New executive director in full swing at CAPCO

New executive director at CAPCO, Greg Richards. (Photo Source: Kevin L. Smith).

A new face is at the helm of Cortland County Community Action Program (CAPCO).

Greg Richards, previously the deputy director and the director of human resources at CAPCO, is now the executive director as of Jan. 1 (2022) of the Cortland-area non-profit organization.

Richards replaces Lindy Glennon, who retired at the end of last year after 16 years in the top position at CAPCO.

Once the executive director position became available, Richards said it was “a natural progression for me to apply.”

Richards was born and raised in Homer. He graduated from Homer High School in 2010. From there, he attended and graduated from LeMoyne College in 2014 with a bachelor’s degree in business management and leadership (he also had a concentration in human resources).

After a handful of months out of college, Richards was hired by CAPCO as the organization’s first-ever full-time director of Human Resources at 22 years old. Richards held the HR director position for seven years before his promotion to deputy director last year.

In less than a year, Richards was promoted from deputy director to the executive director position.

“It’s very rewarding,” he said. “(For) the work that we do here, you can see the impact in the community at all levels of the agency.”

When Richards first entered the LeMoyne College campus, he was an undeclared business major.

“I knew I wanted to be in the business field because that’s what I grew up around, but I didn’t know what I wanted to do,” Richards said. Richards noted his interest in majoring in business stemmed from his parents, Nancy and Don Richards. 

Both of his parents are small business owners. His mother Nancy owns Cortland Self-Storage, a mini-storage facility in Cortland County. She also owns NAR Tax and Advisory, LLC. His father owns Complete Construction Concepts in Homer.

While attending LeMoyne College, Richards found a love for human resources through a club on campus. The club is where he “fully understood what human resources was at that point in my life.”

“I really fell in love with the HR side of things, and overall management and leadership,” Richards said. “It’s what led me to choose what I have my degree in.”

Richards’ passion for human services/non-profit organizations came during his time with the Catholic Charities Summer Feeding Program.

From food server as his first job in high school, to running the “whole summer feeding program” as a coordinator starting at 17 years old, Richards and the program provided free summer lunches at parks in the area.

“(I ended up) working there all through college,” Richards said. “From grant reporting, to managing and hiring staff to ordering food, I did everything.”

Richards noted his time with Catholic Charities “really gave me a taste of what it’s like to work for a not-for-profit in the Cortland community.”

“I’ve always had a love for it,” he said.

Learning what he can about human resources and non-profit services is what guided Richards to be in the driver’s seat at CAPCO. He also dedicates a good portion of his journey to Glennon.

“Lindy was less of a supervisor and more of a mentor,” Richards said. He added that Glennon still remains a mentor of his. “Lindy’s legacy will not only be felt in this agency, but in this community for years and years to come.”

Richards added that Glennon had a “unique way of bringing people together.”

“She had a knack for really moving initiatives forward in a way that’s really difficult to do,” Richards said.

While Richards sees Glennon as irreplaceable, he knows that his role has changed.

“It’s rewarding to see what I do on the administrative side ultimately helps our employees, which helps the people we work with in our community,” Richards added. “Our turnover rate is low. That speaks volumes for the agency and the commitment we have. I believe in what we do.”

As Richards gets deeper into his role as executive director, he noted CAPCO’s main focus is on the “(COVID-19) response and the impact it’s having on our community.”

“It still remains the biggest barrier and challenge that we face as an agency,” he said. “It’s not only within our walls (at CAPCO), but also individuals in our community.”

Richards said the community individuals that come through CAPCO are in “low income, poverty situations” and are “hit the most during like these that we’re in.”

“The needs are relevant,” he said. “So as we head into the next phase of CAPCO and we look at the ongoing effects of COVID, we need to be creative in how we respond to our community needs. We’ll continue to respond to efforts within the agency, but also respond to the community condition as the community action program for Cortland.”

Despite a few months of uncertainty at the beginning of the pandemic in 2020, Richards said CAPCO “never closed its doors.”. 

“A lot of what we do can’t be virtual or remote,” he added. “Our doors will always be open, and at the beginning of the pandemic we were only one of the few doors open.”

As 2022 continues, Richards said CAPCO is “dedicated to continuing as Cortland’s community action program.”