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CAB Board member says CIA experience helps him in his role

By DARREL RADFORD - dradford@thecouriertimes.com

Graham Richardson is a master of graphic arts who strives every day to remember it’s students who count the most.

Those who don’t believe his words could seek verification from the Central Intelligence Agency, of all places. Or, on a local level, the Charles A. Beard School Board. Or from his neighbors in Ripley Township, who receive a one-of-a-kind monthly newsletter informing them of things going on in the district.

Richardson, a member of the CAB board since 2015 when he was chosen to fill the remainder of Don Scheumann’s term, recently shared some of his published works, the complex, the military and the organizational along with the educational and informational with The Courier-Times.

But as impressive as his previous work has been, it’s his current work that has Richardson motivated in his retirement years.

“My primary advice to new school board members is to always remember that EVERY decision must be made for the benefit of the students,” Richardson said. “If that choice benefits the parents, the other taxpayers, the State of Indiana, and the US as well, then so much the better. But it is the students first, last and always.

“Secondary advice would to research and learn any and all topics as much as possible, in any way possible, so that you make the best-informed decisions,” Richardson continued. “And always be collegial in your dealings with staff, faculty, fellow board members, members of the public and other elected/appointed officials...as has been often quoted in other situations, we are ‘truly all in this together.’”

Richardson’s gift of graphic design can literally be traced to his youth. 

He said it all started for him as young man when his father, James L. Richardson Jr., a printer by trade, asked him to do a simple drawing.

“That started me on the path to learning how to take an idea and put it into a visually informative form,” Richardson said.

In a way, Richardson is carrying a family tradition into a third generation with his graphic arts efforts. 

“My dad was a small independent letterpress job printer in Indianapolis from about 1948 to about 1970,” Richardson said. “James Jr. was perhaps the most skillful printing technician that ever put type together and put ink on paper. From that, I learned how to do the best artwork possible in the shortest, most cost-effective manner.”

Richardson worked for the CIA in a number of capacities from 1977 through 2003. His resume includes serving as Senior Coordination Officer in the Director of Central Intelligence (DCI) Center for Weapons Intelligence, Nonproliferation and Arms Control; Team Leader and Senior Desk Officer, DCI Office of Military Affairs; Strategic Plans Officer, DCI Nonproliferation Center; CIA Representative, U.S. Arms Control and Disarmament Agency; China Military Analyst, CIA Officer of Imagery Analysis; and Environmental Analyst, CIA Offices of Imagery Analysis, among other tasks.

While the job of a school board member certainly doesn’t involve that degree of detail or secrecy, he says the experience has helped him serve in some ways.

“My background as an intelligence analyst prepared me to approach each question about school board tactics, rules and operations by garnering ALL relevant information, regardless of source, and synthesize the most complete answer for any particular occasion – whether the answer be a simple sentence or paragraph or a pages-long, nauseatingly sourced exposition.”

As far as the current CIA operations and relations with President Donald J. Trump are concerned, the man behind the colorful, jump-off-the-page graphic styles predictably chose to remain gray with his comments.

“As I have been retired since early 2004, I have no personal direct knowledge from which to assess changes to intelligence gathering and dissemination under the current administration,” Richardson said. “That said, I would offer this advice to whoever might listen ... any political leader who does not understand or listen to what his/her intelligence system reports on, that leader is teetering toward a serious embarrassment or a legitimate crisis that can only be resolved through either extreme and unnecessary expense or senseless loss of American lives.”