A Tribute to Karen Walker
I didn't pick up my pen and paper with an intention to write about the dedication and hard work afforded the Wayne Township Trustee Office, by our Staff Attorney Karen Walker.
After six years of service, Karen decided to retire from the Wayne Township Trustee Office to enjoy a well deserved sabbatical from government business. Her retirement party was attended by well-wishers last month. There were wonderful remarks and tributes given to Karen at that time from the Trustee, co-workers and members of our board.
During the celebration, one of my staff, Dennis Powell suggested a tribute article to the community about Karen's dedication and hard work to Wayne Township. At that moment, I agreed and decided that I would like to share a few words with our Waynedale News readers about Karen Walker.
Although the media portrays the job of an attorney as something extremely glamorous, in reality it entails a lot of hard work and little or no appreciation. Karen's job entailed research, routine tasks and administration which others might find utterly boring. She seemed enthusiastic about the most basic duties. She worked closely with our leadership team in investigations, payee administration, accounting and human resources. She managed contracts and interpreted the statutes that governs Township administration, and much more.
Karen was the kind of person that didn't shy away from unusual and sometimes complicated issues. As I think about it, she was energized by these requests and handled them with such ease. The Wayne Township compliance and successful administration depended upon Karen's legal savvy.
Karen's role was extremely important to the Township. Her people skills and an eye for detail were critical. As an attorney she was instrumental in working with clients, board directors, financial advisers, counsel, and staff. In rare but difficult hearings, she had to persuade attorneys and state our case based on fact. She communicated graciously, clearly, understanding the processes as well as the needs and concerns of the people.
It is normal in our type of business to have "some" problems. It was not uncommon for our clients to encounter a problem which they could not solve without Karen's assistance. She was able to look at a picture from all angles and endeavor to find a workable solution. Several years ago, Karen organized and led the staff in a successful crusade to save the Waynedale Post Office. Karen is a great problem solver.
Oh my, did I mention conflict management as a key area? If there were disagreements or conflicts in interpretation of policies and personal interests, we called Karen. Her skill was crucial in handling the confrontation and resolving the conflict, with all parties involved and without ill will.
Karen's dual role of looking out for the best interest of Wayne Township and the client was no easy task. But like all her efforts she found a way to be successful.
As I look back over the past six years, I am grateful to have had Karen on our team. More than that, she had become an invaluable advisor to me personally. Karen didn't just absorb the information and then make a determination, many times she navigated through a ton of statutes, researched internal practices and listened intensely while a client was demanding a decision. Her care and concern for the purity of our office has afforded her this tribute without a doubt. Her meticulous scrutiny of township practices and eligibility requirements saved the taxpayers thousands of dollars.
After several weeks of heading towards her office with thoughts to ask a question, I had to pause and remember that, "Karen has left the building!"
I think it is fitting to tip my hat in Karen's direction. In fact, it is appropriate for all Wayne Township to tip their hats in her direction for a job well done!
Richard A. Stevenson, Sr.
Wayne Township Trustee