An educator with a passion for helping others, Sid Downey was not familiar with Premier Alliances when several former staff members were taking his nonprofit finance courses in 2014.
“I was teaching a Quickbooks for Nonprofits class at the Cochise College Center for Lifelong Learning, as well as a Nonprofit Bookkeeping class. Several employees of, what at that time was CCAH (Cochise County Association for the Handicapped) were in those classes,” Downey said.
After weeks of teaching them, Downey said he became impressed with the organization and the staff’s dedication to their work.
“My sense was they they truly believed in what they were doing. They didn’t look at their positions as just a job, they truly believed in the mission of the organization. My sense was they were very supportive of what was going on here,” he said.
The son of a public school teacher, Downey moved to Sierra Vista about 10 years ago with his wife, with an eye on eventually retiring here after years in education in places like Maryville College, Tennessee and Franklin College, Indiana.
“I’ve taught or been an administrator all my life,” he said.
A decade of his career was spent outside of the classroom as an administrator, a position he enjoyed until he felt the pull to return to working with students.
“I missed the contact with the students, because that’s what colleges and universities are all about. As an administrator, you have very little of that contact. So, I missed that and wanted to get back to the classroom,” he said.
Having vacationed in Arizona for years, Downey and his wife decided to move out to Sierra Vista when an opportunity to teach at Cochise College presented itself. There, he continued teaching his business finance courses until he retired in 2014.
Before he relocated, Downey worked with his church on a number of community service projects, such as developing a youth shelter for young people in crisis. When he was invited to join the Premier Alliances Board of Directors in 2014, it was his first time working with the disabled.
“The thing that really impressed me about this organization at first—and it still does—is the fact that you don’t just give people a handout. You’re actually giving them some self-worth by providing a job for them, and now, as we expand, providing other kinds of counseling for them. So, it’s not a give-away kind of organization,” he said.
He recognizes and appreciates that his fellow volunteer board members have unique experiences and specialties which help make for a strong guiding force for the organization.
“I think we have a lot of different skillsets on the board, which is important. We don’t want everyone to be the same. Personally, what I bring is my financial background, as an accounting instructor, as a finance instructor, as an administrator. I think I can assist in that role of the finances while on the board,” said Downey, who serves as the board treasurer.
Looking ahead, he hopes to help steer the growth of Premier Alliances in a responsible way, so that more individuals with disabilities can be provided the opportunities to live a full life.
“I look forward to seeing some exciting things coming down the road in the future, and not just growth for for growth’s sake, but to help other people,” he said.