It all started with Ben's dream of becoming self-sufficientMelissa and Armando Bernasconi moved into their home in downtown Flagstaff in 1999, with Armando’s college roommate Ben Sufcliffe. Ben had Cerebral Palsy. He was intelligent and driven, but had no control of his limbs and was not able to speak, walk or care for himself. Ben required total assistance with his physical needs – toileting, bathing and feeding.
The Bernasconis wanted to help give Ben access to the same life experiences that they got to enjoy. They took him everywhere, making sure he had the opportunity to do all the things that young people in their twenties do, including some activities that were frowned on by others at the time. Ben truly became part of the family.
Ben wanted two things in life more than anything: a girlfriend and a job. He wanted to be self-sufficient and pay his fair share of taxes. This became the mission of Quality Connections – to help people like Ben become independent, productive members of our community.
Quality Connections was formed, and Ben was hired as the Webmaster. His job was to upload products onto the website using his communication device. Several years later, Ben was married to the love of his life. Armando was his Best Man. Sadly, Ben passed away in June 2013, but his legacy lives on at QCoffice, which now helps many other people in pursuit of their employment dreams. Become a Customer of QCoffice
Co-Founder and CEOArmando H. Bernasconi was born and raised in the town of Guadalupe, Arizona. He moved to Flagstaff in 1994 to attend Northern Arizona University. From 1994 to 1999 Armando attended Northern Arizona University and dedicated his time to providing employment and in-home supports to the Flagstaff’s disabled community. In 1999, Armando and his wife Melissa co-founded Quality Connections Inc. (QC). The mission was to enhance the quality of life for people with disabilities and other disadvantages. Armando served as Chief Operations Officer until 2013 when he assumed the role of Chief Executive Officer. Armando led QC in the development of several innovative programs, which provide services to people with disabilities, our community’s most vulnerable. Armando sits on the Executive Committee of the Arizona Association of Providers for People with Disabilities (AAPPD), and serves on the State of Arizona Set-Aside Committee. He resides in Flagstaff with Melissa, his wife of 19 years, and their 14-year-old daughter Gabriela. Leadership Team
Co-FounderMelissa Setren Bernasconi was born and raised in a suburb of New York City. After graduating from High School, she felt drawn to the Wild West, so she moved to Flagstaff, Arizona to pursue degrees in Psychology and Sociology from Northern Arizona University. During the course of her studies, Melissa began doing volunteer work with people with disabilities. This experience led to an internship, and ultimately to the founding of Quality Connections in 1999 with her husband Armando. Quality Connections began as a home-based business but quickly outgrew the Bernasconi home with the addition of residential programs, an innovative Montessori-based Adult Day Program, and a social enterprise program – QCoffice. Melissa served on the City of Flagstaff Disability Awareness Commission as a volunteer and a member for 20 years. During that time, she served as chairperson of the commission and was recognized many times for her tireless efforts as an advocate for individuals with disabilities. Melissa’s pride and joy is her 14-year-old daughter Gabriela, and the family’s 7-year-old Mastiff, Tank. Board of Directors
CFOAs the child of a special education teacher, James grew up with an early awareness of people with disabilities and the challenges they face. After completing his undergraduate degree from NAU, he began managing group homes for adults with disabilities at Quality Connections, where he later became Director of Residential Services. In that role, he gained experience in payroll, billing and budgeting, so he decided to pursue a graduate degree in accounting. James worked in public accounting for several years before returning to the non-profit world, serving as Controller and CFO at various charitable organizations in Tucson. In 2018, James and his wife gave birth to twins, one of whom was born with Down syndrome. Three years later he returned to Quality Connections as CFO, following in his mother’s footsteps in a career of service to those with unique abilities. James loves spending time with his family, hiking, biking, swimming, relaxing, cooking, and playing disc golf. Make a Donation
Chief Communications OfficerDoug Arnett is a fifth generation Arizona native. He grew up in a large family in Tempe, before moving to Flagstaff as a young adult to attend Northern Arizona University. While attending college, he began working with people with disabilities, developing a deep love for service in the process. Since graduating from NAU’s School of Communication, he has spent his entire career serving at-risk and vulnerable population groups - first as a counselor in a wilderness program for youth in the criminal justice system, then managing group homes for adults with disabilities for the State of Arizona. He earned a strong reputation for effective leadership while working at the Division of Developmental Disabilities, where he had oversight responsibilities over the many agencies serving the disabled population in Northern Arizona. This experience led him to join the innovative team at Quality Connections, where he has worked to develop and expand programs serving the most vulnerable members of our community. He lives in Flagstaff with his beautiful wife and their four amazing children. Become a Customer of QCoffice
Chief Operations OfficerAlida was born and raised in Flagstaff, Arizona. She began working at Quality Connections as a teenager while working towards a career in pharmacy. After leaving Quality Connections to pursue that career path, she realized that she had left behind the people she really belonged with. Following her heart, she returned to Quality Connections, where she worked every possible position in the Residential Department, culminating in her becoming the Director of Residential Services in 2012. In that role, she has expanded the program from operating three group homes in the community to now operating six group home settings. Alida has served on the Flagstaff Disability Awareness Commission and continues to do her best to give a loud voice in advocacy for people with developmental disabilities where ever she finds the opportunity. Alida lives in Flagstaff with the love of her life and her incredible 12 year old daughter. They enjoy camping, kayaking, and walks in the woods whenever they can. Our Community Impact
I Am That Strong | 3:56
A brief portrait of some of the amazing people working at QCoffice - Quality Connections' social enterprise program. QCoffice provides real-world employment and training opportunities for people with disabilities, while meeting a vital need in our community. QCoffice employs 50 people with disabilities and provides training opportunities for countless others while providing quality office supplies, cleaning supplies and more to individuals, businesses, and government customers across Arizona.
Arizona Department of Agriculture
"There are several reasons why I order from QCoffice. First and foremost, I need to make sure that our State dollars are spent wisely, and your prices can't be beat by your competitors. But, the main reason are the people.... Quality Connections is taking people who may be physically or mentally challenged, and giving them good honest work. Work that they can be proud of, work that makes them feel part of the community.
The orders I place are delivered promptly, and the best part about receiving the order is meeting the staff. They are always polite and I personally like to go out and accept the order, shake their hands and say thank you. It brings such a smile to their faces. I will continue to order from QCoffice."