Arc of Genesee Orleans to merge with Livingston-Wyoming

Staff Reports Posted 1 May 2021 at 1:56 pm

Donna Saskowski retiring from leading agency

File photo by Tom Rivers – Donna Saskowski, shown in August 2015, is retiring as executive director of the Arc of Genesee Orleans. She guided the Arc chapters in the two counties towards a merger that was completed in 2016.

The Arc of Genesee Orleans announced a conditional approval has been granted for a merger with the Arc of Livingston-Wyoming.

This is the first step to move more formally to a fully integrated organization. Although this process may take several more months, the end product will be a 4-county-wide organization, the Arc of Genesee and Orleans stated in a news release. This follows the merger in 2016 of the Genesee and Orleans chapters.

The Arc of Genesee and Orleans also announced the retirement of Donna Saskowski, executive director of the agency. She was the director of the Genesee County ARC for 11 years before heading the Arc of Orleans on an interim basis. She then guided the merger of the two chapters and has been executive director of the merger agency since then officially became one on Oct. 1, 2016.

Saskowski will retire this summer after a 32-year career at the local nonprofit that serves individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their families.

Her first position at the former Genesee County ARC was part-time as a residential training instructor, working in the supportive apartment program 23 hours a week. Saskowski didn’t have a lot of experience working with people with disabilities and admits she didn’t know what to expect.

“It only took a day or two to realize this was going to be my life’s work,” she said.

Over the years, Saskowski has held several positions at the Arc including rehab counselor, residential coordinator, social worker and day habilitation program coordinator. She became executive director in April 2004 and has overseen substantial growth in the residential and day habilitation programs, the privatization of Arc Collection Services and the successful merger with the Orleans chapter in 2016.

One of Saskowski’s career highlights was the purchase and remodeling of the former St. Mary’s School, transforming it into the Arc of Genesee Orleans Community Center.

“The successful capital campaign to fund the project really hit home the generosity and love people have for our community, agency and especially, the people we support and their families,” she said.

In addition to her work at Arc of Genesee Orleans, Saskowski is very active in the community as a member of the Batavia Rotary Club and is assistant governor for Rotary District 7090. She is a member of the United Way Board of Directors, Collaborative of the Finger Lakes, Developmental Disabilities Alliance of Western New York and the Executive Directors Association of The Arc New York.

In response to the retirement announcement, Arc of Genesee Orleans Board President Debbie Fischer said Saskowski has been a strong advocate for Arc of Genesee Orleans, its programs, people served, employees, and the community.

“She has positioned this agency for the future and we will continue to deliver excellent services to individuals and their families,” Fischer said. “On behalf of the board of directors, we wish Donna all the best in her upcoming retirement and look forward to working with her as a community volunteer.”