Leadership Spotlight: Roddy Mac, Ph.D
Please describe your background, and what led you to EA:
As a psychologist with county mental health, I provided consultation to Patricia Dorris, who ran a small group home for the probation department. From her and others, I learned how influential foster parents can be. The changes I and my professional colleagues created in the office were microscopic in comparison to what caring foster parents could achieve. It struck me then, as now, how underrated and unappreciated foster parents are. Except, they are absolutely appreciated and valued by their foster children, something the children remember throughout their lives.
What experiences early in life contributed to your success with EA?
Having a doctorate in Clinical Psychology from U Wisconsin-Milwaukee, an internship at the U Kansas Medical School, practicing psychology in community mental health programs, and testifying before Superior Courts afforded me the working credentials to start EA. I didn't have a grand plan for EA's growth, except to find employees who cared as much as I did about helping neglected and abused children. We would run the business and foster parents would do the heavy work, making a difference in the lives of children.
What advice would you give to someone interested in working with youth in foster care?
The single most important factor in being a successful foster parent is creating and maintaining a good relationship with the foster child. The next most important factor is not even a close second. Don't let all the other responsibilities and expectations distract from focusing on the bond foster parents share with the child. It doesn't matter how far you went in school, your IQ, salary or training. What matters is how much of you is thrown into the relationship.
EA's many dedicated employees can help foster parents with details and some strategy, but nothing replaces the connection between foster parent and foster child.
What do you enjoy doing when you're not at work?
My mind never strays far from EA. It was my child, then grandchild and now my great-grandchild, as leadership passed through several generations. My wife of 47 years puts up with my obsessions and even traveled with me to the outback of Borneo, Madagascar, New Guinea, the Amazon and Everglades. We piloted our ship Delusions from San Francisco to Lake Superior, transiting the Panama Canal; a voyage of a mere 18 years. We still live in the house I designed and built 30 years ago. I've been an airplane pilot, scuba diver and creator of EA's terribly complicated electronic data system, Kidnet.
What's a hidden talent you have, or something about yourself that would surprise most people?
I manage to surprise people without really trying. For example, my early life was every bit as bad as most of our foster children. I would have loved to be placed in one of our many wonderful foster homes as a child. It would have saved me a good measure of blood and tears.
Anything else you'd like to add?
EA offered me the opportunity to remain involved and contribute. I prefer not being a mere time capsule, valuable for his historical role as EA's Founder, yet irrelevant to its present and future. Isn't that what we all wish, to have a meaningful life?