JUMP! – Get Unstuck, © 2010, Robert S. Tipton, All Rights Reserved, Alden-Swain Press

Table of Contents Character Summaries

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Chapter 9:

Birds of a Feather

Thursday: 11:55 a.m. MST
(Jennifer Boyle’s Office, Falcon Foundation, Loveland)


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Had the members of the executive team taken the time to survey the walls in the modest boardroom as they left to return to their offices, they would have seen dozens of 11×14 color portraits of their kids. Families representing every conceivable nationality; some with no children, some with many; some biological, some adopted. While the faces were different, the expressions were similar; all the photos portrayed one central feeling: gratitude. The Falcon kids felt truly blessed to have been selected by the Falcon Foundation for Families, and their faces reflected the joy and hope in their hearts. It was a shrine to the altruistic and powerful history of Falcon, and nestled in the left corner, behind Mr. Falcon’s seat at the head of the table, was the picture of Terrence Kennedy and his family.

Terrence, Falcon’s head of client services, had joined the foundation immediately upon graduating from Pepperdine University with a law degree. He was (like Franklin) the first member of his family to earn a college degree, a degree funded fully by the foundation largely due to the commitment he and his family had shown to others in need. The Kennedy family owned a small farm in rural Georgia, and Terrence’s father was a descendant of the sharecroppers who first owned his family’s land at the end of the Civil War.

The Kennedys took nothing for granted yet shared what little they had generously. Franklin always considered the families of former slaves to be “forced immigrants” to America and waived the normal first- or second- generation‒only requirements for their families to be eligible for Falcon Foundation benefits.

Terrence was obviously connected to the Falcon Foundation in ways that other members of the executive team were not. He and his family had benefited significantly from Mr. Falcon’s vision, and as a result, he was an ardent supporter of Franklin. In his role as VP of client services, it was his job to oversee the selection of candidate families and to direct the activities of all the case managers. Given his background, he had difficulty remaining objective about the foundation’s activities and its finances.
He considered his job to be a blessed activity and couldn’t imagine doing anything else for a living. The fact that the funding to support his responsibilities had somehow disappeared was unimaginable. He’d ignored Greg’s reports about the impending financial doom until just about a week ago. By then, he had subconsciously developed a full arsenal of excuses, thoughts of denial, and other means to deflect himself from dealing with the reality of the situation. However, “something” was trying to break through his defenses—a nagging suspicion that his world as he knew it was about to change radically. His stomach was churning.

“Jennifer, do you have a few minutes?” Terrence asked as he walked uninvited into her office. Upon seeing Greg Sullivan, Falcon’s CFO, sitting on the couch reserved for Jennifer’s guests, Terrence went on to say, “Oh, sorry. I didn’t know you and Greg were in a meeting.”

“No worries, Terrence. I was feeling the need to chat with Jennifer, too. I actually just got here myself,” said Greg in an accent that strongly hinted of his youth in Belfast.

“Hold on,” said Jennifer in a distracted tone, “just let me finish this sentence,” as she returned to her keyboard.

Greg Sullivan joined Falcon about a dozen years ago, starting as a junior financial analyst and working his way up to chief financial officer, a promotion he received under stressful circumstances. He replaced Marty Wright, Falcon’s original CFO, who was considered a legend within the halls of the foundation. Marty was fearless, intrepid even, because he was one of the few (maybe the only) members of the Falcon staff who would actively and regularly challenge Franklin—in public, in private, it didn’t matter.

If something didn’t “feel” right to Marty, he’d say it. And most amazing to everyone at Falcon, Franklin would listen—and would eventually agree with almost every one of Marty’s suggestions.

Internally, these events carried the descriptor of “being Wrighted.” Greg, although coached by Marty his entire career at Falcon, just didn’t have the conviction in himself to challenge Mr. Falcon. When Marty died three years ago, and Greg followed him as CFO, the entire organization lost the balancing and “Wrighting” effect offered by Marty. Over time, Falcon found itself, and Franklin found himself, more and more off course as a result. Secretly, Greg thought everyone blamed him for not being more like Marty.

“What’s up?” asked Jennifer as she swiveled her chair to face them.

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Table of Contents Character Summaries

JUMP! – Get Unstuck, © 2010, Robert S. Tipton, All Rights Reserved, Alden-Swain Press