From the first time she set foot in the Glasser Schoenbaum Human Services Center, Kameron Partridge Hodgens was impressed by her surroundings.
In 2010, Hodgens visited the Glasser Schoenbaum campus as part of the Greater Sarasota Chamber of Commerce’s Leadership Sarasota program. Then the vice president of programs and services for Easter Seals Southwest Florida, Hodgens had just a half-hour to take in the facilities, which are home to 18 nonprofit health and human services agencies.
“I was really proud of what the community had here,” Hodgens said. “When I found out the breadth and scope of the agencies here, I thought, ‘What a tremendous opportunity — and too much of a community secret.’”
Now, Hodgens has a personal stake in the success of the organization and the opportunity to help raise its public profile. On Monday, she stepped in as the new executive director and CEO of the Glasser Schoenbaum Human Services Center, taking the reins from longtime center leader Phil King.
Hodgens joins the organization at a time of transition. King was serving as executive director in an interim role, filling in following the resignation of Jay Berman. Berman left the position in August — just more than seven months after he began, and less than two months after the opening of the $2 million Sally and Sam Shapiro Babies and Children’s Medical Center.
That medical center was a project two years in the making for the Glasser Schoenbaum center, and its completion gives Hodgens the opportunity to step back and assess the future goals of the organization. She and King both say that the center needs an overall strategic plan to define its vision going forward, and King believes Hodgens is more than suited to develop that blueprint.
“At this particular point, she’s absolutely perfect,” King said. “She’s got everything: She’s bright; she’s still in her 30s; she knows a lot of people in town; she’s dedicated to the industry; she’s a Ph.D.; and she’s a visionary.”
Still in her first week of work, Hodgens’ immediate focus is on soaking in as much information as she can from the various service providers operating on the Glasser Schoenbaum campus.
A Sarasota native, Hodgens earned a doctorate in lifespan developmental psychology at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. An older brother with Down syndrome and autism inspired Hodgens to work alongside people with developmental disabilities. She returned to Sarasota and got a job at Easter Seals in 2008 — an experience she described as trial by fire, due to her lack of previous experience working with nonprofit institutions.
Despite the new environment, Hodgens took quickly to her job. Eventually, she said, she became confident enough in her skillset that she was interested in a more ambitious job, focusing more on the leadership and management of a nonprofit institution.
That opportunity presented itself in the form of the Glasser Schoenbaum executive director position. It’s early, but Hodgens has identified one priority already: boosting the general public’s awareness of the center. In addition to traditional advertising, Hodgens would like to see the organization step up its social media presence to attract a broader base of potential donors.
For those unfamiliar with the organization’s role in the community, Hodgens has been working on her elevator pitch to get across why she believes the average citizen should care about the Glasser Schoenbaum center.
“It takes overhead burden off of the nonprofits that are here, so more dollars can go into direct services, rather than into administrative costs and fees,” Hodgens said. “Families can have multiple needs met in one stop.”
King, who says he’ll remain involved with the organization even following his retirement, said he’s excited to see a young, energetic leader at the helm as the center begins to look toward its future.
“It couldn’t have been any better,” King said. “Ultimately, I think, everything works out for the best.”