Anna Blair talks about Don Wharton, Director of Business Development & Government Relations. .
How do you think Don adds to the community-focused nature of REACH?
The community-based part of Donnie is what makes him so unique. He is extremely active and plays a part in a multitude of things in his local community. He exemplifies the concept that healthcare and business is local.
What do you appreciate most about Don?
What I appreciate about Don is his tenacity and can-do attitude. He is positive even when faced with the most difficult challenges. And at the end of the day, he believes that everybody is capable of doing the right work.
He also is an extremely patient person.
We sit down with Don.
How would you summarize your job?
First and foremost, I am a Director of Business Development for REACH, which means I get to connect with people – customers and the communities we are involved in. In addition to that, I am REACH’s governmental relations representative. I work with closely with AMGH and our sister companies on a lot of different campaigns and projects.
How are you involved with your community?
Outside of REACH, I am a 19-year veteran of the Imperial County Sherriff’s Office. I serve as a Reserve Unit Commander, which means that I am responsible for running search and rescue operations, routine patrols and off highway enforcements. I also work as the Chief Pilot for the Imperial County Narcotics Task Force; this was a position I was recruited for because of my background in aviation. Both positions are part-time, but I enjoy them very much.
Through my work with REACH, I also became involved in public service. For a long time I served on the foundation boards for El Centro Regional Medical Center and Pioneer Memorial Hospital, but I had to give up both of those positions when I ran for City Council in the City of Brawley.
I am in my second term as a councilmember and was recently appointed Mayor of the City of Brawley. Had it not been for the work that I’ve done with REACH, I would not have gotten involved in politics. It seemed like the more involved I became with my local government through work, the more I learned that I could make a difference in my community. As a Councilmember, I have learned so much about public administration, the judicial system, community outreach and relations, wastewater, city infrastructure, you name it. If you like to learn and you like making a difference, run for city council.
How do you find time in your day for all of these things?
I have phenomenal people that I work with in every area of my life and I couldn’t do what I do without their support. I like to say that sharp, strong women run my life, particularly my wife Suzy, Anna Blair, Vicky Spediacci and the women who work for the City of Brawley. In all seriousness, I am able to balance all of these things through time management. The key for me is tackling what is ahead of me each day. I focus on the task and get it done – I don’t let go until it’s finished.
What drives you to do give back?
When I was 19, I lost my father suddenly and that had a very profound impact on my life. He was my biggest hero, and I think that he is part of the fuel that drives me. I work as if tomorrow is not promised and when you work for REACH, that’s something you are reminded of every day.
I often ask myself, how do you want to live your life with the day that you have? When my day comes, I want to be someone who did all that he could.
What is the most rewarding part of being involved in your community?
The lesson is this – you get back out what you put in. What I get back from my work with REACH and my work with my community and the sheriff’s office, I get back tenfold.
I feel so incredibly rich in life.
Who is in your family?
My wife Suzy, my son Donald who is 22, and my son Hunter who just turned 21.
Would you rather skydive or bungee jump?
I have had many opportunities to skydive, but being a pilot, why jump out of a perfectly good airplane? I would say bungee jumping.
If you had 24 hours to spend $1 million dollars, what would you do?
I would spend a lot of it taking care of my family and their needs. I would give back to many of the great organizations in my community that I currently donate to. And my one fun purchase would be a very efficient, twin-engine airplane that I could use as a company car.
If they made a movie about your life, what actor would you want to play your role?
Probably Tom Cruise from when he starred in Top Gun. In my younger days, I used to go for the aviators and leather jacket look like in the film.