Abilities First executive director dies; Rosebrough carried agency through ups and downs

Jan Rosebrough, who served as executive director of Abilities First for three years, died Saturday. She was 64. SUBMITTED PHOTO

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Jan Rosebrough, who served as executive director of Abilities First for three years, died Saturday. She was 64. SUBMITTED PHOTO

Agency’s executive director for the last three years died Saturday. She was 64.

For the last three years, what one official called “turbulent times” at Abilities First in Middletown, Jan Rosebrough served as executive director.

“She carried this place emotionally with her dedication,” said Roger Smith, director of safety and facilities. “That speaks volumes about her commitment. I could not think of a better person to lead us.”

Rosebrough, who joined Abilities First in 2001, died Saturday afternoon. She was 64.

Smith said in the days since Rosebrough’s death, he has walked passed her office. Her door was always open. Now it’s closed.

“It’s painful knowing we won’t see her in this life again,” he said.

When Rosebrough accepted the executive direction position in 2019, there were questions about the stability of the agency, then she led the agency through the COVID-19 pandemic.

Smith said Abilities First, which is nearly 64 years old, will continue to provide quality services to children and families across the region. He will serve in the lead role in the interim while plans are being made to move the agency forward.

She was responsible for leading the agency’s Pediatric Therapies and Early Childhood Learning Center (inclusive childcare program), developed the Autism Learning Center in 2009 and took on the role of executive director of the agency in July 2019.

Under her leadership, the Autism Learning Center grew from eight students to 30 in grades pre-kindergarten through second, said Bettie Rountree, children’s program coordinator.

“That was her baby,” Rountree said.

Rosebrough, a native of New Zealand, trained and worked as a New Zealand Registered PT (Pediatric Neurodevelopmental Physical Therapist) for almost 10 years, before leaving New Zealand in 1989 to pursue working in disability programs for a non-governmental agency and in developing countries until 1996.

She is survived by her husband, Ed.

Arrangements are incomplete at Anderson Funeral Home in Franklin.

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