Special Olympics Michigan President & CEO Lois Arnold

Special Olympics Michigan President and CEO Lois Arnold has announced her retirement effective August 1, 2018.

Lois Arnold first got involved with Special Olympics Michigan (SOMI) 40 years ago as a volunteer while attending Northern Michigan University. She received a Bachelor of Science in Education degree at NMU as a double-major in Health and Physical Education, later receiving a Master of Arts degree at Central Michigan University. In 1980, she joined Special Olympics Michigan's staff in Mt. Pleasant holding the position of Sports Coordinator, was promoted to Sports and Training Director in 1982, then Associate Director in 1986. During this time, she was responsible for overseeing the sports, training, competition and volunteer management statewide. Then in November 1990, she was named Special Olympics Michigan's President and CEO, a position she has held for the past 27 years.

"Choosing to retire was a very difficult decision to make, but I feel that now is the right time to step aside," said Arnold. "I'm honored to have been a part of the Special Olympics movement for the past 40 years and am excited to see where the organization is headed next."

Under Lois Arnold's leadership, Special Olympics Michigan has:

• Built financial stability as an organization and is rated a four star charity by Charity Navigator.

• Increased the number of sports offered annually including softball, cycling, kayaking, powerlifting, volleyball flag football, poly hockey and others.

• Added Unified Sports, where athletes with and without intellectual disabilities train and compete together.

• Expanded state-run tournaments to include Fall Games (cycling, flag football, softball, soccer and golf), district basketball tournaments and regional events.

• Introduced training schools to better train Special Olympics Michigan coaches.

• Added a Young Athletes™ program that introduces basic sport skills, like running, kicking and throwing, to children ages 2 to 7 years old.

• Provided free health screenings and information to athletes through its Healthy Athletes® initiatives.

• Offered athlete leadership opportunities and trainings through Global Messenger and Athlete Leadership programs.

• Helped promote and increase inclusion in Michigan K-12 schools, colleges and universities through its Special Olympics Unified Champion Schools and SO College programs, which bring together students with and without intellectual disabilities through education, sports and youth leadership.

The Special Olympics Michigan Board of Directors has begun a nationwide search for Lois Arnold's successor. The next President and CEO will be responsible for leading the organization to the next level and expanding engagement throughout the state to further the inclusion of opportunities for people with intellectual disabilities. The job posting can be found on Central Michigan University's Applicant Portal at https://www.jobs.cmich.edu/postings/27489.