Farewell Salute to Skills: CEO Charlie Harris Passes the Torch

Charlie Harris

This is my last column for the Skills Newsletter. This month I retired as CEO, leaving the organization in the capable hands of Todd Dunnington, who has served Skills as Chief Operating Officer for the past three years. The board conducted an extensive search for my replacement and selected Todd as the most capable to carry on the mission of Skills.

My eight-plus years at Skills give me a good vantage point to view our progress. In 2000 we were at a quarter of our current revenue. We could provide employment for fewer than 110 persons with disabilities, and could not train people the way we can today. Skills has faced its share of challenging times: two Boeing strikes, the 9/11 recession in the aerospace industry, and having to become certified to meet numerous industry standards. I’m proud of the fact that together, we’ve not only met all of these challenges, but we have consistently grown in our capacity to serve and employ persons with disabilities, faster than anyone could have imagined.

We have training programs for our employees that help them gain marketable and practical skills, that can be applied here at Skills or in the community. Our management team and supervisors are in tune with the mission of Skills. We are positioned for further growth in the aerospace industry as well as in other commercial endeavors. Skills Technical Services has grown to include engineers, and this makes us more competitive in the technology sector. Our Aerospace Internship Program is in its eighth year and provides education completion, job training and a new career track for at-risk special education students. Our sales staff is finding new opportunities for our people so Skills can continue to grow.

I will miss the many fine people I have had the pleasure to work with and get to know through my involvement with Skills. But I am happy knowing that Skills, Inc. is in good hands, and I look forward to watching it continue to change lives and achieve its
mission for many years to come.