Over the course of his 21-year career in the U.S. Air Force, Patrick Raglow traveled to more than 20 countries, including two assignments in Germany and South Korea.
He spent a large portion of his career in the Airborne Warning and Control System division. The combat veteran who served in Desert Shield/Storm was, at one time, responsible for five units in nine states.
Raglow, who retired as an Air Force colonel, said he remembers being abruptly called away from a training mission one day for an emergency.
It was Sept. 11, 2001.
“We ran intercept on civilian aircraft that didn't know that the world had changed,” he said, referring to his part in one of the first AWACS air sovereignty missions following the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
Raglow, 48, said he was proud to serve his country that day and all the other days throughout his distinguished military career. However, he said he is just as proud to be serving in a different way these days.
He is the new executive director of Catholic Charities of Oklahoma City. As an affiliate of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Oklahoma City, the faith-based nonprofit social services agency serves Oklahomans in two-thirds of the state.
“I loved my job but I wanted to continue to serve in a different way,” Raglow said of his Air Force career.
Raglow officially became head of Catholic Charities-Oklahoma City in February, although he spent several months at the agency before that to ensure a smooth transition as executive director Tim O'Connor prepared to retire on Jan. 31.
Raglow said his journey as a Catholic Charities leader actually began in Las Vegas, Nev., where he worked for almost three years after his military retirement in 2009. There, he served as vice president of administration for Catholic Charities of Southern Nevada, which offered a wide variety of services to the community.
Raglow follows the same mantra at Catholic Charities-Oklahoma City as he did at Catholic Charities-Southern Nevada and in the military: “I didn't join this to do things to feel good. I joined to do good.”
Leading the way
Raglow lives in Edmond with his wife Andrea and their three children. He and his family attend St. John the Baptist Catholic Church in Edmond.
The decorated Air Force veteran said he feels blessed to take the helm of an organization that has been led by an individual like Tim O'Connor. He said the former executive director left the accredited agency financially sound and in great condition.
“Any assets that I bring will take advantage of the strong foundation that Tim has laid,” he said, and smiled.
“Tim played the music and I get treated like a rock star.”
Raglow said Catholic Charities-Oklahoma City will continue to focus on case management — coming alongside people in need to help them climb out of poverty.
“Many of the services we provide is a way to meet them where they are and travel with them a distance,” he said.
Raglow said he also envisions the agency continuing to partner with various metro organizations to offer effective aid and services.
And more than anything, Raglow said he will be spending time getting to know the communities he serves.
“I seek to learn every day,” he said.