The Joe Ford Nature Center has a new Executive Director – Jessie Parsons.
Parsons graduated from Owensboro High School, then Western Kentucky University, where she received a BA in Psychology in 2015.
After college, she worked for the OASIS Women’s Shelter and volunteered for New Beginnings, a non-profit organization specializing in providing confidential crisis and long-term therapy services to survivors of sexual assault. .
Parsons said taking over as the new CEO was very different from her previous positions.
But under her training in psychology, she always had a fondness for nature.
“Ever since I was little, I love nature,” she says. “I’ve always been drawn to nature and animals, and I was that kid who picked up bugs and took them to school.”
She decided to apply for the job because it looked like a great opportunity.
When she applied she didn’t expect to receive a call, but when she arrived she said she was surprised.
Before Parsons was named executive director of the Nature Center, Mike Robinson, vice chairman of the board of directors of the nature center, said the race between Parsons and another candidate was so close that the entire board wanted interview both candidates in person as the final decision maker.
During the hour-long interview, the board asked Parsons a battery of questions, with Parsons doing the same with the board.
“She had two pages of questions that she wanted us to answer, and we couldn’t answer all of the questions,” said Robinson.
During the interview, Parsons said she felt like she was interviewing them and didn’t know how they were going to view it. But his questions shed new light on the needs of the nature center for the council.
In addition to showing great confidence in speaking to the board, she also showed a lot of life experiences, a wide range of leadership opportunities and was very personable, said Robinson.
She is also eager to learn, can articulate a message very well, and enjoys hiking and participating in outdoor activities with her husband and children.
“And she had no problem talking to the seven of us who were there; so we were very attached to his abilities, ”he said.
When Parsons was offered the job, she said she was really surprised by the news because there were so many other interested candidates.
She also felt that she did not have the type of experience that the board expects from a CEO.
When Parsons took on the new role, she was given a Key to the Nature Center and began her first day on June 14 to acclimate to her new responsibilities, the first being to reorganize the office.
With the number of COVID-19 declining, Parsons said it was a chance for the nature center to start over with the return of Wednesday summer camps in July.
From there, she wants to expand what has already been built and involve the community more in the center of nature.
“We are in a bit of a corner, and for several years it feels like we haven’t gotten the recognition that I really think the center has the potential and deserves, and I hope to change that,” said she declared. .