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GRTC announces first nationally-certified Travel Training Instructor

Travel training is a process of teaching individuals with disabilities, older adults, and new riders how to ride public transportation safely and independently.

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GRTC’s Travel Trainer, Kelsey Calder, is now the first ever nationally certified Travel Training Instructor, the transit company announced this week.

Calder successfully completed the Travel Training Certification program, becoming the first Travel Training Instructor to be awarded this certificate by Easterseals.

Calder was already a licensed teacher prior to joining GRTC in 2016, holding aMasters in Teaching from James Madison University (JMU) with a concentration in Special Education. During GRTC’s pilot Travel Training Program, Calder completed substantial coursework and passed her final practicum in June 2018. The Travel Training Certification program operates through the Center for Urban Transportation Research (CUTR) at the University of South Florida.

“This certification solidifies that Greater Richmond does need a Travel Trainer. I am the only one in Central Virginia in this unique job,” Calder explains. “My number one tip for riders is to grab a friend and ride together! If you’re unsure, it’s a lot easier to try something new with someone you feel comfortable. Simply getting on to ride round-trip lets you experience and know not only where the bus goes, but also that you can get back to where you started.”

Travel training is a process of teaching individuals with disabilities, older adults, and new riders how to ride public transportation safely and independently. GRTC is currently in the third year of its Travel Training Program; this service is open to all GRTC customers who desire assistance learning how to ride. Refugees to America located in Greater Richmond are increasingly benefitting from Travel Training. The primary goal, however, remains to provide current CARE customers the opportunity to learn skills that will enable them to follow a regular GRTC bus route.

Travel Training Instructors create individualized travel plans that aim to meet the customer’s transit goals and show them how to use fixed route transportation in order to increase transit options and decrease dependence on paratransit services. Participants in the program have one-on-one and/or group travel training with a Travel Training Instructor. Travel training is free and any participant is still able to use the CARE service.

Easterseals’ Travel Training Certification program teaches instructors essential, practically-relevant skills, including performing a successful trainee assessment, customized trip planning, environmental barrier examination, task analysis, training strategies, street crossing skills, boarding/alighting processes, and compliance with the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA).

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Education

VCUarts renames Fine Arts Building for first African American dean, Dr. Murry N. DePillars

In a ceremony Thursday, VCU unveiled the newly-renamed Murry N. DePillars Building and celebrated the life and legacy of the former dean, professional painter, and art historian whose leadership helped the school emerge as one of the largest art schools in the country.

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Virginia Commonwealth University School of the Arts (VCUarts) has renamed its Fine Arts Building for its first dean.

In a ceremony Thursday, VCU unveiled the newly-renamed Murry N. DePillars Building and celebrated the life and legacy of the former dean, professional painter, and art historian whose leadership helped the school emerge as one of the largest art schools in the country.

During the ceremony, VCU President Michael Rao, VCUarts Dean Carmenita Higginbotham, and Mrs. Mary DePillars, widow of the building’s namesake, gave commemoration remarks in the building’s atrium.

DePillars served as dean of VCUarts from 1976-1995, cultivating a period of immense growth and development and whose artwork and research have been exhibited and published throughout the country. He was also a major contributor to the Black Arts Movement, creating bold and daring depictions of what it meant to be Black in America, and was a founding member of the Chicago-based Black artists’ collective AfriCOBRA.

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Arts & Entertainment

Patrick Patrong named VMFA’s new Chief Diversity Officer

As Chief Diversity Officer, Assistant Deputy Director for Equity, Diversity & Inclusion and HR Strategic Initiatives, Patrong will assist in leading EDIA strategies defined in VMFA’s 2021-2025 Strategic Plan and co-lead the museum’s commitment to the ONE Virginia Plan recently launched by the Governor’s Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (ODEI) and Department of Human Resource Management (DHRM).

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The Virginia Museum of Fine Arts (VMFA) has announced the appointment of Patrick Patrong to the position of Chief Diversity Officer, Assistant Deputy Director for Equity, Diversity & Inclusion and HR Strategic Initiatives. Patrong comes to VMFA with more than 25 years of experience as a public service leader.

Currently the lead facilitator for his consulting firm, Patrong Enterprises, Inc., he has also worked as Construction Training Manager for the Virginia Department of Transportation and Director of the Training, Education and Exercise Division for the Virginia Department of Emergency Management. In addition, he led organizational diversity initiatives for seven professional schools of the University of Maryland, Baltimore, while serving as Director of Organization and Employee Development.

“Patrick has a solid background in implementing and managing diversity programs at several agencies in the public sector. We are delighted to have someone with his extensive experience joining the museum’s human resources team,” said Alex Nyerges, VMFA’s Director and CEO. “Patrick will play a leading role taking VMFA’s EDIA initiatives to the next level and ensuring that the values of equity, diversity, inclusion and accessibility are fully integrated into everything the museum does and shared with all VMFA employees.”

As Chief Diversity Officer, Assistant Deputy Director for Equity, Diversity & Inclusion and HR Strategic Initiatives, Patrong will assist in leading EDIA strategies defined in VMFA’s 2021-2025 Strategic Plan and co-lead the museum’s commitment to the ONE Virginia Plan recently launched by the Governor’s Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (ODEI) and Department of Human Resource Management (DHRM).

For more than a decade, VMFA has actively worked to diversify its collection, exhibitions, staff and audience. Building on the success of its previous strategic plan, the museum strives to become a more vibrant, inclusive cultural leader. The museum’s current strategic plan demonstrates its commitment to the principles of equity, diversity, inclusion and accessibility. VMFA’s vision is to be an institution that empowers all Virginians — through art and creativity — to reflect and connect to each other, their communities and the wider world.

“I am excited to join the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts team, to work with employees and the museum’s community on expanding the institutional EDIA initiatives. VMFA’s diverse organizational culture already has unique advantages when it comes to attracting diverse staff and visitors and developing museum exhibitions, art collections and programs that appeal to diverse communities,” said Patrong. “Communication, idea generation, creativity and connectivity are all enhanced through engagement with the museum’s representative communities.”

“Patrick’s knowledge and experience will help VMFA continue to advance towards instilling EDIA values and practices, becoming a more valuable and relevant community resource, and providing even greater access to the arts for all people in the Commonwealth,” said Kimberly Wilson, VMFA’s Chief Operating Officer and CHRO/Deputy Director for Human Resource Services, Museum Operations and Volunteers.

Patrong will begin his position at VMFA on July 26. For more information about VMFA’s strategic plan and EDIA initiatives visit www.VMFA.museum.

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PHOTOS: Cedarfield retirement community opens new $16 million apartment-style expansion

Cedarfield team members and residents have been working together to transition from an “institutional feel” to the Household model, joining a global health services and senior care movement. Household allows for greater emphasis on engaging residents individually by helping them continue their life pursuits as opposed to making them fit the mold of a traditional nursing home resident.

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Cedarfield, a Henrico County senior living retirement community, has completed the final leg of completion on a $100 million Cedarfield Master Plan Expansion project incorporating a person-centered approach that shapes the physical environment, organizational structure, and enhances interpersonal relationships for residents, family, and staff.

The $16 million, 16,000-square-foot, 40-apartment household facility features residential and industrial kitchens, newly designed dining spaces with multi-seating options, a formal area with a fireplace, family room, and private meeting areas. In addition to the amazing common spaces, every Household resident will enjoy a newly updated apartment, complete with private entryways and doorbells. While creating an atmosphere of genuine home, Household also provides residents with clear opportunities to direct their own lives.

“In this Household model, residents and team members are engaged every step of the way – from learning circles to determining the interests of individual residents, to planning, to implementing and running programs for the household,” says Cedarfield Associate Executive Director Matt Dameron.

Cedarfield team members and residents have been working together to transition from an “institutional feel” to the Household model, joining a global health services and senior care movement. Household allows for greater emphasis on engaging residents individually by helping them continue their life pursuits as opposed to making them fit the mold of a traditional nursing home resident.

“While there are team members in each Household that are primarily responsible for programming, the goal of this model is inclusivity,” says Dameron. He continued, “It could be large scale, such as leading a group program or cooking everyone a meal, to something as simple as sitting with a resident and sharing stories over a cup of coffee.”

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