Meet the Life's WORC Leadership Team
Our leadership team is made up of a group of accomplished professionals who are all focused on one thing: the people we support.
Janet Koch, CEO
Janet Koch, Life’s WORC Chief Executive Officer, has spent her career working in support of people with developmental disabilities. A self-proclaimed “numbers person,” Janet spent decades in accounting and financial roles, but rather than joining a large corporation after college, she chose to begin her career at a nonprofit organization – and never looked back.
Janet joined Life’s WORC in 2009 as Chief Financial Officer, managing a $45-million annual budget while also making an impression upon her colleagues and the more than 1,500 people supported by Life’s WORC. As CFO, Janet was involved in high-level decision making that extended well beyond the bottom line. Her positive leadership, extensive industry experience and commitment to exemplary quality of service to people with special needs resulted in her being chosen for CEO in 2014.
Shortly after she assumed the role of CEO, Janet oversaw the opening of the Life’s WORC Family Center for Autism in 2015, followed by eight additional homes (as of early 2021), the expansion of day programs and services offered, and budget growth to over $55 million. Despite challenges in the industry – regulatory, economic and most recently a global pandemic – Life’s WORC has continued to thrive.
In addition to serving as CEO of Life’s WORC, Janet serves on committees and the Board of Directors for several disability advocacy organizations. Her unique financial background is perfectly suited to help not just Life’s WORC, but organizations throughout the state and country as they prepare for the transition to a managed care environment.
Outside of her contributions to industry-related organizations, Janet has also been a member of the Audit Committee for the Commack Union Free School District and is a graduate of the Molloy College Energia Partnership program. Shortly after being promoted to the position of CEO of Life’s WORC, she was honored with the 2015 LI Power Women in Business Award.
“I am grateful to have enjoyed such successful career working to make a difference for those with intellectual and developmental disabilities and autism,” Janet says. “Life’s WORC is the perfect match for both my skills and my passion, and I look forward to tackling the challenges and celebrating the victories that lie ahead for both Life’s WORC and the nonprofit world.”
John Pfeifer, Assistant Executive Director
John Pfeifer, Assistant Executive Director of Residential Services, has been a member of the Life’s WORC team for over 20 years, but has been making a difference in the lives of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their families for his entire career.
When he joined Life’s WORC in 2001, John was the Director of Clinical Services – a position he held for 15 years. When the Family Center for Autism opened, he became Director of Autism services, and quickly saw the opportunity to offer programs for adults with autism as well.
“I have witnessed many advances in this field since the days of deinstitutionalization, and despite the progress made, there is always work to be done,” he explains, not just about creating these new programs, but of the field as a whole. “It is important to identify this line of work as a noble and viable career for the youth of tomorrow, so that others may continue to further the successes of people with disabilities.”
In 2019, John was promoted to his current position as Assistant Executive Director, and now oversees all residential, nursing, clinical and admission functions for the agency. His industry expertise and demonstrated leadership abilities made him the perfect person to take on this role.
“I come from a close-knit family that believes in the importance of civil service and looks to protect, serve, heal and support the people of our community,” John says of his deep-rooted connection to Life’s WORC’s mission. “The relationships I have formed with the people I support and my colleagues here have been some of the most meaningful experiences of my life.”
Nicky Faranda, Senior Director of Community Services
Nicky Faranda, Senior Director of Community Services at Life’s WORC, knew from an early age that she wanted to pursue a career that allowed her to help people achieve their best possible lives. After studying psychology and sociology in college and obtaining a master’s degree in Psychology and Clinical Behavioral Applications, she began her career working at nonprofit organizations working with people with developmental disabilities and her passion turned into over two decades of dedication to the field.
Nicky joined Life’s WORC in 2017 as the Senior Director of Community Services, and since then has also come to oversee the Respite and Community Habilitation programs, and most recently the Family Center for Autism. Under Nicky’s leadership, the Day Habilitation and Employment programs have greatly expanded their services, operations and administration in the Community Habilitation and Respite programs have been streamlined, and the departments boast a skilled, cohesive team equipped to support people of all abilities.
Outside of her work within the organization, Nicky also participates in the Inter Agency Council’s Adult Day Services and Individualized Community Supports committees. She has previously served on committees within the New York Alliance for Community and Inclusion as well as the New York Integrated Network for Persons with Disabilities. In addition, Nicky is a published author in the Journal of Applied Behavior Analysison the effects pf magnitude and quality of reinforcement on choice responding for children on the autism spectrum.
“My time with Life’s WORC has provided me with new perspective on how to deliver high quality services,” Nicky says. “Since the pandemic began, we have been thrust into thinking about the future of service delivery, and I am fortunate to be part of a team that sees a new vision for the organization. I believe we are building a foundation for incredible new and innovative services that the agency can provide in the future.”
Shannon Preston, Senior Director of Development
With over 13 years of experience in senior-level development roles, Shannon Preston, Senior Director of Development, brings a fresh and energized perspective to the mission of Life’s WORC and its fundraising goals.
Shannon joined Life’s WORC in December 2020, stepping into the role at the end of the agency’s most challenging year yet, and on the threshold of the 50th Anniversary celebration. In her role immediately prior, she served as Director of Advancement with the Tilles Center for the Performing Arts, where she was instrumental in not just building sponsorships and capital improvement funds, but in spearheading fundraising efforts to further educational programs such as Tilles Center’s Sensory Friendly Initiatives, School Partnerships and Creative Aging Programs.
Her proven ability to develop impactful relationships as well as orchestrate and manage key events make Shannon an asset to the agency. In addition to her professional expertise, she is also a member of the Association of Fundraising Professionals.
“I am so glad to be a member of the Life’s WORC team, and to support the board and staff in their efforts to advance our mission, spread awareness, advocate for those we provide services for and raise vital funding,” Shannon says. “I look forward to an exciting future of growth for the agency.”
Lynette Garcia, Senior Director of Quality Management
Lynette Garcia, Senior Director of Quality Management, has the ideal skill set to oversee safety and risk management for Life’s WORC. After working in nursing and for medical organizations early in her career, she made the switch to the non-profit world in 2007 and fell in love. Over the next 12 years Lynette excelled at compliance and quality control, bringing that expertise to the Life’s WORC executive team in 2019, overseeing Quality, Compliance and Training. Since then, Lynette has come to oversee the Facilities Maintenance and IT departments as well.
With advanced degrees in Healthcare Quality, Patient Safety and Risk, as well as Certifications in Healthcare Compliance (CHC), Council on Quality and Leadership (CQL) trainer certification, Labor Relations Alternatives (LRA) incident investigator certification, it is evident why Lynette refers to herself as a lifelong learner. Her experience truly makes her an asset to the Life’s WORC team and all of the people we support, and she is always willing to extend her expertise to other departments as needed.
In addition to her commitment to Life’s WORC, Lynette serves on several Inter Agency Council committees for Quality, Training and IT; and she is an active member of the University of Delaware’s Leadership Institute community, which provides access to thousands of leaders in the IDD field across the United States and internationally.
“Working at Life’s WORC bridges my personal and professional life,” Lynette says. “I have twin boys who are now teenagers, one of whom was diagnosed with autism as a toddler. As a parent of a child with autism, I seek to learn as much as I can to not only help my child, but to help all of those we support as a member of the Life’s WORC team.”
Board Of Directors
Ron Aghassi, CPA
Dawn Del Mastro Chruma
Renee Daniel Flagler
Peter Klein, CFA
E. Christopher Murray, Esq.
Gregory J. Pond, Esq.
Anthony Taormina, Jr.
CHAIRMAN OF THE BOARD EMERITUS
Rick Del Mastro
FOUNDER, HONORARY BOARD MEMBER
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