PCI’s first employee retires after 48 years

Glenda Carlton leaves a legacy of dedication and impact


Special to Atmore News

Glenda Carlton, the first employee to be hired by the Poarch Band of Creek Indians (PCI), is retiring after 48 years of service. Her story is one of simple beginnings and an overwhelming desire to contribute her best talents to the people, community, and Tribe that she loves so much.
Hired seven months out of high school, Carlton began her tenure with PCI on December 8, 1975 as its Project Coordinator. Former Chairman Eddie Tullis recalled interviewing numerous people for the position and deciding that Glenda Rackard Carlton was the best person for the job. As fate would have it, his first hire was probably his best one.
During that time, the Tribe had 18 Tribal Council Members but no actual employees. Through the efforts of folks like Tullis and Buford Rolin, the Tribe was awarded a grant which was focused on helping Tribes get organized and established. Equipped with her diploma from Escambia County High School, an exemplary work ethic, and her God-given intelligence, Carlton set about the task of implementing the grant through which she was hired.
In reminiscing about the Tribe’s first employee Tullis said, “She didn’t get paid until after she had been employed for six weeks because it was a grant-funded position and it took longer than we planned for the funding to come through. But, Glenda’s always been conscientious about doing what’s right. If she said it, you could take it as gospel.”
As it turns out, that’s exactly the type of person you want involved in your accounting department. To emphasize his comment, he shared a story about a time Carlton stayed up until midnight ensuring the books were balanced. When he asked her how far off they were from being balanced, she responded with tears in her eyes, “Seventeen cents.” He told her, “Glenda, go home and sleep on it. I can’t help you much, but I’ll be here at 8 o’clock in the morning to help you however I can. And, if we can’t find the seventeen cents, I’ll give it to you to make it balanced.” She beat him back to the office, and they eventually found the discrepancy.
Since 2008, Carlton has worked as the Director of Finance at the Tribal Gaming Commission (TGC). TGC Administrator Daniel McGhee recalled his excitement when she came to work for the entity 16 years ago. The TGC was undergoing a restructuring that required the formation of its own Finance & Accounting Division. In true “Ms. Glenda” fashion, she took on the task of developing the division including the fiscal policies and procedures to operate and regulate in accordance with the standards laid out by governing bodies such as the National Indian Gaming Commission (NIGC).
“I never had to worry about the financial health of the TGC again,” McGhee said. “Ms. Glenda had it all under control. In her almost 16 years with us, we have never had a warranted financial audit finding or accounting issue. That has only been possible thanks to Ms. Glenda’s dedication, knowledge, and expertise. She has an impeccable eye for detail and an ethical nature that is beyond compare. She works hard and as long as it takes to make sure everything and everyone is financially taken care of at the TGC. She will be irreplaceable!”
In sharing her thoughts on the retirement of Poarch’s first employee, Tribal Chair and CEO Stephanie Bryan said, “Ms. Glenda has contributed so much of her life to the Poarch Creek Indians and has made a huge impact on the Tribe. Even though I would love for her to still be employed with the Tribe, it’s time for her to enjoy the fruits of her work.”
The Chairwoman remembered seeing Ms. Glenda at the Consolidated School building which became the Tribe’s first office headquarters during the Tribe’s early years. Even then, Glenda was well known for her dedication and devotion to the Tribe, her strong work ethic, and her love for people.
Further, the confidence that well-respected leaders have in Ms. Glenda’s abilities is a legacy worth noting. Tullis shared that in all of Glenda’s interactions with federal officials, they always made sure to share with him how much they enjoyed working with her.
Additionally, Bryan said, “I would put Glenda in a room with any accountant, CPA, or anybody to manage money. John C. Maxwell said, ‘A leader doesn’t need recognition as long as the job gets done’ and that’s Glenda. It’s evident that things have always gotten accomplished under her leadership.”
Never one to boast of her own accomplishments, Carlton shared how a high school graduate started her career as a Project Coordinator, found her love for accounting, and is now retiring as the Director of Finance for the TGC of one of the most successful tribes in the nation.
“I’ve been blessed and fortunate,” Carlton said. “It’s been my job, but I never dreaded it at all because I loved it. I never wanted to be on Tribal Council. I only wanted to help the Tribe in its goals and objectives through what I could do in accounting.”
Now, she’s trading in her time balancing the finances for days, “spent with family and digging in the dirt.”