Jo Ann Spaulding: ‘This is where I’m meant to be’January 25, 2019
By CANDY NEAL
JASPER — Jo Ann Spaulding keeps on her desk a copy of the Dubois County Health Department’s mission, vision and values statement.
As administrative director of the department, she reviews the statement, repeats the mantra to herself and keeps it in mind as she works.
“Prevent, promote, protect; that is the summation. And I hold that near and dear to my heart,” she said. “That is public health.”
Jo Ann, 37, became the new administrative director on Nov. 1, replacing the now retired Donna Oeding.
She was born in Jasper, daughter of Dr. Honesto and Rose Fenol. With her father being a physician, Jo Ann was exposed to the field of health early in life. She and her family moved to Petersburg as she was entering middle school because her father’s practice was expanding. Dr. Honesto is now retired.
“I worked in my father’s clinic as a clerk,” Jo Ann said. “And I worked at a long-term care facility, a nursing home, when I was a senior in high school. They made me a residential care tech. I loved it.”
After she graduated from Pike Central High School, Jo Ann became a certified nursing assistant. “I loved the hands-on care, but I learned quickly that I could never be a nurse,” she said. “They have a tough job. But I loved the health care field and knew I wanted to continue and contribute in some sort of way.”
As she attended the University of Southern Indiana and continued working in long-term care settings, Jo Ann wondered, “How can I make a difference? The health services administration field called to me.”
Jo Ann graduated from the university, receiving a bachelor’s degree in science with a major in health services and minor in gerontology, as well as a master’s degree in health administration. She also obtained her license as a health facilities administrator.
Jo Ann worked in various administrative and executive director positions at long-term care or assisted-living facilities across Indiana: Fort Wayne, South Bend, Indianapolis, Mooresville, Clarksville. She dated her now husband, Clint Spaulding, while living in the Indianapolis and Clarksville areas. They moved to Jasper in 2011 for Clint to become a field agent with Knights of Columbus Insurance, and got married. Clint is now a general agent and covers most of southern Indiana. Jo Ann worked in his office, ultimately becoming an acquisition manager.
“Working for him was a great experience in learning how to manage family and home and work,” Jo Ann said. “I was blessed to be in that fortunate situation, with flexible hours.”
The couple has three daughters: 6-year-old Allison, 4-year-old Ashley and 3-year-old Ava.
Jo Ann came across an advertisement about the administrative director position at the county health department as she was searching for job openings for her nephew.
“It really called to me,” she said. “My littles were getting bigger and more independent. And I knew this kind of position does not come up very often.”
She contacted Donna, who was still in the position at the time, and met with her to learn more about the job.
“I had my list of questions. But before I could ask them, she talked and answered everything,” Spaulding said with a laugh. “Her passion and her commitment exuded. That just even more reaffirmed my passion and excitement for public health and health services. That encouraged me to apply.”
Jo Ann was selected for the position in September. She worked with Donna in October, learning all she could about the daily, monthly, quarterly, semi-annual and annual duties should would be responsible for after Donna retired on Oct. 31.
Having that time to work with Donna helped Jo Ann transition into the position.
“It has worked out really well. I am surrounded by a great team, so I am not doing this by myself,” she said. “Each person here is talented. I’m very lucky to have that support.”
She is also impressed with the community’s support of the health department.
“Dubois County and the leadership here have great partnerships, such as the Dubois County Public Health Partnership,” Jo Ann said. “We have true leaders who are well educated and motivated. They have been wonderful to work with.”
Dubois County was recently designated an Indiana Healthy Community by the Wellness Council of Indiana. A lot of the work that went into earning the designation was done before Jo Ann joined the health department. She said the designation shows how the community and local leaders work together to focus promoting health in the county and surrounding areas.
“This designation is a great thing for the county,” she said.
Jo Ann is excited to be a part of the different collaborations with groups and organizations to promote health. That is why she keeps the health department’s mission, vision and values statement nearby.
“I read it almost every day,” she said. “You have to have a mission and vision on whatever you’re working on. Without that, you’re not really making any headway.”
She appreciates the health department staff, local leadership and the community for welcoming her and helping her to get acclimated to her new job.
“This situation has brought me a lot of excitement,” Jo Ann said. “Almost every week, something happens or there is an event that reaffirms this is where I’m meant to be. I’m thankful.”
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