Polk Center director to retire next month

Contributing writer

The longtime director of Polk State Center announced her retirement at a meeting Wednesday of the Polk Center board of trustees.

Shirley Pickens, facility director since 2009, will retire Jan. 10.

“This has been in the works for a long time and … is not a reaction to what is happening,” said Pickens in reference to the proposed closing of Polk Center.

Pickens, who grew up on a Sandy Lake farm, graduated from Lakeview High School in 1976.

She earned a bachelor of arts degree from Edinboro University and did additional post-graduate study in clinical psychology at Edinboro.

In 1981, she began working at Polk Center as a direct care employee.

“It has been a joy to work here, even with incredible challenges,” Pickens told the trustees. “I am so proud and happy to have been a part of Polk Center.”

The trustees passed a resolution honoring Pickens for “the excellent work you’ve done for the entire Polk community.”

“You are so caring and supportive of the residents and staff,” said Colleen Stuart, chairman of the trustees. “You have touched the lives of so many.”

In January, Polk-area resident Sue Rodgers will begin serving as acting director of Polk Center.

Rodgers, who is currently the facility’s clinical services director, has worked at Polk Center for 22 years.