New FACT executive director calls the job ?a perfect fit?

AshleeGann2

AshleeGann2 As the new executive director of Families and Communities Together Inc., Ashlee Gann said she?s found a dream job that melds her passions for children, families and leadership.

?It?s crazy because it all worked out,? Gann said about taking the reins of FACT following Linda Ogden?s retirement last month.

?It just seemed like a perfect fit.?

FACT, a non-profit organization, serves all of Marion County with a focus on community collaboration to strengthen families.

Ready to start her career, Gann had just completed a master?s degree in educational administration from Fort Hays State University.

Pieces fell into place after Gann, husband Chase and young son, Chasen, moved from Garden City to Hillsboro in late April.

?I came here thinking I would probably look for some teaching position,? said Gann, who had earned an elementary education degree from Northeastern State University in Tahlequah, Okla.

?But I really knew that I wanted to do something in the administration or leadership side (of working with children).?

A local newspaper ad, published the same week of their move, caught Gann?s attention. It listed the FACT director opening beginning July 1.

?When I saw (the ad), it said working with children and families, which is exactly what I?ve always wanted to do,? she said, adding, ?It was kind of long shot.?

But Gann applied and was hired.

She and her husband chose relocate to Hillsboro, Gann said, because he was familiar with the area, having spent summers with his grandparents, Dick and Naomi Morris, originally from Canton. They now live at Falcon and 220th.

?(Chase) just always liked the area and he?s wanted to come back here,? Gann said. ?That?s what we did, exactly.?

Living in western Kansas had the Gann family situated some seven hours away from the Tulsa, Okla., area, where their immediate families reside.

?It was time to make a change,? Gann said about their decision. ?It?s time to move. Let?s go, and we?ll be a lot closer to family all the way around.?

Living in Hillsboro puts them three hours closer to the Tulsa area.

?We have a son who will be 2 in October,? she said. ?So it just gets kind of hard having no family around.?

For now, the Ganns are renting a house in Hillsboro. Her husband works with his grandfather as well as with a custom farmer, Steve Bartel, she said.

The couple wants to purchase property in the country, Gann said, as both she and her husband grew up on farms.

Looking ahead, Gann said her initial goals as FACT director include getting acquainted with communities throughout Marion County.

Thanks to 80 hours of training with Ogden before her retirement, Gann said she has already met a number of people.

?Every big meeting I went with Linda,? she said. ?It was really neat that she spent time to train me and introduce me to everyone. It?s going to make that transition a lot easier.?

Gann said she intends to continue the collaborative work Ogden established.

?I would say I plan to go off of Linda?s strengths,? Gann said. ?I think she?s got a great program in place and I do want to continue with everything that?s done.?

FACT serves as an umbrella organization, giving oversight to four programs? Interagency, Early Childhood Task Force, Marion County Substance Abuse Prevention Coalition, and Circles: ?Empowering Leaders?Ending Poverty.?

?SAPC and Circles are our new ones, and FACT will be the fiscal agent for both,? Gann said.

Being new to the county and building her credibility are among the challenges she faces in her role at FACT, Gann said, and it will take some time to find her stride.

In particular, Gann wants to educate the public about FACT, which serves families from prenatal through children age 18.

?I just really want to start with promoting and getting our name out there,? Gann said. ?I think just letting everyone know exactly what we do and how much we can really help the families and the children?I think that will help a lot.?

Last week, FACT debuted its Facebook page, Gann said, and she plans to have a website set up soon.

Gann said she also is looking for ways to involve Marion County communities with FACT. In the past, FACT has conducted several fundraisers, and she wants to initiate more throughout the county, possibly using venues such as local farmers markets.

?I feel like people are always wanting to give back,? Gann said. ?And I think that a great way to give back is to help children and families and strengthen them so that we can be a greater county in the end because where it all comes from is families.?

To view FACT?s Facebook page, log on to Facebook and search www.facebook.com/mncoFACT

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