program developed over the last year, and I loved seeing the evolution of the participants along the way. Everyone has done a phenomenal job.” She asked graduates to stay connected with each other, to use and expand the networks that they made, and to be sure to call and share information on a regular basis.

Anita also paid respect to Ricky Alfaro, Allies’ Training and Development Specialist, who spearheaded the New Horizons program, saying, “Ricky’s dedication, enthusiasm, and passion are incredible. I have never met anyone else like him.”

Ricky joyfully walked forward to address the graduates that he worked so closely with over the last year in the program. He said, “It has been so exciting to see how much you all have grown and what you learned. You’ve also taught me so much as well. We’ve had fascinating sessions, where networking, friendship, and camaraderie have been common denominators in the learning experience. I’m so proud of all of you, and how you’ve embraced this opportunity to be a part of the program.”

Santia Williams, a Support Manager at Project Freedom Gibbsboro, and one of the graduates echoed this sentiment. She said, “The program was really challenging but also very rewarding! Change starts with leadership. I’ve networked and learned new methods and ways to be a great leader within Allies. The training has been amazing, and the support system is phenomenal. We’ve created a family and trust. I’m excited to share my experience and knowledge with my team to make it even stronger.”

Santia also shared a quote from Oprah Winfrey that reflects what she learned in the New Horizons program: “Leadership is about empathy. It is about having the ability to relate to and connect with people for the purpose of inspiring and empowering their lives.” “This is the dynamic I plan to bring to my team and my company,” said Santia.

As each graduate came to the front of the room to receive their certificate and take a photo, Ricky congratulated them and offered touching words about their hard work, personalities, and the unique contributions that they made to the New Horizons program. The group returned the gesture, presenting Ricky with a plaque that thanked him for his commitment and dedication to the program.

The event concluded with a celebratory luncheon. The table featured candles and beautiful Christmas decorations, and graduates enjoyed delicious Costa Rican food, cooked with love by Ricky.

“It has been such a positive experience to see how the agency is empowering employees and what they’ve gotten from participating in the program,” said Ricky. “The program has helped them become more effective, understanding, assertive, and inclusive managers. It has improved their communication skills. Lastly, it has shaped their idea of leadership into one that also includes mentorship. I have no doubt that they’ll continue to rise as managers and help others be successful in their roles.”

Visit “Allies NJ” on Facebook to view more photos of our graduates and the event.

Congratulations to the first graduating class of the New Horizons Essential Managerial Skills Program!

Afusat “Ola” Adepoju, Support Manager Floater, Old Bridge
Axlyne Sylvain, Support Manager, Old Bridge
Ay’Asia Kelly, Program Manager, IRTS Program
Bristel Castrogiovanni, Floater Manager, Ocean County
Damaris Rodriguez, Program Manager, Project Freedom Robbinsville
Davona Dunns, Support Manager, Nuthatch Court Group Home
Felicia Scott, Support Manager, Project Freedom Robbinsville
George Gregory, Support Manager, Project Freedom Gibbsboro
Gwendolyn Fuse, Support Manager, Coachman Group Home
Heather Littlejohn, Program Manager, CSAP
Jean Salomon, Support Manager, Dey Street Group Home
Rhodian Green, Support Manager, Wrangle Group Home
Santia Williams, Support Manager, Project Freedom Gibbsboro
Talaya Worthen, Program Manager, Somerset County

Allies, Inc. is a nonprofit agency dedicated to providing housing, healthcare, meaningful employment and recreational activities to people with special needs in the communities of their choice. To learn more, visit

“A world where limitation does not distinguish nor define.”

Contact: Nicole Zamerovsky, Director of Communications, Allies, Inc.
Cell: 609-508-6181