In her more than 31 years at the helm of SCAN, Rachel Tobin-Smith saw the organization’s staff go from two to 230, and a budget of $28,000 to more than $16.5 million.
But the longtime face of Stop Childhood Abuse and Neglect will be stepping aside, making room for new blood and new energy at the nonprofit that works hand-in-hand with state agencies in the protection of area children and families.
The work of SCAN, which is dedicated to the elimination of the abuse and neglect of children, has grown over the organization’s 40-year-history, and now reaches beyond its home at 500 W. Main St.
Thirty counties in northern Indiana are now served by SCAN, as are areas in western Ohio and southern Michigan, Tobin-Smith said.
"We’ve made it a much better community," she said. "I believe that the services for child abuse prevention and for preservation services when child abuse occurred are now the strongest they have been in years."
Board member Phil Downs, superintendent of Southwest Allen County Schools, had trouble finding the right words.
"Fort Wayne’s children are losing a tremendous advocate for them," he said. "Rachel is a huge presence in the area of welfare, and she’s going to be missed tremendously in that organization and in the county."
Tobin-Smith stresses that she is not retiring and hopes to continue to offer her services as a consultant. But she said it is time to transition out of her full-time career and the 55-hour work weeks she’s put in over the decades at the organization.
"I live and breathe these families," Tobin-Smith said. "It’s time for someone with new energy to take it forward."
When SCAN volunteers flood the area with the opportunity to buy ducks for their annual Duck Race fundraiser, Tobin-Smith said they always run into children who have benefited from the organization’s work in some way.
To hear from them, and their expressions of gratitude for the work of SCAN in their families’ lives is among what she values the most.
"We’ve kept children safe. It’s just so important," she said.
Tobin-Smith will not step down until the board has a new person in place, and she said she will work alongside board members to help pick the right individual to take over.
She hopes the transition will be complete by the late autumn or the first of the year, at the latest.
Board President Larry Weigand, CEO of Weigand Construction, said Tobin-Smith’s shoes will be hard to fill.
"Rachel has dedicated more than 33 years to SCAN," he said. "Her leadership has built SCAN to the organization that it is today. As a board, we are charged with the duty to select the next CEO.
"We know that whomever is selected will inherit a strong, healthy multifaceted organization thanks to Rachel’s influence and passion."