Creating Memorable Summer Vacations with The Arc

Jonathon and Mike sitting on the beach enjoying their summer vacation

The Arc is dedicated to supporting people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) to live the lives they choose, and that includes empowering people to travel where and how they choose. With summer being a prime time for exploration and relaxation, people are enjoying making memories, from day trips to weekend getaways throughout the region.

Planning a trip can be a complex process as people research destinations, budget and manage money, and begin planning itineraries. Direct Support Professionals (DSPs) provide support not just in planning the trips but also in empowering the people they support to make decisions and put their plans into action.

Planning the Perfect Getaway

Jonathan and Mike are close friends and roommates. In the Spring, Jonathan went on a cruise with his family. He had so much fun that when he returned, he and Mike immediately began planning a trip together for the summer.

With the support of their team, Helen and Joseph, Jonathan and Mike narrowed their destination to Ocean City, Md., and began researching everything the region had to offer. From local attractions to accommodations and dining options, Helen supported them in exploring it all. This thorough research helped Jonathan and Mike decide where they wanted to stay and what they wanted to do, ensuring the trip was exactly what they wanted.

Part of planning the perfect trip is thinking about finances and having a budget. Together, Jonathan, Mike, and their team discussed the costs of travel, lodging, meals, and entertainment. A sound budget ensured the trip was financially feasible and encouraged Jonathan and Mike to develop and practice essential money management skills.

Time to Getaway

Joseph joined Jonathan and Mike on their trip and ensured they accomplished their goals and had a great time. They both loved getting to spend time together, sharing a hotel room, spending time at the beach, and playing putt-putt golf. 

“Joseph and I are a great team. I help plan the logistics of the trip, and he joins the guys on their vacation and knows how to make it the most fun possible. Our intention is to help them make the most of whatever they want to do.” – Helen Ayomobi, Team Leader.

Empowerment Through Support

DSPs like Helen and Joseph play a key role in not just supporting people but empowering them. By guiding Jonathan and Mike through each step of the planning process, they were able to make their own choices and take control of their vacation.

Jonathan and Mike’s trip to Ocean City was a success, filled with joy and new experiences. Through a combination of careful planning and structured support, The Arc helped them create memories that will last a lifetime, all while fostering independence and confidence.

Wages Double for Direct Support Professionals in Seven Years

Direct Support Professional sitting at a table with a person he supports

Direct Support Professionals at The Arc went from making $9.88 per hour in 2017 to $20.00+ per hour in 2024.

Direct Support Professionals, or DSPs, are the backbone of The Arc’s services. They provide the individualized and tailored support that people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) need to live, work, and connect with their community. As DSPs support people to volunteer, connect with friends, manage daily living, and build their skills toward future employment, DSPs make mission-critical decisions every day that enrich the lives of the people they support and maintain The Arc’s reputation for innovative, high-quality services.

“When I began at The Arc in 2017, DSPs were making $9.88 per hour,” said Jonathon Rondeau, President & CEO. “It did not nearly reflect the importance of the work they do or the value they provide to the people they support, our organization, or the community. It has been my constant mission to increase wages for DSPs, and I am grateful to have had support from the board of directors and leadership every step of the way.” 

Since 2017, The Arc’s leadership has prioritized annual pay increases for DSPs. The most recent raise brought starting wages from $9.88 per hour to $20.00 per hour, officially doubling starting wages over the last seven years.

“I took a pay cut to come here. But I was willing to do that because of what I had heard about The Arc and that there was more opportunity here,” said Amber Banos, Community Coach. “And in the two years I’ve worked here I’ve had four pay raises. I love what I do, and I’m happy here.”

In addition to investing in regular wage increases for DSPs, Jonathon and The Arc’s leadership have advocated alongside the community to ensure increases in funding for home- and community-based service providers are reflected in the governor’s annual budget.

Investing in DSPs is about more than just an annual wage increase.

This recent wage increase comes after two additional pay increase incentives and initiatives for DSPs within the last 12 months: Weekend shift differentials for DSPs who work on weekends and the DSP Career Ladder program which offers pay increases aligned with professional development certifications.

“We have many DSPs who take advantage of our weekend differential rates and career ladder program, which allow for even greater wage mobility,” said Jonathon. “Officially doubling wages in seven years is an incredible accomplishment, but the other half of this story is how we invest in our employees – everything from their health and professional development to ensuring they have the tools and resources they need to do their work. Being a DSP is a career, and we want people to have the support they need to grow here.”

Working as a DSP is a long-term career with room for growth and advancement. The newly launched DSP Career ladder is one opportunity that provides professional development opportunities for DSPs to grow in their careers and earn more without having to leave the work they love. 

The effects of consistent, thoughtful investment in our employees is reflected in everything from The Arc’s recent Employee Satisfaction Survey to our vacancy rate. While national vacancy rates for DSP positions are still hovering around 44% (with Maryland averaging 26%), The Arc has maintained a vacancy rate of 10% or less over the last 12 months.

Work with us

Competitive pay is just one of the ways The Arc invests in employees while attracting and retaining top talent. As a result, DSPs are more likely to stay with The Arc long-term, reducing turnover and ensuring quality care for the people we support.  If you’d like to take your career to the next level and join a team constantly striving to do more for their employees, check out our Careers Page today! 

Celebrating Dedication: The Arc’s Annual Celebration Service Honors Longstanding Employees

Employees of The Arc sitting at tables under a tent for Celebration Service

“I came here because I needed a job out of school, and I’ve stayed because I love the people so much!”

At The Arc Central Chesapeake Region, we believe in the power of our people, and recognize that our incredible employees are who make everything we do possible. On Thursday, June 20, The Arc celebrated the dedication and commitment of employees who have been with the organization for five or more years with Celebration Service.

This celebration is a testament to the loyalty and longevity of our employees. This year, The Arc celebrated 115 people reaching this career milestone, the sheer number of which speaks to The Arc’s supportive and fulfilling work environment as well as their passion for The Arc’s mission, vision, and work in the community.

Celebration Service took place at our Severn office and was done in true Maryland style – with a celebratory crab feast. Guests arrived to freshly steamed crabs and shrimp served by senior leadership, showcasing their appreciation and dedication. Employees also enjoyed a full BBQ buffet, DJ, drinks, games, ice cream truck, and raffles.

“We have a diverse group of incredibly passionate professionals,” said Jonathon Rondeau, President & CEO of The Arc. “The fact that so many people are here after five years is a testament to their commitment to The Arc’s mission and vision as well as the resources and opportunities we pour into our employees.

This year, 115 people were celebrated as honorees at Celebration Service, which roughly equals 20% of our total workforce enterprise-wide. Of the 115 people recognized, 86 hold a role as a Direct Support Professional, and 21% of DSPs have stayed employed with The Arc for five years or longer, well above the industry average. Annually at Celebration Service, underscoring our reputation as an employer of choice for people seeking long-term career opportunities.

“I started as a Direct Support Professional, providing services for my brother-in-law. I’m still here after 26 years because I enjoy seeing the growth people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) achieve every day while in The Arc’s services, as well as the astronomical growth the organization has achieved over these last seven years.”

Angie, Director of Executive Operations

What motivates employees to stay with The Arc long-term? Our collective commitment to The Arc’s mission of empowering people with intellectual and developmental disabilities is a powerful factor. Employees are deeply passionate about the work they do, knowing that their efforts directly impact people throughout the community and region. But it is also the culture, opportunity, and resources that makes The Arc a place where people want to stay and grow.

“I started with The Arc out of high school, working as an administrative assistant. I have honestly worked throughout the enterprise.  From corporate supports to Chesapeake Neighbors and even Finance. Now I’m the Director of 2Gen Initiatives and have loved the last 25 years I’ve spent with this organization.”

Jessica, Director of 2Gen Initiatives

The Arc prioritizes employee development and growth, offering ample opportunities for advancement and professional enrichment. Whether through specialized training programs, ongoing education assistance, or career advancement pathways, employees are continuously supported in their personal and professional development journey. This investment in employees’ growth not only fosters a sense of loyalty but also equips them with the skills and knowledge needed to excel in their roles and make a meaningful impact within the organization.

“They recognize our hard work and celebrate our successes, big and small. Not to mention, the benefits can’t be beat. I love how I don’t have to worry about the cost of healthcare since they have affordable premiums and pay for our deductible and haven’t raised the cost for the last three years.”

Edward Coker, Direct Support Professional

The Arc places a strong emphasis on cultivating a supportive and inclusive work culture characterized by trust, respect, and collaboration. Employees feel valued and appreciated for their contributions, fostering a sense of belonging and camaraderie within the organization. This positive work environment promotes employee morale and engagement, making it more likely for employees to remain committed to The Arc for the long term.

Celebration Service is not just a moment to honor employees’ years of service; it is a celebration of The Arc’s vibrant and dedicated workforce, united by a shared commitment to serve the community. As employees gather to commemorate their achievements and milestones, they are reminded of the profound impact of their work and the invaluable role they play in the growth and success of The Arc’s work throughout the region. Through their unwavering dedication and steadfast commitment, they embody the spirit of The Arc and inspire others to join in its mission of inclusion, advocacy, and empowerment.

Brandy Stephens Promoted to Vice President of People & Culture at The Arc Central Chesapeake Region

Brandy Stephens promoted to Vice President of People & Culture

The Arc Central Chesapeake Region (The Arc) is thrilled to announce the promotion of Brandy Stephens to Vice President of People & Culture. Brandy’s exemplary leadership and dedication to fostering a culture of inclusivity and continuous learning have been instrumental in her success within the organization.

In her new role as Vice President of People & Culture, Brandy will provide dynamic leadership to the entire People & Culture team with a focus on supporting leaders at every level of the organization, organizational development and culture building, as well as championing diversity, equity, and inclusion. Brandy is constantly thinking of ways to improve employee experience and engagement, creating a culture of connection that amplifies The Arc’s core values. Since joining The Arc in 2023, Brandy has helped develop and launch key initiatives such as the Direct Support Professional Career Ladder.

“Brandy is a dynamic and engaging leader. She’s passionate about supporting leaders at every level of our enterprise, and since joining us last year, has already dramatically impacted the training and professional development opportunities we offer. I look forward to the leadership she will provide in this new role.” 

Jonathon Rondeau, President & CEO, The Arc.

Brandy brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to her new role, having earned a Master of Education in Higher Education from The University of North Carolina at Greensboro and a Bachelor of Science in Broadcast Journalism from Towson University. She has a robust background in adult learning development and higher education.

Please join us in congratulating Brandy Stephens on her well-deserved promotion and in supporting her as she embarks on this exciting new chapter at The Arc.

Megan Lyle Recognized In The Daily Record’s Leading Women Under 40

Linthicum, MD (June 25, 2024)— The Arc Central Chesapeake Region (The Arc) congratulates Megan Lyle, Esq., Senior Vice President of Administration & General Counsel, on being recognized as one of The Daily Record’s 2024 Leading Women Under 40. The award recognizes women who are 40 or younger for their professional accomplishments, commitment to their communities, and excellence in their fields. The honorees were selected by previous Leading Women awardees and The Daily Record.

Under Megan’s leadership The Arc has grown the Information Technology team, aligned operations to best practices around data security and HIPAA compliance. She provides valuable guidance to The Arc’s leadership and leads the implementation of enterprise-wide infrastructure and growth. Her many professional achievements, service to The Arc’s mission, and commitment to our vision make her an exceptional leader.

“Megan empowers leaders to think beyond compliance, building infrastructure that fosters continuous innovation and improvement,” said Jonathon Rondeau, President & CEO, The Arc. “She is a trusted advisor, a charismatic leader, and exceptionally deserving of this recognition.”

Megan came to The Arc as an accomplished Attorney Advisor after working at several firms, including Black Oak Title, Davidson Fink, and Russo & Toner. She possesses a wide range of experiences and expertise and provides valuable guidance to The Arc’s leadership.

“It’s an honor to be recognized in this way for my achievements at this moment in my career,” said Megan, “It’s refreshing to work at such a responsive organization. We proactively find solutions and anticipate where growth and change will happen next.”

Leading Women Under 40 honorees will be celebrated with a reception hosted by The Daily Record at the Baltimore Museum of Art on August 21, 2024. Winners will be profiled in a special magazine that will be inserted into the Aug 2024 issue of The Daily Record and will be available online at

The Arc congratulates Megan on this recognition of her leadership and success in her career, along with all other Leading Women Under 40 honorees.

The Arc Welcomes New Board Member and Vice Chair

We are excited to announce Chad Brooks is joining our Board of Directors, as well as the election of Steve Smollon to the role of Vice Chair. Both will start their roles on July 1. Chad and Steve bring a wealth of experience to the board and are passionate about The Arc’s mission and the enterprise’s work throughout the community.

Chad Brooks is a dedicated and passionate self-advocate who actively works to empower and support people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. As the Secretary of the Anne Arundel County Chapter of The Arc’s self-advocacy group, Living Boldly, Chad plays a crucial role in advocating for the rights and inclusion of people with disabilities. He is known for his strong advocacy skills, leadership qualities, and unwavering commitment to making the community a more inclusive and welcoming place for people. Through his work with Living Boldly, Chad inspires others to live boldly and embrace their unique abilities, making a positive impact on the lives of those around him.

While Steve Smollon joined the board of directors in 2023, he has been a committed supporter of The Arc for years. In May, Steve successfully chaired The Arc’s annual Tee It Up for the Arc golf tournament, which raised a record $228,000. To read more, click here. The funds raised at the tournament support our Children, Youth & Their Families programs providing essential resources and services to families throughout the community. Steve’s leadership was instrumental in the tournament’s success.

Please join us in welcoming Chad and Steve in their new roles. If you’re interested in serving on the board, click here for more information.

Are You Looking for an Employer That Cares About You?

The Arc is excited to announce the launch of our new ad campaign aimed at hiring Direct Support Professionals (DSPs). Centered around the theme “Looking for an Employer Who Cares About You?” This campaign underscores our commitment to valuing and supporting our employees.

At The Arc, we prioritize creating a supportive and inclusive environment, offering great total rewards, professional development opportunities, and a sense of community. Our DSPs play a crucial role in empowering people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, and to provide them with the best support, we need the best people.

The new campaign features three current DSPs, Amber Banos, Junell Nash, and Shawn Penn speaking about their experience at The Arc in their own words. You can check out some of our ads here, here, and here

In many ways, this theme was an obvious choice. In the last year alone, The Arc has made countless investments in our operations, workplaces, and company culture, including:

  • Launching our NADSP Career Ladder with pay mobility for DSPs
  • Free primary and urgent care for all employees through Health at Work
  • Improving total rewards without passing along cost increases to employees for the third year in a row
  • Two pay increases for DSPs and one for Program Leadership and Corporate Supports
  • Improving training and professional development opportunities like Coach Approach and Driver Safety Training
  • Dozens of new vehicles in our fleet as well as more hybrid and electric vehicles

At The Arc, you won’t just find a job – you’ll discover a community of passionate professionals and an employer that is invested in your growth every step of the way.

If you know someone you think would make a great DSP, encourage them to apply today.

The Arc Honored as Nonprofit of the Year

The Arc Central Chesapeake Region Honored as Nonprofit of the Year by BWI Partnership Inc.

The Arc Central Chesapeake Region is thrilled to announce that it has been named the Nonprofit of the Year by The BWI Partnership Inc. during its Annual Meeting and Awards Ceremony on Thursday. This prestigious recognition underscores the dedication and impact of The Arc’s work in advocating and creating opportunities for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

The BWI Business Partnership Inc., a prominent organization representing approximately 200 local and regional businesses, fosters collaboration and dialogue to address common challenges. The Arc has been an active participant in this partnership for several years, leveraging the platform to champion the needs and rights of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

“We are deeply honored and humbled to receive this award,” said Jonathon Rondeau, President & CEO of The Arc. “This recognition is a testament to the hard work and commitment of our entire team and the unwavering support of our community and partners. We will continue to advocate for and empower people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, ensuring they have the resources and opportunities to live, work, and connect throughout the community.”

Accepting the award on behalf of The Arc were Jonathon Rondeau, President & CEO; Greg Snyder, Vice President of Engagement; Brandy Stephens, Director of Talent Development; and Robyn Nesmith, Senior Director of Innovation & Improvement. Their presence at the ceremony highlights the collective effort and passion driving The Arc’s mission at every level.

This award reinforces the impact of The Arc’s initiatives and collaborations in the community. The Arc creates a more inclusive community, advocating for policies that benefit people with disabilities and providing essential services and support.

The Arc looks forward to continuing its collaboration with the BWI Business Partnership and other stakeholders to drive positive change and create opportunities for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

Chesapeake Community Development Acquires Perdue Properties in Easton

Aerial Shot of Easton Crossing acquired by Chesapeake Community Development from Perdue Properties in Easton

Chesapeake Community Development, subsidiary of The Arc Central Chesapeake Region, and a community development corporation based in Linthicum, Md., recently acquired two parcels of land from Perdue Agribusiness in Easton, Md. The lots, located at 505 Brookletts Avenue and 410 Needwood Avenue, will be the future homes of two mixed-use communities: Easton Crossing and Silo Square.

“Our vision is to bring a vibrant multi-purpose space to the community that incorporates a wide range of amenities and resources, including much-needed housing,” Consulting partner and VP of Community Development, Ross Benincasa, said.

Chesapeake Community Development works to make Maryland a better place to live by creating communities that are equitable, accessible, and fully inclusive. In practice, that looks like developing properties like Easton Crossing, where services, affordable and market-rate housing, retail, and beautiful green spaces flow seamlessly throughout one location.

“Our goal is to partner with the community to create a vibrant multi-purpose space called Easton Crossing on the Brookletts property. Easton Crossing will feature a mix of housing, including opportunities for affordable and market-rate rentals, as well as homeownership. The site will also include retail and recreational spaces and will reflect the diverse needs of the community around it,” said Jonathon Rondeau, President & CEO of The Arc Central Chesapeake Region. “On the Needwood property, Chesapeake Community Development is creating Silo Square, a thriving neighborhood that will support the various housing needs of the community by offering quality affordable and market-rate rentals.”

In the coming weeks, Chesapeake Community Development will announce the dates of its upcoming community meetings, where the organization will share the initial plans for Easton Crossing and Silo Square and solicit feedback that will influence further development of the site plans. All community meetings will be recorded, and the recordings and transcripts will be shared with all attendees. Additionally, an online feedback tool will launch in the early summer of 2024 for community members to submit their commentary virtually.

Pending engagement sessions and site plan approval, construction is anticipated to begin roughly in 2027.

Key local partners include:

  • Rivers & Roads, an Easton-based community development firm, will support the development of the project, with partners Ross Benincasa and Sam Shoge taking on key leadership roles. Ross Benincasa will serve as Chesapeake Community Development’s Vice President of Community Development, while Sam Shoge will act as Chesapeake Community Development’s Director of Outreach & Partnerships.
  • Chesapeake Neighbors, a subsidiary of The Arc and provider of affordable rental housing throughout the mid-shore, will serve as the rental housing lead. Judi Olinger, Executive Director of Chesapeake Neighbors, will maximize opportunities for affordable and market-rate housing at both Easton Crossing and Silo Square.
  • RAUCH, Inc., an Easton-based architectural firm, will be the design & architecture lead. Virginia Richardson, Vice President of Architecture, will coordinate the design and architecture activities for Easton Crossing and Silo Square.
  • BuilderGuru Contracting (BGC), a long-time partner of Chesapeake Community Development, will serve as the construction lead. Ben Harries, owner, will provide support with pre-construction services and other general contractor services for phases of the projects. As the project moves forward with construction, he will incorporate shore-based contractors on the project, providing a boost to the local economy.
  • The Arc Central Chesapeake Regiona regional organization and significant service provider on the Eastern Shore, will serve as a project manager in partnership with Chesapeake Community Development.

For all questions, please contact the Chesapeake Community Development team at


The Arc Celebrates Pride Month

Heart Image with the colors of Pride Month and an Arc logo

June is Pride Month, and this year, we are celebrating the ways in which The Arc supports our employees and the people we serve to feel safe in their identities at The Arc.

“As a member of the LGBTQIA+ community myself,” said Jonathon Rondeau, President & CEO of The Arc, “ensuring that our employees and the people we support who identify similarly feel included and heard is important to me.”

At The Arc, we pride ourselves on the policies and practices we have in place that support LGBTQIA+ employees and their families. Even simple things like gender-neutral bathrooms, not officially defining “family,” including domestic partners in our total rewards (benefits), and offering fertility and family planning total rewards that cover surrogacy, IVF, and adoption expenses are essential to supporting our LGBTQIA+ employees.

The same goes for supporting the people we serve who identify as part of the LGBTQIA+ community.

“We have a reputation for providing excellent services and programs for young people,” says Matt Morgan, Chief Program Officer. “Many of the people we support are Millennials and Gen Z, and they’re curious about their identities and finding belonging.”

But it’s not just young people who identify within the LGBTQIA+ community. Anyone, regardless of age, can feel supported at The Arc to have those important conversations as they live independently, think about relationships and community, and ultimately, what they want out of life.

“When we talk about providing holistic, person-centered support, we truly mean supporting the whole person,” says Cindy Lindgren, Senior Director of Behavioral Health. “Supporting people in understanding their own LGBTQIA+ identity is part of providing person-centered support. Our Behavioral Health team regularly supports people in engaging with every aspect of their identity, including sexuality.”

People with intellectual and developmental disabilities are just as likely as any other population to identify within the LGBTQIA+ spectrum. Supporting people to understand how they experience the world, how they fit in, and how their various identities intersect is essential.