Leader of Bay Ridge special-needs organization retires

Brooklyn Paper
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Bay Ridge

They gave him a proper send off!

Three cheers to Guild of Exceptional Children Executive Director and Chief Executive Officer Paul Cassone, who announced his retirement on Jan. 10 after more than four decades of tireless work and advocacy for children and adults with special needs.

Hundreds of officers, board members, staff, individuals, and families of the Bay Ridge charity joined in thanking and congratulating Cassone for his commitment to helping children and adults living with developmental and intellectual disabilities, and celebrated his farewell at a surprise retirement party at the Bay Ridge Manor on 76th Street, between Fourth and Fifth avenues.

The long-time local who now lives in Windsor Terrace gave decades of his professional life to closing down institutions and creating better group homes for thousands of people in need, according to a statement by the Guild.

“Devoting a lifetime to those who are less fortunate, he was part of the Civil Rights Movement that closed institutions and opened group homes and began community inclusion creating better lives and brighter futures for people with developmental disabiliti­es,” the statement read.

The do-gooder organization has been a staple in Bay Ridge since 1958 and provides a range of educational, clinical, and support services to more than 700 children and adults throughout the borough, according to the company.

Cassone’s work for the Guild goes back as far as his high school days at Xaverian High School, and he continued his work there during college as a direct care worker and project leader.

From there he moved on to ACRMD, which later changed its name to Lifespire, and rose through the ranks to become chief operating officer in 2003, which made him responsible for 4,000 individuals with developmental disabilities at 30 sites across the five boroughs.

He returned to the Guild as executive director in 2005, and he has led the expansion by opening programs in Dyker Heights and Marine Park, as well as growing the residential and adult day services.

In the next chapter, he plans to spend more time with his loving wife Geraldine and his three adult children Matthew, Christopher, and Annie Rose — even though he’ll be missed at the Guild, the release read.

“We wish him well as he enters a new chapter in his life’s journey. We will all truly miss him,” it read.

— Kevin Duggan

Fort Greene

Save the date

Come one, come all to celebrate 175 years of The Brooklyn Hospital Center at an anniversary bash!

The medical center is also honoring Councilwoman Laurie Cumbo, poet Walt Whitman, and the Fort Greene Park Conservancy, all of which have been part of its history.

Cumbo will serve as the event’s keynote speaker, and B.A. Van Sise, Whitman’s six-times great nephew, will accept the award on behalf of the Bard of Brooklyn.

Brooklyn Hospital Center cafeteria (121 DeKalb Ave. at Ashland Place in Fort Greene) Jan. 31, 10 am. RSVP to Jessica Bruzzese at or (718) 250–6544.

Reach reporter Kevin Duggan at (718) 260–2511 or by e-mail at Follow him on Twitter @kduggan16.
Updated 11:59 am, January 25, 2019
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