Diakonia Board Announces New Executive Director

Diakonia Board Announces New Executive Director
Ken Argot

WEST OCEAN CITY – Diakonia’s governing board has announced the appointment of Ken Argot as the nonprofit’s new executive director.

Argot, having just completed 15 years as an officer in The Salvation Army, began his new role as executive director of Diakonia on June 27. Board Chair Reid Tingle said the nonprofit is eager to have Argot lead the helm.

“We are honored to have someone with this level of dedication of service to others accept this position,” he said. “Ken exemplifies what an executive director of a nonprofit should be. His experience and dedication to serve will have a lasting impact on our community and will truly create hope for tomorrow, as the mission statement for Diakonia states.”

In an interview this week, Argot – a Cambridge native – said his new role not only allows him to be closer to family, but to serve the community.

“Initially, I hope to continue doing what we need to do to help those in need,” he said. “There’s also a really strong vision for the Route 611 campus, to make it a one-stop shop for homeless services. I’m hoping we can grow that in the future.”

Officials report Argot completed a Master of Divinity degree from Asbury Theological Seminary in 1995 and went on to pastor congregations, serve as a family therapist for children and adolescents and oversaw grant compliance for the Lower Management Board of Dorchester County before joining The Salvation Army in 2005.

There, he served in Alexandria, Va., for four years, overseeing operations that included the city’s overnight shelter, as well as a transitional housing program for women released from correctional facilities. Argot then served for three years in Roanoke, Va., leading the county’s only domestic violence shelter program, before taking a position at Atlanta Temple, a Georgia-based worship and service center located at The Salvation Army’s Territorial Headquarters. Most recently, he oversaw Salvation Army operations in Frederick County, Md., where grants were secured to open and maintain new day center services to homeless persons in cooperation with downtown safety initiatives.

“No one ever said, ‘I want to be homeless when I grow up,’ or ‘I hope I need someone’s help to pay my bills when I get older,’” Argot said, “but life sometimes has a way of distracting us from our aspirations, derailing us from our achievements, and sometimes—through circumstances beyond our control – throwing us into a darkness that leaves us unable to see our way forward without community intervention and support.”

Officials say Argot’s experience as an officer in The Salvation Army has led to new programs that address homelessness. In his new capacity at Diakonia, Argot says he will continue to help those in the community gain independence.

“In The Salvation Army, you never knew how long you would be allowed to stay in one community. Officers moving from place to place is intrinsic to its overall stability, despite the upheaval locally. I am so glad, though, that I now get to put my feet down in a place where a long-term investment will be vital to the organization’s future success,” Argot said. “Working in Ocean City is a dream come true for me. Our family has always loved the beach, and I really can’t wait to see the generosity of those in our community for those who want a better life for themselves.”

Argot replaces Bee Miller, a two-time executive director of Diakonia. Miller led the nonprofit from 1996 to 2003 and returned to the position in 2019, following the resignation of previous executive director Claudia Nagle.

“I’m so thankful for the leadership of the Board and for Bee Miller,” Argot said. “They have served admirably during one of the most difficult times in our nation’s history when it comes to human services. Our staff and volunteers have been tremendous in adapting, sacrificing, and supporting those in need in some very unusual situations. They deserve all the recognition here, I’m just here to support them.”

Diakonia will celebrate its 50th anniversary in Worcester County on Nov.4th of this year, with plans to launch an affordable housing initiative which will be part of the new campus being built on Stephen Decatur Highway, just south of the Decatur Diner, officials report. By continuing to provide food, clothing, shelter, and case management services, the organization says it hopes to continue to provide “Help for Today and Hope for Tomorrow” for the Lower Shore tri-county area.

The organization says those who want more information about Diakonia, or wish to make a donation, can call 410-213-0923, or visit diakoniaoc.org.

Since 1972, Diakonia has been providing “help for today and hope for tomorrow,” for men, women, and families in Worcester County. By providing emergency housing, food assistance, and resources to help them get back on their feet, Diakonia helps families rebuild their lives one step at a time. Over the past 10 years, Diakonia has expanded services to the entire Lower Shore tri-county region that includes case management, housing assistance, homeless prevention, and veteran services. Diakonia is the only comprehensive provider for homeless men, women, children, and veterans on lower Eastern Shore.

“The staff here is amazing, even just listening to the way they talk to clients over the phone,” Argot said in an interview this week. “It’s a great atmosphere.”

About The Author: Bethany Hooper

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Bethany Hooper has been with The Dispatch since 2016. She currently covers various general stories. Hooper graduated from Stephen Decatur High School in 2012 and the University of Maryland in 2016, where she completed double majors in journalism and economics.