A Valpo Life in the Spotlight: Rocco Schiralli

A Valpo Life in the Spotlight: Rocco Schiralli
By: Caitlin Vanlaningham Last Updated: May 7, 2014

I took a seat in the roomy office of Rocco Schiralli, CEO of Porter Starke Services and got a chance to learn about this wonderful man. We talked of his past, his job, his love of dogs, and other things that are the pieces to the human whole. Please enjoy yourself as I did while learning about this Valpo Life in the Spotlight.

Schiralli was born and raised in Gary, IN. He attended Holy Angels Cathedral and then ended up at Andrean High School. Furthering his education, Schiralli received his Bachelor's degree in Public Administration at Indiana University and then a Master's degree in Psychology from West Georgia College.

Throughout his school years, Schiralli loved art. He did quite a bit of painting and his artwork can be found in multiple places. Looking around his office you could see various works adorning the walls.

After graduating from West Georgia Tech, Schiralli got into the demolition business. He and his brother John were partners in Avatar Enterprises, Inc. Later Schiralli left the demolition business and for into the behavioral healthcare field. This was quite a transition.

 "When I got into the demolition business I heard that there was a good opportunity for contractors in the City of Gary to tear down buildings so that's how we got into that business," Schiralli explained, "Then after doing that for a while I got out of it because of the instability of work and payment."

Schiralli was always interested in psychology so he thought that getting a job in the field that he studied was a good idea. Before coming to Porter Starke, Schiralli worked at Southlake Mental Health Center for 17 years. He was a therapist, he managed the impatient, phych, and substance abuse unit, and he ran the health services division at the Lake County Jail.

"When I worked at South Lake is was stressful and I needed a change. So I interviewed with the CEO of Porter Starke at the time, Lee Grogg, for an opening for the Director of the Adolescent Substance Abuse Program which had just started," Schiralli said. "It was a step down from what I did at the jail and Grogg recognized that. But he said to me, ' I can make you a promise: If you work hard and are patient, there is a chance that you could advance at Porter Starke'."

Schiralli remained patient and he worked hard and he was promoted to Director of Addictions, then Director of Addictions and Children Services, then Vice President of Programs, and finally to CEO.

"What was interesting is that when I got the position there was an article that was written about my promotion and I emailed it to Grogg and wrote, 'Hey, you're right. When you are patient and work hard you can advance in this company,'" Schiralli said with a smile.

As the CEO, Schiralli is responsible for the overall operations for the organization.

"My goal as the CEO of Porter Starke is to make it the best place to work and the best place to receive care," Schiralli said. "To be advocates for our clients. Mental illness and addiction are some of the most stigmatized diseases and we want to eliminate that. We're in a business where every life matters and I'm glad to be in this business."

Schiralli gave lots of credit to his staff for making the organization great.

"I'm very fortunate to work with some amazing individuals. The staff and culture that we have developed here is wonderful and that's why I like working here," Schiralli said. "I think that translates into the care that clients receive here at Porter Starke. To be able to work in an environment where people genuinely care about the services that they are providing is great."

Porter Starke is very involved in the community. One of the main reasons for that is their vision is to inspire health, balance and hope in community and their mission is: Porter-Starke Services is dedicated to enhancing the quality of life in our community through prevention, treatment, education and research.

"The word that jumps at me is 'community'. We love our communities and we want to make them nicer," Schiralli said. "The best way to do that is have your finger on the pulse of what is happening. To actively work with partners, for-profit and nonprofit, and get to know your community. We have a lot of people who are capable of representing us in the community."

Schiralli is no exception. Right now he is on the advisory board for the Community Corrections Advisory Board, the Porter County Career and Technical Center Board, Mental Health Corporations of America, Indiana Counsel, One Region initiative, Valpo Next Steering Committee and those were just what he could think of off the top of his head.

Outside of work and commitments in the community, Schiralli loves to paint, work out, watch movies with his wife Brook, cook, and play with his dogs.

"At Porter Starke one of the things we talk about is health, balance and hope. So I think that if you're healthy you can be happy. Have balance in your life. To be in extremes with anything is not healthy. Have fun, relax, eat good food. And hope. There's always hope. In any situation there's hope. You never know what will make a situation turn around. You just have to keep the right attitude," Schiralli said in closing.