Rock County Opportunities is operating under a new leadership team since former director Elizabeth Schear left for a position in Marshall this summer.
Co-directors Adria Benson and Danielle Landberg joined forces with longtime staff members David Vis and Kristy Goembel to take the helm.
In discussing how to fill the director’s position, they considered their shared experience and decided to team up on the job.
“When Beth left, neither of us felt like we wanted the whole job, but Danielle said she could handle one piece of it, and I said I could handle another,” Benson said.
“So, we thought, what if we teamed up at it? Instead of hiring one brand new person, we could use all of our skills and talents together.”
Benson was RCO’s executive assistant, having worked with Schear on administrative duties.
Landberg has experience with programming, licensing and staffing to support personnel.
“I think we took all of our strengths and what we excel at and took the opportunity to go with it,” Landberg said.
“The leadership team has always been here, but we’re coming at it as a collaboration.”
The two women have similar backgrounds but bring their own credentials to the job.
Landberg has 13 years in the field and holds a degree from South Dakota State University, Brookings, in human development and family studies. She started with HSI in Marshall as a direct support professional (DSP) and then a team lead assist and team lead.
Benson also has more than 15 years of experience in the field and holds a social work degree from Winona State University. She’s a 2002 Luverne graduate and is the daughter of Diane Sherwood.
The team is rounded out by Vis, a designated coordinator with seven years at RCO, and staff supervisor Goembel who’s been there 25 years.
They all still do their same jobs, but they’re sharing the leadership duties.
The team proposed the new leadership plan to the RCO Board, which approved it Oct. 1.
Open house Dec. 8
To celebrate the transition and introduce the team to the community, RCO will host an open house from 3:30 to 5 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 8.
“We want to build those connections ourselves and show what we can do,” Benson said. “Some people still don’t realize what we can do.”
The new leaders represent new faces at the helm, but they say business is continuing on track as far as clients, customers and day-to-day operation.
“We want to make some connections and show people what we do,” Benson said.
“People don’t always think of us as a resource or option, but we’re doing cleaning, shredding, mass mailings. There are little custom jobs that maybe you need someone a couple of hours a week, and we can help you.”
She said the RCO laundry service continues to thrive and grow with work coming in from surrounding communities.
RCO provides training and employment opportunities to 34 disabled adults with in-house work and supervised community jobs.
In addition to the four leadership team members, there are nine DSPs and a contracted accountant for bookkeeping and payroll.
“We have a really good group,” Benson said. “Many of them have been with RCO for three to 10 years. Longevity is pretty good.”
She said it’s getting easier to hire and retain RCO employees with recent wage increases. “I think where our raises are now, they’re real competitive, and even on the high end,” she said.
Starting pay is $15 per hour with guaranteed yearly raises plus cost of living increases.
“Plus, the hours are 7:45 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Monday through Friday, which is great if you have kids in school,” Benson said. “There are no nights, no weekends and no holiday hours.”
Vis, who is a designated coordinator, said he likes the new arrangement.
“It’s going really well,” he said. “I think it’s important for people to know we’re still here and more than ready to provide services in the community. We provide quality work, especially with cleaning.”
He said it was difficult when Schear left, but he said the strong “team mentality” kicked in.
“Everyone genuinely cares about all the clients and workers here. It’s a good group,” Vis said.
Goembel said she’s enjoying her role on the leadership team, but mostly she just enjoys her work at RCO.
“I absolutely love this job. It’s very fulfilling. It’s like a second family here,” she said.
“They see so many people come and go in their lives, and you feel like a stable person in their lives. … It’s hard work, but it’s so rewarding.”