Alan Greene retiring as Monadnock Developmental Services executive director

  • Alan Greene COURTESY PHOTO

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Published: 1/13/2022 11:09:44 AM
Modified: 1/13/2022 11:08:53 AM

When Alan Greene was young, students with developmental disabilities didn’t go to school, and when a boy with disabilities joined his second-grade class, people didn’t know what to do. 

“We never knew what happened to him,” he said. “The school didn’t know what to do with him. That was the way of the world.”

Several years later at summer camp, Greene said he won a citizenship award for being friendly with a developmentally disabled camper, even though he admits that he mostly tried to avoid him; it’s just that the other campers treated him worse.

“Metaphorically, I was the one that wasn’t throwing rocks at him,” Greene said.

For more than 40 years, including as executive director of Monadnock Developmental Services since 1996, Greene has been helping lead the evolution from institutionalization to a world where developmentally disabled people live in the community. 

“The world is a better place if you have a developmental disability than it was 50 years ago,” he said.

However, Jan. 7 will be the 69-year-old Greene’s last day on the job before retirement.

“I’ve been doing it a long time,” he said. “I’ve reached the end of my career. I’m not doing anything else.”

Before the mid-1970s, Greene said doctors would tell families of developmentally disabled children that they were better off with their own kind in an institution.

“I’ve talked to a number of parents – it’s actually frightening to me – who were told that and didn’t listen,” he said.

About 25 years ago, he said relatives visiting from another part of the country said something about noticing a lot of people with developmental disabilities walking around.

“My response to them was, ‘I think this is how many there are supposed to be,’ ” he said.

Medical advancements have played a role in the evolution, and Monadnock Developmental Services works with families on individualized plans that could include job services, social-emotional assistance and relief for families and residential services that range from checking in a couple hours a week to full-day programs at a community residence.

“Families are the cornerstone of our service system and always have been,” Greene said.

As for what he will do in retirement, Greene noted his two children and four grandchildren, and since he likes building and fixing things with his hands, he may work on his own house, help his children with their houses or fix up the family’s summer home in the Thousand Islands.

“I’ve always had too much to do,” he said.

Wisell taking overas executive director

Greene said if he had been able to choose his successor, he would have chosen the same person as the MDS board selected – Mary-Anne Wisell, who has been with the organization for nearly 20 years, including her current role as director of operations.

He said Wisell is skilled, knows the system, understand the job, knows what works and what needs improvement and is a good team player.

“She’s fabulous,” he said.

Greene also said Wisell can be firm in a clear and pleasant way.

“She can say tough things and people will thank her,” he said.

Wisell called MDS a “great organization” that she’s looking forward to leading, and said she is excited to see what the future brings, in spite of challenges such as COVID, funding and staffing.

Not including the provider agencies MDS collaborates with, the organization typically has 200 to 250 staff members, although Wisell said it has been closer to 200 recently, and many are part-time.

“That is definitely one of our biggest challenges,” she said.

However, Wisell calls the challenges “an opportunity to be creative,” including looking at the strategic plan and technology to work more efficiently, so the focus can be on the individuals they support and how they support them. Looking to continue and expand on great services.

Wisell said she also wants to expand people’s knowledge of MDS and the people they serve.

“Not everyone knows who we are and what we do,” she said.

During the transition, Wisell said Greene has been there as a resource.

“We’ve worked well together for a number of years,” she said. “It’s not like I had to go in and learn the agency. He’s going to be missed for sure. I feel comfortable where I am, but I feel comfortable with where I am because of what I learned from him.”

And according to Wisell, Greene has said he’s available to consult even after he leaves.

“I assured him that I’d probably be doing that,” she said.


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