McGaughy Finishes Long Career of Kindness and Compassion
A long career of helping a whole lot of people recently came to a close for Denny McGaughy.
On March 15, McGaughy retired after more than 27 years of leadership at LCS Northwest. Most of that time was spent heading up our Spokane efforts, and that job included stints of managing directors in the Tri-Cities, Central Oregon and Klamath Falls offices.
“It was a rare day I didn’t look forward to going to work,” McGaughy said. The people kept him at LCS Northwest, and the people are what he’ll miss most in retirement.
“I never met somebody who worked for our agency I didn’t like,” he said “I don’t know very many people who can say that.”
Change was and is a constant throughout McGaughy’s career. In the summer of 2016, CEO and President David Duea asked him to become our Chief Operating Officer. At 70, McGaughy took on that role of having all eight district directors report to him.
His retirement is part of an ongoing wave of change in our long-time leadership.
“Change is a difficult process,” McGaughy said. “It is both inevitable in our industry and for the good. We haven’t arrived at who we’ll be yet.”
He is confident that our organization’s DNA will remain the same. He uses words such as hospitality, community, compassion, servant and broken to explain our DNA. Wait, broken?
“As a good leader you have to realize we are all broken,” McGaughy said. “We need to forgive ourselves and others who are broken.”
With a degree in psychology and sociology from Washington State, McGaughy’s first career stop was Nome, Alaska. He called it “crazy fun” being a social worker, community organizer, and counselor to Nome and 3 villages.
After earning a Master of Social Work from the University of Utah in 1973, McGaughy spent seven years as a social worker for the State of Oregon in Gold Beach. That was followed by a seven-year stint of leading the office of Lutheran Social Services in Wilmer, MN. Ironically, our President and CEO David Duea spent part of his youth in Wilmer, as his father, Bob Duea, led the same office earlier.
In 1990, he took the director’s job in Spokane. A graduate of Bainbridge Island High School, McGaughy wanted to return to the Northwest where he spent most of his youth.
In Spokane, his goal was to build a healthy, harmonious work environment. His team started the 8 Lakes Leg Aches Bike Ride, and grew the annual Chocolate and Champagne Gala. Our services in Spokane developed strong ties to the community under his watch.
In his 28 years with LCS Northwest, McGaughy said he never thought of working anywhere else.
“In a leadership role in an agency this size I could effectively combine my academic training with my faith,” he said. “I got to blend those easily together here.”
In retirement, McGaughy will visit his daughter in Amsterdam, get a puppy, and ride his new bike “a whole lot.” He and his wife, Liz, and some of their children who live close by already have a list of handyman chores for him. His parting advice to others at LCS Northwest is simple.
“Always understand that we are here to serve those in need. You always have to keep that in mind.”