A Job Well Done; A Mission That Continues

Nancy K. Hurd on the campus that bears her name.

Nancy K. Hurd on the campus that bears her name.

We used to say if we could clone the Achievement Centers for Children & Families, we’d have a better world.

Whenever I’m asked for an example of a model non-profit, I immediately think of the Achievement Center.

For over 40 years, starting in a church classroom and growing into a major campus on Lake Ida Road, the Achievement Center has changed lives by striving to break the cycle of poverty in our community.

Yesterday, the center’s longtime– but now retired –executive director Nancy Hurd was honored when the campus was named after her. It was a small but joyous ceremony which was fitting for those of us who know Nancy. After all, she declined a big gala when she retired preferring to be surrounded by friends, family, longtime supporters of the mission and of course the children she dedicated her life to.

For generations of children in Delray, Nancy Hurd and her staff were angels. They provided love, care, education and a range of services to our most vulnerable children and their families. And they did it as well as it can be done. To see that work continue is heartwarming beyond words.

Under Nancy’s smart and strategic leadership, the Achievement Centers (which started out as the Delray Community Child Care Center) set the bar for excellence in service delivery, financial stewardship and real and lasting impact.

In life, you don’t meet too many people who impact generations, but Nancy Hurd is one of those few who have done it. Her passion for children, her pursuit of excellence and her big heart not only impacted our most needy families, but they inspired staff members, volunteers and board members to dig deeper, try harder and care more.

I am one of those she influenced. I first met Nancy when I was young reporter, new to Delray and anxious to write about interesting people. We hit it off right away and I returned to do many stories over the years for the old Delray Times.

When Gov. Lawton Chiles paid the newly expanded center a visit, the governor’s staff arranged for a private tour just before the big public event. Gov. Chiles was like that, a rare politician who really wanted to dig in and learn why this organization was so special. He also wanted to interact with the kids away from the press. Nancy made sure that I was included on that exclusive tour and it give me a chance to meet and talk with the governor. Nancy knew the experience would be meaningful to me and it was. We never talked about it, but the visit made an impression and showed me that politicians could have hearts.

Later, I would spend many years on Nancy’s board and I must admit it was easy work. The organization was so well-run that most meetings were spent just smiling at the results we were seeing.

Trust me, that’s not always the case when you serve on non-profit boards.

My term on the board allowed me to observe Nancy’s leadership style and I was especially impressed with her ability to spot and nurture talent. The best leaders develop other leaders.

Nancy and the board did a great job finding and developing the super talented Stephanie Seibel, who took the reins when Nancy retired.

The organization continues to thrive, which is the mark of a championship team; when superstars retire the success continues.

Nancy and I have become friends over the years. She was a great source of strength for me during the tough times that I experienced in public office. I knew I could drop by unannounced and get hugs from the cutest children on the planet and then get solid advice from someone I knew, loved, respected and trusted. I always left feeling better. Always.

Now when I drive by the campus every morning on my way to work, I will be able to see Nancy’s name on the Achievement Center’s sign. And I will remember her life’s work, her impact on generations and her influence on one young reporter.

Nancy didn’t say much at the ceremony. She was happy and clearly touched. But she did say that she couldn’t have imagined having a better life. And for the thousands and thousands of lives she has touched; we can’t imagine anyone living a better life.

Well done, Nancy. Your work and your impact will live on forever.