As just the ninth President in the 167-year history of Elwyn, the oldest human services nonprofit of its kind in the nation, Charles McLister and his leadership team are helping to author the Delco-based organization’s next chapter through the development of a five-year strategic plan.
“In America today, a child is five times more likely to be diagnosed with autism than just 15 years ago, and we are all four times more likely to be receiving some kind of therapy than 20 years ago,” said McLister, who has spent 28 years in the health and human services industry. “These types of issues are better understood and more widely supported by our communities.
“At the same time, states and the federal government are struggling to decide how to meet these needs and many providers are at risk of failing. Elwyn must be positioned to take advantage of its size, resources, and substantial experience as these changes occur.”
The goal is to create a “Forever Elwyn” by 2022 that will be the most relevant and effective provider of education, treatment, and support services for children and adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities, autism, and related behavioral health issues.
Elwyn’s senior leadership team believes the keys to achieving this goal are personal commitment, collective talent, and innovation. The organization, which has been enriching the quality of life for the individuals in its care since before the Civil War, aims to leverage the deep experience of its veteran workforce to build partnerships and expand its services.
“I see Elwyn as an essential resource for the Delaware Valley as well as in other states, and I believe we must provide leadership for the nonprofit, health, and human services sectors,” said McLister. “We are one of the only organizations in the nation with the capacity and expertise to meet the industry’s rapidly growing needs.”
In 2017, Elwyn adopted the concept of the Service Triangle, with the belief that it is the key to its sustainability and the foundation of a “Forever Elwyn.” Caring for individuals with intellectual disabilities, autism, and related behavioral health issues is in the organization’s DNA. Nonetheless, truly extraordinary support requires collaboration, and as a result, Elwyn enjoins family members and employees to its pursuit of excellence.
The Service Triangle elevates an individual’s loved one to the standing of equal member in the organization. This allows Elwyn to partner with parents, siblings, and other loved ones to guide care and education as quality assurance agents. Regarding employees, the Service Triangle is underpinned by the notion of “servant leadership,” in which the most important employees do not reside at the top of the organizational chart, but instead inhabit the positions closest to the individuals they support.
Elwyn understands that it is not enough to simply mean well – the Service Triangle demonstrates the organization’s commitment to be transparent, dedicated, purposeful, and humble, because each person’s promise is realized thorough the promises that Elwyn fulfills.
Since 1852, Elwyn has helped people with autism, intellectual, developmental, and behavioral challenges lead meaningful lives. As an internationally recognized nonprofit human services organization, it has always been on the forefront of innovation.
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