IBJNews

2011 WOMAN OF INFLUENCE: Patricia A. Wachtel

Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrintBookmark and Share

President and CEO, Girls Inc. of Greater Indianapolis

Sphere of influence: She put three decades of corporate experience to work at Girls Inc., which has quintupled the number of girls it serves at a fraction of the cost. The turnaround has earned the organization a host of awards. And the expansion is far from complete.

Pat Wachtel has become an expert on change.

Dayspring Center, a family homeless shelter, was on the brink of collapse in 2002. Wachtel, who was chairwoman, led the board through the difficult decision to temporarily shut down the shelter and permanently close its soup kitchen, which meant laying off the entire kitchen staff. But the restructuring paid off, and the shelter is thriving today.

Next, when Indiana Landmarks’ longtime president retired in 2005, chairwoman Wachtel was asked to step in as interim president. She spent a year searching for a new leader while easing the organization through a cultural shift.
 

wachtel-patricia02-15col.jpg (IBJ Photo/ Perry Reichanadter)

Four years ago, Girls Inc. of Indianapolis hired Wachtel as president, to turn the organization upside down, by abandoning its clubs in favor of an outreach model. In three years, Girls Inc. drastically extended its reach while slashing costs. The organization went from serving 600 girls at an average cost of $235 per hour to serving 3,000 girls for less than $35 an hour.

The secret to its success: The decision to abandon the need for its own real estate. Instead, the organization approached churches, schools, libraries and community centers, asking to use their space in exchange for bringing in Girls Inc.’s high-quality programming. Today Girls Inc. presents its research-based, outcome-driven programs in space borrowed from more than 80 local facilities. That compares to just two club buildings that Girls Inc. had five years ago.

“We’re leveraging existing resources to do a better job for girls in our community,” said Wachtel, 56.

Girls Inc. has expanded into Hendricks County, and plans to move into Hamilton and Boone counties as well. Its goal is eventually to reach all 105,000 school-age girls in those counties and Marion County, inspiring them to be “strong, smart and bold,” Wachtel said.

Key to that expansion has been training more than 300 volunteers and developing technology to manage communications with them.

Girls Inc.’s success earned it Indiana Achievement Awards in 2008 and 2011, and earned Wachtel a Torchbearer Award in 2009 from the Indiana Commission for Women.

Wachtel said she was inspired to excel by her parents, who always urged her to “Do the right thing, the right way for the right reasons.”

She said her biggest career mistake was taking too long to learn how to be a good listener. “The faster you learn that skill, the better you are at everything you do. So often we think it’s more important to talk than to listen.”

Wachtel moved into the not-for-profit sector after 28 years at Irwin Mortgage Corp. and Huntington National Bank, among others. Today she often mentors women considering the leap into not-for-profits. For her, it wasn’t a difficult choice.

She was among the first generation of female bank officers, which presented its share of challenges. She welcomed the opportunity to help girls prepare for careers, whatever path they choose.

Her advice to young women: Learn to think critically and to negotiate.

“So much of what we as a gender complain about has everything to do with our own ability to advocate for ourselves,” Wachtel said. “Developing good negotiating skills is an important part of that.”

Wachtel, a native of Hammond, enjoys reading, cooking and playing golf.•

_____

Click here to return to the Women of Influence landing page.

ADVERTISEMENT

Post a comment to this story

COMMENTS POLICY
We reserve the right to remove any post that we feel is obscene, profane, vulgar, racist, sexually explicit, abusive, or hateful.
 
You are legally responsible for what you post and your anonymity is not guaranteed.
 
Posts that insult, defame, threaten, harass or abuse other readers or people mentioned in IBJ editorial content are also subject to removal. Please respect the privacy of individuals and refrain from posting personal information.
 
No solicitations, spamming or advertisements are allowed. Readers may post links to other informational websites that are relevant to the topic at hand, but please do not link to objectionable material.
 
We may remove messages that are unrelated to the topic, encourage illegal activity, use all capital letters or are unreadable.
 

Messages that are flagged by readers as objectionable will be reviewed and may or may not be removed. Please do not flag a post simply because you disagree with it.

Sponsored by
ADVERTISEMENT

facebook - twitter on Facebook & Twitter

Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ on Facebook:
Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ's Tweets on these topics:
 
Subscribe to IBJ
  1. Apologies for the wall of text. I promise I had this nicely formatted in paragraphs in Notepad before pasting here.

  2. I believe that is incorrect Sir, the people's tax-dollars are NOT paying for the companies investment. Without the tax-break the company would be paying an ADDITIONAL $11.1 million in taxes ON TOP of their $22.5 Million investment (Building + IT), for a total of $33.6M or a 50% tax rate. Also, the article does not specify what the total taxes were BEFORE the break. Usually such a corporate tax-break is a 'discount' not a 100% wavier of tax obligations. For sake of example lets say the original taxes added up to $30M over 10 years. $12.5M, New Building $10.0M, IT infrastructure $30.0M, Total Taxes (Example Number) == $52.5M ININ's Cost - $1.8M /10 years, Tax Break (Building) - $0.75M /10 years, Tax Break (IT Infrastructure) - $8.6M /2 years, Tax Breaks (against Hiring Commitment: 430 new jobs /2 years) == 11.5M Possible tax breaks. ININ TOTAL COST: $41M Even if you assume a 100% break, change the '30.0M' to '11.5M' and you can see the Company will be paying a minimum of $22.5, out-of-pocket for their capital-investment - NOT the tax-payers. Also note, much of this money is being spent locally in Indiana and it is creating 430 jobs in your city. I admit I'm a little unclear which tax-breaks are allocated to exactly which expenses. Clearly this is all oversimplified but I think we have both made our points! :) Sorry for the long post.

  3. Clearly, there is a lack of a basic understanding of economics. It is not up to the company to decide what to pay its workers. If companies were able to decide how much to pay their workers then why wouldn't they pay everyone minimum wage? Why choose to pay $10 or $14 when they could pay $7? The answer is that companies DO NOT decide how much to pay workers. It is the market that dictates what a worker is worth and how much they should get paid. If Lowe's chooses to pay a call center worker $7 an hour it will not be able to hire anyone for the job, because all those people will work for someone else paying the market rate of $10-$14 an hour. This forces Lowes to pay its workers that much. Not because it wants to pay them that much out of the goodness of their heart, but because it has to pay them that much in order to stay competitive and attract good workers.

  4. GOOD DAY to you I am Mr Howell Henry, a Reputable, Legitimate & an accredited money Lender. I loan money out to individuals in need of financial assistance. Do you have a bad credit or are you in need of money to pay bills? i want to use this medium to inform you that i render reliable beneficiary assistance as I'll be glad to offer you a loan at 2% interest rate to reliable individuals. Services Rendered include: *Refinance *Home Improvement *Inventor Loans *Auto Loans *Debt Consolidation *Horse Loans *Line of Credit *Second Mortgage *Business Loans *Personal Loans *International Loans. Please write back if interested. Upon Response, you'll be mailed a Loan application form to fill. (No social security and no credit check, 100% Guaranteed!) I Look forward permitting me to be of service to you. You can contact me via e-mail howellhenryloanfirm@gmail.com Yours Sincerely MR Howell Henry(MD)

  5. It is sad to see these races not have a full attendance. The Indy Car races are so much more exciting than Nascar. It seems to me the commenters here are still a little upset with Tony George from a move he made 20 years ago. It was his decision to make, not yours. He lost his position over it. But I believe the problem in all pro sports is the escalating price of admission. In todays economy, people have to pay much more for food and gas. The average fan cannot attend many events anymore. It's gotten priced out of most peoples budgets.

ADVERTISEMENT