More Than An Entry-Level Job: From Direct Support Professional to Emerging Leader
“When you enjoy what you do, work is a piece of cake,” says Zoe Kpaka-Rogers. This mindset has inspired Zoe throughout her career at Bancroft NeuroRehab. Now a Program Director and emerging leader in the organization, Zoe has achieved tremendous personal and career growth after starting as a Direct Support Professional over twenty years ago, proving that the profession is much more than an entry-level job.
Can you talk about the career growth you’ve experienced at Bancroft?
I started as a Direct Support Professional in Bancroft NeuroRehab’s Day Program. From there, I moved on to a Senior Direct Support Professional, Supervisor and Program Manager. I even transitioned internally to Human Resources as a Scheduling Coordinator before returning to my role as a Program Manager in the Day Program and Residential Program. Most recently, I was the interim director at our Brick Residential Program, which motivated me to apply for my current Program Director position.
Patience and determination have made my development possible.
I have leadership and peers to thank. Chief Clinical Officer Dr. Karen Lindgren saw my potential when she hired me twenty years ago and has always motivated me. A fellow staff member, M.R., referred me when I started twenty years ago and is still working at Bancroft NeuroRehab as well!
What’s empowered you to stay at Bancroft NeuroRehab for twenty years?
The individuals we serve, team dynamic and professional development opportunities have empowered me to stay. My five-year plan of leaving changed soon after I started; once I hit five years, I enrolled in school using Bancroft’s tuition reimbursement benefit. I earned my Associate Degree before graduating from Rutgers University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology. I completed both degrees while raising three children and with the support of my leadership team. My voice has always been heard working here, and I have always been supported and provided flexibility through life events and professional growth opportunities.
Describe your time at Bancroft NeuroRehab in one word.
What does your job mean to you?
My role is motivating and meaningful because of the individuals we serve and my staff. The individuals we serve make our days; there are things they do that make us laugh and think, and I love seeing them be able to advocate for themselves.
Without my staff, we couldn’t do the work we do. Our direct support professionals provide so much value and mean a lot to me. I know where they’re coming from and the challenges they face because I’ve been there myself.
I also enjoy helping with the development of staff. I participated in Bancroft’s internal Leadership Academy as a participant initially, and then as a mentor for new managers within Bancroft’s various programs. The lessons learned there, along with perseverance and determination, have helped me become a good leader and to give back to others.
What advice do you have for employees just beginning their careers at Bancroft NeuroRehab?
You might see your role as an entry-level job — that’s how I looked at it, but it is more than that. I started with no experience in this field, but look where I am today! I have gained so much experience from the amazing team members I work with.