You’ve Got Mail, From Shayna Joseph


Since its founding in 1964, Barkan Management Company has been an industry leader in the residential real estate sector. With over 550 employees and 23,000 units under its management in Boston, throughout New England and also in the Greater Washington, D.C., area, Barkan provides, in addition to property management, other related services including accounting, renovation, brokerage, development and affordable housing compliance.

Thirty-eight years ago, Barkan hired its first employee with a disability. That employee was deaf and Barkan installed a TTY line for her to use for phone calls, and, eventually, also communicated with her via email rather than through talking. She worked a total of 37 years at the company and single-handedly ran Barkan’s payroll department for over 30 years until she retired.

Over the years, Barkan Management has continued to hire people based on their abilities and qualifications, and to date, the company has hired eight employees who have disabilities.

Shayna Joseph, who has Asperger’s Syndrome, has worked at Barkan for the last nine years. She was originally hired as a file clerk, but that position was eliminated when the company went paperless. Barkan decided to train Joseph to run the mailroom, process invoices electronically and help the accounts payable department. This position came with much more responsibility than her role as file clerk did and also required the juggling of tasks. Joseph is now responsible for all incoming and outgoing mail, which includes over 2,000 vendor checks each week.

Office manager Janet Damelin says, “Shayna is incredibly responsible and works well independently. She has taught us all that a disability does not prevent a person from leading a full, independent, productive life. Shayna is our ‘go to person’ when anyone needs help with a project and never says no.”

It happens that Damelin worked as a special education teacher for 12 years before coming to work for Barkan, and was able to use her background to provide coaching and support as Joseph adjusted to her first position and then transitioned into her next role.

For Joseph, who works a five-day, 30-hour week at Barkan, her job has become a source of pride and stability. “I started looking for a job after I graduated from the Lesley University Threshold Program, and it was hard,” she says. “I did work at a couple of different jobs but nothing permanent. They were good experience because I learned things at each one. Barkan Management Company has provided me with the permanent position, and I am happy to have this job and it is going well. I have been here for a long, long time. I enjoy it.”