Employee Spotlight: Abdus Samad, Operations Administrator

Abdus Samad has held various jobs at Grafton’s Berryville campus over the past 10 years, including residential counselor, instructional assistant, case manager, and ultimately case manager supervisor. This summer, he accepted an exciting opportunity to become operations administrator at our new Psychiatric Residential Treatment Center in Cold Spring, Minnesota. We will miss having Abdus on our team in Virginia, but we’re excited to see what he accomplishes in his new role!

What drew you to work in behavioral healthcare?

When I started college, I originally wanted to study medicine. I needed one more credit to transfer from community college to Virginia Commonwealth University, and my academic counselor suggested I take a psychology course. That class sparked my curiosity, and I ended up changing my major from pre-med to psychology.

When I graduated, I got a job in Leesburg at Graydon Manor, which was a residential treatment center. Graydon and Grafton provided similar services, and the two organizations ended up merging in 2011. Ten years later, I’m still going strong at Grafton.

How did your work at Grafton evolve over the years?

I started at Berryville as a direct support professional (DSP), and I really enjoyed helping the clients and being part of their journey. In 2014, I had the opportunity to join the Case Management department. As a case manager, I felt I could have more impact by helping clients not only at Berryville but also after they returned home.

In the fall of 2015, I started an MBA program at Shenandoah University. I wanted to gain a deeper understanding of the healthcare industry to see if I could make an even bigger impact. Grafton offered me tuition reimbursement assistance, but I declined it because I was interested in entering the for-profit sector after graduation, which would mean leaving Grafton.

From 2017 to 2019, I went to work for a handful of behavioral healthcare companies. That experience helped me realize that Grafton was the place I really wanted to be. I fit better with the nonprofit culture and the mindset that it brings.

What made you apply to work at the new Minnesota location?

After returning to Grafton, I knew I wanted to stay long-term. I’m always looking for opportunities to grow within management, so when the Minnesota job was posted, I viewed it as a personal and professional challenge.

Becoming operations administrator will be an opportunity to make my mark and create something new. I really love having the responsibility to showcase Grafton to the state of Minnesota. The personal challenge will be the move. I’ve been a Virginian my whole life since coming to the United States. I’ve never lived outside Loudoun County, and my wife is also from this area—so it will be tough. We’ll have to learn to battle the Minnesota winter.

What makes Grafton a special place to work?

Grafton is special because it’s not a big corporation. It truly has a family feel, like we’re in this together. We take pride in that.  When you leave work, you see your coworkers out in the community, and people hang out on the weekends. That’s a huge thing for me. That emotional connection with each other is so valuable when you’ve had a rough day, because you know the people around you get it. I think that mindset is what really allows people to thrive. When you need support, everyone from DSPs to support staff to managers to administrators show up. We’re in this together.

What would you say to someone who is considering working at Grafton?

No two days are the same. Just because you had an amazing day with a client doesn’t mean it will be the same thing the next day. And the same applies in reverse. Keep your mind open to possibilities. Wear different hats. One day you are a parental figure, then a friend, then a therapist, then a mentor. Understand that many of these kids are here because every other level of support was unable to meet their needs—this mean you have the opportunity to show them that help is out there—a truly life-changing experience for the children we serve. There will be long days, but you won’t have to do it alone here.