DSPIN Award Winner: Brian Shively

I had the pleasure of catching up with Brian Shively, one of our Quality Enhancement Specialists, last week. He was on the heel of what he describes as a career high. On September 13, 2017, Brian was one of five recipients of the DSPIN Outstanding Direct Support Professional Award. He, with the other 4 winners, was recognized in front of over 220 attendees at the DSPIN Annual Conference. I asked him a few questions about the award and his time at OPG. Here’s what he had to say.

So tell me, how does it feel to win the DSPIN Award? Were you shocked?

Brian: It was a surprise. I didn’t expect to hear my name at all. When Gail (CEO) told us in a meeting, I had to hold back from crying. I felt excited to receive it, but thought there were others even more deserving. It’s not just me, it’s a whole team of people. I have learned from other DSPs.

With this question alone, I can already see why Brian has been chosen as a recipient of this award. He is selfless and a team player. 

What’s your favorite part about the job? Does it even feel like a job to you?

Brian: When I’m in pod, it doesn’t feel like a job. I get to see the people in pod becoming friends and I don’t really have to be involved. One of my proudest moments are the times
I realize somehow, my presence has helped others create true friendships and reciprocal relationships, and I am honored to witness it.

You said there have been ups and downs during your 5 years at OPG. What’s brought you to your breaking point as a DSP? How did you overcome that?

Brian: There have been plenty of times when pods were chaotic, causing anxiety for all. The staffing shortage is hard because there are people who need so much more support than we can give them. Whenever pod causes more anxiety, on and off, it s been hard…but it’s worth it when people are happy to be there.

Listening to Brian talk, I can hear the passion in his voice. He has gotten to know his pods so well. It’s clear he is dedicated to them.

In your opinion, what legacy are you creating at OPG?

Brian: I feel like I’m just a part of the team. I’m just doing what we all do. I think I do a good job of making the people I support feel heard. They matter and are important to me. Becoming a QES and getting the DSPIN is the highlight of my work life thus far.

What’s next for you?

Someday, I want to be a marriage and family counselor. My entire life, I’ve been really good at listening and making sure people feel heard. I focus all my attention on the person talking, so I think that would work well in counseling.

Brian studied Counseling for his Undergraduate degree. He is interested in pursuing his Graduate degree.

As we concluded our interview, Brian wanted to make it clear that he accomplishes nothing alone. In his opinion, he plays a part of a team.

We couldn’t be prouder of Brian. Congratulations on your award!

(Brian Shively pictured here with the other 2017 recipients)



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This is how WE celebrate Greatness.

Once a year, Opportunities for Positive Growth comes together to celebrate the gems of our organization- our people. This event, aptly named Day of Greatness, is a day of honoring the men and women who make our organization standout among competitors. Their dedication to the individuals, community and each other are what makes OPG strong.Today we look back on this year’s event; highlighting our teams and having fun. This is how we celebrate GREATNESS.

On September 15th, 2017, we held our annual Day of Greatness at Conner Prairie. The space was perfect, and allowed us to set up our committee booths outside of the ballroom, giving us a more intimate feel. The Conner Prairie team did a marvelous job setting up! Soon, our teams from all offices were pouring in; sharing hugs and handshakes, and getting to know the new faces in the room. The vibe was joyful. What a way to kick things off!


The day was filled with presentations and conversations. Our own Dr. Lucy Lund, was the Keynote speaker. During her presentation, Lucy provided information needed concerning the state of Direct Support by providing evidence from the past, present and future. It was truly an inspirational moment, and many walked away with a deeper understanding of the work they do everyday. At OPG, we are change agentswe don’t accept the status quo, we re-invent and re-imagine on a daily basis. On this day, a powerful moment was shared among like-minded individuals.  Just another example of our “greatness”.

All of that sharing and discussing drives an appetite, and oh how we treat our teams! From an array of coffee and juices, to a delectable dessert spread, we had it covered!​ Our teams were the VIP’s and we treated them like it! Again, OPG Inc., would like to thank the amazing staff at Conner Prairie for ensuring excellence in execution.


Our employees aren’t just working for OPG, they’re owners! As an ESOP company, we encourage our teams to get involved and become educated about our company. At Day of Greatness, we set up booths to get information out to our teams in a fun way. With games, contests and giveaways, every booth wants to take home the coveted prize of “most popular”. Take a look at a few of our favorites!


​At OPG, we have several people that go above and beyond on daily basis. During the conclusion of Day of Greatness, we honored those who make an impact in the following ways: Contributing to the Life of a PersonCommunity Involvement or Employment, and Contributing to the Value of the Company. This year, we had an overwhelming response of nominees, making the task of selecting three from each category laborious, but meaningful. In the end, we had our winners. Our CEO, Gail Kahl handed out certificates to our nominees. What a way to end the day!


A great day was had by all. See you next year!


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Day of Greatness Awards: Contributing to the Life of a Person

Taking place on September 15th at Indiana’s historic Conner Prairie, OPG’s annual Day of Greatness welcomed all staff members to gather and celebrate the company and individuals’ achievements alike. As CEO, Gail Kahl, took the stage and the room’s cheering crescendo reached its peak, the awards began.

Creating a roster of the hugely talented pool of Opportunities for Positive Growth Inc. employees, and another of those deserving of an award, is ultimately one and the same. Honoring individuals of OPG who have most significantly contributed to the life of a person is as effortless as it is rewarding, but narrowing down the list of eventual nominees to a select few winners proved a daunting task.

Through a finalized list of nine nominees, three winners were singled out for the passion and hard work they have epitomized throughout their time as part of the OPG family. Below, you’ll find each winner coupled by a quote from their nominator, explaining how their dedication has positively impacted the lives of others.

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Danielle Woods, Quality Enhancement Specialist

“She showed extreme patience, kindness and grace in some dire circumstances and now that person is thriving. She led her team to show that person how to live in a non-violent home, how to make her own choices and empowering this woman.”


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Justin Dahlem, Music Therapist

“He gives each person the gift of his full attention. He understands how important each interaction is for every person. He connects with people, staff and families to create an atmosphere with the perfect balance of support and fun.”


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Susan Nicolls, Direct Support Professional

“She uses her patience to help this person achieve goals, such as helping fix her own meals, do her laundry and assist in cleaning her house. This person now feels empowered enough to change her clothing by herself, and has begun using 3-4-word sentences when previously, she only really used 1-2 works. She is strong and more confident in part because of their hard work together.”

Congratulations once again to every deserved winner and nominee alike!



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Day of Greatness Awards: Contributing to the Value of the Company

OPG’s annual Day of Greatness recently took place on September 15th at Indiana’s historic Conner Prairie, celebrating the hard work and passion of its staff members who make Opportunities for Positive Growth Inc. an industry leader in the field of intellectual disability support.

As lunch came to a close, all eyes fell forward onto the stage as CEO, Gail Kahl, took the mic to honor a number of talented individuals who were nominated for their contribution to the value of the company. While writing a list of employees deserving of an award could be accomplished by pulling random names out of a hat, deciding upon a few select winners from a list of nominees is no easy feat.

Seven nominations were ultimately decided upon, with three people welcoming a trophy for their years of invaluable service to the company. Below, you’ll find each winner and a quote from their nominator, illustrating how their unwavering dedication has affected countless lives throughout their time at OPG.

PictureJessica Graf, Quality Enhancement Specialist

“She has a professional and dedicated approach with all of the people she supports and team members to ensure quality of care is provided and the bar is always raised. Her strategies surrounding positive communication, team training and team collaboration exemplify what makes OPG so incredible and unique.”


PictureKathy Williams, Music Therapist

“If she is not already attending an extra event, music therapy conference, intervention workshop, she is likely leading it herself. She is always willing to collaborate with others to enhance therapy, or simply to boost camaraderie. Her awareness of what really matters contributes to the value of OPG in many ways.”


PictureDan Kahl, Chief Operating Officer

“He has done what many have failed to do. Think people first, but understands that OPG is a business that must succeed for the longevity of support which we all provide. He brings humor & sternness, respect & honesty, comfort & wisdom.”

​Congratulations once again to every deserved winner and nominee alike!



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Day of Greatness Awards: Community Involvement & Employment

On September 15th, Opportunities for Positive Growth Inc. celebrated the kindness and dedication illustrated by every member of the OPG family, at Indiana’s historic Conner Prairie. With staff members lining the room, a string of awards and rapturous cheers capped off our Day of Greatness.

Selecting an OPG staff member deserving of an award is an easy task indeed. Narrowing that list down however, is a different story. With numerous staff members nominated for three categories of awards, the Day of Greatness finale kicked off by honoring those individuals who distinguished themselves through their community involvement.

From five nominations, three winners were awarded a trophy for the hard work and resolute passion applied throughout their community. Below, you’ll find each winner and a nominator’s quote exemplifying the difference they’ve made in countless lives across their respective careers.

PictureAlyssia Lopez, Direct Support Professional

“She has reinvigorated an art group that meets within the local community. The weekly group has immense potential for ongoing partnerships in the local community. She has expanded opportunities within the community for all the people she supports.”


PictureSara Jo Fliflet, Behavior Support Specialist

“Every day has a purpose of connection. Whether it’s taking someone to a concert, driving people to a bonfire, helping people find a job, volunteering, going out to eat, seeing a movie, developing friendships, having a picnic, etc.”


PictureNicole Gilberti-Martin, Music Therapist 

“She has helped to increase access to OPG music therapy to two new facilities! She works hard to build relationships with people in these facilities and show them the benefits of bringing our services to their space. This has helped OPG bring a desired service to people in their own communities.”

Congratulations once again to every deserved winner and nominee alike!



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People will always be at the center of why we exist. As a vibrant and sustainable organization, we strive for an inclusive community, abundant with people who are self-reliant.

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