All startups have a story: a conversation becomes an idea. Ideas are sketched out on a whiteboard. And before you know it, you’ve surrounded yourself with enough people saying, “Yeah, this would work!” Here is how Quillo’s conversation started.
When I started with The Arc in 1973, I got to spend two days with Burton Blatt. He was the first of many thought leaders who inspired me, leaving a mark and a lesson learned. I am especially fond of Marc Gold’s “Try Another Way” approach. It was so simply and brilliantly conceived and implemented – we all can try another way to find the right answer.
After 42 years with The Arc, a good friend urged me to think differently about the workforce situation we face in our field that is fraught with high turnover, low wages and high stress. There has to be another way.
In the past four decades, we have gone from staff working together in one building to a workforce with individuals in different places around the community. In the two years I spent developing Quillo, our research of this field and its workforce showed that 80% of people’s communication with their supervisor was by cell phone. Face-to-face interaction is less common. And when we asked them to define their communication as predominantly positive, predominantly neutral, or predominantly negative, over 70% said it was predominantly negative! Our relationships were transactional and the transactions were overwhelmingly negative.
It is not what to do and how to do it that keeps people engaged and growing in their work. It is the connection to Why and their feeling of being valued by others that is so important. With so much emphasis on rules, we have become more focused on compliance than building people up with an understanding of the Why. As the field continues to adapt, we can do better.
Quillo is about culture! Built from the ground up with the needs of our community in mind, Quillo tells stories that create emotional connections, giving people topics to think about while reminding them of their value to others. The app was designed using positive psychology, all focused on the personal well-being of each staff member.
I was driven to try another way, to re-envision the WHY that makes the What and How so much more valuable to people. Taking this idea and running with it, I rounded up a dedicated team who were ready to try another way, too. Welcome to Quillo.
Favorites: Time with people, being positive, reading, photography and talking!
Dislikes: People who complain without making a suggestion.
Key information about me: Grew up in South Dakota; spent 42 years with The Arc before starting Quillo.
Relationships: Family – daughter Kesia, son Bryce, his wife Andrea, my grandchildren, sister Ella, sister in-law Celia, and friend Mary.
Why I’m here: I have seen up close the incredible impact staff can have in the lives of people with disabilities. I know they are the true point where quality happens. I joined Quillo to share that appreciation with people across the entire country and build better lives.
Favorites: Moose tracks ice cream, enjoying family at the lake, campfires and making s’mores, biking, golf, The State Fair
Dislikes: Being late to activities and rides that twirl around
Key information about me: Originally from northwest Ohio; 7 siblings, 23 nieces and nephews and 7 great nieces and nephews.
Relationships: Greg – husband; Patrick – Son; Emily – Daughter. Washington Township Special Olympics community, Quillo team
Why I’m here: Quillo is a platform that allows organizations to create a culture that inspires, engages, and educates staff who support people with developmental disabilities. I have a daughter with Down Syndrome, and I am experiencing first hand the support and care these individuals provide. They play a critical role for my family, and Quillo helps them be the best they can be. I am fortunate because as a member of the Quillo team, I am able to combine my professional experience in Human Resources and my personal experience parenting a special needs child. I enjoy being a part of an organization that lives it’s motto “better relationships, better lives”.
Favorites: Broadway music, guacamole, the Chicago Cubs, being outside, yoga.
Dislikes: scary movies, being late, okra, popping balloons (really, balloons in any form).
Key information about me: have lived in 6 states (currently, Quillo’s “North Branch” in Minnesota!); visited/worked in 17 countries; proficient in French, deadpan jokes, and movie quotes.
Relationships: family in Ohio, Minnesota, and about a dozen other states. Grateful for family who are friends and friends who are family. Being an auntie is the best.
Why I’m here: I believe in building inclusive communities and learning how people can live their best life. Combine that with encouraging and intelligent colleagues, a place for creative juices to flow, and a blank canvas ready for a new story, and the result is Quillo. Sometimes, the world is funny and you end up in a dream job you didn’t know was your dream job.
Favorites: Watercolor painting, pasta, Harry Potter, movies, cats, singing in the shower
Dislikes: Cold soups, talking during a movie, potholes.
Key information about me: Goes to bed by 8:30 most nights, falls asleep in the car very easily.
Relationships: My son Kellan, dad, brother, aunt Cece, aunt Ella.
Why I’m here: In one way or another, I have been involved in the disability community my entire life. When my dad (am I allowed to say dad? John? Father?) first came to me with this idea, I immediately jumped on board and was excited to put my media skills to use. I wanted to help be a small part of a huge cause.
Favorites: Time with family, friends and friends I don’t know yet, biking, kayaking, cross-country skiing in the north woods, movies, concerts, learning and laughing
Dislikes: Snow in April, mosquitoes, status quo, extremes and not inviting all to the “table”
Key information about me: Minnesota has always been home, and my cooking abilities are limited to hot dishes with tator tots and cream-of-whatever soup. I was a 1992 Disability Policy Fellowship in D.C. with The Arc, which magnified my passion for systems change. I was the CEO for The Arc Greater Twin Cities for 36 rewarding and fun years and worked as a DSP in group homes during college (where I was awarded “worst bowler” by those I supported).
Relationships: I married a fellow Arc CEO from Baltimore and he graciously made Minnesota his home (it wasn’t really negotiable!). I have three children (Michael, Diana/spouse Rich, and Tess/spouse Damon), grandkids, my four siblings, mom, nieces and nephews, east coast extended family… It all keeps growing and makes my heart sing!
Why I’m here: I am sibling and guardian for my brother Mike, a smart, music loving MN Twins fan and comedian extraordinaire who is blind and has severe intellectual and developmental disabilities. Mike lived at home with us until he was 21 and has since lived in group homes near family. For 43 years I have experienced up close and personal how vital the staff are in the day to day and long-term well-being of Mike and others with disabilities. I also see how vital the well-being of staff is to the overall foundation of a good life for individuals relying on their care and support. I am passionate about the Quillo mission, vision, values and creative approaches to educate, engage, honor and inspire staff in their work and life. I am “home” with Quillo and grateful to be a part of this amazing team and effort to ensure better relationships and better lives for people who support individuals with disabilities!