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December 21, 2002

Graham prepares to 'hit the ground running' at AIDB

From: Daily Home, AL - 21 Dec 2002

By Michael Seale

Dr. Terry Graham will become president of AIDB next month and says he is ready to take on the job.Bob Crisp

TALLADEGA — In less than a month, Dr. Terry Graham will officially assume the duties as president of the Alabama Institute for Deaf and Blind.

Graham, who has also been principal of the Helen Keller School and, most recently, director of Outreach for the institution, said Friday he is ready to take on the job in January.

“I have a real feel for the demands of the office,” Graham said. “I know my schedule over the next few months will be filled, but I look forward to it.”

Graham said he recently read in a book of quotations a quote he has shared with the AIDB staff.

“I’m always looking for inspiration,” Graham said. “I read in a book of quotable thoughts relating to leadership that read, ‘“Leadership is the management of hope.’”

He said that quote can be incorporated into the operation of AIDB in the future.

“This organization was created to provide hope for people who are deaf and blind,” he said. “And we are going to be managers of hope.”

Graham said he has outlined a plan for the first few months of his tenure as president, with budget issues as the first step.

“We will have to spend time on budget related issues, which is a major concern of everyone in this business,” he said.

“We need adequate resources, since over 90 percent of our funds come from the state. My first focus will be working with the legislative delegation,” he added.

He said he has already met with Sen. Jim Preuitt and has spoken with Rep. Steve Hurst about the importance of maintaining close ties between the Legislature and the institute.

“We are very fortunate to have someone like Jim Preuitt on our side,” Graham said. “And Steve Hurst has always supported AIDB. He knows we will need his support.”

Graham said he will try to schedule a meeting as soon as possible with Governor-elect Bob Riley.

“I think Riley knows the importance of this institute, having represented this area before,” Graham said. “I am certain that Riley is proud of this institute and will work with us to continue to make it something we can be proud of.”

Another task Graham said he would like to begin in his first days on the job is to visit all of the campuses at AIDB and meet with all of the staff members and faculty.

“I have been to the campuses, of course, having been here as long as I have, but I’d like to do it again and this time meet with all of the teachers and staff and get a feel for what is going on in our schools,” Graham said.

He said he will also meet with E.H. Gentry Director Billy Sparkman.

“I want to spend some time with Billy Sparkman and get to know our employees and to make sure that our blind employees know that I am committed to them,” he said.

“When I was principal at the Helen Keller School, many of those same students are now employed at Gentry, and I see many of them around the community living in their own places, functioning as members of the community. And that is what I like to see.”

Graham said something else he will do in the next few months is meet with the members of the AIDB Foundation.

“I want to make sure they have confidence in their new president,” he said. “Those foundation members are key to our success.”

He said he will also meet with state agencies to “strengthen the partnerships between AIDB and these agencies.”

He said keeping the relationships with these agencies are important to the institute. “You can accomplish a lot more by pooling your resources.”

Graham said the first months of his tenure will also be spent developing a strategic plan.

“I want to streamline the strategic plan at AIDB,” Graham said. “There is way too much paper. I want to cut to the chase.”

He said he wants to “develop a vision” for each department, with “goals and objectives to achieve that vision.”

Graham said he feels creativity and ingenuity are a must to ensure that AIDB thrives.

But Graham said he wants the institute to do more than just succeed.

“I want to set us apart from other organizations,” he said. “In order for AIDB to be as strong as it can be we need to set ourselves apart. Our objectives must be measurable and make a difference in the lives of our students and clients.”

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