-by Shiloh Todorov

I first met Heidi Drake in 2013 when she walked into the Meeting Haus offices and offered her services in “cleaning closets, or filing, or whatever you need.”

It was winter and on our – at the time – staff of two, my colleague was out for an extended recuperation. Heidi had seen his health update in Neighbors4Neighbors, our weekly member newsletter, and thought I could probably use a hand staying on top of everything.

“I’ve lived here for 20 years – you can ask any member of your board whether I’m a nut, and then call me and let me know if you want my help,” is what I recall her saying.

Soon, she was organizing the supply closet, filing income and expenses paperwork, and helping Visitors Center volunteers find what they needed for success. She stayed on even after my colleague returned, and even after we hired a new historic preservation advocate.

On Tuesday (Sept. 11), Heidi performed her final duties running a German Village Society Board of Trustees meeting as president. She served in that role for two years, after having joined the board two years before that and serving as an officer.

Heidi is among the Villagers from whom I’ve learned the most. She is the leader everyone wants on their team.

When Heidi joined the board, she brought with her a significant career at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in administration. Heidi worked at Children’s as a vice president. She retired a second time after working as the Volunteer Director at the Ronald McDonald House of Central Ohio. Both jobs helped Heidi understand the challenges that nonprofit organizations face. It also allowed her to practice the leadership she’s gifted to GVS.

Heidi’s officer project was to help me get our human relations house in order. Our employee handbook was badly out of date, we had no functioning job descriptions, and with ZERO background in HR practices under my own belt, Heidi patiently taught me how to be a better manager.

Patience and kindness might be Heidi’s key strengths. She has such a way with coaching that you almost don’t realize you’re being taught something, but rather walk away feeling you’ve discovered something and made your own important breakthrough. That’s a gift! And she has spent countless hours on the phone, in my office, or around her kitchen island helping me think through issues from preservation to volunteers to event details.

We call our yin-yang “peripheral brain,” each filling the other’s weakness and together better able to see the whole picture.

Heidi is headed to Granville where she and her husband, Larry, are building a home. She’s said repeatedly that Columbus isn’t that far away – and that’s good, because wherever I land next, I intend to recruit her as my very first volunteer. We’ll just wait and see if it’s for her filing skills or her rock-star smarts.