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June 2024 VFES Updates & Announcements

Click here to view the June 2024 VFES Newsletter

Farewell Dr. Grace! Introducing Tom Quinn!

After 12 memorable years of leadership and dedication, our esteemed Executive Director, Grace Fornicola, is retiring. Your focus on community and belonging has inspired us. We’re forever grateful for your countless contributions, guidance, and love for the staff, students and participants of VFES. As you embark on this new chapter, we wish you joy, peace, and optimal happiness in retirement! 

Please join us in extending a warm welcome to our new Executive Director, Tom Quinn! We’re thrilled to have Tom on board, bringing his expertise and passion to lead VFES forward. With his vision and leadership, we’re confident that our organization will continue to thrive and make a meaningful impact in the lives of children and adults with disabilities. Let’s give Tom a warm welcome and support him as we begin this new chapter together!

Tom Quinn (Left) and Grace Fornicola (Right)

Appreciation Dinner

On June 10th, VFES held an annual Appreciation Dinner honoring our community partners, donors Dr. Grace Fornicola as she prepares for retirement as Executive Director of VFES.  We are thankful to the following organizations for serving as CBVT and VIP worksites for our students:

  • Old Navy Main Street Exton
  • USLI
  • Phoenixville YMCA
  • Brandywine Valley SPCA
  • Forge Hill Farm
  • Thorncroft Equestrian Center
  • Cleanlogic

Dr. Grace was presented with a commendation from the office of PA State Representative, Melissa Shusterman, recognizing her 12 years of service at VFES and full career dedicated to service to others.

A group of Vanguard students performed a variety of spirited songs for guests. Thanks to music teachers, Jamie Trotty and Zach Weissberger for preparing our students for such an entertaining ensemble!

We are thrilled that such phenomenal organizations, donors and supporters help us magnify our mission every day!

Vanguard choir singing for the Appreciation Dinner

Grace Fornicola with members of Leadership

Vanguard staff and donors smiling for a photo

Dr. Grace's Board Retirement Gathering

The VFES Board of Trustees recognized Dr. Grace's retirement and years of service to VFES at an informal reception on June 3. Dr. Grace was gifted with a personalized golf carry bag, as she plans to enjoy the sport of golf in retirement.

Grace Fornicola

Grace's Board Retirement GatheringGrace Fornicola

Dr. Grace's Special Retirement Gift

To honor Dr. Grace's retirement, Mr. Munley's woodshop class presented her with a beautiful gift - a solid wood plant stand built and stained by our students. 

Vanguard students presenting Grace Fornicola's retirement gift

Vanguard students presenting Grace's retirement gift

Grace Fornicola standing next to her retirement gift

Honoring Dr. Grace - Staff Appreciation Luncheon

VFES held its annual Staff Appreciation Food Truck Festival celebrating a wonderful 2023-24 school/fiscal year! At the event, staff who were celebrating 5, 10, 15, and 20 years of service at VFES were recognized, along with our 2023-24 retirees: Joe Mandrachia, Carla Zajac, Annette Brandolini, and Grace Fornicola. Congratulations to the 2023-24 staff award recipients: Christine Magister (Excellence in Education) and David Blake (Unsung Hero), who were also honored.

A highlight of the event was a staff song dedication sung to the tune of ‘Proud Mary’ honoring Dr. Grace, who will retire on July 3. The staff were also very happy to interact with Tom Quinn, VFES’ new Executive Director.

Award Recipients 

David Blake (Left) and Christine Magister (Right)

Campus Visit with Children's Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP)

Jamiel Owens, Family Relations Coordinator, and Susannah Reimer, Community Education Program Manager, both from Center for Autism Research at CHOP (CAR) met with Tom Quinn, Executive Director, Sheba Simms, Director of Marketing and Communications, and Amy Zylberman, Assistant Director of Development and Major Gifts, on VFES’ campus to discuss exciting partnership opportunities. 

VFES is fortunate to collaborate with organizations such as CAR to serve the needs of individuals with disabilities and their families in our local communities.