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Posted: Jan 13, 2021 10:49 AMUpdated: Jan 13, 2021 2:02 PM

Fields Talks Leadership Award, Tri County Tech

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Garrett Giles

Tri County Tech (TCT) Superintendent & CEO Lindel Fields said receiving the 2021 Baldridge Foundation Award for Leadership Excellence is exciting.

Fields said without a doubt that the award is the most significant individual honor he has received in his professional 30 year career.

Al Faber, president and CEO of the Foundation for the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award, Inc., announced on Tuesday, Jan. 12th, that Fields, is a 2021 recipient of the Baldrige Foundation’s Leadership Award. Fields is the only Oklahoman and the only trade school nationwide to be receiving this prestigious award that recognizes leaders who are mentoring leaders in successfully driving efficiency and responsiveness of an organization.

When Fields first found out that he received the award, his wife - Leigh Ann Fields - made a nice dinner for him. Fields said he received plenty of calls from friends, family, and strangers from across the country. He said it was a big deal to him personally, but he didn't realize how big of a deal it was for others to see.

As the only Oklahoman recipient, Fields is among former members of Congress and the president of the U.S. Chamber in receiving this year’s prestigious recognition.

Fields said he has watched these award ceremonies in the past and he never would've thought that that would be a place that he could be, but Tri County Tech has had a great journey and some felt that he was worthy of being on that stage. He said it is humbling to be in the same category as Congressman and other people of the stature.

In 2009, Fields generated Vision 2020, a fearless and bold initiative which intended to establish Tri County as a premier educational institution and one of the only schools to decline federal funding in the United States. In 2018 he led Tri County Tech as one of five recipients to win the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award and the only trade school to date in the nation to be awarded. The Baldrige Award is a Presidential-level honor, recognizing exemplary practices among American organizations and businesses, including an unceasing drive for radical innovation, thoughtful leadership, and organizational improvement.

While Vision 2020 was bold, Fields said Vision 2025 is really a robust plan. Fields said the plan includes what they're calling "Baldridge 2.0." He said other goals in that list include growing Tri County Tech's finances to ensure their viability and growing TCT's retention in enrollment. He said they want to provide value to their customers in the community.

Baldridge provides the framework for everything that Tri County Tech does within its organization. Fields said that framework is like a game plan for a football team in that it is how they conduct their business. He said Tri County Tech will continue to use its world class strategic planning processes. He added that they hire great people and take care of those people who go out and execute the plan well.

Tri County Tech is now the administrator of the Oklahoma Quality Program for those that are on a performance excellence journey. Fields said the program is for those that want to be more robust in their performance of excellence at TCT. He said the program is a vehicle for organizations to experience performance excellence while providing a pathway to the National Baldridge.

That's not all. As a result of the coronavirus pandemic that started in mid-March 2020, the Skills-to- Rebuild initiative was born. Fields said it will transform the lives of over 500 people. He said those who were afraid to go to school, or those who were unemployed / underemployed are now getting an education.

Fields said Tri County Tech will continue to offer programs and services to those that need them. He said that is as good as any award that he is ever going to get.

Overall, Fields would give the Skills-to-Rebuild initiative a nine out of ten. Fields said TCT originally planned on having 350 people in the program but they were able to expand the program and make it available to 581 individuals. He said they're over 100-percent capacity for the program.

Tri County Tech has seen 90 people complete the Skills-to-Rebuild initiative that are now working in the market. Fields said some of their students won't graduate until May 2021. He said they still have a good year left of the program.

There are new stimulus dollars out there. Fields said he wouldn't be surprised if they tried to build a second round of Skills-to-Rebuild for unemployed and underemployed people in the community.

Tri County Tech currently has over a thousand people on a wait list for the Skills-to-Rebuild initiative. 

To read statements on Fields from Oklahoma Secretary of Commerce and Workforce Development Sean Kouplan, and Al Faber, president and CEO of the Foundation for the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award, Inc., click here.

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