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Philip Matcovsky, COO, Federation of Organizations, reflects on three decades of serving people in need
  • By Emily Davenport
  • /
  • Wednesday, March 1st, 2017
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  • 04:16 PM UTC

In April, Philip Matcovsky, Chief Operating Officer, Federation of Organizations, will celebrate 30 years of working in the human welfare field, all while at Federation.  His rise in the organization has followed the agency’s growth, which started in 1972 with approximately 15 employees and today employs 525 and has an operating budget of more than $48 million.

In 1987, upon earning a degree in psychology from Long Island University at CW Post, Matcovsky envisioned a career as a therapist.  He took his first job at Federation, where instead of doing talk therapy, he found himself working with people who were living in poverty and/or dealing with disabilities.

“They needed concrete help,” Matcovsky recalls. “Seeing the results of helping people to find jobs and housing was very satisfying.” That job gave Matcovsky experience from the ground up.  He was involved in janitor duties, served as ad hoc HR director, acted as facility manager, and bought and drove the agency’s first van.

Realizing that social work was his calling, he earned a Master’s in Social Work (M.S.W.) in 1991 from Stony Brook University. He also earned a certification in psychiatric rehabilitation  (CPRP) from the U.S. Psychiatric Rehabilitation Association.

Matcovsky credits Barbara Faron, Federation’s CEO, with giving him the autonomy and the support to redesign strategies and help grow the agency. “Proper housing and jobs are essential to the health of our society.  Wherever Federation put me, I would try to change the design of the program to better meet the needs of the clients, and the community in which they lived,” he said.

Today, at age 53, Matcovsky says he is still using the same creative thinking and strategizing skills he learned early on. As Chief Operating Officer, his days are filled with balancing the needs of clients – people with chronic health conditions, seniors, mental health consumers, and families living in poverty – and working with funding sources.  There are constant decisions about how to structure the organization, which each year serves the needs of thousands of vulnerable people on Long Island and in the New York City metro area.

During 30 years at Federation, Matcovsky has seen major changes in healthcare. Where once people with disabilities were institutionalized, there is now opportunity to integrate individuals into communities.

“In healthcare, there have always been waves of change and paradigm shifts. The big challenge is to meet and balance the needs of both the clients and the funding sources,” Matcovsky said.

He attributes the agency’s growth to an organizational culture that remains flexible in its approaches and adapts quickly to change. “We put a lot of energy into modifying our services to meet the needs of our clients while fulfilling the demands of managed care,”  Matcovsky said.

He noted that when the Affordable Care Act (known as ObamaCare) was signed in 2010, Federation did not resist its impact. “Federation went in full force, embracing the changes, rather than fighting them,” he said. “As a result, we had a big growth spurt. I learned from our CEO Barbara Faron not to be afraid of changes in the industry.”

Matcovsky recalled a time when New York City adult homes came under scrutiny for abuse.  Federation took on the challenge by working even closer with adult home owners  to design a creative on-site adult home case management service. New York State recognized the design and began offering grants for other agencies to do the same.

In addition to serving the needs of clients and the communities in which they live, Matcovsky views the organization’s culture as a priority.

“Among the leadership at Federation, it’s our job to teach staff members how to do things well so they can thrive in their jobs,” he said. “We analyze their strengths and put them in the right area. We also shift senior management people around so that their skills are used successfully.”

When asked about the next 30 years, Matcovsky stated: “We’ve seen agencies fold in light of recent changes in the healthcare climate. At Federation, we understand the importance of creativity, strategy, and embracing change. I’m confident that we will continue to grow.”

About Federation of Organizations

Federation of Organizations is a large, multi-faceted, not-for-profit human service agency that has been helping people to help themselves for over 40 years. To find out more about these programs, call 631-669-5355 extension 1144, or visit Federation’s website at www.fedoforg.org.