Abubaker Hamad started his career at Lifeworks Services, Inc. in 2003 as a direct support professional working with people with disabilities in Brooklyn Park. Since then, Abu, as he is known to Lifeworks staff and clients, has steadily built his career over the last 20 years, from working directly with people with disabilities to advancing into a senior leadership position.
Abu and his wife immigrated from Sudan to the United States in 2000. Before moving to Minnesota, Abu worked as a direct support professional in Pennsylvania. It was there that Abu started to build his skills assisting psychiatrists and behavioral specialists in an early crime prevention program for families and children. When his family moved to Minnesota, his passion to continue serving brought him to his first job at Lifeworks as a Service Facilitator.
Service Facilitators at Lifeworks provide person-centered support for people with disabilities who access programs and services. The partnerships our staff create with clients provide opportunities for them to develop new skills, explore their interests, and access the community through activities like volunteering and recreation.
Abu worked as a Service Facilitator around the Twin Cities metro area before joining the Lifeworks Apple Valley team. On this team, Abu continued to grow his career and earned promotions to the role of supervisor, then as Team Manager of Apple Valley. Recently, Abu was promoted to Senior Manager for all services in Lifeworks’ southern region.
Looking back to his first days at Lifeworks, Abu would have never imagined himself in the role he is in now. Despite this, he is proud of his time spent supporting the Lifeworks mission and growing himself professionally. “I like what I’m doing. I believe in our mission. That led to the offer for my current role. There is many story, many cases, and many problems solved during my time. And it shows, even for me, the stuff I know or recognized about myself.”
With decades of experience, Abu is uniquely suited to shape the future of Lifeworks. “I’m glad I am in this position because now I have been in the direct support staffs’ shoes,” he says. He believes that his value as a leader is deeply rooted in his history at the organization. “If you see my story, I start from DSP up to now: being considered a leader at Lifeworks. I went to different programs and different teams, and that created for me a different knowledge that I can use to help Lifeworks to move up.”
Having seen Lifeworks change over the past 20 years, Abu appreciates the evolution the organization has undergone, especially when it comes to our values on diversity, inclusion, and accessibility, for both our clients and staff. “I see big change right now from when I started. We talk about it now because we need it. This field in general [is] historically attractive for immigrants or people of color. That’s why we need to make sure we are complying with diversity, culture, and inclusion.”
Over the past year, Lifeworks has solidified our intent to establish a culture centered on accessibility, diversity, equity, and inclusion. Lifeworks is taking active steps to live into this vision, for example, by co-creating culturally specific programs with rural communities and Black, Indigenous, and people of color. Along with this, Abu also has more to be excited about for the future at Lifeworks. “What excites me is we have many we generations of staff. For me personally, I have my coworker who is the same age as my kids. That tells me the future is bright and people still want to work in this field.”
We are looking forward to the next generation of staff at Lifeworks who will be influenced and mentored by leaders like Abu. The partnerships we have with people with disabilities are strong because of our staff who are invested in our mission. Abu believes that if you’re willing to invest in Lifeworks, the organization is also willing to invest in you. “If you’re looking to establish a career or looking to have a future within this organization, it’s available for you.”
He offers up this message as we look to welcome new direct support professionals who will help our organization grow and lean into the future of what can be possible at Lifeworks:
“We need the staff that have their heart on this mission, to partner with people with disabilities. We are going to train them well, I assure that. They are going to be around people who have been in this field for many years. They will take their hand to learn this.”
Want to learn how you can join Abu and the Lifeworks team as we empower and partner with people with disabilities? Whether you’re looking to start your career, take the next step in your professional development, or make an impact in your community, Lifeworks is ready to invest in you! Find out what makes us a 2022 Top Workplace and apply online by visiting our website at: lifeworks.org/careers or give us a call at 651-454-2732.
About the author: Timi Ogundipe is the Recruiter at Lifeworks Services. With over a decade of experience, he is committed to aligning talent acquisition with the Lifeworks culture centered on accessibility, diversity, equity, and inclusion.