Oklahoma Loses an Outstanding DHS Director

ImageIt is rare to see an emotional outpouring of love, praise and gratitude such as was bestowed on February 27th to Howard Hendrick. Howard has been the Director of the Department of Human Services (DHS) for 13 years; that’s longer than any other similar position in the country. I can only imagine the soul searching he did before actually resigning, especially after being put under so much pressure by the legislature. Few will ever know what he did for the disenfranchised in Oklahoma, the difficult but smart choices he made, how he built staff morale and how his senate experience helped him increase much needed funding for social services in Oklahoma. He is one of a kind, the qualifications and wisdom of which Oklahoma won’t see again. What he did for people with disabilities alone would fill a book. What a shame some members of our legislature didn’t really listen to what he was trying to tell them about the systemic issues involved. What a loss to the multi-tentacled field of human services in Oklahoma!

GOOD LUCK HOWARD!
You are a champion to me and so many others, including those unable to articulate it! You have earned your halo! We thank you for your unparalleled service to Oklahomans.

Point of privilege:
My son Colin, a junior at OU, is spending his 2nd semester studying abroad at the University of Sheffield in England. (He originally went there because of the Microbiology Department, but since he’s not taking any of those science classes I am left with the distinct impression that he chose it because there are so many pubs located on campus.) My husband, Jim, and I are okay with that because he and a hundred other international students there will return in June to their native countries with their lives forever changed. The way they perceive the world will never be the same. He interacts with people whose lives and beliefs are so different from his and he is beginning to understand why people can think so diversely and still be good people.

There is a fascinating new book being released by Jonathan Haidt, author of Happiness Hypothesis, called Righteous Mind. Haidt is a social psychologist and professor at the University of Virginia whose research revolves around morality and politics across different cultures. The new book is about how and why we get so entrenched in our beliefs, morals and fears that we cannot listen to or understand where others are coming from, so compromise can never happen. I’ve seen a lecture where Mr. Haidt states that the entire United States Congress can make much better decisions than a divided one. The world and our country are facing so many vitally important issues – you just can’t tell me that a group of accomplished, American adults can’t get together and be unselfish enough to do what is right for the country as a whole and compromise on the few things they absolutely cannot agree on.

At the risk of sounding like a political candidate or like I need a pulpit, if we could really listen to and understand each other on a state and/or national level, things would be different. I think that Howard Hendrick would still be head of DHS, my son would have learned to see all sides of an issue when he was still young and Oklahoma and the country as a whole could quit blaming each other and take responsibility for building, maybe not a perfect world, but a better one for ALL its citizens.

Connie Thrash McGoodwin M.Ed.
Self Appointed President of the
Howard Hendrick Fan Club

 

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