Two changings of the guard

Published 9:39 pm Thursday, May 12, 2016

Leadership changes at two entities that affect a lot of lives in Suffolk and Western Tidewater have been announced recently, and they bode well for the organizations and the communities the two talented men will be serving.

First to be announced was a change in the guard at Western Tidewater Free Clinic. Miriam Beiler’s planned departure to move out of state to spend more time with her aging mother opened the executive director position at the clinic.

After receiving applications from near and far, the clinic’s board of directors decided upon somebody very near.

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Chester M. Hart Jr., 63, is an active board member at the clinic. He has spent his entire career in health care, including 25 years at Louise Obici Memorial Hospital/Sentara Obici Hospital.

Since his retirement from there in 2013, he has worked as a consultant in local health care.

“I love the health care environment, and I love to help my community,” Hart told me on Wednesday. “I’m excited. It’s a good group of people to work with. They’re very passionate about what they do, and we have a great group of volunteers. It’ll be like going back home again.”

Another announcement this week featured another organization that didn’t go far to find its new leader.

Dr. Daniel Lufkin, currently vice president for student affairs at Thomas Nelson Community College just across the water, will replace Dr. William C. Aiken as Paul D. Camp Community College president. You can read more about it on today’s front page.

Aiken was brought out of retirement more than a year ago to be interim president. He will pass the torch to Lufkin this summer.

“I am honored and humbled to be named the next president of Paul D. Camp Community College,” Lufkin stated in a press release this week. “The service region is very much like the area where I grew up, and I am eager to start making connections both on campus and in the community.”

Lufkin was chosen after an on-campus interview last week, during which he met faculty, students and members of the public.

In both cases, Beiler and Aiken were doing an excellent job leading the clinic and the college, respectively. But leadership changes always come with a certain amount of uncertainty, and both entities play a critical role that mustn’t be allowed to slip in keeping Suffolk and Western Tidewater residents healthy and educated.

For both the clinic and the college, the recent announcements give the community every hope that the fine leadership will continue.