Neblett Center selects Searcy as director
By Steve Vied Messenger-Inquirer | Posted: Friday, November 8, 2013 12:00 am
Rick Searcy, who currently directs the H.L. Neblett Community Center's after-school educational program, has been selected as the center's new executive director.
Starting Monday, Searcy replaces Executive Director Greg Black, who announced in September that he was leaving the center after nearly four years as its leader to pursue other opportunities.
Searcy said being selected to replace Black is humbling and overwhelming.
"Greg set out a strong vision for us," Searcy said. "We're losing a great leader. I'm embracing the opportunity. Our mission, our vision and — God willing — our success will continue."
Sam Byrd, chairman of the Neblett board of directors, said the board decided Wednesday night to promote Searcy to the top spot. Originally, 27 people applied to replace Black, and the list was eventually trimmed to seven finalists, and then to two, including Searcy, Byrd said.
Searcy, a Kentucky Wesleyan College graduate and former member of the school's football team and later an assistant coach for the team, has worked at the Neblett Center for nearly two years and has performed well, Byrd said, with almost 70 percent of the children in the after-school program making the A-B honor roll at their schools.
"He's done a great job with those kids," Byrd said. "He understands the mission of the Neblett Center and its long-term and short-term goals. He understands how vital it is for the center to partner with other nonprofits, schools and businesses."
Byrd said the board took its time selecting a new leader for the center and is very comfortable with Searcy.
Searcy understands the important role fundraising plays for the center, Byrd said.
Searcy turns 34 next month. Growing up in a military family, he attended four elementary schools, three middle schools and three high schools, graduating in 1998 from Fort Campbell High School. He went to KWC, showing up just as the college was recovering from the January 2000 tornado.
He earned a degree in mass communications. After his playing days were over, Searcy worked as a coach on the team and also worked at the Owensboro Family YMCA.
A sales and marketing job with a telephone book company led to Searcy being transferred to Louisville for about a year. He returned to Owensboro in 2007 to once again join the KWC football coaching staff, as offensive coordinator. Subsequently he worked for the Muhlenberg County Job Corps, the Owensboro Treatment Center and Daymar College. Last year, he met Black when both were members of the 2012 Emerge Owensboro class.
"Greg asked me to run the after school program," Searcy said. "It's funny how things work out."
Neblett's after school program has 52 students enrolled from seven local schools.
"Education is our top priority," Searcy said. "We offer tutoring and mandatory study hall."
Any student with a poor grade on his or her report card is targeted for special help and small group tutoring, Searcy said.
"We work well with all the school systems," he said. "We also partner with other nonprofits."
In September, Black said he intended to relocate, perhaps to Savannah, Ga., or the Washington, D.C., area. He previously said he is considering seeking a doctoral degree in public administration or a master's degree in business administration with an eye toward a career in either business or government.
Byrd said Black will stay with the center for a period to help.
The Neblett Center, at 801 W. Fifth St., serves about 160 children daily, between its day care, early learning and after-school programs.
Steve Vied, 691-7297, [email protected]
Text and image courtesy Messenger-Inquirer