Envisioning Access: Our Current Mission
As we go through our transition, we are guided by two fundamental principles:
- First, our mission, providing innovative technologies and quality-of-life opportunities to those living with physical disabilities, will remain our compass.
- Second, we will take care of our post-service monkeys until the end of their natural lives.
Now, after more than four decades of successfully delivering on our mission of providing service animals to help adults with physical disabilities live independent lives, we have recognized we need to adjust the way we operate in response to regulatory, market, and technology changes.
Thus, we are transitioning from a service animal model to exploring specific technologies, including different assistive robotics as well as augmented and virtual reality, to provide opportunities to give those living with physical disabilities the independence to go back to school, find meaningful career opportunities, meet others virtually in a variety of settings, or travel the world. Innovative solutions make endless possibilities for innovative lives.
Additionally, we are providing a safe, healthy, fulfilling environment for post-service and medically challenged monkeys for the rest of their lives at our state-of-the-art Monkey Living Center or in one of our special care homes/foster homes.
Innovative Technology for Those Living with Physical Disabilities
As an organization dedicated to working with those living with physical disabilities, we look at our history with great pride. Now, Envisioning Access is in an exciting transition phase, undertaking initiatives that will allow us to continue to serve the disability community by providing resources through the utilization of robotics, augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR), and artificial intelligence (AI).
Envisioning Access is looking to take the 40+ years of experience, intellectual property, and insights it has gained in service to the disability community and offer it in collaboration with robotics, AR, VR, and AI research organizations, firms, and service providers.
The goal of our new Innovative Technology Initiative is to offer new technologies, now coming on the market at a rapid pace, that help empower individuals with physical disabilities to live more independent and engaged lives. As when we trained service monkeys from the 1980s through the early 2000s, our goal today is to provide tools that allow individuals with physical disabilities to have opportunities to pursue meaningful careers, advanced educational degrees, and fulfilling personal lives.
Diane S. Nahabedian
Diane S. Nahabedian joined Helping Hands as the executive director in August 2020. As a senior level non-profit management professional, Diane S. Nahabedian has spent over thirty years working with organizations to enhance their stature through outreach to ensure organizational financial security.
Director of Monkey Care
Alison has had a lifelong interest in animals, especially primates. In the third grade, she decided that she would work with monkeys or apes someday. Throughout her education, she volunteered at pet clinics, an avian nursery, and Zoo New England, and has always loved learning more about different animals.
Director of Marketing and Communications
A Helping Hands staff member from 2011-2018, Erica returned to the team in 2020 as the Director of Marketing and Communications.
After graduating from Bennington College with a degree in photography and music, she moved to Boston in 1999 to begin a career in the nonprofit world.
Placement Trainer/Veterinary Technician
Allyson received her bachelor’s degree in veterinary technology from Mount Ida College in 2008. She always knew she wanted to work with exotic animals and was thrilled when she was offered a position at Helping Hands in 2009.
Kim has always had an affinity for animals, having owned a plethora of domesticated mammals and reptiles while she was growing up. She discovered Helping Hands in the summer of 2013 while attending Boston University, and started interning while completing her BA in behavioral biology.
Having grown up on a hobby farm, Chelsea developed an early passion for the animal world as she spent every day among a wide variety of animals. She graduated from Boston University with a bachelor’s degree in film and television, but quickly realized working with animals was her true calling.
Program Manager, Innovative Technology Initiative
Matthew graduated from Boston University in 2021 with degrees in neuroscience and psychology. He has always loved animals and when he found out about Helping Hands, he loved the idea of both our past work and the future vision. He was excited to accept a full-time position with the organization.
With more than 30 years of investment, analytical and financial management experience, Robert serves as a portfolio manager at Woodstock Corporation for individuals and families in addition to having investment research responsibilities.
Susan Keyes is the co-owner of Keyes North Atlantic, Inc., a leading provider of green technology and electro-mechanical systems design, installation, repair, and maintenance in eastern Massachusetts.
Dan is a Finance and Operations Manager at Russell’s Garden Center in Wayland, Massachusetts. He has previously worked as a financial controller for an HVAC and electrical contracting firm and began his career as an accountant for one of the largest regional public accounting firms in Massachusetts.
Lisa is the Vice President of Creative at NNE Marketing, an agency that produces fundraising packages exclusively for nonprofit organizations. Over the last decade, she has written and developed winning creative for some of the most renowned nonprofits in the nation.
Khristine currently holds the position of Vice President of Business Development at Forum Plastics, a company built on engineering that prides itself on accomplishing extremely difficult programs in the custom mold design & build, injection, insert & micro-molding to support the medical space.
Michele is the founder and president of Animal Research Consulting LLC, a life sciences consulting firm specializing in animal care programs. Prior to starting the consulting business, she was the Associate Director of Pre-Clinical Biology at Genzyme Corporation.
Dr. Sarah Davis has been providing direct patient care as a dentist in Lexington for over 20 years. She is a member of the ADA and the MDS. Originally from Iowa, Sarah lives in Chelmsford, MA, where she serves as an elected town representative.
Robin is the Executive Vice President at DENS Facility Services where she is charged with planning and overseeing business operations and development activities.
Judi joins the Board after 20 years of involvement with Helping Hands, including providing a Special Care Home for monkey Katie for fourteen years. Judi has served as a clinical social worker for the Massachusetts Department of Mental Health and at the Perkins School for the Blind in Watertown, MA.
Jill is an occupational therapist. Her professional background includes physical rehab and community-based practice, robotics, and animal-assisted therapy. She currently works part-time at Tufts University coordinating occupational therapy admissions and recruitment outreach.
As a former employee, Jill is very familiar with Helping Hands and is very excited about the future direction of the organization.
Daniel G. Steger
Daniel is the founder and principal of DGS/a Architecture, a Massachusetts design firm dedicated to custom residential design and construction services. He holds a Master of Architecture from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and is a registered architect in Massachusetts and a member of the American Institute of Architects (AIA).
Keith is a Senior Director of Engineering and Architecture at Akamai Technologies, where he leads the vision, definition, and execution of Akamai’s innovation by creating the future state technology vision and overseeing the development of relevant multi-year strategies and roadmaps for the company.
Job & Volunteer Opportunities
Currently there are no job opportunities available.
Please check back as we do post any of our current openings here.
Member of the Board of Directors
After more than four decades of successfully delivering on our mission of providing trained monkeys to help adults with physical disabilities live independent lives, we are adjusting the way we operate in response to regulatory, market, and technology changes. As one of the first non-human personal assistants, the animals helped with daily tasks and were provided at no cost. Now, the organization, staying true to its mission of providing services to those living with physical disabilities including spinal cord injuries and multiple sclerosis, as well as other debilitating injuries and illnesses, is transitioning from a service animal model to using innovative technologies – a seismic and exciting transformation. When our founders first began training the primate to be a non-human personal assistant the goal was to give individuals more independence. The goal of new technologies is to provide the resources to allow someone to choose how to live and use technology for more empowered and independent lives.
We are looking for those who understand and/or are open to learning technologies such as robotics, virtual and augmented reality, and artificial intelligence. Connections in the technology world, those living with disabilities, and anyone interested in joining a board of those committed to providing enhanced quality of life and opportunities for individuals, caregivers, and communities living with physical challenges please reach out.
For more information, please email Executive Director Diane Nahabedian.
Development Committee Members
Envisioning Access, formerly Helping Hands: Monkey Helpers is actively seeking candidates interested in fundraising to work alongside senior staff, volunteers, and board members on our Development Committee.
Specifically, we are looking for people who have fundraising, marketing, and/or event planning skills and are willing to reach out to introduce us to potential donors/funders. If interested, please contact us.