Wednesday, January 23, 2013

50 Years, 50 Stories – Mark Emery

OK, this week’s “50 Years, 50 Stories” contributor might be familiar.

Yes, it is me.

I’m not doing this because I have a huge ego (though some may argue otherwise – but hey – at least they are talking about me!) I’m doing it because I have loved my time at this organization and wanted to share some of my own memories.

And, with my piece, it means we will have started the series off with all four Imagine! Executive Directors. I think it says something very positive about the organization that in 50 years, only four people have held that position.

Finally, I hope to inspire others to participate as well. If you have a story to tell as we celebrate 50 years, check out the bottom of this post to see how you can participate.

Anyway, here are my memories and musings.

Imagine!’s Magical Atmosphere
By Mark Emery

Mark Emery in the early 2000s

Some people know that during my 1983 interview to be an instructor at the DDC, I was asked, “what sort of an organization was I looking to work for?” I wanted to work for a progressive, forward thinking organization. I was looking sharp in my impressive attire, which included sneakers with velcro straps.

Probably due to a weak pool of applicants, I was hired. Little did I know, John Taylor had just been hired as the new Executive Director. Later I would come to know what a fortune this would be for me. John knew how to engage a community. This would be a huge lesson going forward.

I promised my new coworker, Gary Stebick, that this would be my last stop in my human services career, and my next career move included driving a tractor trailer. Gary, unimpressed by my commitment, let me know that he, too, would be moving on in six months. To this day, we’re both at Imagine!, and we both still look at each other in wonder.

What might have the DDC become - and didn't? People I worked with over the years - and you know who you are - inspired me. You took me down the road of curiosity; a road of fun and adventure; a road of disruptive innovation and creation. You created an atmosphere that attracted more of the same; intelligent people who listened, paid attention, and never ever settled for the status quo. Bold people who are driven to always find a new and better way to do things.

And now we are Imagine!. This is your invitation to fill in the blanks of the last 50 years; the events, the relationships, the developments, and the life-changing moments that have contributed to the Imagine! we know today.

For me, Imagine! has a magical atmosphere. It is organic. We ask really difficult questions of ourselves and others. We do this with a common purpose; to allow others to thrive, and in so doing thrive ourselves.

Our journey will continue. The vehicle will be the same; curiosity, fun, adventure, and innovation. Like a two wheeler, this vehicle must stay in constant motion and cannot come to rest. Our interest in emerging technologies and cognitive prosthetics will offer people we know opportunities that we now only imagine.

Yes, Stebick, there really is a Santa Claus; a magical place where what we imagine can come true. If not for you and the host of others we know, I would certainly not be here today. Look at what you have done. Imagine what we will do in the next 50 years.

Bonus picture: here's a shot of my very first job location at Imagine!

Are you interested in sharing your story for “50 Years, 50 Stories?” If so, contact Caroline Siegfried at or 303-926-6405. We’d love to hear from you!

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