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Executive Q&A: Rob York enjoys helping students achieve

A native Californian, Rob York worked for Oklahoma City-based American Fidelity Assurance Co. before joining Advanced Academics 10 years ago.
by Paula Burkes Published: October 14, 2012

Q: And college?

A: I went on a full-ride basketball scholarship to Yuba College, 70 miles north of Sacramento. Upon graduation, I walked on the basketball team at Sacramento State, but quit after I dislocated my shoulder in a wreck with my new Ford Maverick. Turned out, it was the best thing, because I got more focused on my studies. I finished at San Diego State, where I worked in the intramural department.

Q: How'd you start your career?

A: After a year working in the recreation department of Spring Valley, Calif., my wife, Barbara, and I started a summer recreation camp, leasing 110 acres in Calistoga, Calif. In 1984, Barbara started working full time as a nurse, as well, and I started selling for the school division of Oklahoma City-based American Fidelity Assurance Co. Then, we got real silly and decided to have children. We had too many balls in the air, so we closed the camp after 10 years. But there was nothing better than seeing young people experience something they never thought they could do, like rappel off a cliff, rock climb or water ski.

Q: What brought you to Oklahoma?

A: We relocated to southeast Edmond in 1995 — when my daughters were in the third and fifth grades — for me to take a middle management position with American Fidelity. When I left the company in 1999, I was a regional manager, traveling two weeks of every four. Just prior to joining Advanced Academics, I commuted for three years to San Francisco to work for a California-based firm that provided online benefit and payroll applications to small businesses. I'd fly out every Monday and return every Friday.

Q: How'd you come to join Advanced Academics?

A: A former colleague at American Fidelity was its acting CFO and initially recruited me as a board member in 2000. In late 2002, I started working in sales and marketing; then held an operations role for five years before being named president this past April. The opportunity has been the high point of my career. The best part is when I travel to schools nationwide and meet the students we help achieve.

by Paula Burkes
A 1981 journalism graduate of Oklahoma State University, Paula Burkes has more than 30 years experience writing and editing award-winning material for newspapers and healthcare, educational and telecommunications institutions in Tulsa, Oklahoma...
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Position: President, Advanced Academics

Birth date: Aug. 4, 1955.

Family: Barbara, nurse and wife of 33 years (they met as summer camp counselors before his senior year in college); daughters Carly Sowecke, 27, of Laramie, Wyo., and Kasi York, 25, of Camden, Maine.

Education: San Diego State University, bachelor's in recreation administration with an entrepreneurial emphasis.

Board member: The Clemson, S.C.-based National Dropout Prevention Center/Network. Of students who start ninth grade, a whopping 35 percent drop out before graduating, York said.

Pastimes: Reading (reference books captivate him), golf (he has a 10 to 12 handicap), hunting (he and his 3-year-old drahthaar, Buddy, crisscross Oklahoma hunting everything from ducks to dove, fly fishing in Colorado and Wyoming, and travel (he and Barbara have journeyed to Lithuania, Greece and elsewhere to cheer for Carly in world rowing championships).

Dream dinner party guests: Phil Mickelson, Larry Bird, Will Rogers and a few founding fathers whom he'd question about their intentions and whether those aims are being met today.


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