Spychalski leaving Orleans Arc to lead agency in Niagara County

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 22 November 2013 at 12:00 am

Kellie Spychalski

ALBION – The leader of an agency that serves 1,100 people with disabilities in Orleans County is leaving to take a job with Opportunities Unlimited in Niagara County.

“It’s been one of the hardest decisions I’ve ever had to make,” Kellie Spychalski said about leaving the Arc of Orleans.

She had led the agency in Orleans for the past two years. She has worked for the Arc for 21 years, starting as a direct care aide at the Stork Street residence in Medina. Spychalski has served in many roles for the agency, including community relations director and assistant executive director before being promoted to the top job.

“I’ve had so many wonderful opportunities here,” she said. “It’s been a really beautiful opportunity to work here.”

Spychalski will work with the Arc until Dec. 29 before joining the Arc’s sister agency in Niagara County. Opportunities Unlimited has a $27 million annual budget, compared to $12 million for the Arc of Orleans.

Many of the ARC agencies in New York are struggling with shrinking state reimbursements and other funding challenges. Spychalski said she has a skill set that can help the Niagara agency with those challenges.

She will continue to live in Holley and serve on the Board of Education. She will have a longer commute, working out of offices in Lockport and Niagara Falls.

“While we regretfully accept her resignation, we want to congratulate Kellie on her new assignment as Executive Director for Opportunities Unlimited of Niagara and wish her well as she begins the next phase of her Human Services Career,” Ken Barchet, president of the Arc Board of Directors, wrote in a letter to families and supporters of the Arc.

The Board of Directors has already begun the search for Spychalski’s successor, Barchet said.

The agency has 340 employees, who Spychalski said are all dedicated to their jobs and the people they serve.

“We have a fantastic management team and staff who always put the people we support at the forefront of all decisions,” Spychalski said. “I am fully confident in their abilities and know the agency will be in excellent hands. It is a privilege to work with such a fantastically talented and dedicated group of people.”

Spychalski, back when she was a college student, took the job as an aide at the Stork Street residence. She said she never dreamed she would one day be the executive director of the agency.

“I feel so privileged and honored to do this work,” she said. “You learn so much about people and not looking at what a person can’t do but at what they can do.”