Diane Wilcox, Supervisor of Client Recruitment retires after 17 years with OS!


Diane Wilcox, Supervisor of Client Recruitment in St. Cloud, Minnesota (pictured above center) will be retiring after 17 years of service with Opportunity Services. Diane started as a part-time job coach a few months after the St. Cloud site opened in 1999. She remembers speaking with Ardy Hendricks at the Kelly Inn, where Opportunity Services was located initially in St. Cloud. Opportunity Services was selected to transform a sheltered workshop into community-based employment in the St. Cloud area and Ardy was a parent of a child with disabilities who became an integral part of the first Opportunity Services program in Red Wing, MN. After speaking with Ardy, Diane realized she would enjoy working with OS and started part-time.

Being a job coach worked well with Diane’s busy lifestyle at the time- she had three little kids, in addition to two teenagers, and was considering going back into nursing when her kids got a little older. Diane spent time as a job coach with various work teams throughout the St. Cloud area, but none was more influential then the Talahi Nursing Home. Diane learned the housekeeping job from the local staff there in order to teach the first work team on site. Even at that time, Diane was identifying “Quantum Leapers:” clients that are ready to make the jump from the work team to independent employment. When a need popped up within the Supported Employment Program in St. Cloud, it was her passion for assisting clients to find their independence that helped her feel confident in taking on the role. She believed her work at Opportunity Services to be so rewarding she decided to stay in the field instead of returning to nursing.

Diane’s transition from job coach to employment specialist happened about 11 years ago. Diane enjoyed working with clients one on one and seeing their progress over the years. Her favorite thing about working at Opportunity Services has been getting to know the clients and seeing the Mission, Vision and Values of Opportunity Services come alive everyday. After a few years with the Supported Employment team, Diane transitioned into an Employment Specialist Team Lead and then Employment Specialist Supervisor. “Assisting clients with independent employment is more than just a job,” says Diane. “We are helping them reach goals all throughout their life- promoting independence in transportation, housing and beyond. Opportunity Services gives clients the tools they need to become self-advocates. That is what has kept me here for 17 years.” Over the years, she realized that a “failure” for a client is not always a bad thing as it provides a great learning experience. Clients want to be treated just like everyone else in the community!

Diane is also a CPR and First Aid Instructor with Opportunity Services and travels around to the OS locations all throughout the state of Minnesota. She has appreciated working with her co-workers over the years and feels blessed to be part of such a dedicated team of individuals. “Diane truly embodies the Mission, Vision and Values of Opportunity Services. Her presence and performance have been extremely valuable to our organization,” says Craig Zack, Opportunity Services Vice President. “Early on we discovered Diane had the skill set built for success in this field and she has grown with OS ever since. She excels at building and creating relationships with the entire St. Cloud community and Opportunity Services is better because of the role she has played in our success. She will be missed!”

In her 17 years with Opportunity Services, Diane has assisted over 50 clients to “quantum leap” into independent employment. “Diane has been the heart of our employment services in St. Cloud and has dedicated the remainder of career to make employment happen for so many in this community,” says Nancy Gurney, Opportunity Services President. “She is one of those employees who have impacted many of the families and individuals we have served.  She will always be a part of our Opportunity Services history and stories of success.” In retirement, Diane is looking forward to spending more time with her grandkids (7 and counting!), traveling and gardening. Her passion and dedication at Opportunity Services will be missed- thank you for your service over the years, Diane!

You can also check out Diane’s interview on our YouTube Channel here!