By Dianne Clarke, CEO, Operation Par
How would you describe your job to a child?
My job is to help people who have abused drugs and alcohol learn what they need to live a healthy and happy life. To do this I read and study new ideas, talk to people about the dangers of drugs and alcohol, and work with people who share the same goals. It is a great job!
How did you start out in the profession?
After graduating with a degree in Criminology from Florida State University (Go Noles!) with plans on entering law enforcement plans changed. I was working in loss prevention (stopping shoplifters) at a department store waiting to get on a police department during a time when it was difficult for women to enter that field. I got into quite the altercation over men’s suits and ended up with quite a shiner. I saw an ad in the newspaper to be a midnight shift counselor at Operation PAR and thought that fit into my interests and seemed safer! I showed up for the interview with a shiner and 40 years, a Masters, and Ph.D. later I’m still here! God puts us where we are supposed to be!
What are the biggest challenges in your role?
The biggest challenge in my role as CEO at Operation PAR is preparing the way for the next generation of substance use disorder specialists and leaders of this field. My challenge is to share and pass forward the deep and wonderful history of addiction treatment and at the same time to share and pass forward new and exciting information as we learn more about the brain and this disease. It is a challenge I enjoy.
What is the most rewarding part of your job?
I had to purchase a car 2 weeks ago after a car accident in Tallahassee going to the One Association board meeting. The finance department man, who looked about 45 and had my employment information, said to me “you look very familiar.” I always know what that means when someone says that and knows where I work. I smiled at him and then he said I was 13 when he was in the adolescent residential center, I laughed and said now I know why you don’t look familiar to me! I ran that program for many years. He proceeded to tell me what a blessing it was in his life. He still knew his counselor’s name and remembered things he learned in treatment. He was married and had a 12 and 8-year-old of his own. That is the most rewarding part of my job!
What are your favorite hobbies?
My hobbies are things that 1.) have a beginning, middle, and end (unlike my job); and 2.) that I can think of nothing else while I’m doing them. I quilt, sew, and embroider. I must concentrate only on these things so that I do not become a member of the needle through the finger club – yes that is a real thing that includes tetanus shots!!