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Kristen Heichel: Monthly Staff Spotlight

CQL is excited to present our Monthly Staff Spotlight series. This offers an opportunity for you to get to know our team even better! We’ve asked the staff member a series of questions about their history, background, experiences with CQL, as well as some information about them personally. In November 2022, we’re featuring Kristen Heichel, one of CQL’s Quality Enhancement Specialists.

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

Currently I am a full time Quality Enhancement Specialist at CQL. I work with organizations going through CQL Accreditation as well as Personal Outcome Measures® training.

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

I have always enjoyed people, so it was a perfect fit. Also, I was a terrible waitress so needed something that was different and made more of a positive impact on peoples’ lives.

What is your professional history, background, and experience?

I started working as a Direct Support Professional (DSP) at the age of 19 and continued within this important role for many years, learning so many essential life skills along the way. I worked for the New York State Office for People With Developmental Disabilities (OPWDD) while I finished my Bachelor’s degree in Human Services.

From there, I became a Medicaid Service Coordinator, working with families and children with intellectual disabilities. During that time I was able to attend a Personal Outcome Measures® (POM) Workshop, which was completely transformative. I couldn’t wait to share the knowledge and became a Certified POM Trainer in the Adult as well as the Children and Youth measures of the tool. I also worked as a Qualified Intellectual Disabilities Professional (QIDP) to help systems better align with people’s dreams using non-traditional means.

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

  1. Enthusiasm
  2. Empathy
  3. Creativity

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

I live in the beautiful Finger Lakes area of New York. I am a mom of three unique and dynamic teenagers who are 19, 18, and 13. They keep me busy with everything from theater to football.

CQL Lightning Round!

When you were a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?

A country singer

What was your first job?

Sandwich Artist at Subway

What is the first concert that you ever attended?


What is one song that you are kind of embarrassed that you like?

“Party in the USA” by Miley Cyrus

What is your go-to karaoke song?

“What’s Up” by 4 Non-Blonde

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


What is the most unique food you have ever eaten?

Cold-smoked eggs

If you could choose one superpower, what would it be?

To slow time down

If a book was written about your life, what would be the title?

All Aboard the Hot Mess Express

What is one thing that most people don’t know about you?

I was originally a Communications major in college and worked as a news anchor and DJ for the college stations.

What is one city that you would like to visit?

It was New Orleans, however, I was able to attend the NAQ Conference in New Orleans in August. So now I’m going with Rome.

What is one totally irrational fear that you have?

I am terrified of bats getting stuck in my hair

Do you have a secret talent?

I can talk to anyone, about anything, in public. Much to the embarrassment of my kids.

What is your favorite book?

Anything by Elin Hilderbrand

What is your favorite food?


What is your favorite TV show?

90 Day Fiancé and Chopped

What actor would you want to portray you in a movie about your life?

Melissa McCarthy

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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.