2012 Rea & Associates Nonprofit Executive Director Finalist: Dennis Allen, CEO, Hattie Larlham

Dennis Allen, CEO, Hattie Larlham

When Dennis Allen assumed the CEO role at Hattie Larlham 24 years ago, the organization provided services to 180 families and operated on an annual budget of $7 million. Allen’s leadership techniques in that time have substantially grown the scope of the organization, both in the types of services it provides and in the number of people it serves.

Today, Hattie Larlham serves more than 1,500 children and adults with developmental disabilities, and the annual budget has grown to $32 million. The growth Hattie Larlham has experienced under Allen’s leadership is largely a result of his forward-thinking nature.

Due to Allen’s ability to look ahead, the need has emerged for more meaningful socialization opportunities in adulthood to empower people with developmental disabilities to live productive, fulfilling lives. So Allen created social enterprises to provide vocational training and meaningful employment for this underemployed and otherwise marginalized section of the population.

In this model, employees with developmental disabilities work under the guidance of professional job coaches who help them to learn the skills they need to eventually gain employment in the general workforce. Hattie Larlham social enterprise businesses operate in the same way a for-profit, consumer-facing business functions, but any profits are reinvested into the business to allow it to grow.

Hattie Larlham began its journey to employ people with disabilities in October 2006 by hiring six people with developmental disabilities. Today, the program employs more than 200 people with developmental disabilities across four major Hattie Larlham brands.

In 2011, Hattie Larlham celebrated its 50th anniversary. Thanks to the leadership of Allen, Hattie Larlham is poised to continue to be a leader in the care of people with developmental disabilities for the next 50 years.

How to reach: Hattie Larlham, (330) 274-2272 or www.hattielarlham.org