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Courtney Kelly: March Monthly Staff Spotlight

CQL is excited to continue our Monthly Staff Spotlight series in 2024! This offers an opportunity for you to get to know our team even better. For our March article, we’re featuring Courtney Kelly, CQL Vice President of State Initiatives!

Mary Kay Rizzolo, CQL President and CEO, was so excited to nominate Courtney! She shares, “CQL has been fortunate to have a long history of working with Courtney Kelly. It all began with the network accreditation of Tennessee DIDD. She then went on to join our board of directors before winding up as Vice President of State Initiatives at CQL in July of 2023. So she brings a variety of perspectives to her new role,” Mary Kay continued, “Her excitement is absolutely contagious, and she tackles every project with such enthusiasm and energy! You can’t help but see all the possibilities when you get to work with Courtney!”

We’ve asked Courtney a series of questions about her history, background, experiences with CQL, as well as some questions to get to know her better.

What is your position at CQL and what does that role encompass?

I am the Vice President of State Initiatives and I am responsible for the development of new opportunities to support state partners, collaboration and consultation with external partners, and monitoring of contracts to ensure that quality standards are in place and supporting partners to maximize their strengths.

Why did you decide to get involved in the human services field?

I needed a job while in college, and a friend told me to come work for her job part-time. I went to the agency and applied for a DSP position (part-time weekends). That was it for me!! 😊 I changed my major and the rest is history.

What is your professional history, background, and experience?

I have over 25 years of experience in the ID/IDD field, and 14 years of experience managing State-level programs. I started out as a DSP while in college and have done a little bit of everything as it relates to the ID/DD field. I’ve been a Home Manager, Residential Service Coordinator, Investigator, ISC/ISC Manager, DSP, Director, Assistant Commissioner, and now Vice President.

What are three skills you have that help you in your work?

  1. Communication
  2. Adaptability
  3. Collaboration

Is there anything you would like to share about yourself personally?

I’m a newlywed (September 23, 2023) and I love crafting a scrapbooking! ✂️🧑‍🎨

CQL Lightning Round!

You’re stranded alone on a desert island and have 3 books to keep you company. Which books are you reading until you’re rescued?

Good Vibes Good Life by Vex King, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by JK Rowling, Black Cake by Charmaine Wilkerson

If you could choose one superpower, what would it be? What is the first thing you would do with your new power?

Time travel , go back in time and talk to my grandmother

Name one thing on your bucket list.

Travel to Greece! ✈️

Sweet or savory? What is your favorite sweet/savory food?

Savory, Lays Sour Cream and Onion Potato Chips

You have to pick a song at karaoke, what song do you choose?

Tina Turner — Proud Mary

Describe one trick you use to stay productive.

I use a planner and write everything down -lists lists lists!

Would you rather be the funniest or smartest person in the room? Why?

Funniest, because life can be heavy at times and I’d much rather make people laugh

What is the first concert that you ever attended?

Boys II Men 🕺🏻

Who is a person that inspires you (famous or non)? Why?

My mom, because she always looks for the positive in everything and steadfast in her faith

What is one city that you would like to visit? Why?

Paris, because it’s a romantic city 🇫🇷

Name the TV show you could have on repeat 24/7, 365 days a year.

Big Bang Theory 🤓

What is the best piece of advice you have ever been given or read? Cite who gave it to you or said it.

“Be kind, always” – My mom

What is one thing about you that most people wouldn’t be able to guess?

I love watching Spongebob Squarepants!

What was your first job?

CNA at a nursing home – I wanted to be a nurse when I grew up!

What three words would your family/friends use to describe you?

Silly, giving, and dependable

Do (or did) you play any instruments? If so, which ones?


What do you like to do for fun, in your free time?

Try new places to eat – lol (everything is about food with me)

If you could only eat one food for a full week, what would it be?

Mac and cheese 🧀😋

Do you have one totally irrational fear? What is it?

I hate snakes!! I can’t watch them on tv or anything else.

What fictional world would you want to live in? Why?

Hogwarts 🏰 🪄🦉 – it would be nonstop drama and excitement.

How many US states/territories have you been to? Which state was the most memorable?

I don’t know how many! Oregon was my most memorable.

How many countries have you been to? Which one do you always recommend people visit?

2, I always recommend anywhere in South America

What is your least favorite household chore?

Washing dishes

You are suddenly turned into a fruit or vegetable, what did you turn into? Why?

Strawberry, I don’t know why. I just love strawberries.

What is the most embarrassing fashion trend you used to rock? Describe your best outfit.

Cross colors (matching pants and jacket).

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About CQL | The Council on Quality and Leadership

Since 1969, CQL | The Council on Quality and Leadership has been a leader in working with human service organizations and systems to continuously define, measure, and improve quality of life and quality of services for youth, adults, and older adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities, and psychiatric disabilities. CQL offers accreditation, training, certification, research, and consultation services to agencies that share our vision of dignity, opportunity, and community for all people.