When Danielle Longhofer graduated from Marion High School in 1994, she knew she wanted to go into a helping profession. She had no idea how many people she would eventually help.
Now Danielle Bartelli, she ensures thousands of children and families get child welfare and behavioral health services as president of KVC Behavioral Health care in Olathe.
Bartelli took the reins of the $70 million 30-county Kansas nonprofit in May, culminating a journey that began 16 years ago with a helping hand from another Marionite.
“I was working for KVC when they were in Emporia,” Rose Vinduska said. “At the time it was known as Kaw Valley Center had a contract with Social and Rehabilitative Services to manage their foster care.”
Bartelli was in a mental health counseling master’s degree program at Emporia State University, and needed to find a paid internship. One of her best friends throughout school had been Vinduska’s daughter, Terese.
“I got this call from my daughter saying, ‘You have to help my friend,’” Vinduska said.
Vinduska arranged for Bartelli to interview for a case manager position in Ottawa. Bartelli took the job, even though it didn’t quite fit her career plans.
“I didn’t go into social work; I went into counseling,” Bartelli said. “My thought was to be a therapist.”
It wasn’t long before her plans changed.
“When I got into child welfare, it was an immediate passion for me,” Bartelli said. “I could get in and work with families, problem-solve with them, coordinate and advocate for resources, and help them get what they needed to be successful.”
Bartelli stayed with KVC after graduating from ESU, and within a few years started advancing. She became a supervisor, then policy and contract specialist, program director, and vice president of operations, a position she held for five years before becoming president.
Throughout all of it, she was guided by values she learned growing up in Marion.
“The community itself was my extended family,” Bartelli said. “The one thing I learned from that extended family was the innate ability to be kind. You can do just about anything when you are kind.”
It’s also why Bartelli keeps her hand in direct service by conducting family group sessions.
“I’m probably one of the only presidents you’ll see still doing direct care work,” she said.
Her experience prepared her for the challenges of overseeing diverse services from family education to foster care, as well as tackling broader organizational, policy, and financial issues.
What caught Bartelli off guard was a change in relationships with her co-workers when she became president.
Meanwhile, she’s looking forward to returning to Marion in September.
“I never miss an Art in the Park or an Old Settlers weekend,” she said. “It’s my favorite time of the year.”