Quality Connections' programs and services have been developed by a talented team of leaders who share a deep commitment to delivering the most effective and innovative services to the populations we serve.
Co-Founder & CEO
Armando 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 (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 23 years, and their 18-year-old daughter Gabriela.
Co-Founder & Development Director
Melissa 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 – QC Office. Melissa served as Chief Executive Officer until 2013. 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 their 18-year-old daughter Gabriela.
James Carpenter, CPA
Chief Financial Officer
As 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.
Chief Operations Officer
Chief Communications Officer
Doug 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, Doug 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 State’s Department of Economic Security – 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. Doug is currently serving as President of Toast of Flagstaff Toastmasters Club. He lives in Flagstaff with his beautiful wife Maryjane and their four adopted children.
Group Home Services Director
Employment Services Director
QC Office Director
Evergreen Academy Preschool Director
In-Home Services Director
Human Resources Director
Esther is transplant from California. She and her husband were high school sweethearts. They married in their early twenties, and moved to Northern Arizona about 20 years ago. Esther’s husband has a brother with developmental disabilities. Spending quality time with him and his friends was always a rewarding experience. As a business owner, she became very involved in the Flagstaff community, which made her aware of the local disabled community and their needs. A close family friend worked at Quality Connections, so when she heard they were looking for a Human Resource Manager and Job Coach, she jumped at the opportunity to get more involved. This position gave her the opportunity to work with the Members and employees at Quality Connections. If you ask Esther, the best part about her days are working with Quality Connections’ members as a teacher and a friend.