Staff Announcements, Success Stories


Each year, Vinfen’s Board of Directors is proud to present scholarships to a pair of exceptional staff members, to honor their outstanding professional achievement and help them further their skills, education, and career development. Vinfen is pleased to announce that the two recipients of these $5,000 Board of Directors’ Scholarships for 2023 are Tonya Arango and Jillian Orr.

Ms. Arango is Program Director of Vinfen CT’s IRS Homestead program. She started at Vinfen 13 years ago and is currently working to obtain her bachelor’s degree in social science from Springfield College. In her time with Vinfen, Tonya has helped to shape the development and quality of care services offered through the Connecticut Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services (DMHAS). After experiencing loss early in her life, Tonya knew she wanted a career in a field that helped people find stability in their lives. Her goal is to use her degree to enhance how she trains her staff on communication, collaboration, and maintaining professional relationships, with an emphasis on cultural competency and creating an inclusive environment.

“My degree will enhance my knowledge of human well-being to help meet the needs of all people, with a focus on those who are vulnerable, oppressed, and living in poverty,” Tonya says. “The continued knowledge that I gain in school, along with my years of employment at Vinfen, will allow me to continue to enhance the quality of life of the individuals we serve in their communities.

Ms. Orr is a TIP (Transition to Independence) Facilitator in our Enhanced Young Adult Program (EYAP). She has been with Vinfen for four years and is working toward her master’s degree in social work from Boston University. In her role as a TIP Facilitator, Jillian has consistently shown leadership skills and the ability to multitask across roles and departments, while keeping the voice and choice of the people we serve front and center. After growing up in a small town, Jillian used a variety of volunteer opportunities that ranged from a medium security prison, to working with several nonprofits in Cambodia, to learn about different kinds of people and life experiences. She’s excited to use her education to further inform her work.

“Getting my master’s degree will help me to better serve our clients at Vinfen, and give me more insight into best practices,” Jillian says. “I would also like to assume a more prominent role in the process of creating individualized treatment plans, and in order to do so, I need a formal education on their diagnoses and a more clinical understanding of how to best support them.”

The Board of Directors’ Scholarships are generously funded by members of Vinfen’s Board of Directors, who firmly believe in supporting continuing education and professional advancement opportunities for Vinfen staff members. Congratulations to both recipients and a special thank you to all the exceptional applicants.

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