John Pingo

John Pingo2018-03-22T14:05:49+00:00

JohnPingo

In 1995, I was a student at Beloit College working on my Bachelor’s degree. I needed money to help pay for school and had taken a job working for the school football team as a glorified towel boy. Dissatisfied with the job, I applied at a nearby business called the Goldie B. Floberg Center. I knew little about the Center but had heard that they operated homes for people with disabilities and they were hiring. It didn’t hurt that they were paying better than my towel boy gig.

When I first started, I was pretty scared. I hadn’t had any significant exposure to people with disabilities during my life and wasn’t sure what to expect. I still remember my first day. I arrived at my first assignment, an apartment building owned by the Center. I stood outside the apartment door with my heart pounding in my chest. I was so afraid I almost turned around and left. I had come this far and really didn’t want to be a towel boy, so I took a deep breath and nervously knocked on the door and waited. A few moments later, the door swung open and an elderly gentleman with horn-rimmed glasses stared at me. He looked at me for several seconds as I stood there wondering if I had been hasty in hanging up my towels. He said, “Are you the new guy?” and I answered that I was. He then broke into a huge smile and put his arm around my shoulders saying, “come on in!”

He went on to introduce me to the people who lived and worked in the apartment building. He showed me pictures of his family who he obviously loved dearly, talked about his job and proudly showed off his belongings that he had bought with his hard earned money. Right then and there, all my fears and misconceptions about people with developmental disabilities went out the door. He wasn’t a “disabled person.” He was a man, more like me than different from me.

It didn’t take long for me to decide that I had found my calling. In my time here at the Center, I’ve had many exciting experiences. I’ve earned my Masters in Rehabilitation Administration and Ph.D. in Behavior Analysis from SIU Carbondale. I’ve had the opportunity to serve as our Director of Human Resources, our Children’s Services Administrator and Chief Operating Officer. I even subbed as our cook a couple of times! In January 2013 I was given the extraordinary opportunity to serve as the Center’s President/CEO. While my responsibilities have grown and evolved over the years, one exhilarating aspect has remained the same in every position I’ve held. Every day that I come to work, I have the opportunity to make a difference in the lives of the people we serve. I’m sure glad I knocked on that door.

Public Speaking Engagements

I enjoy sharing my experiences and knowledge through teaching and public speaking. I currently serve as an adjunct professor at Southern Illinois
University, Carbondale, and Aurora University teaching behavioral analysis related topics. My seminars and Keynote presentations almost always include my own inner-geek twist…leveraging comic book and superhero references to engage the audience. Some of my favorite events and topics have included:

  • Illinois Crisis Prevention Network (ICPN) Annual Conference Keynote Speaker – Nirvana through Nerdism: A Geeks Guide to Mindfulness When Working with People with Challenging Behavior
  • October 2017 – Illinois Association of Rehabilitation Facilities (IARF) Annual Conference & Trade Show 2016 – Everything I Need to Know About Leadership I learned from Game of Thrones.
  • October 2016 – Illinois Association of Rehabilitation Facilities (IARF) Annual Conference & Trade Show 2016 – Mindfulness at the Movies and The People Paradigm: The Death of HR and What Comes Next.

Please, don’t hesitate to call me at Goldie B. Floberg Center if your group or organization is seeking a presenter who brings snacks.