Long time executive director of The Arc Central Chesapeake Region, Kate Rollason, is retiring from her position as of September 30, 2016. She has served as Executive Director for over 18 years.
To say that Rollason is a maverick in the world of intellectual and developmental disability is a bit of an understatement. From the moment she graduated from college she challenged stereotypes, immersed herself in advocacy and dedicated herself to fulfilling the promise she made to herself and others to fight discrimination against those with disabilities and other conditions.
Starting in 1976, Rollason started changing minds and influencing policy. She has organized and facilitated self-advocacy and self-help groups, testified at the legislature (too many times to count!), worked hands-on in the field, trained and supported direct care workers, raised funds and served as Executive Director of two chapters of The Arc.
During her tenure, The Arc Central Chesapeake Region has seen amazing growth and many accomplishments. Rollason led the expansion of its service delivery and advocacy from Anne Arundel County to the Eastern Shore counties of Talbot, Queen Anne’s, Dorchester, Kent and Caroline counties. Residential services were established there, including people leaving the state institution known as Rosewood.
In concert with Anne Arundel County Public Schools and the Division of Rehabilitative Services, The Arc led the way in establishing Project SEARCH in Anne Arundel County. Project SEARCH is a national model, where students spend their last year of school in internships at local businesses to learn both work and on the job social skills. After the internship, numerous participants are hired directly by the host businesses or at other local companies. To date, Project SEARCH functions at Anne Arundel Medical Center, the BWI Hilton and many other businesses within the community.
Under Rollason’s leadership, The Arc expanded to meet the needs of the community. She pioneered progressive programs such as customized employment, microenterprise, Hispanic outreach, Chesapeake Neighbors, educational advocacy, grant programs for families and children, HIRED and Project SEARCH, Fiscal Management Services and others.
During her tenure, Rollason also served in leadership roles in a number of other community organizations. These have ranged from the Partnership for Children, Youth and families, as a board member for the Anne Arundel Coalition for Affordable Housing and the Commission on Disability Issues. She is a graduate of the 2001 class of Leadership Anne Arundel County.
Because of Rollason’s interminable advocacy, passion, empathy and certitude, hundreds, if not thousands, of individuals are living self-directed lives. Parents are breathing a little easier because the path to their child’s independence and happiness is brighter. Siblings are in a much better position to take the reins when their parents are no longer able to care for their brother or sister.
At The Arc Central Chesapeake Region, Kate Rollason built a foundation so strong and absolute that her successor, staff, parents, individuals and self-advocates can face the future with confidence.
Raffa, a national search firm, will provide interim leadership to The Arc while it works with the Board of Directors to locate a new Executive Director.
If you would like to make a donation in Kate Rollason’s honor, please call The Arc at 410.990.1975 or log onto their website at www.www.thearcccr.org.