Office for People With Developmental Disabilities

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Susan Hollan-Smith

REGION: 3 – Capital District
Susan Hollan-Smith

Position: Developmental Assistant 1

Years of Service: 31


“My favorite part about being a direct support professional is when I witness staff making every effort to assist an individual with working on a goal or learning a new independent task,” says Susan. “I love it when that person continues to have a great attitude, makes every effort to accept the many challenges of the job, and steps up and does all he or she can do to assist the people we serve with having great experiences – even when the last thing that person really wants to do is stay another shift at work.”

Susan says she has a lot of admiration for the staff she works with at the Capital District DDSOO, who give of themselves to create a family-like environment for the individuals – some of whom have no other family involvement.

“To many, it is not simply a job, it is a calling to help someone make achievements in life's tasks that are often taken for granted by most people,” Susan says. “My most enjoyment comes from working with the individuals and being on the receiving end of their admiration when they make steps forward towards achievement.”


Sandra Walker, Developmental Assistant 2, says that Susan works all shifts to help her staff and that she is always available to assist on short notice.

“Sue is extremely impressive when it comes to medical appointments, follow-ups and the overall care for the individuals,” Walker adds.

She says Susan has consistently demonstrated a thorough knowledge and understanding of how to deal with, as well as address, the needs of the individuals with very difficult backgrounds and histories.

“Sue is a 31-year veteran here at OPWDD; she is very knowledgeable when it comes to her job. Sue goes above and beyond – she volunteers to work all shifts to cover vacations for her staff, she is very kind and loving towards the individuals, and she always shows great compassion,” Walker says.

Susan has had to overcome a great deal over the past six months – including the loss of her mother and her husband.

“Despite this, Susan is bouncing back and showing what a great person she is,” Walker concludes. “Sue is just excellent with the individuals we serve, always putting them first.”