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Griffin Rooker Recognized as Employee of the Year by Healthcare Council

Donna Klinger

Griffin Rooker accepts award from Les Pitton

Griffin Rooker, Ph.D., accepts the Employee of the Year Award from Les Pitton, president and CEO of The Healthcare Council and ShareSource.

Griffin Rooker, Ph.D., assistant professor and director of the Graduate Studies in Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) program at Mount St. Mary's University, on March 14 received an Employee of the Year Award from The Healthcare Council. The ABA program helps meet the growing need for qualified professionals who can provide effective behavioral interventions to children and young adults with autism and other developmental disorders.

rooker-with-deans-employee-of-year.jpgRooker is the founding director and professor of the ABA program, established in 2021 in response to the urgent need for high-quality behavioral care, especially in Frederick County. A visionary leader of the program, he continually demonstrates his commitment to addressing behavioral health needs in the area by training the next generation of board-certified behavior analysts (BCBAs).

The Mount’s first cohort of ABA students graduated in May 2023, and all the graduates who have sat for the rigorous BCBA exam to date passed on their first attempt. The BCBA exam, which is offered periodically throughout the year, is notoriously difficult, with only between 56 and 66% of takers nationally passing on their first try. Students become eligible to sit for the exam after completing their MSABA courses and 2,000 hours of supervised field work.

In the first three years of the program, Rooker cultivated partnerships with 14 public schools and community behavioral health partners; partnered with the School of Education to obtain $2.2 million in a Grow Your Own Maryland Leads grant; led the transition of the program online and is launching a pediatric behavior health center in the new School of Health Professions facility in Emmitsburg. The ABA program is the first program in the School of Health Professions. The Master of Medical Science – Physician Assistant program is expected to seat its first cohort of students in January 2025.

“Offering the ABA program online will increase accessibility to the program beyond our geographic footprint. Looking ahead, Dr. Rooker has proposed and been approved to launch a pediatric behavioral health center as part of the Mount’s School of Health Professions,” wrote Dean of the School of Education Barbara A. Marinak, Ph.D., and Dean of the Schools of Health Professions and Natural Science and Mathematics Christine McCauslin, Ph.D., in nominating Rooker for the award. “Both the online ABA program and the pediatric behavioral health center will bolster the vitality of the ABA program locally and beyond.”

Upon reflecting on the last several years, Rooker noted that “with the skills and knowledge our students obtain in our programs, they are empowered to improve the lives of individuals in their community as ethical leaders. Moreover, we hope to train students who are passionate about learning and will go on to lead lives of significance. With the opening of our Pediatric Behavioral Health Center in October 2024, our programs will have the ability to ensure consistent high-quality student mentorship in diverse practice settings and that local community members will have access to world-class care.”

The Healthcare Council awards the Employee of the Year designation to employees of Mid-Atlantic region healthcare organizations in recognition of their extraordinary efforts in creating efficiencies or savings that contributed to financial sustainability; contribution toward the improvement of processes that contributed to financial sustainability; contribution to the structural changes in the delivery of care aimed at improving patient satisfaction; or a single contribution of such magnitude that it merited recognition on its own. The membership organization is dedicated to helping members reduce costs, encouraging cooperative working relationships and promoting quality healthcare in the region.

One of 60 individuals in the Mid-Atlantic region to receive this award, Rooker was the sole recipient from a higher education institution this year. In reflecting on the honor, Rooker expressed his appreciation to the Healthcare Council for the honor and the opportunity to “share a moment with so many people making a positive difference in this world.” He also recognized the vision and support of the Mount’s administration, specifically Deans Marinak and McCauslin, as well as the counsel and support in building the programs from Assistant Director and Assistant Professor Kwadwo Britwum, Ph.D.; Assistant Professor Rebecca Correll, Ph.D.; and Clinical Director Alexa Mochan.

Pictured above from left to right are Les Pitton, president and CEO, The Healthcare Council and ShareSource; Christine McCauslin, Ph.D., dean of the School of Health Professions and School of Natural Science and Mathematics; Barbara Marinak, Ph.D., dean of the School of Education; Griffin Rooker, Ph.D., assistant professor and director of the Graduate Studies in Applied Behavior Analysis program; Melissa Mollet, guest host, News4 Anchor; and Rolf Haarstad, AIA Lead AP, vice chair of The Healthcare Council/ShareSource and Senior vice president, CRGA Design.

Donna Klinger