Having worked for a state agency for 16 years, Ginger Schneck took a leap of faith and applied for a different job.

Her mother told her about Girls Inc. of Jackson County needing an executive director since Brenda Tracy was retiring after 30 years with the nonprofit organization.

Schneck, a Seymour native, went to Girls Inc. as a youth, and her daughter went there for gymnastics. Plus, she had worked with children and families during her professional career.

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Taking it all into consideration, she decided to take a shot at the executive director position.

After two interviews, Schneck received a call from Girls Inc. board President Monica Hartung letting her know she had earned the job.

Schneck had worked for the Indiana Department of Child Services, dealing with issues such as child abuse, neglect and sexual abuse. She said she learned a lot and did very important work all of those years, and it was stressful yet exciting to start something new.

“I prayed about it, like, ‘Where am I supposed to be?’” she said. “I think, for me, praying about it and saying, ‘If this is supposed to be, if this is (God’s) plan, then you will open the door.’ That was my answer. I was offered the job, so he opened the door.”

Hartung said people from inside and outside Jackson County with a variety of backgrounds applied for the job. She said Schneck stood out as someone who could lead Girls Inc. for many years to come, especially with her work background.

“We felt that gave her a very unique perspective with regard to the position at Girls Inc.,” Hartung said. “She is a very strong leader and certainly knows the value of hard work, and we feel she is going to work great with our current staff.”

The Girls Inc. board is happy to have Schneck on board, Hartung said.

“She will bring new ideas to the table as well as her own style of leadership and service,” Hartung said. “Ginger will be a great advocate for Girls Inc., and everyone from the girls to the staff to the board is looking forward to working with her.”

After graduating from Seymour High School in 1990, Schneck considered going to nursing school. But at Ball State University in Muncie, she chose to pursue a degree in health science with minors in public health and sociology.

“I’ve always been interested in working with people, and I enjoy being around people,” Schneck said. “It has always been important to me to be in the helping profession, to make sure I’m helping others and giving back. That’s very important to me. I want to make sure that I do that in my work.”

Out of college, she spent some time working for Healthy Indiana, a federal program that helps families learn developmental milestones of their children and know how to prevent risks.

In 1999, she began working for the Indiana Department of Child Services, spending the first couple of years in Scott County before transferring to Jackson County. She started as a family case manager before later being promoted to supervisor and then local office director.

When she learned of the opening at Girls Inc. and thought about her own experience and her daughter’s experience there, she couldn’t pass up the opportunity.

She had her first interview at the end of September and her second one in early October. Her first day on the job was Nov. 30.

Girls Inc. is a national organization that strives to inspire all girls to be strong, smart and bold through programs, from athletics to STEM-based (science, technology, engineering and math) education.

“This is a safe place for kids to come after school, and they also have enrichment type activities to make sure that they are getting those core foundations like STEM,” Schneck said. “All of the programs, it’s going to fall into one of those categories because they want to make sure that kids are getting those pieces.”

The facility in Seymour is one of seven Girls Inc. locations in Indiana. Schneck said membership is about 800 girls ages 6 to 18 with an average daily attendance of 150. The local Girls Inc. also has programming in some county schools, so it serves about 2,000 girls.

Nearly 120 teenage girls volunteer at the Seymour facility, and they help mentor the younger girls. Plus, there are opportunities to earn local and national scholarships, and several girls in the county have won those.

“It’s good because the younger girls look up to them, and the volunteers themselves are learning because they are able to serve as a mentor to somebody,” Schneck said. “That’s invaluable as they are growing up and going to eventually go to college and things like that.”

Some of the girls are considered at-risk, and Schneck said it’s important to have a facility like Girls Inc. in the county so they have a chance to achieve their full potential.

“The thing I love about this is I’m still helping people, but I’m back in the prevention role, which I was in prior to working for DCS, and I really like that,” Schneck said.

Being on the job for more than a month, Schneck said she has learned a lot. She expects to learn even more when she attends executive leadership management training in March in Indianapolis and a national Girls Inc. conference in April in Atlanta.

She also will be working on the strategic plan and growth plan for the Seymour facility.

“Increasing our membership, that’s going to be a goal, I’m sure of that,” she said. “I think we can reach many more girls in the community to help them.”

Schneck also wants to see about offering more athletics.

“We have a gymnastics meet coming up (Saturday), and people come from all over,” she said. “After that, I want to sit down and talk to our athletic director and just kind of see what else we can offer here. We have gymnastics, and there is some volleyball programming that goes on weekends and after hours, but what else can we bring here to offer?”

She said the county is fortunate to have a nice Girls Inc. facility, and she wants to make sure people know about it and use it.

“I’m looking forward to really having a good grasp on what my position is and what I can bring to the position because I want to improve things, and I want to take it to a different level, just compound on the awesome stuff that has already occurred here,” she said. “We’re very blessed that we have this in our community.”

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Name: Ginger Schneck

Age: 43

Hometown: Seymour

Residence: Seymour

Education: Seymour High School (1990); Ball State University (bachelor’s degree in health science and minors in public health and sociology, 1995)

Occupation: New executive director of Girls Inc. of Jackson County

Family: Husband, Brad Schneck; one daughter

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For information about Girls Inc. of Jackson County, visit girlsincjackson.org; stop by the facility at 956 N. O’Brien St., Seymour; or call 812-522-2798.