Hitting the Re-set Button: Joe Pokorski’s Story
by Patricia Goubeaux

A Quest

Joe Pokorski smiles as he recalls his mother-in-law’s amazing ability for remembering names. The smile fades when he describes the loss of that memory as she slid into dementia and the subsequent challenges he and his wife faced as her caregivers. These memories played front and center as he approached retirement and sought a new challenge. How could he combine his 20+ years of experience in finance and process improvement at Intel with his desire to help other caregivers in similarly tough situations?

The Solution

When Intel offered an opportunity to apply for an Encore Fellowship through Experience Matters, he found his answer. Around the same time, Sherri Friend, Executive Director at Oakwood Creative Care (OCC), a senior care center providing day health services for adults with cognitive and physical challenges, approached Experience Matters requesting an experienced operations process analyst to assist with a planned merger. As if “written in the stars,” Joe and Sherri were matched and quickly formed a strong working relationship.

A Re-Set

Joe began his Fellowship thinking he would be doing the same things he had done in his previous position—process analysis and system integration. As he did the requisite due diligence, however, he surfaced concerns that led to OCC withdrawing from the planned merger. “What now?” he asked Sherri. “Am I no longer needed?” Sherri had no intention of losing Joe. Together they re-designed his role to include operations process manager. Joe’s one-year Fellowship ended but still Sherri was not willing to let go. Joe is now on contract for an additional six months of coaching.

Making a Difference

Joe’s confidence, competence, and excellent listening skills allowed him to quickly develop a rapport with the OCC board and staff and while successfully guiding them through a change process. Joe’s efforts have helped OCC clarify their priorities, position themselves better financially, and streamline their processes.  But what is most rewarding to Joe is his contributions to OCC help bring some security to family caregivers who no longer have to worry about losing services for their loved ones.

 “I’ve learned more than I gave,” Joe says. “I got to meet the members and their families and see their needs. I got to better understand the day-to-day realities a nonprofit faces. OCC’s passion for the work is incredible.” Joe is grateful to Experience Matters for its guidance and support. “It is a great organization. Without them, I wouldn’t have begun to know how to go about finding what I wanted.”