News from Living Innovations


News from Living Innovations

By Carl Pufahl
Vice President of Operations

Living Innovations started as an organization with the aim to better support the growing population of people with diverse needs. 

Therefore, I’m pleased to announce Maine’s Department of Labor’s Division of Vocational Rehabilitation (DVR) recently chose Living Innovations to provide support to people in northern Maine who are seeking employment. We’re very excited to be an important part of this effort to further our mission to support people with all abilities to have a good life at home and in their communities.

Employment is a part of most people’s identity, and a job is empowering. People we support recognize that and want to experience it. The initiative in Maine is just one example of how we’re broadening our services to better meet the needs of people we support.

When providing Home and Community Based Services (HCBS), the closer we can be to people who need our services, the better we can deliver it. With that, we also plan to extend our services’ accessibility to more individuals by opening more locations. We’re currently assessing where we can make the strongest impact.

Speaking of growth, this February 1 will be the third anniversary of our partnership with Mosaic. We’re very proud to be part of their 13-state, collaborative network that positions both of us as one of the recognized leaders in making a positive difference in people’s lives. 

Finally, I’d like to welcome our two new Living Innovations community relations managers, Allison Arbo in central Maine and Angelina Jackman in northern Maine. They will help people in their respective communities better understand our mission and values, what we do and how they can become partners with us.

About the Author

Carl Pufahl’s career with Living Innovations began in 2001. During his tenure he has served as Controller, Chief Financial Officer and President. In his current role in the merged Living Innovations—Mosaic organization, Pufahl has responsibility for the quality of the services provided to more than 1,300 people in three states as well as ongoing business and program development.

About the Author

Joanne Malise, MSW, LCSW has decades of experience with Rhode Island developmental systems, including her current Board Member status on Rhode Island’s Community Provider Network and for Northeast Region X AAIDD. Supporting Shared Living arrangements in Rhode Island since 2006, she joined Living Innovations as Rhode Island State Director in 2013. She is a strong advocate for Shared Living, personalized supports and full community membership.

Rhode Island

By Joanne Malise
State Director, Rhode Island

What Motivates Me

I have been very fortunate to evolve into a career and job I am proud to say I love. Since obtaining my bachelor’s degree in Human Development and Family Services from Ohio Wesleyan University, I have worked with people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD). From working direct care in the locked wards of the Rhode Island state institution to being a State social caseworker, it has always felt good to help people improve their lives. 

I was fortunate to witness the demise of Rhode Island’s state institutions, and then to take part in the development of community-based services under the tutelage of some remarkable visionaries in the I/DD world. They inspired me to believe that anything was possible, and that advocacy will never stop.

After obtaining my MSW and becoming licensed as a Clinical Social worker, I was offered the opportunity to start up the first private agency Shared Living Arrangement (SLA) program in RI. Though the State had been providing SLA for many years, they knew they needed help. Seventeen years later, I am proud to work with great people to make Rhode Island and Living Innovations a recognized leader in SLA. I love thinking outside the box and creative problem solving. 

The lessons of relentless advocacy have never left me, and I have been fortunate to help shape how services are delivered in Rhode Island. Helping to rewrite (i.e., simplify) the regulations of shared living and establishing common sense Certification standards was a great collaborative project with noteworthy changes in service delivery.

I am motivated to help make changes in the lives of the people we support and in the systems that serve them.

We recently we were able to create a new service line of Whole life SLA for those SLA preferring that the home provider help the person integrate into their community without formal day services. This makes a difference in people’s lives. None of this could be done without a strong community, which we have in RI. I am fortunate to work with a great team, including the people we support and their SLA home providers. There are many opportunities throughout the year for collaborative and social gatherings. Knowing the value of the people we support helps to enrich what we do. Together we are stronger.

So what motivates me? The people who I am fortunate to serve motivate me every day and the systems I am able to help improve, make me believe that in a small way, I can help make the world a better place.


By Andrew Taranko
State Director, Maine

When Matt experienced a tragedy, his whole world turned upside down. After his loving brother and sister-in-law realized they couldn’t give him the attention he deserved, Matt moved in with shared living provider Mike where he’s become independent and “completely transformed.” 

Enjoy our video to learn more about this heartwarming story.

About the Author

Andrew Taranko has been with Living Innovations since 2006. After graduating from Bentley College with a degree in Business Management, Andy spent time studying at the Muskie School of Public Service in Health Care Policy and Management.  He has spent the past 26 years working in Maine in education, behavioral health, autism and developmental services. He is also an expert in Shared Living and community-based services.

About the Author

Michelle Donovan is originally from Massachusetts and has a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology and a Master of Education in Counseling. Starting her career in 1987, she has a deep wealth of experience providing services to people with behavioral health and developmental disabilities in Massachusetts and New Hampshire. Joining Living Innovations in 2014, she is dedicated to ensuring that people with disabilities of all kinds are afforded the opportunity to live the highest quality of life.

New Hampshire

By Michelle Donovan
State Director, New Hampshire

Living Innovations is rich with stories that illustrate we strongly believe each person is valued and how we place supported individuals at the center of all we do. Our success in helping people to have a good life at home and in the community is attributed to the caring commitment, contributions and longevity our care providers have made. 

Terri Lyons is only one of many with Living Innovations who embodies the care and quality services we provide to those with diverse needs. Just recently, she won the New Hampshire Council on Developmental  Disabilities’ “Home Provider of the Year” Award.

Terri first joined Living Innovations in 2000 as a visiting RN to support mostly elderly and chronically ill people in their homes. “I came to know and care for people as whole individuals. I knew their personalities, their likes and dislikes, their family members, and I just loved it,” she said passionately.

“Then Living Innovations founder Neal Ouellett asked me if I’d be interested in supporting people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD),” said Terri. “At first, I didn’t know if I could do it, because working with people who have IDD isn’t emphasized that much in nursing training.”

But Terri ended up loving supporting people with IDD, too. When she eventually became a shared living provider, “I visualized continuing my nursing work while having someone join our family to receive 24/7 supports.”

(Left to Right) James, Terri and Curtis


In 2012, Terri became a provider for James Duncan, now 61. Before then, James struggled with severe emotional ups and downs that adversely affected his quality of life and social interaction.

“James is a very kind person, and he’s enjoyable to be around,” said Terri. “He’s well aware of and takes solace in knowing he’s part of the family. Through shared living, James has learned much and grown quite a bit through many activities, including reading and watching documentaries. He likes documentaries on wildlife habitats, and he also enjoyed a documentary about Martin Luther King and a series on the underground railroad. 

“He’s learned about feelings and putting himself in someone else’s shoes, so now he helps others. For example, he shoveled an elderly neighbor’s driveway after a snow storm, and he came here not thinking much about animals. Now he loves and helps them.”

(Left to Right) James, Terri and Curtis


More than two years ago, Curtis Kimball, 35, moved in. Curtis had lived in several other homes before moving in with Terri. “Curtis could be … too direct,” according to Terri. “Upon moving in, he told me to buy another shower curtain, because it was ugly! I saw his ‘too direct’ insults simply as a personality trait we could resolve by communicating directly and honestly with each other.

“We had several heart-to-heart conversations about how you can’t earn people’s respect or ask them to help you by insulting them, and now he’s completely different—he no longer insults me or anyone in my family, as he did when he first joined our home.”

Their Current Relationships With Each Other

James and Curtis said Terri helps them, is a “very good” cook, and they love her. 

“Terri’s nice to me, and I’m nice to her,” said James. “Since being with her, I get to go to car races every Friday, bowling every Tuesday, and I like to regularly play bingo.” 

Terri added, “James also enjoys it when I read books and magazines to him. He likes the classics, such as Treasure Island and Robin Hood—as well as racecar and wrestling magazines.”

When Curtis wanted to see his mother in another state, Terri made travel arrangements. Curtis added Terri has “helped me be a nicer person to others. She’s pretty easy going, which makes her easy to speak with and get along with.” 

Curtis has maintained a job since living with Terri. He enjoys stocking shelves at a local discount store, and Terri said he gets along well with his boss.

For Christmas, in addition to other presents, Terri gives Curtis, James and her family a gift to stay at a lake house during the summer. Because Terri’s daughter is also a shared living provider, she brings the person she supports “whom we consider part of our family as well.”

“We have a good time,” said Curtis. “There, I like kayaking, tubing, and we rent a pontoon boat. We also go out to eat a lot.”

It should be noted Living Innovations support service operations program manager Cindy Marsh submitted the nomination that helped Terri win New Hampshire’s “Home Provider of the Year” Award. In it, she wrote, “Terri is a natural caregiver. She has opened her home and life fully to the individuals entrusted in her care … her care and compassion are boundless.”

Working at Living Innovations to support our mission of providing support to people of all ages and abilities to have a good life at home and in the community is fulfilling, enriching and rewarding. If you’re interested in becoming a Direct Support Professional or opening your home as a Shared Living Home Provider, apply today!