As was previously announced, Bob Wilson was appointed by the LAGERS Board of Trustees as Executive Secretary effective July 1st. Bob began his career at LAGERS as ‘public relations coordinator’ in the summer of 1994. This was a new position created by the Board of Trustees to work directly in the field to better serve LAGERS’ members and employers, and be a bridge between the membership and LAGERS board and staff. One of Bob’s original mandates from the board was to physically visit each one of our employers in person at least once every two years. When Bob started LAGERS had 348 employers. He embraced this opportunity and what a bridge he became. LAGERS now has over 700 employers. Bob has continued to expand educational services with his roles as Manager of Member Services, then eventually Assistant Executive Secretary, Member Services.
A great deal of Bob’s focus was also in working with legislators, helping them understand the importance of public service. His passion for those he serves has brought our membership front and center for our board and staff. We clearly see our members and appreciate the vital work they do. Being an accomplished and frequently requested speaker, Bob has also become a champion and voice all across the country for communicating the value of public service in securing our communities. His dedication to growing the partnership of employees, employers and communities will be even more effective in his expanded new role.
A little about Bob, in his own words:
I grew up the youngest of 5 boys on a farm on the east side of Kansas. Okay, ‘farm’ is an overstatement. My mom and dad bought 160 acres of brush, thorns and trees; but a vision and a small but captive work force! Contrary to popular belief, Kansas is not all flat, rolling prairies. To this day I still have a deep resentment for locust trees. The 7 of us raised everything you can think of - cows, sheep, chickens; crops (mostly hay – before the advent of big round bales). I was blessed with such a great, humble upbringing.
I was taught to appreciate the simple things which are really the base for everything else: The value of hard work, planning, determination, self-reliance, working together, creativity and self-pride. Every day we would check the list on the refrigerator to see what Mom had assigned each of us in addition to our normal chores. It was then up to us to figure out the best way to get it done. We worked hard and fast knowing that when we were done we were free to fish, hunt, bike or whatever we wanted – so long as it was done right. If it wasn’t, well, that was yet another lesson I learned well.
I worked my way thru school/college putting up hay and working for the Douglas County (KS) Public Works Department. It was a great experience. I mowed roadsides, flagged traffic, raked asphalt, put in culverts, drove dump trucks and did anything else the full timers asked me to do. I learned so much – mostly how hard those jobs are to do day in and day out. I also learned how much they all cared about their communities. I got an up close look at all that goes in to making it all happen. I really got to SEE THEM. Good people working hard. I finished school with a degree in business/management.
As most folks, I dipped my toe in several arenas including being a registered investment securities broker. But nothing really brought it home until I came to LAGERS. And the rest as they say is history. I’m entering my 24th year! Looking back I have to say that I was so lucky. My parents taught me that if you care and have pride in what you’re doing and work hard – anyone can do anything. THAT’S why I love what I do. I get to see that from our members every day.
Interestingly, some have asked me, “Now that you’re the Director, what are your goals and vision for LAGERS going forward”? Those that know me know the answer. This has been my mission we’ve been working toward for a long time: bring respect back….to all of us. I truly believe the missing ingredient is restoring pride in ourselves, our coworkers, the work we do and our communities. We are all in this together. There are no ‘sides’. We all want the same thing – respect. I pledge to work every day, as hard as I can, to bring that back. To all of us.