In each position Cody Harris has held at Sunflower Diversified Services, his goal has been to help people with special needs reach new levels of independence.
He will continue to do so in his new role as director of planned giving and community supports.
“Knowing that I am doing something to help people grow and enhance their skills is the best part of working at Sunflower – no matter what the title,” Harris said. “There is nothing like it.
“I believe this new position is one that will help me grow into the leader I want to be on behalf of the people Sunflower serves,” he added. “I also am looking forward to more networking to ensure the community is aware of our many programs and services.”
In his new position, Harris is responsible for planning fundraising events and engaging with local and area media. He also will continue with his community-employment duties.
During his more than seven years at Sunflower, Harris has been an employment-skills instructor and a community-employment specialist. He was promoted to community-employment manager last year.
Harris also has served as a substitute General Public Transportation driver.
In addition, Harris continues in his role as the statewide coordinator for Disability Mentoring Day, an annual event designed to educate people with special needs about employment-related physical and mental skills. The goal is finding and keeping a community job in areas such as retail, food service or custodial work.
Before accepting his first job at Sunflower, Harris worked for seven years at JBW Services at Hays, which entailed working for an individual with a disability. He also worked at Rock Springs 4-H Camp and was employed at several jobs during college at Fort Hays State University.
Harris grew up in Deerfield in southwest Kansas; he graduated from Deerfield High School.
Harris is replacing Connie Oetken who recently retired from Sunflower.
“I am truly grateful for the insight Connie has given me in recent weeks about all the things she has been doing for our clients – which is a lot,” Harris commented. “She has been so kind and it is obvious she has set a high standard for me to live up to.
“I appreciate all she has done for the people we serve and helping to make this a smooth transition. She is only a phone call away if I need advice, which is a comfort to me as I take on this new position.”
Oetken noted that “Cody’s enthusiasm and desire to succeed will make him a strong leader. I know he will make a positive impact on Sunflower in the years to come.”
Jon Prescott, Sunflower chief executive officer, noted staff and clients “will miss Connie immensely but we understand her decision to retire. Believe me, Connie has earned it after giving Sunflower 15 years of her life, working diligently to help us fund day-to-day operations. She is a tough act to follow.”
Nevertheless, “Cody will do all he can to fill Connie’s shoes and build on her many successes,” Prescott said. “Cody is a great choice for this position. During his tenure at Sunflower, he has always stepped up as a leader.”
In addition to his expertise in employment and vocational training, he is a Great Bend Chamber of Commerce ambassador “because he wants to represent the people we serve and give back to the community,” Prescott said. “I am so excited to watch Cody continue his career growth as he takes on his new responsibilities.”
Sunflower, a non-profit agency, serves infants, toddlers and adults with delays and disabilities in Barton, Pawnee, Rice, Rush and Stafford counties. It is in its 54th year.