Submitted by Dave Totaro, Chief Government Affairs Officer (GAO)
Delaware Pediatric North (DPN) Director Ali Knott last week was named the 2016 Government Affairs Office (GAO) Hearts for Home Care National Ambassador of the Year!
GAO had the distinct honor of recognizing Ali and four other passionate Ambassadors from our largest-footprint states—Delaware/Maryland, New Jersey, North Carolina, and Pennsylvania—during our annual Hearts for Home Care Ambassador of the Year awards celebration.
Over the last year, these Ambassadors of the Year connected with, and actively shared, BAYADA’s mission with legislators on behalf of our clients and caregivers.
Ali received the National award after being named the Delaware/Maryland Ambassador of the Year. Since becoming an Ambassador, she has been a consistent supporter and advocate in Delaware public life. In the fall, she and her son, Christopher, met with Senator (now Lt. Governor) Bethany Hall-Long and Senator Nicole Poore where they both made a strong impression on both legislators.
New Jersey Ambassador of the Year Ida Rodriguez, client services manager of Hudson County (HUD) assistive care state programs office, developed and strengthened a relationship with Assemblywoman Angelica Jimenez, which included a home visit with a HUD client. As a result, Assemblywoman Jimenez signed on as a co-sponsor to a vital piece of legislation that BAYADA supports – A320.
Melissa Zuzolo, director of Conover (CON) assistive care state programs and North Carolina Ambassador of the Year coordinated a home visit, served on the board of the BAYADA NC political action committee and represented BAYADA on the Chamber of Commerce Government Affairs Committee.
Pennsylvania Ambassador of the Year Mike Sokoloski was named state Ambassador for the final time. During 2016 he served as community liaison in the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton (WBS) assistive care state programs office. Since then, Mike has transitioned his passion for advocacy into a new position within GAO as the new Grassroots Manager. While serving as an Ambassador in 2016, Mike served as a board member of the BAYADA PA political action committee, organized four legislative round tables, and was appointed by Governor Tom Wolf as the sole home care representative to the Governor’s Long-Term Care Council.
U.S. Senator Tom Carper with the 2016 Hearts for Home Care Ambassadors of the Year: Melissa Zuzolo (North Carolina), Ali Knott (Delaware/Maryland and National), Ida Rodriguez (New Jersey); Trisha Lasher (Rookie); and Mike Sokoloski (Pennsylvania)
Trisha Lasher, a nurse in the Berks County Visits (BRK) office was named National Rookie Ambassador of the Year. Trisha has the distinction of being our first field employee to serve as an Ambassador. She built a relationship with Representative Jim Cox that was instrumental in helping a client who had been hitting roadblocks for five years to finally get a chair glide installed in her home.
Honorees traveled to Washington, DC to celebrate their achievements. They enjoyed a private festive reception before heading to dinner and the awards presentation at Charlie Palmer Steak. Senator Tom Carper joined the group to address some of the major issues affecting health care at the federal level, and to congratulate our Ambassador of the Year awardees. Before heading home, Ambassadors and their guests also spent time touring the city with stops including the White House, Jefferson Memorial, Lincoln Memorial, and the US Capitol.
Thank you to Ali, Ida, Melissa, Mike and Trisha, the GAO team, and to all of our 192 Hearts for Home Care Ambassadors for being the unified voice of our clients who can’t always speak up for themselves. It is with your support, and the support of our division directors and directors, that we will continue to make strides toward achieving our BAYADA vision of helping millions of people experience a better quality of life in the comfort of their own homes. After all, as our Hearts for Home Care Ambassadors of the Year reminded us time and time again, advocacy is The BAYADA Way.