Q1: As executive director of Turnstone, what has been your greatest career thrill to date?
“It was being appointed executive director of Turnstone. I had found the job where I could put my skills and education to work and I loved the mission! I could relate to the struggles folks with disabilities go through each day just to live. And the kids – it warms the soul to watch them try to achieve their developmental milestones. Turnstone has a fabulous board, staff and supporters, and it has been great fun working there for the last 23 years. ”
Q2: What made you go into the social services field?
“I fell into it. My first job out of college was being a caregiver for residents of the Fort Wayne State Development Center where I spent 17 years. Despite never really choosing working with people with disabilities as a career choice, I discovered I enjoyed it. Subsequently, I was hired at Turnstone and caught the fever. It is a fulfilling, humbling, exciting work and the fever still burns hot. I am thrilled at having the opportunity to make a difference in someone’s life.
Q3: What would surprise people about you?
“I wanted to be a farmer. I was raised on a farm; farmed with my dad during the summers, loved taking care of animals and think I should have been the one to take over the farm when my dad retired. My older brother tried to do it but lived out of town and had difficulty trying to be a part-time farmer. The closest I come to it today, living in the ‘burbs, is mowing my mom’s four acres of grass in the summer!”
Q4: How do you spend your spare time?
“I don’t have much of that but do enjoy walking, reading (Stephen King, historical novels, Civil War, Lincoln and Kennedy), gardening and spending time with Ava, my nearly-3-year-old granddaughter.”
Q5: What is your happiest memory?
“Holding those new babies when my daughter and son came into my life. That ranks right up there with holding my new granddaughter minutes after she was born.”
5 Women Nancy Looks Up To:
- Madeleine Baker, CEO of Early Childhood Alliance: “I have learned so much from her. She provides that safe place for me to be vulnerable and express frustrations.”
- Irene Walters “She is an amazing woman who has embraced her community and gives it all she’s got. She’s an outstanding role model for all of us.”
- Pat Ehle “Anyone who can raise eight kids, be a farm wife, caregiver to my dad and also a mom to more than 150 people who visited the farm through exchange programs, has earned my respect and admiration. At 84, she remains an active community member and treats my staff to her fabulous carrot cake.”
- Mother Theresa “I had the privilege of seeing her during her visit to Fort Wayne 30 years ago, and was awestruck by her devotion to God and the poorest of the poor. This tiny woman was a mighty force for thousands of children. I really felt I was in the presence of a saint.”
- Gabrielle Giffords “She demonstrated that a person with a disability still has much to contribute. It’s not about what she can’t do, but what she can do, and is doing, to improve our world, such as lobbying for changes in gun legislation.”