Starbridge is delighted to join in the national celebration of Direct Support Professional (DSP) Recognition Week. DSPs work directly with individuals with disabilities every day – at home, at work, and in the community. We asked members of our DSP team and agency leaders to reflect on what a difference DSPs make every day.

Nikisha Ridgeway, President/CEO, shares, “Direct support professionals are the core of our services. They are on the front lines supporting people with living successfully in the community. Without DSPs, we would not be able to uphold the integrity of our mission.”

“I appreciate the commitment of each DSP to show up and give it their all each day – especially during the pandemic. We have had a team of phenomenal leaders that continue to accept the challenge of these uncertain times and rise to the occasion! I can’t thank them enough and I’m honored to serve alongside each one of them!”

Close up of two adult women smiling and each with an arm around the others shoulder
Michelle Bellavia, MHA, Director of Residential Services: “I am exceptionally proud of the Direct Support Professionals that we have in our Residential Program! The team consistently strives to help the individuals realize their full potential and to live a life that they find meaningful.”

“The pandemic brought many challenges to our program. Our DSPs were able to respond quickly to last-minute changes in staffing needs and acute health issues all while continuing to provide quality services to those who live in our residences. The DSPs’ flexibility and commitment to the Residential Program is commendable!”

Photo of woman with disability standing with support of residential aide

Debbie-Lee Eskildsen (pictured above, supporting a resident), Senior Manager of Residential Services, “I truly feel like what the individuals give me is so much greater than what I give them each day. I love that each day brings something new whether it is a hurdle we must cross or a success we celebrate.”

Closeup photo of Jeneen smiling

Jeneen Miller (pictured), Assistant Manager, shares, “My passion is to support and encourage people with different abilities to live their best lives. I enjoy opening their eyes to their endless capabilities to live their own lives out loud and as vibrant as they choose.”

close up photo of Kelly

Kelly Rose (pictured), Medical Liaison, says, “I’ve been in this field for 13 years and it’s been great supporting people in their day-to-day lives. Every person has a different personality. It’s nice learning about each person and doing something different every day.”

Photo of Suzi

Suzi Lomax (pictured), Residential Habilitation Counselor, shares, “I like working directly with residents every day and supporting them in living a life that is not defined by disability.”


Ursula Nicholson, MFT, Director of Employment Services:

“Our DSPs develop relationships and are great advocates to help the individuals they support achieve their personal employment goals. I appreciate the creativity and the dedication my team puts into the work that they do. They continue to look for creative new work opportunities, ones that will support each individual’s success.”

Stacey D

Stacey Daly (pictured), Employment Counselor for the past four years, says, “I like helping people with disabilities discover what their career interests are and be successful in employment. Working as a DSP allows me to get to know each person as an individual and build a rapport with them.”

Matthew Dunham, Starbridge employee for the past 12 years, shares: “As an Employment Counselor, I like developing relationships with each individual. The greatest reward of this job is the success once each person secures employment that works for them.”

Casey Labuzeta, Employment Counselor for the past three years, says, “I like seeing individuals feel good about themselves and succeed at something they love.”

Katie Cannan, Director, Community Habilitation:

“Starbridge’s DSPs are undeniably the HEART & SOUL of our work. The effort, dedication, and compassion of our DSPs has helped so many individuals live fulfilled and independent lives. I appreciate our DSPs for WHO THEY ARE and for ALL THEY DO. I appreciate the strength and commitment our DSPs have shown over the past few years, despite the ongoing challenges they have endured. It is an honor to serve alongside such an impactful team!”

Image shows two adults smiling and standing by sign at Irondequoit Bay 

Katherine Cummings (pictured above) enjoys her role as a Community Habilitation Counselor, saying, “My favorite parts of the job are seeing the joy on people’s faces when they are happy and helping them do something new.”

Elisha Cruz, a Community Habilitation Counselor for the past four years, says, “I love each person’s honesty and sense of humor and working with them in their independence.”

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