Thursday, January 28, 2010

Take Five: Ricky Penick (Chicago)

Ricky Penick served as BDPA Chicago chapter president from 2000-2003. The chapter wss a consistent award winner and role model during his years as its president. Later, Ricky served on BDPA's national executive committee as the national vice president of finance. Ricky agreed to participate in our Take Five interview series:

  1. How did you get involved in working with BDPA? - I discovered BDPA at a job fair early in 1991. I had just decided to start my own business after leaving my job as a corporate officer to "spend more time with my family". That is a euphemism for resigning after losing an argument about the strategic direction of the company. I was talking to various companies at the job fair about how they managed their personal computers. Most of them thought I was insane to think that they would pay someone to fool around with personal computers. I happened upon a booth for BDPA Chicago Chapter, manned by Karen Fleshman. She told me about the organization, which I'd never heard of and gave me copies of The Journal which was the national BDPA publication and The Professional, which was the BDPA Chicago Chapter publication. I decided to go to a program meeting. Within a few months, I found myself on the board and I was producing the magazines that Karen had lured me in with.

  2. What is the most rewarding aspect of working with BDPA? - Working with a volunteer oriented organization can be very challenging and even frustrating at times. However, it is rewarding to see leaders and managers develop in BDPA and enjoy success in life, particularly those who come to BDPA as students.

  3. Tell us about a defining moment in your life? - There have been many defining moments but two happened back in 1965 or thereabouts during my junior year in high school. The first was the introduction of the first computer class which met at 7:00 a.m. and was not part of the official curriculum. The second was a fire that left my family homeless. I don't take anything for granted. I was a fifteen year old code writing, cello playing, homeless math prodigy. My Sunday school teacher took me in. It was the first time I'd ever lived in a house with hot water and a shower.

  4. Who is your hero and why? - I've been fortunate enough to have known a number of people who were or who became famous. But the one I consider to have been most heroic, Major Marion McPherson, was not famous. Imagine the retired British army officer that you see in the movies, only this one is Black. He was the director of Catholic Family Charities in Gary. His rank was earned on the battlefield during World War Two. He and his ex-marine priest buddies were the toughest people I knew. I first met him after the fire. He taught me to perform miracles and, later, when I became a social worker, he called upon me to perform them on a regular basis. He had no tolerance for excuses and, neither do I. When I saw Rudy Giuliani and Sarah Palin mocking community organizers, this is who I thought of.

  5. Any advice for people considering donation to BETF? - Did you get yours, all by yourself? Of course not. Now make a miracle for someone else.

Ricky has been a rock-solid leader within BDPA for almost 20 years. I encourage you to share some BDPA-Love with Bro. Penick!

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