Sunday, June 16, 2019

Allen joins IASB field services staff, Dirks retires

Patrick Allen
Patrick Allen has joined the staff of the Illinois Association of School Boards as a field services director. He is currently working alongside -- and will be replacing -- Larry Dirks, who is retiring this summer after 14 years as field services director for IASB’s Abe Lincoln, Kaskaskia, Southwestern, and Two Rivers divisions.

Allen comes to IASB from H.D. Smith, a pharmaceutical wholesale distributor in Springfield, where he was director of pricing and commercialization. Prior to that, Allen was a manager and manpower analyst for IIF Data Solutions in Centreville, Virginia, where he completed studies for the Army National Guard. He has also worked for Washington Group Intl in Olmstead and for KBR as a senior operations coordinator for a U.S. Army contract in Baghdad, Iraq.

Larry Dirks
Dirks, field services director for Abe Lincoln, Kaskaskia, Southwestern, and Two Rivers divisions, has announced his retirement effective June 30, 2019.  Dirks has served those four divisions since he came to IASB as field services director in 2005.

Since joining the Association staff, Dirks has worked directly with hundreds of school boards and thousands of school board members through presentations, trainings, and workshops in both a regional and in-district setting.  Along with conducting hundreds of board self-evaluations, he is credited with helping to make district goal-setting and direction workshops and strategic planning, a substantial portion of the in-district work of field service directors.  In addition, he is certified in the Myers-Biggs MBTI® personality type assessment, which has proven valuable to individual board members and whole boards alike as a tool for governance excellence through better communication and appreciation of personality differences.

Regarding the diverse nature of the work of IASB field service directors, Dirks says, “Large group settings, such as regional workshops or Pre-Conference Workshops at Joint Annual Conference, are wonderful because you touch so many people from such diverse settings.  But it is perhaps the work that field service directors do with intact governance teams around the board table, in their districts, that is most powerful and fulfilling.  It is important work, and it is satisfying to know that boards truly appreciate the help.”

Prior to his work with IASB, Dirks spent 25 years in production agriculture in central Illinois.  He credits his background with helping him to understand the culture and the needs of school board members in the four divisions that he has served.  Dirks says every one of his divisions “feels like home” in some way.  Home will remain in central Illinois for Dirks, and in retirement his plans include continued work on his 150-year old house, home to four generations of his family. In addition, Dirks plans to substitute teach and to continue playing music with his acoustic band, as well as his solo singer/songwriter performances.