About

Mission

To empower adults with disabilities to ACHIEVE their highest level of independence and employment.

Achieve, formerly Citizens Development Center, is a non-profit organization serving more than 600 adults with severe intellectual, physical, and/or mental health disabilities annually from Dallas county and surrounding areas. We fulfill our mission through two primary programs: Community Employment Placement and Work Center/Vocational Training.

Every weekday, more than 150 adults with disabilities (Achievers) enrolled in the Work Center/Vocational Training Program come to our 30,000 square foot facility on Ambassador Row to perform packaging, assembly, and other fulfillment work for companies which make products or provide services you have most likely used. In addition to being paid for the work performed, clients participate in social activities, life skills classes, and strive to reach personalized goals every month. Our Achievers love coming to work because they gain a sense of purpose in life, develop confidence and feel productive.

Our Community Employment Placement Program offers adults with disabilities, who choose to work outside of the Achieve Work Center, intensive support, training, and guidance in order to be hired by local companies and experience job success. Achieve’s Employment Counselors advocate for clients and empower them with the skills to overcome the many challenges of employment an individual with a disability may face. Thanks to our partnerships with employers seeking candidates at all skill levels, we have placed hundreds of clients in jobs successfully.

History

Achieve was founded in 1951 by Jean Walker Bentley, a young single mother and Junior League volunteer who recognized an unmet need in the community and set out to address it. Children’s Development Center as it was then known, was the answer to the prayers of parents of children with mental retardation. It was an era when little was known about mental retardation and institutionalization was the norm. Little thought had been given to the possibility that children with mental retardation could learn and grow academically and socially. Children’s Development Center was incorporated as a 501(c)3 charitable nonprofit organization in August 1953.

Through partnerships with Southern Methodist University, The University of North Texas (formerly North Texas State University), and The University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, Children’s Development Center achieved a worldwide reputation as a leader in the field of educating children with disabilities. In 1975, Congress passed Public Law 94-142 that required states to develop and implement policies that assured a free, appropriate public education for all children with disabilities and the need shifted.

Children’s Development Center’s parents foresaw that their children would now need specialized services such as job training and placement to ensure their success in the workplace after graduation. Therefore in 1981, Childrens Development Center took over the operation of Dallas Work Opportunity and Retraining Center, a struggling vocational training center. The mission of Childrens Development Center shifted to adults and the name was changed to Citizens Development Center.

In 2009, as Citizens Development Center, we expanded our employment services to include veterans with disabilities. And in 2015, we further developed our programs and services when we received a grant from Texas Veterans’ Commission allowing us to focus more on addressing the increasing amount of employment issues facing veterans with disabilities in Dallas.

By 2016, after Ebola and Zika became prevalent in the United States, the Board of Directors of Citizens Development Center, known as CDC, made the decision to change our name to Achieve, a Place to Grow based on confusion from the public associating CDC with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Since then we continue to grow and now provide Independent School Districts in our community with Vocational Assessment Training, enabling students with disabilities to transition from school to the workplace.

Achieve continues to provide a safe, happy, productive, and healthy environment – a place to learn and grow.

Board of Directors - Executive Committee

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BENJAMIN P. BROWDER, President

Partner, Hunton & Williams LLP
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ALLISON MCMAHON, Vice President

Electrical Engineer, Burns & McDonnell
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LYNN J. COLE, CPA, Treasurer

Program Controls Manager, Oncor Electric Delivery
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TIM DYSON, Secretary

President, Sterling Protective Services, Inc.

Board of Directors

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DAWN BELJIN

Chief Nursing Officer, Dallas Medical Center
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OBI CHUKWUMAH

Commercial Relationship Manager – North Texas Region, BB&T
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JASON NEIL JONES

Chief Technology Officer, SimpleLTC Systems
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MATTHEW MILHAUSER

V.P. – Strategy & Innovation, Advantix Solutions Group
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ARTHUR SANTA-MARIA

Senior Associate, Trammell Crow
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RICK WELLS

Sr. Relationship Manager, Guidestone Financial Resources
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W. SCOTT WILSON

Retired – Senior Operations and Sales Executive, Accenture

Management Team

Staff Members