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Changes at the top for ARC

Tim Croft
The Star

Dianna Harrison had that sense the road was about to diverge from its current path.

She had first come to Gulf County ARC, which serves the intellectually and developmentally challenged, as a secretary in 1984.

After 14 years in that position she was promoted to executive director; that’s two decades at the helm.

And as she hit 60 years of age, Harrison said, the time was right for a change.

She recently announced she will retire as executive director, though not entirely the ARC Center on Industrial Road, with Port St. Joe Commissioner Eric Langston taking over as executive director.

Langston has served as Harrison’s executive assistant the past three years, Harrison said.

“I wanted to spend a little more time on my own, for me,” Harrison said. “This job is so consuming, it just felt like time.”

The transition is currently ongoing, but Harrison noted that the change is almost exclusively confined to the top: the ARC workforce has remained remarkably stable over the years.

“We’ve stayed relatively the same size, provide the same services to our clients and most of our staff has been with us for years,” Harrison said.

“I am proud of what we’ve done, what we do for the community and the developmentally challenged.”

A major accomplishment during Harrison’s tenure was the construction of the new ARC building more than a decade ago.

And, she emphasized, she is stepping back from a position on the organizational ladder, not the ARC Center.

“I am still going to work part-time, but I am not going to be the director,” Harrison said. “That’s what I am ready to give up, not the clients.”

Langston has worked his way up the ladder at ARC, from landscaper to executive assistant while earning both a Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees.

Having just completed the work on his Master’s in Business Management, a move up was too good to allow to pass.

“It’s a privilege to have the opportunity and honor to look out for those with disabilities and to take the ARC into the future,” Langston said.

“I am happy and excited. It is already a great place and we just want to make it better.”