After leaving her job as a mail carrier, Nakeyah Taylor started her career at Bancroft as a Direct Support Professional on Maurice Evan’s team. Maurice helped Nakeyah reach her goal of becoming a manager within her first year at Bancroft, and now they’re not only great partners but even closer friends!
Get to know Maurice and Nakeyah!
What was your job before coming to Bancroft and how long have you been here?
Maurice: I’ve been at Bancroft for 5.5 years. Before coming here, I was working for a company that takes care of troubled youth. Instead of getting sent to juvie, they get sent to these programs, kind of like a second chance.
Nakeyah: I’ve been with the organization for 1.5 years. I started as a DSP and moved on to become a Senior Program Associate then got promoted to Program Manager. I was a mail carrier before coming to Bancroft. Definitely a career change for sure but the dynamic and workplace culture made it exciting!
What made you want to explore a career in human services?
Nakeyah: My nephew is the driving force for why I chose this field because he is on the spectrum. I found Bancroft, applied and I never left. I really liked the mission and the way the programs were designed.
Maurice: At the time I had a friend that worked at Bancroft and they started talking to me about the services Bancroft offers. I liked what I heard and applied. Having a background working in the second chance program, it wasn’t hard to adapt to working here.
How do you overcome the day-to-day challenges of a Program Manager?
Nakeyah: I take a step back and take a deep breath. I try not to overwhelm myself even though that can be difficult at times. I also go to Maurice often and look to him for advice because we’re partners and we like to balance each other out. His support helps me on tough days.
Maurice: It’s hard to be upset when you have someone trying to make you smile every day! We try our best to balance each other out because we’re partners.
How do you keep your team motivated?
Nakeyah: This last year hasn’t been easy. We ask them every day what they need from us to be successful in their role. We make sure they’re comfortable coming to us for anything and everything. Without it, they feel like they’re alone and we don’t want that. We’re all in this together and we make sure to take care of each other.
Maurice: We always try to provide extra support and accommodate the team the best we can. Working together is so important and we rely on each other a lot.
It sounds like you two have a really great relationship. What does your friendship mean to you?
Nakeyah: It’s good to have good people by your side, period. When you find those people, you have to treat them with respect and teach them. That’s what works best for us and at the end of the day, we come together to see the bigger picture, which is to care for the individuals we serve and with that in mind, we motivate and empower each other to achieve that.
Maurice: It’s hard to be upset when you have someone trying to make you smile every day! Nakeyah is great and such an important asset to have on the team. Overall our team has a great partnership and we all work together.
What do you enjoy the most about your job?
Nakeyah: The interaction with the kids we support and watching them transition into becoming more independent. When I am able to watch them hit their milestones, like tying their shoes or feeding themselves, I cheer them on! I know they’re getting ready to go out into this world and be more than they were able to be here and we prepared them for that. That’s the biggest thing for me and I know it means the world to their families, as well.
Maurice: Definitely making a difference. Seeing the relationships and the bonds you create with them from your first day to the present is very rewarding.
What does being your authentic self at work mean to you?
Nakeyah: To make sure that everyone comes together for the organization’s mission and that we’re all on the same page. I think that’s the most important thing. With us coming together, we can accomplish so much more and we play a major role in enriching the lives of the kids we serve.
Maurice: There are 7 managers on our team and we’re all able to be ourselves and incorporate our own styles. We’re authentic together.
What do you feel is your purpose?
Maurice: We’re like family to the individuals we serve and they’re my purpose.
Nakeyah: I feel the same way. Me being here with them is to bring a sense of comfort and I don’t take that lightly.
It’s more than a job, we talk to the staff and we’re not just here for a paycheck. We build relationships — it’s genuine and authentic.
Let’s talk a little bit about the career growth you’ve seen at Bancroft. What did that look like for you?
Nakeyah: The training that Bancroft offers and the opportunities they give you to go back to school and get your degree is so important. We’re offered the ability to sit in for different courses, meetings, and that helps us excel in our roles. For example, I can sit in on a clinical training in case I want to pursue that route in my career. Nothing is off-limits.
Maurice: We were actually participating in a training that is centered around hiring the right candidates; it’s been really insightful. Helping my staff grow is so important to me, so when they come to me and tell me they want to advance in their role I try to find ways for them to make that happen. Giving them an environment to learn and grow in is also my purpose and Nakeyah is a perfect example of that! Watching her grow on my team and get promoted to her current role was so exciting for me.
What advice would you give someone looking for a career change?
Nakeyah: I would tell them to make the opportunity their own!
Come in with an open mind and an open heart. Having compassion drives people to want to stay for the individuals we serve. There are some people who get hired and are only looking to make a paycheck and don’t have that passion for this population. But if you come in with an open mind and make the best of your time here, it’s going to work out for you.
Maurice: Patience is everything. Take your time learning all of the new things that come with the job and be patient with yourself and the individuals we serve.