December 10, 2018
To: Board of Directors, Dale Rogers Training Center
From: Connie Thrash McGoodwin, M.Ed., Executive Director
Re: Resignation 1981-2020
About 12 years ago, I promised the Board an 18 month notice of intent to resign, so here we are:
Please accept my resignation as a full-time staff for June 30, 2020. I will abdicate the throne and title of Executive Director on December 31, 2019. I will remain on staff as an administrative resource to Deborah Copeland and the Board of Directors from January through June 2020. I will use this time to complete projects and documentation of agency history. Deborah and I are committed to making this transition seamless.
Some of you may know I taught special education in Australia during the 1970s. I was 27 when I was called back to be an Executive Director at an agency I had taught at in Dallas. I arrived in OKC in 1981 at the ripe old age of 31 and was pretty sure I knew everything.
The two gentlemen that hired me were John Giles, (recently deceased) and Art McIntyre. They had me attend the next “Board Council Meeting” to a very surprised Board of Directors who clearly didn’t know I had been hired or that I was going to attend the meeting. AWKWARD! Some of them were very welcoming and became life-long friends. The staff were not at all glad to see me! Their party was over.
My salary was $17,000 which was 20 percent of the $85,000 annual budget. Equipment included two typewriters and a mimeograph machine. The clients made somewhere around $1.11 cash per week; there were only 3-4 subcontracts with no time studies. Putnam City school district had two special education classrooms here in the Administration building that eventually went back to Putnam City Schools.
It was a little prehistoric here, about 45 teens and adults. It was right before the oil bust, and the agency went by the name of Oklahoma County Council for Mentally Retarded Citizens, Inc. Staff didn’t know I had been hired either. Most informed me on my first day that I didn’t really supervise their position because they: worked for Putnam City, were related to a Board member, were funded on a separate grant, or they were a volunteer; therefore, I had no jurisdiction or authority over them.
In six months I had separated the wheat from the chaff and had fired about half of the 14 staff who “didn’t really work for me.” I was only a 31-year-old kid; it was scary, but there were a half dozen Board members that steadfastly supported me. The agency and I owe them so much; Pat Knight, John Giles, Lavonne Hutchison to name a few. Also met a young 24-year old accountant from across the street. Carl Hamilton became a great sounding board for me and remains so even after 40 years.
My former husband was going through OCU Law School. With the permission of both Boards, I was executive director of both the agencies; one in Dallas and DRTC here in OKC for a year. (split work-week) It was a seamless exit from Dallas.
The Council’s Board was composed of 100 percent parents. There were some folks who decided I was too young, too rules-driven, and too demanding of our population and staff. The Council called an emergency meeting so I could “defend” myself and my programs. I told John the Council needed to decide what type of agency they wanted to be.
If it was to continue as an adult daycare, I ethically couldn’t do that. If they wanted a vocational training program, I was good. I told him to call me at home after the meeting to let me know if I still had a job. He did, and I did! Fortunately most of the families were very happy with all the new training that their sons and daughters were learning.
They were even more pleased that clients were no longer doing 8-piece puzzles or looking at scantily clad women in National Geographic. Only a handful complained and that included the oil rich mom who slammed her fist on my desk the first week yelling that I’d better learn her name; she was a big donor and could easily ruin me. For the next 3-5 years, I drove buses, did yard work, wrote curriculum, painted buildings, hired and fired. In the mid-late 1980s, I was Chair of the state-wide Oklahoma Community-Based Providers. The rest, as they say, is history:
- Watching clients learn, thrive, increase their paychecks, and work in the community
- Chairing the committee that passed the first workshop funding by the legislature
- Creating Businesses that trained clients to make awards and do framing for the public
- Starting our first SourceAmerica/AbilityOne contract in Food Services and Tinker Air Force Base in 1993 (now 26 years old).
- National Accreditation-Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities (CARF) Cleaning Industry Management Standards (CIMS)
- Celebrating Anniversaries – 25, 33, 50, and 60
60th with Roy Rogers Jr. and his band (3 generations)
- Recent Biennial and Expanded Catalog and Gift Items
Robin’s Corner display given to us because I had requested it from the Rogers’ family. Permanent part of our legacy.
- Losing 1/3 of our funding overnight. (mid 80’s)
- Being sued by the out-of-state for-profit company who previously held a federal Tinker Food Services contract we were awarded. Then spending years trying to protect the same contract from being taken over by other entities.
- Living on the edge financially until 2000’s. (trying to make payroll in 80’s and 90’s)
- Not competing for donation dollars allowed DRTC to be more independent, but we were also criticized for using the entrepreneurial business model and taking the road less traveled.
It has been the biggest privilege and honor of my life to serve as your Executive Director through so many roller coaster years at DRTC. I had two marriages and a child while here. Dale Rogers will always be a part of me. The initial $85,000 agency budget now provides 18 ½ million dollars’ worth of services (21,765 percent increase in revenue, but who’s counting).
Someday I want to visit here with a grandchild and be able to say, “Look, your grandmother was part of all this! She helped make a difference!”
Connie Thrash McGoodwin, M.Ed.