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Wendy Reuer, Published February 28 2012

After 23 years, CCRI’s executive director steps down to head for Oil Patch

MOORHEAD – Rhonda King said Tuesday the choice to leave where she has worked for 23 years and venture into business with her husband was a difficult one to make.

But it’s when the executive director talks of Creative Care for Reaching Independence Inc. talks of her clients and co-workers that she can’t stop the tears from welling up in her eyes.

King is leaving CCRI, which provides support services to people with disabilities, to work full-time with her husband’s trucking business in North Dakota’s Oil Patch.

At Tuesday’s going-away ceremony, staff and clients presented a photo book to King. In it were pages of pictures that showed a lightheartedness and fun King brought to her job.

The 46-year-old King said she has enjoyed watching the lives of those around her at CCRI develop.

“We pretty much grew up together, and that’s not normal in this industry,” King said.

King took over as CCRI’s executive director in 2000, when the nonprofit’s wages were lower and it operated on a $4 million budget.

Today, the budget is about $12 million and, compared to similar work in the area, King said it has some of the most competitive pay and benefits, including a 401k she implemented.

King said her philosophy is to treat employees like they are No. 1, which in turn creates good service for clients and customers.

“I think we’ve started a work culture that is second to none,” she said.

King said it was important to her that staff and clients build relationships built on real friendship, rather than the idea staff is paid to be with clients.

“I’ve tried really hard to create that environment where we show people that we do appreciate them and they are working towards something greater here with our clients’ care.”

Former CCRI Executive Director and Moorhead City Councilwoman Diane Wray Williams worked with King for about a decade.

“Oh, she’s done a terrific job. She’s very client-centered and she does that in a top notch way – it’s not cookie-cutter,” Wray Williams said.

Wray Williams said she has full confidence in Shannon Bock, who will take over as executive director on March 1.

Bock, a 17-year employee of CCRI, was promoted to programs director in 2000, the same time King became director.

“She leaves a wonderful legacy,” Bock said. “I actually just hope to continue what she has grown.”

King isn’t gone for good. She said she’ll stay involved with CCRI, volunteering and attending some events.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Wendy Reuer at (701) 241-5530