QC Leader Nominated for ATHENA Award

Welcome to QC Enews Empowerment

Each February, we look forward to going to the Greater Flagstaff Chamber of Commerce annual meeting. It’s a great place to meet and network with local stakeholders and the business community and make people aware of the work we do in workforce development for those with disabilities.

This year the event is even more special, as the Director of our Evergreen Academy Preschool (and longtime Quality Connections team member) Kelly Arnold has been nominated for the Chamber’s ATHENA Award.

We are so proud of Kelly for her achievement and will be cheering for her on Feb. 16 when the recipient of the ATHENA Award is announced.

– Armando Bernasconi,
Co-Founder and CEO

Kelly Arnold Nominated for ATHENA Award

We are proud to announce that the Director of our Evergreen Academy Preschool,  Kelly Arnold, has been nominated for the 2024 ATHENA Award, which is given out each year by the Greater Flagstaff Chamber of Commerce. The award honors women for their professional leadership, community involvement, and personal commitment to support other professional women.

As QC’s Employment Services Director, Kelly was already working on creating a training program for individuals with disabilities who wanted to work with childcare well before the pandemic made that service so vital to many, particularly working mothers.

In fact, she had just gotten a grant to start an in-house childcare program called QC Kids as the world shut down because of COVID-19. When QC Kids was allowed to reopen a few weeks later, most of the area’s preschools were still closed, which meant that many of our workers had no resources available for their own children.

Overnight, our enrollment soared from just a couple of students to 25, childcare training began for nine adults with disabilities, and more than a dozen QC employees with young children were able to return to work.

[Video] Evergreen Academy Preschool Director Kelly Arnold, a Quality Connections employee since 2016, reflects on her nomination for the 2024 ATHENA Award, presented by the Greater Flagstaff Chamber of Commerce.

Kelly has shepherded that program and expanded it into Evergreen Academy Preschool, which opened in 2022 and serves the entire community, operating out of the YMCA building. The preschool is open to children from age 6 weeks to 5 years.

This is not the first time a Quality Connections leader has been nominated for the ATHENA award. Quality Connections co-founder Melissa Bernasconi was nominated for the 2017 award and Kelly was in the audience during the ceremony.

“I just remember sitting there and thinking, wow, this is something to strive for,” Kelly said. “It means a lot.”

In addition to her professional leadership, Kelly was also nominated for her commitment to the community and her steadfast support and mentorship of other women. In her nomination, it is noted that Kelly is “… committed to uplifting and empowering women, inspiring others to pursue and achieve her goals.”

The ATHENA Awards were founded nationally in 1982 by Martha Mayhood Mertz. The goddess Athena was chosen as the symbol of the program to reflect the qualities the award recognizes – strength, courage, wisdom, and enlightenment.

Congratulations to Kelly and best of luck during the awards ceremony, which will take place at the High Country Conference Center this Friday.

Another Evergreen Academy Preschool Success Story

We need Quality Connections . . . like you!

You can help individuals with disabilities become independent and productive members of our community. There are many way to be a ‘Quality Connection’ and get involved and all of them are important:

Every purchase from QC Office equals employment and job training opportunities for a person with disabilities.

Enable a person with disabilities to become a productive member of our community.

You’ll be doing good. Plus, you’ll get a dollar-for-dollar credit on your AZ state taxes (up to $800!)

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