When you’re working to improve a young person’s life, your responsibility is to more than just the child. You’re also working with that child’s family. It’s a philosophy Tami Hicks takes to heart in her new role as Chief Executive Officer of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Elkhart County.
Hicks joins the clubs with more than 17 years experience in the field of public education. She was most recently principal at Model Elementary School in Goshen.
“I was at a pivotal point in my career. I’m about to finish my PhD in leadership and policy. I wanted to be able to extend my reach in terms of helping the youth in our community,” Hicks said. “The amount of trauma we’re seeing in kids right now – our kids need help, but their families need help, too. I love that I’m part of leading an organization that’s teaching kids about the choices they have.”
In 2021, Hicks was named Indiana Elementary School Principal of the Year for District 2. She has served as assistant principal at Goshen Middle School and an instructional coach and teacher for Goshen Community Schools. Hicks serves on the advisory council for the Foundation for Angelman Syndrome Therapeutics (FAST).
She said she’s looking forward to getting to work with the Boys & Girls Clubs.
“I have watched what (retiring CEO) Kevin (Deary) did. I’ve seen how a visionary can grow an organization,” Hicks said. “There’s a lot of opportunity and potential out there.”
Part of her vision is building on the great relationship the Clubs have with local school districts.
“Our kids are very transient. They’re constantly going from Goshen to Northridge to Elkhart. So we’re already working together as an Elkhart County community,” Hicks said. “I want to work with the schools to uplift our children and families.”
Hicks is impressed by the investment board members and others in the community pour into the Clubs and members.
“The generosity is so amazing. We’re impacting entire family units. Parents know their kids are in a safe place. They’re getting trained and nurtured because of the people who donate their time, treasures and talents,” she said.
Hicks said she understands the need to develop robust teen programming so they’re prepared for life after high school.
“We work hard to get them ready for the workforce or college. I really want them to know how to open the doors they need to open,” Hicks said.
Having caring adults in their lives is crucial in opening those doors.
“They just need the right people guiding them in that journey. It takes all of us working together to catapult them into success,” Hicks said.
She said Club and local schools have the same mission. Schools work to teach academics and critical thinking. Clubs take what kids are learning and apply it through programming and opportunities.
“Community partners are also crucial. They’re the resource behind everything we do. We’re helping create a qualified workforce they can tap into,” Hicks said.
Hicks is married to Bryan Wodtkey, a lieutenant with the Middlebury Police Department. Her son Ethan, 22, is living with a rare neurological disorder called Angelman Syndrome, which makes communication difficult. Her niece and nephew go to the Middlebury Club.
“I love hearing about what they do at the Club and seeing the joy they have going there after school,” she said.
Hicks loves meeting the kids in a new setting after watching thousands pass from her classrooms into the Club over the past 17 years.