Women’s History Month Series Featuring Adele Foschia

March is Women’s History Month and Easterseals UCP (ESUCP) is recognizing powerful women who have impacted our organization’s history and ongoing legacy.

In recognizing Adele Foschia, it is clear that to know her was to love her. She was a change agent who made considerable impacts in moving the Easterseals organization forward during a time in history when women generally didn’t have opportunities to become transformational leaders. However, that is just one part of Adele’s life and legacy. She was also a loving wife, mother, grandmother, great friend and mentor.

“My parents met at the University of Maryland, where they both received undergraduate and graduate degrees. When I was growing up, the business woman the world knew was just my mom who gave us lots of love. In spite of her taxing work schedule filled with meetings, travel, phone calls, telethons and grant deadlines, she always put our family first. I had to become an adult to realize how amazing she was,” says Adele’s daughter, Mary Beth. “She had boundless energy and was a ‘force of nature.’ She loved the beach, books and movies, but nothing surpassed her love for our family. She was also everyone’s biggest cheerleader and I believe she mined for the gold in everyone she met.”

“When she died in 2013, my son was 18 and my daughter was 16. They understand she was a trailblazer and that makes me feel good. After all these years, my family is still connected to Easterseals UCP because my brother receives mental health services there. I think the most wonderful thing my mom did was to set my brother up to live independently. She was truly an incredible woman and her legacy lives on in all of us.”

We asked Luanne Welch, the President & CEO of Easterseals UCP to tell us about her friend and mentor. “Adele was a Leader. She influenced disability services in lasting ways. She changed the way we provide child care, camping, home health, rehabilitation and family support services. And along the way, she changed us too,” says Luanne. “Adele was also a Mentor. She recognized individual potential for greatness in her employees, volunteers and colleagues. Her commitment to developing others is a legacy that will support the missions of many organizations for years to come. And Adele was FUN! We followed her, learned from her, laughed with her and adored her. Adele’s ‘career firsts’ were many, but her ‘people impact’ is still growing within and through the hundreds of leaders she developed. Her legacy continues in all the lives she touched.”

It is with great honor that we recognize Adele Foschia, whose legacy as a champion for individuals with disabilities for 46 years also lives on. She started her career as a special needs teacher in 1962 and her unique leadership capabilities led her to become President of Easterseals DC/Maryland for 20 years. When she left Washington, DC, the mayor proclaimed an official “Adele Foschia Day in recognition of her accomplishments.

In 1980, Adele received the Myrtle M. and Tom B. Medders Award from the Easterseals national office, a prestigious award given to outstanding chief executive officers. When Adele became CEO of Easterseals Texas in the 1983, she and her husband had two children. He took an early retirement so Adele could pursue her career, something generally unheard of in the 1980s. As CEO, she completely reorganized the organization, which has become the model for other affiliates wanting to pursue operational excellence.

Adele and her family moved to Raleigh, North Carolina in 1987 when she became CEO of Easterseals North Carolina. As her final act as CEO, in 2003, Adele led the merger between Easterseals North Carolina and UCP North Carolina.

In 2004, Adele became a consultant and once again worked with the Easterseals national office and a number of other non-profit organizations. In 2005, she served as Interim CEO for the North Carolina chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI). In 2007, she became the Interim CEO for Disability Rights NC. In 2008, she helped Easterseals UCP launch its mobile crisis management team. When she finally retired from business, she chaired several church committees and also became an Elder at her church.

Adele Foschia’s legacy lives on forever in the many friends, family, colleagues and policy changes she made for the disability community. We are honored to remember and recognize this incredible woman.

Easterseals UCP and PORT Health are trustworthy, compassionate partners providing exceptional disability, behavioral health and addiction treatment services to help our neighbors live their best lives. Purpose, dedication and empathy drive our in-person and telehealth service delivery. Our diverse and inclusive 2,600 member team provides more than 10.2 million hours of meaningful support to 40,200 kids, adults and families in 11,000 home, facility and community locations across North Carolina and Virginia. Learn more at eastersealsucp.com.