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Jennifer Stanley is the Director of Training and Operations Analyst at Behavioral Innovations. Jennifer’s Everyday Hero story demonstrates the power a mom’s perspective can have on a team and a culture that works and learns together.

 

Behavioral Innovations has been providing clinically researched, family-focused, and collaborative ABA therapy to children with autism for over 20 years.

Transcript

Introduction

Jennifer Stanley: If you've met a person on the spectrum, you've met one person on the spectrum, like everybody's different, and that's what I really love about behavior analysis. It is individualized. It is customized, and that's kind of my philosophy too, is that when you approach something, you have to take into consideration all of those factors.

Who is this person? What is going on in the environment? What's important to them, what motivates them? And that's kind of how you get the best outcome.

Anderson Williams: Welcome to Everyday Heroes, a podcast from Shore Capital Partners that highlights the people who are building our companies from the inside, every day, often out of the spotlight. With this series, we want to pull those heroes out of the shadows.

We want to hear their stories, we want to share their stories. We want to understand what drives them, why they do what they do, how they might inspire and support others to become everyday heroes too.

In this episode, we talk with Jennifer Stanley from Behavioral Innovations, who, aside from being the Director of Training and Operations Analyst and a critical leader within BI is also a very busy mom.

Jennifer Stanley: I'm from Austin, Texas, grew up there. I went to Texas State University. I have my undergrad in Spanish. Married, I have three kids. My son just turned nine, my daughter just turned eight, and then my other daughter is three. So I'm a busy mom.

Anderson Williams: And can you give us just a quick summary of what Behavioral Innovations does?

Jennifer Stanley: Yes. So, we are an ABA therapy provider, so we use the science of behavior analysis and apply that to treatment for children on the autism spectrum. Primarily, we do early interventions, so we work with really little kids because evidence shows that that is the most successful, those children have the most success long term.

So we work with the kids to help them acquire new skills and also reduce any unwanted behaviors that might affect their quality of life.

Jennifer’s Background

Anderson Williams: But let's rewind a little. Back to Jennifer's early career to better understand where she is today. Just as her career was getting started and Jennifer was pregnant with her first child, a very scary experience in her role as a bank teller, presented her with some difficult decisions about work and life and family, but also put a lot of things into perspective. She needed her job, but because of this experience, she also knew she wanted a stronger sense of security and stability. She wanted a career that she felt could support her family over the long haul.

Jennifer Stanley: My bank was robbed and I was the teller, so that was scary, and I really wanted something where I would have stability and not have to worry about things like that happening.

Anderson Williams: Is it fair to say that a young and growing family was part of your decision in sort of looking for that stability?

Jennifer Stanley: Absolutely.

Yeah, we became a family of four pretty quickly, and so, you know, I wanted something that could be long-term provide that stability for our family. When my second child was born, I actually decided to stay home for a little bit, but after a while I just wanted to work.

Anderson Williams: When she joined Behavioral Innovations, Jennifer not only found something bigger that she could contribute to, she found a cause, a cause that connected deeply with her, with her family, her kids, and her role as a mom.

Jennifer Stanley: And then when I came to BI in the interview, you know, she's describing how they're working with kids. That felt really important to me. And once I joined, I really got that firsthand experience where I saw what they were doing from there, I was just very committed to the cause, you know, and some of the kids reminded me of my own children and I, I saw the potential and I saw their mothers and I could relate to how they felt because seeing your child struggle is the most difficult thing any mother can experience.

So I felt like it was a really important cause and it was very close to, to me, having my own family.  

Work-Life Balance

Anderson Williams: I asked Ed Maher, the Chief Operations Officer at Behavioral Innovations, how he saw Jennifer bringing this full self to her work. In part how she manages it, but more importantly, how she makes the most of it, how she capitalizes on her perspective as a mom to benefit the clients and her team and the company.

Ed Maher: She always puts her family first, and I give her a ton of credit for that. She always takes a day for her kids when they have their birthday. That's a hard and fast. She's not gonna be here on that day. That day is a day for her daughter or for her son. It's something that she's able to balance really well and we don't ever miss a beat on it.

I don't know how she does it. She does it well and doesn't let it show.

Anderson Williams: And she did make the connection too, between what empathy she feels for the families and kids you work with as a result. She has a holistic picture of herself and her being a mom and the work that you guys do, that just seems like a really clear picture to her.

Ed Maher: Yeah, and I think she does a great job of pulling that through when she's training up some of our staff too, we have a fairly young workforce who most don't have kids, even though they're working with kids, she does a really nice job of pulling out like, hey, from the parents' perspective, this is why this is an important thing.

Uh, she's able to bring a message through that helps people understand like, hey, this is, when it comes to some of these issues, this is how it's gonna impact the families, and this is how the parents are thinking. I mean it, it certainly drives her, but it helps to give the team a little more context as to why we're doing what we're doing, and I think they all appreciate that and it ultimately helps them understand.

Jennifer’s Role at BI

Anderson Williams: All of this brought me back to making sure I knew what Jennifer actually does for her day job. We know she's a super mom. But what is her role at Behavioral Innovations?

Jennifer Stanley: So currently a lot of my focus is on our operational processes, so making sure that what we're doing is efficient, using our systems to their best capabilities, and then training.

So I do training with our center administrators primarily, but I also train members of the home office staff on how to use our systems, what are our protocols, best practices for operations. I have started this initiative around scheduling, and that's been something that I've been thinking about and kind of conceptualizing for several years.

So now we're kind of taking a different look at how we schedule our clients and how we measure utilization of our facilities. And so in doing that, really the goal is to help as many people as we can. That's, that's my goal, I want, if there's a space where we could add a client and we're telling somebody no, I want to change that.

I don't want to have to turn away that parent because I know how devastating that could be and how alone they probably feel when we can't help their child. My goal with the scheduling project is really to not ever have to do that, to find as many opportunities as possible.

Anderson Williams: What Jennifer's describing here is complex stuff.

Her work sits at a unique cross section of people and process and technology and client care. And while she makes it sound straightforward, it's anything but. And by the way, it's not like this is what she studied in school or had built a career before BI doing. She was learning, she still is learning and she's learning fast.
 

She's solving problems that no one else is able to solve. So I wanted to hear where that comes from for her, how she's managed to learn so quickly and to do it on the job.  

Jennifer’s Superpower

Jennifer Stanley: I've always been someone who likes like a puzzle. I like to figure out the solution. I like a mystery. You know, I try to find the best options and present those.

So anytime I identify something that could be an issue, I have to bring a solution as well, right? I don't want to just bring up problems without presenting potential solutions. So I like to look at things kind of from all angles and figure out, okay, what, what would work best here for this particular situation?

Where that comes from? I think I've always kind of been that way. Like as a kid, you know, we would always do puzzles. My dad and I would watch Diagnosis Murder, like those old, you know, mystery shows. And, it was just fun to try to figure out what might be the answer.

I learned by making mistakes. One incident was we have, you know, all of our fee schedules kind of set up and our service codes set up in the background, and most people don't really know that they don't have to do anything with that.

But it, it really keeps everything going in regards to like our financials and our, and our revenue. So one time I was working on it and I had accidentally deleted some and I was like, oh my God. Like I don't know what to do. I don't know, how to fix this. So that's how I taught myself how to add a fee schedules and service codes.

I had to go back and fix it. And I told our CM manager at the time, I was like, oh man, I made a big mistake, like, hold off because I'm going to try to fix it. But that was one of the things that helped me learn how everything kind of tied together. And I share that because I think people are surprised at how much I've learned so far.

And I want them to know that it wasn't always easy. And I make mistakes too. I'm human and I had to learn some things the hard way, and that was one of them.

Ed Maher: She talks a lot about her learning. I think that's appropriate, but I also think she has, over the course of time in the organization, done a great job of mentoring up others.

She does a tremendous job of supporting her team and ultimately looking for ways for them to be better and grow and have opportunities. And I think having that ability and, and really kind of realizing what she's done to get to her point, and then helping others to do the same thing. It's a testimony to her and the type of person she is.

Anderson Williams: Ed brings up a critical fact about Jennifer. Even as she focuses on her own learning. She stepped up as a teacher too, creating and leading training and in just making herself available to her colleagues and peers.

Jennifer Stanley: I try to keep an open door policy. I do hold a kind of open office hours every week where if somebody has questions or anything, they can reach out to me, and I try to make myself very available. Nobody's going to walk in the door and know everything. We don't expect them to. We wouldn't even want them to because then they'd be bored. You know, it all starts with building a rapport. You know, you need to get to know them a little bit better, what's important to them. And then whenever you're teaching a new skill, I definitely think you need to demonstrate it in different ways.

Everybody learns a little bit differently, so I definitely want to give them the rationale, tell them why this is important, why do we do it this way, and how to do it. So presenting that in a visual manner, giving them a hands-on opportunity, kind of need to present that in various ways. And then because you have a rapport with them, they feel comfortable asking questions and they feel comfortable coming back to you if they made a mistake or something didn't work the way that they thought it would.

Developing New Skills

Anderson Williams: I was curious, because we talked so much about her teaching and learning at work and problem solving and just general skill and ability to figure things out, what Jennifer had learned about herself during her journey.

What's the biggest lesson or two that you've learned about yourself?

Jennifer Stanley: I've learned that I need to take a moment and kind of step back sometimes.

I think I've grown a lot in my skills, but also just in my relationships with others. When I first came on, I kind of had this idea that everything should be a certain way, all the time. And that's not reality, right? So sometimes you just have to deal with what's given to you. So I've had to mature in that way over the past seven years.

Anderson Williams: It's very humbling when your kids show you that you have very little control. It's all about managing.

Jennifer Stanley: Yeah. Exactly. Exactly. Just you have to deal with what you're given. And sometimes there is no playbook and you just, I have friends that are just now having children and I, and you know, sometimes they'll ask for advice.

I'm like, I have no idea. You know, just, you're just going to have to figure it out because every situation is a little bit different. And so, you have to kind of develop a judgment and make a judgment call.

Anderson Williams: While Jennifer wasn't willing to give her friends any advice about parenting, I did ask her what advice she might give to others, navigating family and career and personal growth and all of that.

All of the things she seems to manage and juggle so well.

Jennifer Stanley: You have to create boundaries. You need to make sure that you reserve the time for your family so that you don't feel like you're dropping the ball there. And it is hard. I mean, there are going to be occasions where you have to kind of make a decision, but you need to have balance as well.

And then just pursuing betterment for yourself, like always looking forward to ways that you could improve. And ways that you could learn new skills because that can be done within the realm of being a parent and being a wife, and you know, you could still pursue those things. And it's not always just professional, it could be personal as well.

I'm a very planned person. But I'm also very driven, so I feel accomplished when I pursue something and I achieve it. So if I map that out and plan for that, then set myself a goal, I'm going to make it there. And I think that's part of parenting, right? You're being a good example to your children and showing them what a hard work ethic can achieve.

I think my story is just one of don't give up and find those people that are going to build you up and encourage you and keep trying. Keep learning, keep growing. You're never done growing. You're never done learning. So even after all these years, there's still plenty more to learn.

Anderson Williams: As a professional, as a mom, as an everyday hero, Jennifer Stanley's superpower is learning, but it doesn't just stop there.

Jennifer isn't just learning for her own betterment for her own career. She's learning so that she can teach, so that she can teach her children how to work hard and learn and grow themselves. So that she can teach her peers and colleagues at Behavioral Innovations how to provide better care for their clients and families.

So that they can all learn and teach the broader world about the realities and possibilities of living with autism.

This podcast was produced by Shore Capital Partners with story and narration by Anderson Williams. Recording and editing by Andrew Malone. Editing by Reel Audiobooks. Sound design, mixing and mastering by Mark Galup of Reel Audiobooks.

Special thanks to Jennifer Stanley and Ed Maher.

This podcast is the Property of Shore Capital Partners LLC. None of the content herein is investment advice, an offer of investment advisory services, nor a recommendation or offer relating to any security. See the terms of use page on the Shore Capital website for other important information.

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