McKay to leave RCD for Peace Corps

Posted on 13 May 2010 at 7:07pm
By Tammye Nash | Senior Editor nash@dallasvoice.com

Board begins search for replacement as ED announces departure after four years


RALLYING THE TROOPS | Resource Center Dallas Executive Director Mike McKay addresses a rally outside Dallas City Hall in November 2008, a few days after passage of Proposition 8. McKay’s last day at RCD will be May 28.

The executive committee of Resource Center Dallas’ board of directors will be meeting within the week, according to board President Reid Ainsworth, to discuss its options in replacing Mike McKay, who announced earlier this week he is resigning as the center’s executive director.

McKay announced Monday, May 10, that he is leaving RCD to take a job as chief of operations in the Volunteer Recruitment and Selection Division for the Peace Corps. He said his final day at RCD is Friday, May 28. He begins his new job with the Peace Corp on June 7.

Ainsworth said that the center already has a "strong management team" in place that will allow RCD to maintain "business as usual," even if no one has been chosen to replace McKay by the time he leaves.

"I feel very confident that we have the management team in place to move things forward," he said, adding that the executive committee, made up of the board officers, will "determine a plan of action" and then take that plan to the full board for final approval.

Ainsworth said the executive committee will "look at all the options," including the possibility of promoting someone from within the organization to the executive director position, and the possibility of bringing in someone new from outside the center’s existing staff.

"If we can decide on someone before the next scheduled board meeting on June 7, then we can call a board meeting earlier. But if we decide to look for someone externally, then those searches can sometimes take a few months," he said.

RCD’s existing management team includes Cece Cox, associate executive director for GLBT services; Bret Camp, associate executive director for health and medical services; and Shannon McKay, development director.

McKay’s new direction

McKay said this week he first learned about the position with the Peace Corps around Christmas through his friend and former coworker, Rosie Mauk. Mauk, who now works with the Peace Corps, had worked with McKay at AmeriCorps, an organization McKay described as "the domestic Peace Corps."

"Rosie and I are good friends, and we talked at Christmas about the opportunity with the Peace Corps. Then when the job announcement came my way a month or so later, I looked at it and decided to apply. It was just last Thursday [May 6] that we finalized everything," McKay said.

"I had to think about it very, very carefully. I wasn’t looking for a job," McKay continued. "I already had the best nonprofit job in Dallas, so if I was going to leave the best job in Dallas, it had to be for something pretty spectacular. The Peace Corps and this new job are pretty spectacular."

McKay explained that the Peace Corps already has nearly 7,000 volunteers working in 71 countries. But President Barack Obama’s administration has called for an increase of about 50 percent in that number.

"So we will be ramping up our recruiting and selection efforts. My job will be to handle the staff that does that," he said.

McKay said he will be overseeing a staff operating out of office in six cities and the District of Columbia.

"This is just one of those unique opportunities that I really wanted to take," he said. "The Peace Corps offers me the opportunity to [continue in community service], working from D.C. to have an impact on an international scale."

Working with the Peace Corps fits well with what McKay described as a lifelong commitment to community service.

His tenure at RCD

"Community service is one of my biggest passions. In fact, I have made a career with and from community service of some sort throughout my 30-plus years working," he said. "I believe each of us has an obligation to give back to our community in some form or fashion. I definitely believe we have that opportunity every day here at Resource Center Dallas."

McKay succeeded Paul Scott as executive director of RCD four years ago. He said he believes that in that time the organization has "made some tremendous strides in helping advance the cause for equality and fairness and compassion and justice that is our mission."

McKay points to the institution of a transgender health night and "more effective outreach into minority communities" on HIV/AIDS issues on the health services side of the organization, and to "enhanced and expanded programs that reach beyond North Texas" on the LGBT programming side as signs of the center’s progress during his tenure.

One of those programs, he said, was the LGBT sensitivity training the center conducts for employees of the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission statewide.

TABC contracted with the center to conduct the training following the raid on the Rainbow Lounge in Fort Worth.

McKay said he can’t pick out any one program or accomplishment to say he is most proud of during his time at RCD. "But to combine two or three things into one, I am proudest that this agency is even stronger and in an even higher profile place as an organization for equality, justice and compassion. We’ve raised that awareness. We’ve raised our programs. We’ve raised our profile as a leader."

McKay said that although he will be moving to Washington, D.C., for his new job, he is definitely not cutting his ties to North Texas.

"Dallas is home. I moved here in 1979, and I will always come back here," he said. "I am keeping my condo here. I don’t know how long this new gig will last, and I fully expect to move back here some day.

"Beyond the friendships and beyond my job at RCD, I will really miss the people of North Texas. And I’ll miss the Tex-Mex food," he said. "But at the same time, I know that’s what they make airplanes for!"

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition May 14, 2010.

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