Skyline's Robinson readies for retirement

Jake Mosbach/Clinton HeraldJack Robinson, who has served as the executive director of Clinton's Skyline Center since 1987, sits in his office Tuesday afternoon as he continues to clear out the space. Robinson is set to retire at the end of May.

CLINTON — For more that 30 years, Jack Robinson has served as the executive director of Clinton's Skyline Center, overseeing everything from department head management to the books.

On the last day of this month, however, that won't be the case anymore.

Robinson is set to retire after more than three decades as head of the organization, which helps Gateway-area disabled people live independently. He is leaving a company that has seen expansion on multiple fronts under his watch.

As Robinson continued the undertaking of cleaning out his office at the center on Tuesday afternoon, he reflected on his time as executive director.

"Since I've been here, the center has grown in both its physical assets, as well as the opportunities that we're able to provide for the people we help," Robinson said. "When I started, I think we only had 13 full-time employees. Now we have about 75 full-time workers, and close to 150 employees total."

Robinson and his colleagues have done everything from building new housing for the people they serve to providing jobs for them in an attempt to keep them living independently, he said, helping them avoid "becoming institutionalized."

His time as the center's leader was more than worth it, Robinson said – but now is the right time to step away.

"You just get tired," Robinson said. "Thinking about it now, I probably should have retired before this. But now, I do realize that it's time to hang it up. I was able to provide leadership, and I hope I was able to leave the center in a position to continue to help all the people we've come to serve."

That future for the center will be presented with difficulties, Robinson acknowledged, especially in terms of relationships and business dealings with the state's Managed Care Organizations (MCOs). Those entities have come in recent years along with the controversial privatization of Medicaid throughout Iowa, presenting issues in many cases.

Robinson said the future could force the center to "find ways to do more with less," as many entities similar to Skyline have begun to do as a result of the MCOs' intervention.

But after he steps away, those decisions and situations won't be in the hands of Robinson anymore as the calendar shifts to June. What he will still control, however, is the preservation of the valuable relationships he's formed since 1987.

"I hope I can still be useful in some way for our clients," Robinson said. "I'll still visit the people we serve, I know that. That's not something that I'll just be able to stop doing. It's time to retire, but I'll still be there for those people that I've gotten to know through my time here."