DeAngelis says farewell to DART after 26 years

Rebecca Neipp

News Review Staff Writer

DeAngelis says farewell to DART after 26 yearsAfter more than 26 years with Desert Area Resources and Training and 16 years as its leader, Virginia “Jinny” DeAngelis, Ph.D., is retiring July 1 as chief executive officer of DART.

“I will miss the daily interactions with our clients and staff, and my work in the community related to my role at DART — but I’ll be around,” said DeAngelis. “I’m not dying, and I’m not leaving!”

DeAngelis began her career at DART working as an employment case manager in 1993.. After a few years, she was appointed by her predecessor, Terri Hall, as the chief of programs and services. When Hall moved on in 2003, DeAngelis was chosen as the new CEO.

“Working with the clients is the best part of the job,” said DeAngelis. DART serves approximately 110 clients right now — and in the past that number has been as high as 200 — providing individuals with developmental disabilities with services ranging from living support to transportation to employment opportunities.

“Our mission is driven by the needs of the clients, but our main goal is to make sure they have the support they need to pursue the life they want,” she said.

“We allow our clients an opportunity to increase their ability to support themselves, and we allow families to see the dreams they have for their children fulfilled.”

DeAngelis noted that, like any job, hers was not without challenge. Chief among them was finding ways to work within the state and federal funding systems that support those programs.

“We have not had an increase since 2009, so we are always trying to find ways to earn additional revenue. But because of our restrictions, we are limited in the ways that we can raise money because of our tax-exempt status,” she said.

She has been an advocate at county and state levels of government so that she could stay abreast of policy changes, while continuing to be a voice for those who cannot always speak for themselves. “Our leaders know that I’m going to fight the fight, and that I won’t let the clients or families of East Kern be ignored.”

DeAngelis has also been an active member of the Ridgecrest Chamber of Commerce. “I’m going to miss that being a Chamber Ambassador, too,” she said.

However, she has plans to travel with her husband, Lenny, and visit extended family in the midwest.

“I have nieces and nephews whose kids only know me through photos. I look forward to getting to spend more time with family.”

As a member of the Daughters of the American Revolution, DeAngelis said she also looks forward to having the time to delve into history and geneology.

She and her husband also look forward by exploring our country, and possibly Canada, by rail. “People keep asking if we are going to go on some cruises. I’m not a big water person — maybe that comes from living in the desert — but we are both excited about having some time to travel by train.”

DeAngelis said that she and her husband purchased their “retirement home” here about 10 years ago. They have been making small renovations over that time and plan to continue those improvements and keep it as their home base.

With their three children in Ridgecrest, Tehachapi and Santa Cruz, no one is more than a car ride away.

“We definitely plan to stay in the community. This won’t be the last you’ll see of me!”

Cris Bridges will be the new CEO of DART, following DeAngelis’ retirement at the end of the month.

Story First Published: 2019-06-28