After 46 years of working for the Green River Area Development District (GRADD), the agency’s longest-running executive director, Jiten Shah, announced his upcoming retirement at last Wednesday’s board meeting.
Shah has served as GRADD’s executive director for 31 years, he said Friday. His retirement will take effect May 1, 2020.
“As executive director, it takes a lot of time and energy from your family,” he said. “I think it’s time for me to enjoy spending time with my children and grandchildren — some of whom live in California.”
Though Shah will stay on until May, GRADD’s executive committee will soon form a search committee for a new executive director. The committee will advertise the position on national and regional platforms, and Shah said he expects a new director to be appointed by mid-March or early April.
Serving as GRADD’s longest-standing executive director is something Shah is proud of, he said, and believes his employees will be left in a strong position after his retirement takes place.
“We’ve gotten to take pride in a lot of accomplishments, and we’ve [created change] by working with local, state and national officials,” he said. “There’s been lots of changes since I started the job 46 years ago. In fact, nobody who works there now was there when I started.”
Shah said GRADD’s ability to stay current will determine its longevity and success in the future. Technological, progressive and community-based projects will continue to be focuses of Shah’s until his last day at the office.
“In order to keep up with the changes, you’ve got to be on peoples’ minds and eyes. Our main role is to develop the seven-county region, so we have to look at what the human needs are — for both the aging generations and younger ones as well,” he said. “New technology will play a large part in our working with colleges and industries to form new training programs.”
Shah said he’s proud of many of GRADD’s accomplishments during his 46 years, citing a 2007 broadband internet project that was the first of its kind in the entire nation. Shah and Judge-Executive Al Mattingly worked together to bring broadband internet to rural areas and raised funds across all seven counties to make sure thousands more people had internet access.
Meals on Wheels is another of GRADD’s major success stories, Shah said, where 1,200 meals a day are served to people across the seven-county GRADD region.
Before his retirement in May, Shah would like to form relationships with newly elected Governor Andy Beshear and his administration to ensure that GRADD continues to have a seat at the table. The upcoming long General Assembly session will be one of Shah’s focuses before his retirement as well.
“We need to continue funding for what we’ve got now and lobby the administration for new technology projects,” he said. “By the time I leave, we should have the resources for the upcoming year intact. If the community succeeds, the whole region succeeds.”