New leader eager to mold youth, build on predecessor’s success

The newly selected director of YoJack hopes to bring fun — and direction — to the young leaders of the countywide program.

Kathy Nelson said her experience working with teens at the YMCA for about 10 years along with having a middle school-aged daughter will help her.

“My motto is in everything you do to have fun,” the 46-year-old Seymour resident said. “So I think that I’ll be able to bring that to this program. You have to get the work done, but you can also have fun in what you do.”

YoJack, an organization designed to develop leadership skills in young people, will begin its 15th year in January. About 50 seventh- and eighth-graders from across Jackson County have been chosen to participate based on their applications. They will learn leadership skills, team building and the importance of community service. They will also participate in a service project at the annual Kids Fest in the spring.

Terrye Davidson, director of Leadership Jackson County, the adult version of YoJack, said Nelson was the best choice to continue the success of

the program.

“We felt like Kathy not only had a good knowledge base but that she shared our enthusiasm about the potential the YoJack program has to impact these adolescent students,” Davidson said.

Nelson replaces Nita Mousa, who was the director for more than 10 years before passing away from cancer in June.

Rita McNeely, Mousa’s sister, said Mousa truly enjoyed working with the students and introducing them to ideas and processes they could use throughout their lives. She said her sister was devoted to the program and connected with the students.

“She was excited when

YoJack alumni went on to be wonderful leaders in their schools and community,” McNeely said.

Davidson said the curriculum and foundation Mousa created were comprehensive, and Nelson plans to build on those.

“It is Kathy’s intent to continue what Nita had developed, which focuses on philanthropy, team building, diversity appreciation, leadership skills and service,” Davidson said.

Nelson grew up in Columbus and settled in Seymour with her husband, Mike Nelson.

The mother of two said she applied for the YoJack position after her boss at Schneck Medical Center told her about the opportunity.

She has worked as the hospital’s customer service coordinator for three years.

She also has a degree in elementary education from Marian University in Indianapolis and has worked at YMCA camps and held jobs in retail management, human resources, home improvement, medical billing and coding and insurance.

“All of my experiences have kind of culminated to where I am today,” Kathy Nelson said.

So far with YoJack, she has prepared T-shirt orders and helped choose student applicants, who are to be notified soon.

Nelson said she sees middle school students as a formative age, and to become future leaders, they need strong principles, morals and backgrounds. She hopes YoJack will be create or enhance those qualities.

“There are so many different ways kids can go nowadays — good, bad or whatever it may be,” she said. “I really feel like the more we can equip them to deal with the future and step out to be leaders, the better.”

Pull Quote

“My motto is in everything you do to have fun. So I think that I’ll be able to bring that to this program. You have to get the work done, but you can also have fun in what you do.”

Kathy Nelson, new director of the YoJack youth leadership program