Executive Director’s Message

By Tim O’Connell

Dear Members,

As your new Executive Director, let me begin by saying that it is a true honor and privilege to serve you. As retired state and local government employees, you provided the foundation for the health, safety, education, and infrastructure that so many North Carolinians enjoy and benefit from today. With tremendous gratitude for your service, I look forward to working with the board, staff, and volunteers to fulfill the mission of the NCRGEA
to advance, promote, and protect your benefits, interest, and well-being.

My path to this position includes three decades of membership and executive leadership in associations, higher education, and cultural institutions in North Carolina, including the YMCA, NC State University, and the North Carolina Museum of Art. Each of these organizations is quite distinct, but they share a common focus to enrich the lives of their constituents in meaningful ways.

My wife Beth and I are proud parents to two grown children; one is a teacher in the public school system, and the other is a recent college graduate with a degree in horticulture working overseas. We are a family that enjoys the outdoors in all endeavors, but the topic we talk or text about almost daily is our universal passion for gardening and beekeeping. Just about all conversations eventually gravitate toward discussions of compost, sun-loving versus shade-loving plants, seasonal vegetable recipes, or beehive activity.

Whether it is a vegetable, a beehive, or the NCRGEA, growing something successfully so that it thrives takes a solid plan. As the new Executive Director, I am more than impressed by the NCRGEA’s strategic plan that the Board approved in 2021. If you participated in the recent 2022 NCRGEA Celebration of Public Service Week, you saw many of the strategic goals brought to life. Program topics included everything from pre-retirement advising to raising awareness of the contributions of public servants to advocating for a better quality of life for retirees in NC — in what many see as increasingly complex political environments. If you missed this event or a particular session, you can now access any of these recorded video links on the NCRGEA YouTube channel.

One of my priorities as Executive Director will be to connect with as many members as possible in the coming months, both in-person and virtually, to learn more about you and your needs. With a growing number of state and local government employees retiring in the next five years, I will be asking for your help in inviting friends and colleagues to be part of the NCRGEA so our collective voice and impact are known by our legislators and the general public.

In closing, I would like to thank you for being a member. I would also like to express my appreciation to the Board Members who have served under our outgoing NCRGEA President Vann Langston. The Board and staff have done excellent and groundbreaking work to move the NCRGEA forward while conducting an executive director search. It is an exciting time for the association, and I look forward to building its future with and for you.

Tim O’Connell