09 Feb President/CEO Changing Role to Advance Mission
Dear Fans of Special Olympics Montana,
After 25 years as President/CEO of Special Olympics Montana, I want you to be among the first to know that I will be changing roles mid-year 2018 and will officially become Executive Director of the Special Olympics Montana (SOMT) $10 Million Reveal the Champion in All of Us Endowment Campaign.
As mentioned in a media advisory, this pending change has been a critical part of our strategic thinking the past several years. Given my tenure and intent to retire in the not-too-distant future, I’ve strongly encouraged our Board of Directors to support this change of responsibilities so I can focus on securing the future of our organization.
As our Board chairman, John Parkes, noted, “We need to wisely utilize Bob’s tenure with our organization. Over the years, he’s led the transformation of our mission and elevated it to significantly new heights. Given his credibility and the enduring relationships he’s established statewide, this is the investment we must make with Bob’s time and talent while we have the opportunity.”
I’m thrilled that the organization has provided me this opportunity to lead this important effort. With this pending role change, the Board of Directors will begin the search for a new CEO. SOMT intends to have a new hire in place mid-year 2018. Thereafter, I’ll help with on-boarding the new CEO for as long as necessary to ensure a smooth and seamless transition while turning my attentions more exclusively to our endowment campaign.
This said, they say if you love what you do, you never work a day in your life. That expression has certainly been true for me.
It was February 1, 1993 that I fell in love with this movement. My passion for our mission has only grown deeper and more resolute over the past 25 years. Indeed, it has been my distinct privilege and pleasure to serve as President/CEO of Special Olympics Montana. I can’t say it has been work. In fact, when people have asked me when I plan to retire I often respond that I’ve been retired for 25 years.
Recently, our Chief Operating Officer, Rhonda McCarty, presented me with a copy of my first Montana Special Olympics (now Special Olympics Montana) newsletter reflections dated “Winter 1993.” What a euphoric feeling to reread that message.
My remarks began with, “Together We Win!” As I ponder these words, I realize not much has changed. Then, again, everything has changed.
In 1993 we offered seven sports to fewer than 1,000 children and adults with intellectual disabilities. Since then, we have appreciably increased the number of athletes served, expanded our program services and participation days, and built many more communities of awareness, understanding and acceptance.
Today we offer 18 Olympic-type sports to nearly 2,500 Special Olympics Montana athletes plus another 460 non-competitive Young Athletes and 430 Unified Teammates, reaching more than 3,300 athletes through the efforts of 4,000 dedicated volunteers who donate, based on minimum wage, the equivalent of nearly $4.5 million of their precious time annually. Although sports is our platform to train athletes for life, we also offer health, education and community-building initiatives that enable athletes to be their best selves while transforming communities to do the same.
We now offer a Young Athletes Program, Athlete Leadership Program, Unified Sports, Unified Champion Schools Program, Healthy Athletes and Healthy Communities Program, Flathead Reservation Program, and other social inclusion initiatives through campaigns like Spread the Word to End the Word®. On average, each athlete has about 50 participation days per year or once a week for 50 weeks.
While we can revel in the growth and good work of Special Olympics Montana, the urgency to deliver our mission to more remains strong. Consider that 2-3% of Montana’s population are people with intellectual disabilities. With thousands more children and adults with intellectual disabilities sitting on the sidelines just waiting for the chance to get in the game of life, we are obliged to keep pushing boundaries and barriers to create an inclusive world.
So, while there has been significant change, our mission remains unchanged. We remain tenacious about eliminating discrimination. We are determined to lift up and celebrate our humanity through sports, and through our good deeds transform the lives of the athletes and communities we serve. Our unwavering commitment is to Play Unified to Live Unified.
With all this said, let me circle back to our succession planning. To find our next CEO, the Board of Directors has established a Search Committee made up of stakeholders that include an athlete, board members, volunteer leadership and corporate partner. I have tremendous confidence in their ability to identify the next servant leader capable of guiding our movement into the future.
In closing, I want to thank you for allowing me to be part of something bigger than any one of us and to thank you for this extraordinary opportunity to make a world of difference right here in Montana for Special Olympics athletes, their families, our volunteers, and entire communities.
Should you have any questions about our succession plan, the search for a new CEO, or our continued efforts to build the endowment, don’t hesitate to be in touch.
To finish as I began, if we believe in the infinite possibilities that come from love and hope, let’s be undeterred and move forward together. Indeed, “Together We Win!”
President/Chief Executive Fan