Human First, Inc.

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Cheryelle Cruickshank headshot
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Location: Lynbrook, NY
Founded: 2001
Industry: Social services

Human First, Inc.

Cheryelle Cruickshank


Human First, Inc. is a nonprofit that serves more than 1,000 individuals with special needs. The organization is dedicated to helping those it serves achieve their personal goals, regardless of their disabilities, through services like supportive housing, crisis intervention and recreational programming. Though many smaller nonprofits fall victim to changes in federal and state funding levels, Human First has remained strong thanks to its robust infrastructure, which allowed it to pivot and adjust to changing funding. Over the next five to 10 years, Human First hopes to expand its supportive employment program throughout Long Island, triple the number of individuals it serves at its Pride Center, and provide residential services that include supportive and affordable housing for those with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

Quick Tip: “Balance the need for a carefully planned and executed strategy with the flexibility to overcome the inevitable bumps in the road.”

CEO Cheryelle Cruickshank says Human First has expanded at a rapid rate, developing several new group homes designed for individuals with significant developmental and physical disabilities, and those with a mental health diagnosis. This expansion also came with Human First’s decision to offer its staff higher wages, and to bring on new staff members. Though the expansion presented some challenges, the organization turned them into opportunities by revamping its administrative and management structure to keep staff from burning out, and to provide opportunities for advancement.