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NH’s Top Women-Led Nonprofits: (#25) Monadnock Developmental Services

Published Monday Nov 6, 2023

Author Matthew J. Mowry

NH’s Top Women-Led Nonprofits: (#25) Monadnock Developmental Services

Mary-Anne Wisell has dedicated 21 years of her career to supporting people with disabilities, from children to the elderly, at Monadnock Developmental Services, and two years ago she took the reins to lead the Keene-based organization as executive director.

Before her promotion, Wisell, who leads a staff of more than 300 employees, was named an Everyday Hero by the Keene Sentinel in 2021 for her work as director of operations during the pandemic making sure the needs of the agency and its clients were met.

Monadnock Developmental provides support services to people with disabilities, children with chronic health conditions, elders who need non-medical assistance in their homes and early support services for children under age 3 who have experienced developmental delays.

The nonprofit, which was formed 40 years ago when the state closed the Laconia State School, works with more than 20 agencies to support its clients. The organization also advocates on behalf of its clients to lawmakers. “We make sure when changes happen [in state policy] that they are in the best interest of the individuals and families we support,” Wisell says. “I attend a lot of meetings statewide and locally to make sure I’m communicating [about] and listening to concerns.”

Wisell has also been focusing on staff appreciation, retention and recruitment as well as raising greater awareness about the organization and the services it provides to the community. “I wouldn’t be here without our staff. I am looking at how do we balance budget concerns with doing the best we can for the individuals, families and staff we have,” she says.

She also works closely with Monadnock Developmental Services’ Family Support Council, a group of client family members who help advise the organization about possible changes to policies and procedures. 

One of the nonprofit’s programs that Wisell highlights is Project Search, a job training program it provides with Cheshire Medical Center. Clients who enter the program spend a year in various internship positions and classes learning about different jobs at the hospital, including maintenance, supplies, food service, office assistance and cleaning to prepare for the workforce. 

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