Through his many nonprofit endeavors, Art O'Hara was a champion for both children and developmentally disabled adults. He served as the executive director of R'Club Child Care for 18 years, and the Louise Graham Regeneration Center for 12 years. Sixty-eight years young, O'Hara passed away in June 2019. But his legacy of servant leadership lives on. We recorded this influencer profile with him in 2018, as he took the Louise Graham Regeneration Center through Social Venture Partners Tampa Bay Fast Pitch program. There, the organization learned to tell its story as a social enterprise that provides life-changing employment and job skills training to developmentally disabled adults.
Years in St. Pete
Born in St. Pete, so 67 years.
Organizations involved in
R’Club Child Care, Louise Graham Regeneration Center
What gets you out of bed every day?
My cat? (laughs). Work, I really enjoy what I do. And I really enjoy going to work.
Why St. Pete?
It’s my home. I was born here, I’ve lived most of my life here. A couple of years away in Tallahassee, and a couple around the Tampa Bay Area with different positions after grad school. But it’s my home, I have a lot of long-time friends here and I think St. Pete’s a great place to live.
What is one habit that you keep?
Work is a habit, sometimes too much of a habit. I have two sons that live here, I like to spend time with both of them. They’re older now and they don’t want to spend so much time with me, but we get a pretty good amount of time together.
Who are some people that influence you?
Both my parents were really good influences and I think that’s what got me into the social work field, was being lucky enough to have two healthy parents. My father was a big influence, and his father (my grandfather) was a very big influence on my political thinking.
What is one piece of insight - a book, methodology, practice - that you would share with our readers?
A relatively new book by Rick Baker, former mayor, Seamless City. I think it was a very excellent approach to governing a city and city life. Probably an even more influential one was by Bernard Malamud, called The Fixer.
What is one thing you wish you knew about your work 3 years ago?
How difficult it would be in recruiting and retaining high quality staff. It was kind of easy in the economic downturn and we didn’t need as many, but now it’s extremely difficult. So three years ago, I would have figured out a better recruitment/retention process than we’re having to struggle with right now.
We use a lot of social media. Being what I consider a senior, I’m learning about social media. I’ve now become pretty decent on Instagram, and just becoming adept at utilizing social media. I think that’s what people are looking at, I know we get a lot of Facebook responses to job ads.