Taylor, Cannon bring caring attitude to their duties
Words of inspiration can have a profound impact on a person’s life. This is evident in the lives of former Alabama Department of Rehabilitation Services Chief Financial Officer (CFO) Suzette Taylor and new CFO shay Cannon.
Taylor, who retired Sept. 30, said people who believed in her were the driving force behind her rise from a position as a clerk-typist to the Executive Leadership Team.
Taylor earned her degree in accounting from Troy State University in 1990 by working during the day and going to school at night. She continued to push forward and earned her master’s in Human Resource Management.
Taylor first worked for the Department of Education but was asked to return to ADRS in 1995 when the two became separate departments. As she continued to move up through the ranks, she said she also began to appreciate the mission of the department more and more.
Taylor was promoted to senior accountant and then accounting manager in 2012 before becoming the CFO in 2014. She credited the special people who have been placed in her life for helping her push forward.
“I learned from the people around me,” she said. “I also learned a lot from the people who were my employees. They were the ones who taught me new things.”
A personal experience with the agency provided a reminder of how important its work is, Taylor said. Her mother’s neighbor gave birth to a premature child in 1998, and Taylor said she had an opportunity to see him make progress through ADRS programs and become a successful adult.
“You just never know who you will come in contact with that will need our services,” she said. “You will always run into someone who has a disability. I look at this agency as a place with so much love to give and so much inspiration to give. I think we really are an agency with a heart.”
As Taylor prepared to leave, she said she took great comfort in knowing Cannon was taking the reins.
“She has such a heart for this agency,” she said. “She understands what our programs do, and that is the kind of accounting director that this agency needs. She knows the regulations we have to follow to get money and carry out our mission the right way, but she also values what we do.”
Cannon has been eager to learn from the moment she joined the staff six years ago, Taylor said.
“She is a true ADRS family member,” she said. “She is going to do a wonderful job. She is smart, she is a hard worker, and she has a beautiful personality.”
Cannon, who spent five years in the United States Navy, moved to Georgia with her husband when they decided to pursue civilian careers. She earned a bachelor’s degree in accounting from Kennesaw State University and soon landed her first job with a family-owned manufacturing company. After a second stint with a manufacturer, Cannon made the move to Montgomery when her husband obtained a new job. A pair of interviews with ADRS soon blossomed into a career that has included five promotions in six years.
The new job at ADRS was much different from her past positions, Cannon said, and her initial plan was simply to learn the ropes. The more she learned, the more opportunities presented themselves. With plenty of encouragement from Taylor, Cannon found herself rising through the ranks before earning the title of CFO.
Cannon expressed her gratitude to Taylor for pushing her to achieve great things.
“She has been an exceptional friend and mentor, and when she said I was ready, I trusted her,” she said.
Cannon’s military and professional careers have taken her around the world, but she said she feels ADRS is where she is meant to be. Like Taylor, the services provided by the department have a very personal connection. Cannon’s nephew sustained a traumatic brain injury, so she has personally seen the struggles some parents face. For this reason, Cannon said she always gives 100 percent to do her part to help staff provide services to consumers.
“I might not be able to provide the services, but I can make sure (ADRS staff members) can,” she said. “I believe in the mission.”
Cannon said she has an enormous amount of respect for Taylor and the job she did as CFO. She has an equal amount of gratitude toward her former supervisor for seeing her potential.
“She invested in me from the time that I walked in the front door,” she said. “I am not special, but she saw something in me that she was able to bring out and bring me forward. That’s a true leader. This agency has a ton of them. I appreciate the fact that someone had that much confidence in me.”