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 non-profit – and never looked back. “The idea of helping others and making a difference, rather than focusing solely on corporate profits and bottom lines, is what appealed to me most,” she says. “At the end of each day I know that my work makes a difference in the lives of others, and there is no greater reward than that.”
Janet was also rewarded with great success in her career. After she graduated from Dowling College with a Bachelor of Business Administration degree in Accounting, she accepted a position at Family Residences and Essential Enterprises (FREE), where she would stay for more than a decade. During that time, she earned a Master of Science in Accounting from Long Island University-CW Post, and worked her way up to the position of Controller before joining Life’s WORC in 2009 as Chief Financial Officer.
In her role as CFO, Janet oversaw 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. “Life’s WORC has always had a very collaborative, think-tank approach to strategic planning,” she says. “In my role as CFO, I was very involved in high-level decision making that extended well beyond dollars and cents.” 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.
Since 2014, both Janet and Life’s WORC have continued to make a difference in the lives of people with developmental disabilities and autism. Just months after taking on the role of CEO came the opening of the Life’s WORC Family Center for Autism in 2015, followed by the opening of 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 not just grown, but thrived. The agency has earned numerous awards, including the Society for Human Resource Management Best Companies to Work for in New York State Award; HIA-LI Business Achievement Award in the Not-for-Profit category; LEAD for Leadership Excellence Award; and NADSP Moving Mountains Best Practice Award.
In addition to serving as CEO of Life’s WORC, Janet serves on the Board of Directors of the Advanced Care Alliance (ACA), a leading care coordination organization, as well as several disability advocacy organizations, including InterAgency Council (IAC) where she is a member of both the Finance and Legislative committees, and the Long Island Alliance. Life’s WORC also belongs to ANCOR (American Network of Community Options and Resources), and Janet works on their Alternative Payment Model (APM) Taskforce, as well as being a member of New York Alliance for Inclusion and Innovation serving on their Managed Care Council. Janet’s 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 the managed care environment through her roles in these additional groups and initiatives.
Outside of her contributions to industry-related organizations, Janet has also served on 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.
“It is an honor and a privilege to be able to not only work with such a talented, passionate team of colleagues, but to get to know the people we support and their families,” Janet says. “I have learned so much from my predecessors, have been given the opportunity to collaborate with experts in the fields of developmental disabilities and autism, and shared so many special moments with the residents of our homes and participants in our programs. It is truly because of all of these people that Life’s WORC is the organization it is today. I couldn’t do it without the help of our amazing staff and supporters and I am so thankful to have been given this incredible opportunity.”
In honor of the 50th Anniversary of Life’s WORC, we will be sharing the stories, people and events that have made Life’s WORC the organization it is today, along with our goals and vision for the future. Thank you for celebrating with us!