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Jubilee’s Seminar Series Connects DSPs To Organizational Culture   

Submitted By: Melanie Moore, Learning and Development Manager, Jubilee Association of Maryland

In our Core Values Seminar Series, Jubilee Association of Maryland delves into all of our core values as well as a couple of related topics that flow out of them. This series, which involves 12 seminars that each last 1.5 hours long, seeks to explain the “why” behind what we do. The program is intended to appeal to direct support professionals (DSPs), administrative staff, and people we support, providing a community space where we can connect with our values, ask questions, and grow. Staff who complete all 12 seminars are given a certificate and a raise.

The Impact Of The Core Values Seminar Series

Our seminars give people a chance to engage in ongoing development that increases their job satisfaction, leads to a raise, furthers our work to be an anti-racist organization, and builds stronger relationships between people who otherwise might not interact much. We have heard people reference the seminars when they are experiencing unfair treatment or trying to solve a problem on their team. 

“Wow! This program has impacted my core value of self, giving me the confidence to excel in Jubilee’s core values to promote a healthy and safe workplace for everyone including the people we support.”

DSP, Jubilee Association of Maryland

We frequently receive reviews from DSPs saying that the Core Values Seminar Series is like going to therapy or church – positively impacting their work by providing both deeper philosophical understanding of things like human dignity and providing tips they can immediately put into action to live out that core value. 

When we surveyed staff a couple of years ago – before we began the program – 80% or so said they could identify and relate to our core values. When we surveyed them again this year, 99% of staff could identify and relate to our core values.

Steps To Implement A Core Values Seminar Series

You could launch your own Core Values Seminar Series by defining your core values, or a list of other big, complex topics you’d like to address. Organizations should spend time talking with others who will help you plan the seminars about why these topics are both important and complicated – what dilemmas and contradictions arise out of them? How do they affect people at all levels of the organization? How do they show up in our day-to-day work?

“I am making progress with these seminars by putting into practice what I learn here in my daily life and care of people as a DSP.”

DSP, Jubilee Association of Maryland

These conversations will guide the activities and knowledge shared in your seminars. We developed them one at a time over the course of a pilot year, then had an all-day retreat where we refined all of them and standardized certain elements across all seminars. After that was completed, we then re-debuted it as an official program that people could receive a certificate and a raise for completing. 

Here are specific action steps you can take to establish your own seminar series:

  1. Identify your core values or other topics you’d like to address 
  2. Develop a structure for each seminar. We use a model we call “encounter, engage, and commit” 
  3. Develop seminar content 
  4. Create tracking systems for completion 
  5. Get buy-in and approval for the certificate and raise 
  6. Start teaching seminars and solicit feedback to improve them 

Challenges Involving The Core Values Seminar Series 

It is a significant time investment to create the seminars. It has taken us two years to get to the point we are at today, where 200 people have engaged with our seminars and they are woven into the culture of the organization. In the first two years, the 3 administrative staff involved in creating the seminars spent approximately 6 hours a month between designing seminars, promoting them, and then teaching them twice a month. In the second year of the program, we taught them 3 times a month, because one was a recording that went into our learning management system. 

Now that it is up and running, we spend more like 3 hours per month on the series, but we would not be at this point without that initial investment of time and effort. 

Of course, it may be difficult to get buy-in to provide a raise at the end of the program. We did an entire pilot year with no talk of a certificate or raise, and once leadership saw how powerful the program was and what kind of testimonials we were getting, as well as how it intersected with other strategic priorities, we were able to make that proposal successfully. 

“I love the Core Values seminar because it helps me to engage with others. It’s thought provoking and gets me out of my shell because I make sure that I speak in every session. I also know that I can connect and make new friends/connections even out of session, where we can share our experiences and get and receive feedback.”

DSP, Jubilee Association of Maryland

About Jubilee Association of Maryland

Jubilee’s support helps adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities in Montgomery County, Maryland live their best lives! Since our founding in 1978, Jubilee fosters inclusive and fulfilling lives for the people we support. With more than four decades of experience, today more than 150 adults count on Jubilee for residential support services that promote independence, secure housing, and connect friends.

Jubilee Association of Maryland provides opportunities and support for adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities to live in and enrich their community while fulfilling their personal, family, social, and spiritual needs. 

Our work is based on the dignity and worth of all people and their right to pursue happiness as full, respected members of our society. Jubilee is a faith-based organization. Our core values are based on the belief that the created universe is good, that all people are created in God’s image, and that all people are empowered. 

You can learn more about Jubilee by visiting the agency’s website: 

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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.