In the 32 years she has worked for the Annie Malone Children and Family Service Center, former CEO Angela Starks has always made serving both the community both in and outside of the building her main priority.
She stepped down in December, with her role to be carried on by Darryl Wise, who has worked with Annie Malone for the past five years. When she first began her work as a therapist, Starks was amaze by how dedicated her coworkers were to providing help to their young patrons.
“I never met so many people who worked so hard. It was all about the kids, it was all about making the children feel their self-worth was everything in a home-like atmosphere,” she remembers. “There was this kind of stigma - kids that came from homes or from orphanages at the time had a certain look. And the workers and the staff really made sure that that did not occur.”
“We used to have a saying when we’d had to go to the school - ‘The only time they knew you were from Annie Malone is when you’d act out and we’d have to come up here for you.’ They worked very hard in making sure the kids fit into any community they went in.” Starks slowly worked her way through the development ranks, becoming Vice President of Program and Planning in 1995, and later the Chief Operating Officer. She also helped create the guidelines for the organization’s “Teen Take Charge of Your Life Program.”
“I felt my strengths were direct service, but I soon learned that I understood programs, I understood that I learned how to write contracts, and I was negotiating for programs and activities and things for the agency – and I became good at it,” she says.
In her 2 ½ years as CEO, Starks is most proud of having kept the facility open despite budgetary woes. “We didn’t have to do a massive layoff – I was able to change some of the programs and utilize what our strengths were.” The choice to close the facilities residential program but keep the crisis intervention program open was difficult, she admit, but “it kept our doors open...and I’m proud that I was able to do that.”
For the 125 year-old organization’s future, Starks feels it is key to reinforce the fact that Annie Malone is not only a part of the community, but is there to help. “Whatever the neighbors or whatever that community needs, that we can be at least a referral source, or that we can be a help to them.”