Staff Spotlight – Chris McNamara
~Meet Beacon's Vice President of Rehabilitation Services
Sitting in the office of Beacon Group’s new Vice President of Rehabilitation Services, Chris McNamara, you wouldn’t know he’s only held the position just shy of eight months, coming on board during a highly challenging time for Beacon. Desk stacked high with binders and a row of mini helmets from his favorite sports teams lined up across the shelf above his desk, it’s easy to see that McNamara feels at home, and his office has been made his own now.
Like many other east coast transplants, McNamara, originally from Massachusetts, found his place in the Old Pueblo. He originally moved to Arizona to complete his undergraduate degree at Northern Arizona University before moving to Tucson to complete his first of two master’s degrees, one in Public Administration and the next in Legal Studies. He looks back fondly on his time at the University of Arizona where he met his wife. “We graduated on a Saturday and got married on a Sunday because family was in town, so that was a fun-filled weekend.”
However, his passion for nonprofit work started much earlier. During his undergraduate years, he found his enthusiasm for charitable work while volunteering at the local Boys & Girls Club. “At the time, I was only a year or two older than some of these kids. I just really enjoyed working with them and thought that maybe I could make a difference in the non-profit world,” says McNamara.
Prior to becoming Vice President of Rehabilitation Services, McNamara was Beacon Group’s Director of Quality, Risk, and Compliance. He credits his time in that position as providing an excellent foundational step into his current role. Throughout his time here, McNamara has thoroughly enjoyed the ability to work with departments across the organization and gain an in-depth understanding of the vital services Beacon has to offer people with a range of disabilities.
Looking towards creating a successful future for Rehabilitation Services at Beacon Group, McNamara credits his predecessor for laying the groundwork as well as of the support of great staff. “We have a wonderful and talented team in our department, and Beacon supports innovation. So, we have the structure in place and the support from the top to make things happen.” McNamara continues, “We can make significant impact to our community – we can get initiatives started fairly quickly.”
In Rehabilitation Services, there is a growing emphasis on a more individualized approach to serving the unique needs of each person with disabilities, or a person-centered approach. As McNamara puts it, “I see us continuing to work with each client as an individual to help them get to where they want to be in their employment goals based on their interests, skills, and preferences. It’s their choice.” This direction is very apparent with new programs launching this year and the expansion of existing programs.
Beacon Group recently started a youth-focused Career Exploration contract from Vocational Rehabilitation to help youth and young adults with disabilities identify which career fields they may be interested in. Also focused on tailoring the full employment journey to the needs of the youth and young adults with disabilities, ENCORE is in its second year of providing customized employment. The Work Adjustment Training (WAT) program has ramped up significantly to offer numerous exciting positions including administrative and leadership positions in areas like manufacturing, business operations, and administration. And there is hope for another cycle from the state for the Pre-Employment Transition Services (Pre-ETS) program, which focuses on career exploration and job readiness for students with disabilities.
With new opportunity on the horizon, during a time of great change, McNamara’s passion for Beacon and positive outlook is vitally important. “I have a passion for our mission and for our Beacon community. We have a safe and supportive environment for our current and future clients so that they can reach their individual goals and aspirations.”