Georgia McCurdy comes to PACE with more than 20 years of experience.
After Georgia McCurdy moved to Ormond Beach from Colorado a year ago, she came across the PACE Center for Girls during her job search.
Though she had never heard of PACE before, she did some research on the non-profit organization and became interested in its mission. It's how she found herself applying for the position of executive director, which led to her first interaction to with a few girls from the center. They interviewed her and asked her questions, and that day was when McCurdy said she first saw how impressive they were
“What really motivates me is a worthy cause," McCurdy said. "I’ve consulted with a lot of different organizations and they all had good causes, but this is a great cause. This is a cause that's really easy to get excited about and it’s really easy to get other people excited about.”
McCurdy has a background of more than 20 years of marketing and development experience, including having served as the director of advancement for the Air Force Association's Mitchell Institute and working in the non-profit health care field as vice president of Hillary Lyons Associates.
As a 1988 Air Force Academy graduate, McCurdy was the second female cadet in history to hold a Cadet Wing Commander position at a federal service academy. However, her love for philanthropy and nonprofits began when she became the chief of alumni programs and development at the academy after graduating.
It's a journey that has now brought her to the PACE Center for Girls Volusia-Flagler in Ormond Beach. The center is an alternative school for at-risk girls, first established in 1985 by Vicki Burke in Jacksonville. The day program is free and voluntary for girls in sixth through 12th grade.
There are now 20 centers across Florida.
McCurdy said "at-risk" can mean a myriad of things at Pace. The girls could be dealing with a domestic abuse situation, substance abuse, mental health concerns or academic failure. In the six weeks she's been officially on board, she's been able to listen to at least four girls tell their stories.
“It’s all moving and rewarding," McCurdy said. "You can’t listen to one of those and not be moved.”
She has two goals for the center as its new executive director. First, she wants to improve the school grounds so that the girls feel more at home, and second, she wants to further expose the community to the center's mission. Since the center operates significantly on grants and donations, more community awareness will help them do more for the girls, such as buy lab kits for the classroom or take them on field trips to explore potential careers.
McCurdy's favorite part of the job is visiting the girls each morning as they eat breakfast. Her role doesn't always facilitate direct contact with the students, but in the mornings she can give words of kindness and encouragement to them as well as staff. It's one of the ways she can help.
“Just the fact that they are here that day for some of them is a really big deal," McCurdy said.