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IOD Employee Makes Things Happen

By Kevin Hinchey
October 8, 2008

Mary Ann Allsop (Photo by Christina VanHorn, UNH Human Resources)
Mary Ann Allsop (Photo by Christina VanHorn, UNH Human Resources)

Mary Ann Allsop began working at the Institute on Disability in November 2004. She had been working in the Concord School District as a paraprofessional for the previous 13 years, primarily working with students with disabilities, and had become very active in the planning of professional development for paraprofessionals in the Concord School District.

“I recognized the fact that good professional development was essential for staff working with students with disabilities,” she said. “When the opportunity came along to work for the Institute on Disability (IOD) I knew that this was the perfect job for me.”

The IOD provides statewide trainings for students, self-advocates, families and professionals through coursework, seminars, workshops and conferences. As the conference coordinator, Allsop works closely with project coordinators to develop overall event plans to ensure that each event meets the highest standards set by the IOD.

“I find that being flexible is probably one of most important qualities needed for this job,” Allsop says. “Expect the unexpected. The institute put on more than 50 trainings last year. One of our largest trainings is the Autism Summer Institute held in Holloway Commons.”

This past year was the 10th annual Autism Summer Institute. Two years ago, one of the keynote presenters, Ros Blackburn, was scheduled to do a keynote presentation. A woman with autism who travels with a personal care assistant, Blackburn found out her  assistant was unable to accompany her one week before her trip, leaving the IOD one week to find another keynote presenter.

Those who had already registered wanted to see Ros Blackburn.

“The institute had just done an assistive technology distance learning workshop,” Allsop syas. “If we could do a distance learning workshop from Durham to Berlin, we certainly could do one from Durham to London, England? Couldn’t we?”

To the rescue was the CIS Distance Learning lab at UNH. Ros Blackburn presented via distance learning on the date and time scheduled and the participants loved it.

Allsop’s newest job responsibility is coordinating screenings of the film “Including Samuel.”

“This film has been shown all over the world, and it has been very exciting for the Institute on Disability,” she says. “I personally have had the opportunity to come in contact with many of the individuals who have been moved by this film. This has been an energizing experience for me.”

When asked what she finds most satisfying about her job, Allsop says, “I enjoy being a part of an organization that is making an impact on the lives of so many people. Our programs reach people of all ages, beginning with our early intervention programs to our work with older adults. It is very rewarding to work with people who are so passionate about their jobs. The folks I work with all believe that everyone, including those living with disabilities, should be fully engaged members of communities.”

Allsop has been married to her husband (Greg) for 27 years, and says “We have two wonderful children, Lindsay and Bryan, and an adorable Jack Russell named Gus. I enjoy spending my spare time with my family and working in the garden.”

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