Hi, I'm Danette
WHERE I COME FROM
I was born in New York, but soon after, my family moved to Connecticut. I came from humble beginnings, from a railroad family who lived in New Haven. When my father died from workplace violence, my mom, sibling and I were plunged into poverty, so my father's family summoned us to New York. I moved back to Connecticut to marry Charles Onofrio, the patriarch of a family rooted in New Fairfield for 35 years. I love New Fairfield, the area and the State of Connecticut. I belong. Together, they blended two daughters, two stepsons, a son-in-law and daughter-in-law, and three grandchildren.
BESt Candidate for the State Assembly
My mother dropped out of high school to take care of dying parents, and my father attained a high school diploma. I could not afford college when I was young, so I went to a business school to learn executive skills and accounting. I used those skills to do work for a food management company, CPA and accounts management for a plumbing supply company and local government.
I became a single parent of two daughters in my 30s and wanted to get ahead. So, I could mother and learn, I enrolled in a mentoring program at SUNY Empire State College. I earned an Associates in Social Theory, Structure and Change. I continued to study to acquire a Bachelor in Professional Studies, focusing on human services administration. My focus was making change in government, schools and nonprofits to gain better outcomes.
I loved learning so I then earned a Master of Public Administration from Marist College and was then honored to be asked to teach in the program. I proceeded to earn 62 doctoral credits and a candidacy for a Doctorate of Management and Organizational Leadership from the University of Phoenix.
As a school administrator of an enlarged city school district, I spearheaded an initiative that improved academic achievement, reduced discipline referrals, increased attendance and started new community-based services for health, mental health, and substance abuse prevention. I was the Liaison of Homeless Students and, in that capaicty, I instituted new tutoring and afterschool programs, as well as started anti-drug and homeless coalitions. I am proud that I and my team stabilized over 500 homeless students.
During the HIV-AIDS epidemic, I worked for a public health agency for a couple of years. I worked as a networking coordinator to bring together state and county public health officials, hospitals, community-based clinics, physicians' offices and other healthcare providers and agencies to improve services for pregnant and parenting women and women of childbearing age. When families were scared and treatment was uncertain for HIV/AIDS, I held focus groups and interviewed pregnant and parenting women. I became their voice to public officials and healthcare providers, advising how to best prevent HIV/AIDS and treat women. I coordinated training, worked to improve support services, made recommendations and developed public messages to the general public in four counties. I worked with small business owners to provide affordable health coverage. Together we can manage this pandemic.
SMALL BUSINESS OWNER
As the small business owner of D.R. Shepard Consulting and Services, LLC in New Fairfield, I work with government, nonprofits and schools to identify their needs and improve outcomes.
SMALL BUSINESS ADVISOR
I am a Certified Business Advisor for Western Connecticut SCORE and a partner with the Small Business Administration. I work with startup and existing businesses to get established, weather the coronavirus storm, build their capacity and solve their problems.
We need experienced representation in Hartford. I
have a strong legislative and public finance background. For 20 years I worked for a legislative body of a small city. I wrote legislation and local laws, including zoning regulations, vehicle and traffic laws, and budgetary resolutions. I was involved in multiple facets of developing, adopting and auditing processes of multi-million dollar budgets. I understand government budgeting, grant processes and contractual procedures.
I managed vital statistics and issued licenses and permits. My experience involved developing municipal budgets, as well as researching and tracking legislation. I worked with constituents to solve their problems. I listened, carried messages to the politicians, advocated, and made referrals to government officials, government agencies, and nonprofit organizations to help them.
I was a member of the School Safety Committee when I was a school administrator and wrote the Safe Schools/Healthy Students grant. With a team we implemented SAFE Rooms. I was the district-wide coach for Positive Behavioral Intervention and Supports (PBIS) and brought in trainers and curricula for Safe School Ambassadors, Life Skills Program, Teen Screen, and Positive Action. Students were screened for mental illness and substance abuse problems in our school clinics. The Safe School Ambassadors expanded into community ambassadors in the most violent small city in the country.
PREVENTION & EDUCATION
CSEA Local 1000, AFSME, AFL-CIO
I was a public servant for 23 years. I was a member and now retiree of CSEA Local 1000 AFSME, AFL-CIO. Unions are the backbone of our working families, raising everyone's wages and working conditions.
To help at-risk youth, I started regional and county coalitions that led to significant reductions in teen pregnancy. I then went on to work in substance abuse education and prevention. I headed the formation of 6 anti-drug coalitions for local governments, nonprofit agencies and schools and provided technical assistance, management, training, program planning, and evaluation. All were successful in reducing substance abuse among youth; one achieving 20% fewer students using drugs and alcohol.
While working for and with governments, schools, and nonprofits through my business, I have worked with federal agencies, including the Office of National Drug Control Policy, Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, Department of Justice, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, Center for Substance Abuse Prevention, Center for Disease Control, and state departments of health, mental health and addictions in multiple states.
I am currently serving as a Library Director for the New Fairfield Public Library and I am a member of the Friends of the Library. As well, I am a member and public relations committee chair of the Womans Club of Danbury/New Fairfield. I also am a member and Secretary of the New Fairfield Democratic Town Committee. In the past, I was a 4-H Leader for 15 years. I served on the At-Risk Youth Committee of Cornell Cooperative Extension of Orange County. I was a co-founder, board member and volunteer director of the Orange County Associations for the Learning Disabled until funding was acquired. I was a board member and past President of the Arts EmPowerment Project. Additionally, I am also an advocate for common sense gun reform.
I have dedicated my life to working with government, schools and nonprofit organizations to better the lives of the people whom I served. I have helped governmental and nonprofit agencies to determine the real and emerging needs of people, to strategize the best high-quality programs for the lowest cost, and to transform their agencies to better serve children and families. I have taught countless government and aspiring officials, nonprofit executives, criminal justice and others better practices at the Marist College. I taught students about public budgeting, public policy, program planning and evaluation, managing nonprofit organizations and American Government in the NYS Police cohort located at the NYS Police Academy and Troop F, on Marist on ground sites and online. I will work to bring better practices to our state offices.
LOCAL, STATE, FEDERAL, FOUNDATION FUNDING
As a grant writer, I authored grants that generated $13M to local governments, schools, nonprofit organizations and coalitions. These dollars started afterschool programs, reduced substance abuse among youth, transformed mental health services, and increased school safety.