“Can we do better for girls and boys together than we can separately?”

Gail Strong Reflects on Discussions Leading Up to Merger

Over the past 15 years, BBBSCI is proud to have provided 9,609 mentoring relationships to girls and boys in our community! To celebrate our past and look ahead to the future, we’ve asked some of the many people who’ve been a part of BBBSCI to reflect on their journey. Throughout January and February, we’re publishing blog posts written by staff, Board members, donors, and long-time supporters as they share in their own words why they’re proud to be a part of BBBSCI’s history.

Guest blogger: Gail Strong
Big Sisters of Central Indiana Board of Directors President during the merger with Big Brothers of Greater Indianapolis in 2002

“’Can we do better for girls and boys together than we can separately?’ That was the central question almost 17 years ago. At the time, I was on the board of Big Sisters of Central Indiana, and along with another board member, we shared the first of many coffees, teas, and sodas with our counterparts from Big Brothers of Greater Indianapolis to explore that question.

“The question was a big one, and the executives and six board members from each agency committed to finding the answer. We were capably guided by the insight and questions of Katherine Tyler Scott as we explored the mission, culture, values, founding stories, and the historical timelines of both agencies. The discussions were surprising, difficult, and there were many discoveries along the way. From our founding stories to the mentoring each agency offered, we’d taken different paths. To be sure, it was important to look at the business of both organizations – funding patterns, donors, accounting software, case management, and more. That discovery came later in the process. We firmly believed that if we couldn’t get a firm foundation of trust in place, even deep collaboration would be a challenge. The goal was not a merger: the focus was on improving outcomes for children and youth who needed mentors.

“The conversations were never about merging one agency into the other, never about compromise, and always about creating new. The focus was about best practices in all the ways we could imagine it and stepping into a vision and honoring twelve guiding principles we created. We all, staff and board, needed to learn, explore and strive for the best. We would build upon the lessons from history, and would not lean on them.

“The legal papers were signed on January 15, 2002. They are a testament to trust, patience and passion. It is a joy to recount the story and an even greater pleasure to celebrate all the stellar work of staff and board, mentors, and donors who have made the vision a robust reality. There are many thank yous to offer, from the founders forward. And there are many Big opportunities ahead!”

 

Pictured below at the 15th Anniversary Open House at the BBBSCI offices on January 26, 2017, from left to right: Milt Thompson, former Interim Director of BBGI; Jim Singleton, first BBBSCI Board of Directors President; Gail Strong, BSCI Board of Directors President during the merger; Debra Mesch, former BBBSCI Board of Directors member; Andy Detherage, BBGI Board of Directors President during the merger; and Darcey Palmer-Shultz, current BBBSCI CEO

 

Milt Thompson, Jim Singleton, Gail Thomas Strong, Debra Mesch, Andy Detherage, and BBBSCI CEO Darcey Palmer-Shultz
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Gail Strong mingles with BBBSCI staff members Robin Outcalt, Stephanie Sachs, and Linda Perry at the 15th Anniversary Open House

 

Gail Strong writes shares some memories during the 15th Anniversary Open House on January 26, 2017

Gail Strong shares some memories during the 15th Anniversary Open House on January 26, 2017

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