Alphapointe Announces Employees of the Year

Alphapointe Announces Employees of the Year

Alphapointe is pleased to honor its dedicated team members with our annual series of recognition awards. These individuals represent the collective spirit and determination as Alphapointe pursues its commitment toward achieving its mission of empowering people with vision loss to achieve their goals and aspirations.

Since our founding in 1911, thousands of individuals have worked at Alphapointe and the organization is ecstatic to add these caring and enthusiastic team members to the list of honorees.

Recipients were recommended for these honors by colleagues, whose nominations are below for each individual.

Peter J. Salmon Award
Employee of the Year
Bernard Shands

Bernard has been a dedicated team member for more than 10 years and his dedication and professionalism have been evident since his first day. Bernard has always displayed a quiet leadership that has set a standard and example for the productivity and conduct within his department. Bernard served in the military from 1979-84 and was in the Individual Ready Reserves from 1984-88. Bernard was honorably discharged from service due to an injury sustained while selflessly training a fellow soldier on gun usage. The weapon unfortunately discharged and the injury led to Bernard’s vision loss. Rather than let his vision loss deter him, Bernard accepted this new challenge and made his way to the Alphapointe family where he continues to thrive in his role. Bernard is a great solider, a great employee and most importantly a greater person.

Milton J. Samuelson Award
Employee of the Year
Scott Thornhill

During the past fiscal year, Scott has been instrumental in advancing Alphapointe’s public policy agenda. He has developed relationships with our elected officials in New York and Missouri and he secured the visit of Missouri Governor Mike Parson to tour Alphapointe in April 2021. Scott engaged New York State Representatives David Weprin and Andrew Hevesi to support Alphapointe’s grant application, which resulted in funding for a new elevator in the Richmond Hill, N.Y. location. Scott has managed the New York Advisory Committee to assist with awareness and identifying opportunities in the market. On the federal level, he has been able to engage senators and members of Congress to assist with issues that have the potential impact Alphapointe.

President’s Award – Kansas City
Chris Kosiorek

Since his hiring in 2015, Chris has brought new and exciting product development ideas to Alphapointe. Many of these projects were in a completely new business area that allowed Alphapointe to continue to decrease dependence on federal contracts by increasing non-federal opportunities. Chris is listed as the primary inventor on four patents (and one more that is pending) that are all owned by Alphapointe. In the past year, Alphapointe sold 92,000 Tactical Medical Tourniquets, bringing the overall lifetime total of the project to 350,000 units sold. During the past two years, Chris was responsible for bringing the Service Vehicle Service Kit (SVSK) to Alphapointe which resulted in significant revenue. Since he started at Alphapointe, Chris is directly responsible for bringing projects to the organization that have equated to millions of dollars in revenue and several jobs for people who are blind.

President’s Award – New York
Sharon Smith

Sharon’s knowledge, creativity and problem-solving techniques are matched only by her loyalty, dedication and unwavering strength in her approach to her duties and responsibilities. She possesses the unique ability to not only make vital decisions in the face of deadlines and adversity, but also the humility and humbleness to seek guidance and suggestions from superiors to assure that her instincts are correct. Having worked in many capacities throughout her tenure, Sharon’s knowledge of products, processes, supervisors’ skills and personnel capabilities is unmatched. Sharon commands the respect of all those she interacts with and represents Alphapointe with the highest level of professionalism, class and prestige. Sharon’s importance to Alphapointe simply can’t be overstated and her selfless approach to her duties and the overall enhancement of the mission are an inspiration to all who have the privilege to work with her.


Kansas City Department Employees of the Year

Administration – Michele Suiter
Michele has remained steadfast concerning returned merchandise. She has taken full ownership of the this process, working diligently with the warehouse and customer service to keep Alphapointe’s customers satisfied. And, Michele always has a smile and a joke to lighten the mood during stressful times!

Base Supply Centers – Sarah Blackburn
During the last year, Sarah worked extended hours due to staffing challenges, rarely took lunch breaks and always prioritized work over personal needs. Through her extensive knowledge in purchasing, coupled with her determination and goal-oriented attitude, she greatly improved the communication and ultimately the resolution time with vendors for damaged products, missing orders and pending credits owed. She also diligently monitored DLA for requisition status and cleared a large backlog of outstanding open discrepancy cases. For COVID related items, she actively sought out alternative products that were available for substitution, to ensure we had products readily available. Most importantly, she repeatedly teaches these concepts and fundamentals to the appropriate employees, so that they are more effective in their roles. She did all these extra duties, while continuing to perform her role, flawlessly.

Contact Center – Devin Williams
Devin is a skilled and intelligent agent. He temporarily handled additional call quality duties while Alphapointe was in the process of filling that position and he did a fantastic job. Devin has a great attention to detail and does well communicating needs and concerns as they occur. He is always willing to step up and help out where needed.

Development/Rehabilitation – Tabitha Davidson-Jadwin
Tabitha hit the ground running as Alphapointe’s new Clinical and Rehabilitation Manager. She made significant improvements to the way we provide services to patients and clients and has had substantial, positive impacts on the revenues in clinics and the number of people that we serve. Tabitha completely integrated a brand new clinical practice, KC Vision Performance, into our service offerings, centralized intake, centralized billing, credentialed new staff and was instrumental in aligning all of our insurance payors, including spearheading Alphapointe to be certified to accept Medicaid. She’s passionate about what she does, she has brought the team together and she is never afraid to make changes or do what is needed.

Guarded Exchange – Danny Jones
Danny has been an asset to the department since his arrival. He was once described as the “future” of Guarded Exchange and this came true in 2021 when he was promoted to the Supervisor position. He has consistently been recognized by Alphapointe and its associates as he was named the very first Associate of the Month in April of 2018 and was recognized as Alphapointe’s Contact Center Employee of the Year in 2020.

Office Products – Robert Watson
Robert has an excellent attitude and is willing to learn any new task that comes his way. He constantly encourages his fellow co-workers to get tasks done and always has a can-do attitude. Robert has stepped into the roll of spending most of his days working on the envelopes machine and has filled a large number of sizable orders during the past year. Most importantly, Robert is kind and very thoughtful towards everyone at Alphapointe.

Plastics (1st Shift) – Jacob Bentley
Jacob has been an exemplary employee in the Plastics Department. Jacob has nearly perfect attendance, goes above and beyond on his daily duties and doesn’t mind taking on the extra workload when needed. Jacob is always willing to help fellow employees out whether it’s fixing a tape machine, helping stack boxes and covering breaks.

Plastics (2nd Shift) – Brian Puderer
Brian actively participates in continuous improvement discussions as they relate to people who have been recently hired and in his primary role of running the NISSEI machine. He is dependable in his role and rarely misses work during the week, while also participating in most weekend work. Brian is also the primary trainer on second shift given his flexibility and knowledge of the plastics area.

Plastics (3rd Shift) – Erik Edmonds
Erik always goes above and beyond to meet our daily goals. He has administered every line of the Plastics operation with no complications. Erik always has a can-do attitude and is an incredibly pleasant person to work with.

Quality Assurance – Sue Knoblauch
Sue has been invaluable this year, helping the team get through a variety of challenges. Sue stepped up as a temporary Plastics Supervisor when we were short staffed, she was flexible with her work hours when her own department was short staffed and she shares her knowledge of quality with those who are new to the profession.

Rightfully Sewn – Sarah Watts
Sarah started with Rightfully Sewn three years ago as a contractual seamstress. She quickly proved her sewing ability and started demonstrating an aptitude for client pricing structures and managing work for herself and others. Her quiet determination has grown into a strong leadership presence that guides our whole production department. The organization’s mission and our team members are always at the forefront of her actions. She is steadfast and smart and her efforts to double our apparel production space, triple our production team size and quadruple our production output are recognized and appreciated.

Warehouse – Stasha Baker
Stasha is a hard worker and provides good warehouse support. It’s a tough job in the warehouse, yet Stasha doesn’t ever get flustered and does her best to provide expected ship dates. She is fantastic at ensuring that items are shipped out in an efficient manner.


New York Department Employees of the Year

Administration – Shirab Sears
Shirab is the perfect example of a team player. Even when inundated with his own endless responsibilities, he never shies away from lending a helping hand when needed. He is the first to step up to the plate when assistance is needed in any department. He takes the time to develop a relationship with all the employees and provides assistance when needed.

Assembly – Daysi Hernandez
Daysi has been with Alphapointe for more than 17 years. She has mainly worked in Assembly, but has also helped with production in other departments. Daysi is a hard worker. She does her best at every task that she is given and is willing to try new tasks and challenges that are asked of her. Daysi has a positive and friendly personality and outlook. Daysi takes great pride in what she does and it shows in her work.

Broom/Brush – (Lin) Hui Chen
Lin has been with Alphapointe for more than 11 years. She is a hard worker, always positive, self-motivated and takes on any task that is given to her in her department and anywhere she is needed throughout the facility.

Contact Center – Sherma Lezama
Sherma is great on the phone. She is polite and efficient and works through calls quickly, while giving them the proper amount of attention. Overall, she is a reliable and strong employee. We can always count on her to be there when scheduled and frequently steps up to fill shifts as needed.

General Factory/Maintenance – Ball Singh
His hard work and his dedication is undoubtedly an inspiration to all the other employees. Singh has set an example of excellence before all his colleagues and this will surely help them to improve in their work. We are proud of his service to Alphapointe and we know that he will continue his hard work with a high degree of integrity and passion.

Material Handling – Shiv Shiwanandan
Shiv has always shown true motivation to his work hard and has always exceeded expectations when assigned a certain task. He is always very attentive to his work and aware of his surroundings. Due to his motivation and diligence, he has progressed from Material Handler to Lead Material Handler and continues to impress others with his work. Shiv does not hesitate to keep the cage area organized and neat and he also assists other material handlers and supervisors when needed. He is continuously willing to work no matter the task or condition.

Mops – Glenmore Codling
Glenmore is a very, very responsible and dedicated team member at Alphapointe. His work is always terrific. Additionally, he is very punctual in is daily schedule and is very efficient in his role with the organization.

Needlecraft – Soila Nunez
Soila is excellent employee at Alphapointe. She is a good team player and Soila is always willing to help when it is needed. Overall, Soila is doing an outstanding job and we are thrilled to have her on the team at Alphapointe.

Plastics – Ronald Vargas
Ronald is a hard worker and he always helps out around the department. He is always trying to motivate his team members despite not being able to speak. Ronald is always in a good mood and is willing to learn new jobs. He is a pleasure to work with and learn from as well.

Sewing – Hai Yin Yan
Hai Yin demonstrates a significant commitment to the sewing department. She makes sure to meet production targets and quality standards every single day. Most importantly, she always has a positive attitude and initiative related to her work.

Shipping – Andrew Ramsey
Andrew has learned the shipping portals and receiving. He has mastered his warehouse machinery skills and passed testing. He takes on every new employee and trains them on the warehouse procedures. He has improved in several areas, including software used by the organization, and he is always looking for new ways to improve. Andrew does everything an employee needs to do to be successful.

USPS – Colin Sutton
Colin has really stepped up this year in a big way, elevating his skills in multiple areas around the department. Colin is a walking example of one of Alphapointe key values, which is ‘initiative.’ During the past year, Colin has taken the initiative to elevate his sorting skills, particularly in the ABC area where he is now the go-to staff member.


“Building Blocks” Special Recognition Awards

Lisa Atkins (Kansas City – Customer Service Manager)
“I don’t know she does it” is a comment often heard from Lisa’s peers with respect to the many challenges she handles in a given day. She is a great team player who is willing to assist anywhere she can and exemplifies an attitude of helping customers diplomatically and professionally. Additionally, Lisa interfaces with the Information and Technology Department to brainstorm possible system solutions, with the Quality Department to communicate customer complaint resolution, with Production and Shipping to provide shipping/ status updates and with the Accounting team to resolve invoicing issues. She demonstrates encouragement and positive energy with her team.

Amanda Braun (Kansas City – Application Administrator)
This past year Alphapointe asked Amanda to launch a new service related 508 Compliance for websites. This required Amanda to become “508 Trusted Tester” certified, plus build a team from scratch of certified Trusted Testers. Amanda aided her staff in completing this complicated certification in a timely manner. As she grew her team, she developed processes and procedures enabling her staff to work successfully from home both in Kansas City and New York. This hard work has yielded positive customer feedback and generated additional partnerships for the organization. Not slowing down, she is currently investigating additional training for her and the team to be better skilled at communicating with customer’s developers and user interface design methods.

Thuy Bui (Kansas City – Senior Payroll Specialist)
Thuy started at Alphapointe more than 20 years ago and is front and center at every Alphapointe event with a smile and ready to help or take your credit card! She is a very conscientious employee and extremely dedicated to Alphapointe and Alphapointe’s mission. Thuy is always cheerfully ready to perform any task requested and always gives 110%. Thuy is an exemplary employee and all Alphapointe team members should strive to emulate her work ethic, reliability and honest concern for the organization. Last year, Thuy started handling two payrolls with 200 employees each on the same week every other Friday. That might have been plenty for most, but then along came the pandemic and all of the payroll reporting requirements that ensued. She made it through all of that and then along came training of supervisors and managers. Then, a couple of new small payrolls were added to the list. Thuy’s supervisor, who was involved in the payroll set-up, went home sick for two weeks right when the payroll was going live and Thuy was there to handle everything.

Tiffany Eddins (Kansas City – Office Products and Warehouse Manager)
Tiffany possesses an in-depth knowledge of all things Office Products in addition to her “can-do” attitude in her role in the warehouse. When it comes to Office Products, Tiffany is the go-to person for assistance in understanding when finished product will be available to ship. Tiffany is knowledgeable with respect to what components are needed to produce product and how long it will take her team to build and move finished product over to the warehouse. In her new role managing the warehouse, she was quick on the learning curve and unafraid to do what was needed to assist with daily shipments. She serves as a key communication link between the warehouse, production and customer service teams.

Carroll Foreman (New York – General Manager)
During this past year, the New York operation continued to make impressive strides toward becoming a world class operation. Carroll continued to demonstrate exceptional leadership with his team through implementing process improvements to monitoring supplier performance. Carroll was able to lead his team through the Covid pandemic, in which New York City faced innumerable challenges with staffing, mass transit and the overall health of his team. Carroll has supervised countless building improvements throughout this past year that will culminate with the introduction of two new elevators. Carroll is the true “servant leader” and takes pride in caring for his team.

Helen Hahn (Kansas City – Braille Instructor)
Helen has continued to teach braille to those who have recently lost vision and those who have been blind since birth. Each year, she supports, encourages and pushes students to be the best they can be at the Braille Challenge national event. Through her position, she is able to go to schools and work with children from all around the area and ensure they stay on track with their sighted-peers. She previously helped launch the “Kids in the Kitchen” program that brought teens into Alphapointe to learn skills in the kitchen, shopping, meal prep, eating and clean-up. In 2021, she was also named an “Icon in Education” by Ingram’s magazine – one of only six individuals selected throughout the region.

Mary Judd (New York – Warehouse Supervisor)
Mary is a fine example of dedication to her professional responsibilities. She is at her desk preparing for the day’s activities by 6 a.m. nearly every day. Facing significant challenges during the year, challenging she stayed the course and navigated Alphapointe’s operations to significantly improve performance for on-time delivery with several customers as well as managing local deliveries with our own vehicles. She achieved (and has maintained) high 90-percent on-time-delivery metrics for the first time in Alphapointe’s history. She also engaged in real-time with our counterparts in Kansas City to assist through a transitional period, rising to the challenge each and every day to provide aid and assistance to Kansas City.

Judy Maharaj (New York – Social Worker)
Since Judy started with Alphapointe in 2019, she has provided services to New York State Commission for the Blind program participants as well as to Alphapointe employees. Judy has offered valuable assistance to blind individuals in such vital areas as housing, benefits and transportation as well as researching resources that have been beneficial to all facets of their lives. In addition to the individualized services that she provides, Judy has also facilitated a group for new Alphapointe employees as they transition back to the workforce, providing an outlet for expression and support to those who participate. Besides their weekly meetings, the group partakes in outings and events such as the Vision Walk, toy and food drives around the holidays and social outings as well. She is creative, passionate about Alphapointe’s mission and dedicated to empowering people who lose vision.

Amy McCaslin (Kansas City – Director of Quality)
Amy stepped up again in 2021 while having to address a new strain of supply chain maladies. On the heels of the COVID-caused spray bottle worldwide shortage in 2020, in early 2021 we encountered a shortage of plastic resin and a near tripling of our resin cost. Then, we encountered significant challenges with transporting goods to our customers. Amy’s vigilance and ingenuity prevented plant shutdowns and calmed anxious customers.

Maria Sanchez (New York – ARCS Supervisor)
Maria is always one of the first to arrive to the facility each and every morning. She is an exemplary supervisor, strongly supports our mission and leads by example. She arrives each morning promptly at 6 a.m. and immediately sets out to take care of timecards and prepare her department for the day’s activities. In 2021, there were a number of very difficult challenges and change within the department and Maria was always helpful in addressing those areas. Further complicating this for Maria was a myriad of special projects that came her way, including the Tactical Medical Tourniquets Production Line, the restart of Tactical Pneumatic Tourniquet production, the Chaptex project, the SVSK Clamshell Bags project and ongoing support and assistance to Rightfully Sewn. Nonetheless, Maria maintained her demeanor and led the department day-in and day-out with a professional approach and a willingness to accept and success despite everything on her plate.

Joshua Trask (Kansas city – National Sales Manager)
During the past three years the Contact Center achieved massive growth numbers, enjoying a 34-percent growth rate in 2020 and a 21-percent increase in 2021. This has meant that Alphapointe has been able to continue to bring on more challenging, white collar call center and 508 compliance jobs, which has meant more opportunities for our employees. The Contact Center/508 Compliance team was able to surpass more than $1 million in revenue this year for the first time. Joshua has been the true lynchpin behind the success of the team, adding several new customers and increasing our partnership with existing customers such as the State University of New York, RedMane and Home State Health.

Mike Vietti (Kansas City – Director of Communications)
Since Mike arrived at Alphapointe he has taken Alphapointe’s communication and media efforts to the next level. He has increased and enhanced the presence on all our social media platforms. He implemented a monthly eNewsletter, helping us share the success of Alphapointe. He created and leads the agency’s Content Board committee, bringing all departments into the fold to tell the best story possible about Alphapointe. He has coordinated and managed a variety of partners that assist us in being effective in our communication efforts. He has worked with the media to ensure we are able to present the best story possible. He managed Alphapointe’s first communication interns in both Kansas City and New York. He is a patient and kind person who is always ready to help his co-workers or whoever else may need a helping hand.

Sybil Weiss (Kansas City – Sales Operations Senior Manager)
Sybil has an outstanding work ethic. She has a tremendous ability to stay on task quickly with price increases at a record pace and to be successful with challenging customers. She helped navigate contract management and launching a new specimen bottle pack. In addition, she has overseen all Customer Service efforts and so much more.