While looking forward is a vital component to our success, remembering where we’ve been
(and the heroes who made it possible) ensures we never lose our way. Ellen Clippinger, our founder, remembers Nancy Mallon, whose spirit and leadership helped create the foundation of AYS.
Nancy Mallon: a superior leader/organizer and technology expert, a believer in the AYS mission, and a true friend of At-Your-School Child Services (later shortened to AYS by our many parents).
Nancy joined the AYS administrative staff in 1994-1995. AYS had just moved into its first official office at 4720 N. Park, Indianapolis, IN. This office was a former pastor’s house for First Meridian Heights Presbyterian Church (AYS’ first community partner). The church minister served on the AYS board and agreed to our renting of the house. Though I had professionals refinish the floors, build basement shelves, and install window blinds, I had little furniture for the staff. Nancy, upon recognizing the dilemma, immediately notified her husband, Dave, who’s law firm (Ice Miller LLP) was discarding furniture. Within a few days, several desks, chairs, tables, etc. were delivered to AYS and arranged by Nancy. What a contribution to the agency! I used my desk until I retired in 2014, and it was a treasure.
Imagine our new office: a house with a large living room which could hold several desks. Though Nancy’s desk was toward the back window, she was the one who greeted most people who came in the door, as the other staff were usually visiting program sites. Nancy was the perfect representative, as she understood the mission of AYS. Her son had attended an AYS program at Crooked Creek, along with my son. She was empathetic of parents’ needs and worked well with all people.
Nancy seemed to look for projects that would not only help AYS but would also satisfy her ambition to conquer new challenges. She took on many major projects during her time with AYS.
First, she mastered computers. After I hired a receptionist and office manager, Nancy started managing all systems for computers and electronic devices. She moved to a new office on the lower floor (actually, the basement) and worked with Beth Koenen-Seelbach, who was also proficient in computer skills. She had no fear of these “new things.” She enrolled in a computer literacy class and shared what she learned with the team. Nancy researched the most efficient computers and negotiated with many vendors to obtain quality computers within the AYS budget. Computer efficiency was Nancy’s goal for all of us. Betty Tuller took over this position after Nancy retired. She commented on how organized and efficient the technology system was at AYS. Thank you, Nancy.
Second, Nancy led the AYS Link project with Eli Lilly Co. AYS Link was a resource and referral branch of our services to the community and was funded by Work Family Directions through Eli Lilly. The goal was to provide information to Lilly parents for them to seek licensed and accredited providers for infants, toddlers, preschoolers and school-age children. In preparation, Nancy helped to secure special phone lines and organize the basement room. She became a mentor to the new staff hired for this project. Mary Lou Hadley remembers how kind and thoughtful Nancy was with our team.
Third, Nancy organized new program staff appreciation initiatives. Special events were held annually, often at a church. Many churches opened their doors to AYS staff for appreciation suppers, fundraisers, parent events, and training. One major event that Nancy took on was Thank A Youth Worker Day. The national annual event was recognized through efforts of The Journey, a program based on reflection, renewal, and appreciation for youth workers. Nancy embraced the project. She called on her friends and relatives to help fill baskets and deliver them to various school sites.
Fourth, Nancy stepped into the role of helping me. She became my assistant, placing calls, typing minutes, electronically sending agendas for meetings, etc. I was elected president of NSACA (National School-Age Care Alliance), and all meetings, except the annual meeting, were held by conference call. Nancy would set the phone link and the board would discuss national issues of promoting an accreditation system, setting the next annual meeting, etc. In 2000, the NSACA board selected Indianapolis as the National Conference and annual meeting site for April 2001. Nancy took on organizing this conference with AYS staff and other local providers. They searched the community for business supporters, gifts for speakers, and other Indianapolis events participants might enjoy. Nancy was the one who suggested Ken Blanchard, author of the One Minute Manager, as the keynote speaker. Nancy just happened to have a sister married to Ken Blanchard!
Nancy and I also put together a race car event for conference attendees, as we wanted to highlight the upcoming Indianapolis 500 race. Attendees would bring a small race car and register it for “race day” at the convention. Since we both had sons who had many small cars, Nancy and I registered first. The race day event of small cars traveling around a gravity-powered track was great fun, even though our sons’ cars didn’t win. We also held a dance event at the Indiana Roof Ballroom, close to the Convention Center. Similar to “Dancing with the Stars,” winners would receive awards. Nancy was constantly on the lookout for donations.
The week of the conference at the Indianapolis Convention Center finally came about. Approximately 2,500 people attended the opening ceremony and keynote address. Accompanied by their parents at the conference, children from three AYS programs were chosen to sing as a chorus before the keynote presentation. The children performed beautifully and received a standing ovation. Ken Blanchard’s presentation was engaging and inspiring, urging the development of and outlining the path toward leadership in the growing numbers of afterschool programs in the country. What a marvelous speaker to reach out to so many youth workers from all over the country!
Finally, Nancy served on the AYS Board of Directors for many years after retiring from her staff position. As a board member, she served on board committees and eventually served as president. She attended fundraising events, particularly those in which AYS kids were involved. Nancy would buy a table for the luncheon and then invite friends or staff members to join her.
I and many others remember and cherish the life of Nancy Mallon, her love of family, her writing the history of Crooked Creek Elementary, and her many contributions to AYS, Inc.
Please note the following staff members who responded with similar memories of their time working with Nancy: Lynda Blackwelder, Mary Lou Hadley, Roger Bower, Maureen Grey, and Betty Tuller. I lament that I was unable to speak to all who knew and worked with her.
Founder of AYS, Inc.