Pam Flaherty, a leader of educational programs that include students with disabilities, has been named executive director of the National Center for START ServicesTM (NCSS) at the University of New Hampshire’s Institute on Disability (IOD), effective December 5, 2022.
In her new role, Flaherty will lead approximately 40 NCSS employees who initiate and support START programs and partnerships in 27 states across the country. START programs provide crisis intervention and prevention for individuals with intellectual/developmental disabilities and mental health needs (IDD-MH) and their families. Flaherty will assume the duties previously performed by IOD director Kelly Nye-Lengerman, who has also been serving as interim executive director of NCSS.
“Pam brings a wealth of leadership experience and a strong commitment to our mission,” said Nye-Lengerman. “NCSS team members will work collaboratively with Pam to ensure the continued success and impact of the START model and the center.”
The START model was developed and implemented in 1988 by Joan Beasley, PhD, and her team to provide community-based crisis intervention for individuals with IDD-MH. It is a person-centered, solutions-focused approach that employs positive psychology and other evidence-based practices. Beasley is the founding director and now serves as a research professor and director of the National Research Consortium on Mental Health in Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities.
For the past 26 years, Flaherty served in various roles at Middlesex Community College in Massachusetts, most recently as the associate vice president for student affairs since 2012. She has experience overseeing support services and transition programs for students with disabilities.
Her early professional roots were with the Charles River Center, Cape Organization for Rights of the Disabled (CORD), and the University of Massachusetts Boston’s Institute for Community Inclusion. Flaherty holds a master’s degree in educational administration from the University of Massachusetts Lowell and a bachelor’s degree in communications with a specialization in psychology from Fitchburg State College.
“I am honored and humbled to be chosen to assist in leading this highly qualified and credentialed team,” said Flaherty. “I was drawn to this position because it infuses the two passions that have been woven into the fabric of my career—disability and mental health.”