When you walk into the Boys and Girls Club of Muncie (BGC) you’re guaranteed to hear bouncing basketballs and chatter from children all followed by a warm greeting from the receptionist. 

If you look around the commercial aesthetic of the building, you see subtle details along the cemented block walls like a “How To be Great” sign or “unlocking futures” etched in black letters. 

In that moment, you understand why children could call it their second home.

While many of the children he serves have only known a city ringed with cornfields and college kids, Jason Newman, current CEO of BGC, grew up in the bustling borough of Brooklyn, New York.

The Board of Directors hired Newman 10 months after the abrupt resignation of Micah Maxwell, former executive director.

When Newman bid farewell to the East Coast he was also forced to say goodbye to his late mother who passed a week prior to his departure. He said he had not seen is mother in 20 years, however, this move was “good timing” for him.

Although he doesn’t talk about her much, Newman characterizes his mother as a successful doctor who was abusive and struggled with alcoholism during his childhood.

“She had demons of her own that she took out on my brother and me," Newman said. 

Underneath Newman's thick skin lies layers of his philosophy which he now translates into both his general life and his role as a CEO.

With a doctor for a mother and lawyer for a father, Newman says his parents lived busy lives so his extended family stepped into that parental role. 

“Even with an extended family who made a commitment to being there ... I still always felt alone," Newman said.

Newman said many of the aspects he brings to his career come from childhood experiences. One of the biggest is the lack of “dedicated family time” within his family structure. 

“One of the worst things we can do with young people is say, ‘I’ll be there at this time’ and then not be there," Newman said. 

This ideology is one Newman holds in high regard for both himself and his staff. Twenty-two years and thousands of kids later, he doesn’t have any children to call his own.

“I don’t know if it would be possible for me to do what I do and have children home,” Newman said. 

While he doesn't have biological children of his own, Newman said he is glad to be a positive figure in the lives of the children he serves. In fact, Newman said one young lady told him that after she "came out" to her parents, her father stopped talking to her.

"I don't know how I would react if I had a child come out to me, but I know in that relationship, there was no judgement on my part,” Newman said. “I know I handled that correctly." 

But Newman said who he is today is not who he was 20 years ago. 

"I was ego-driven," Newman said. “I wanted more money. I wanted more power. And I wanted a better job title.” 

However, after finishing his journalism degree at New York University, Newman found himself at a crossroads in his life. He found himself asking if he would work at a financial consulting firm for the next three years or take a year to decide what he wanted to do.

Certain about his decision, Newman said he turned down a three-year job commitment at a financial consulting firm because he was unsure if that's the path he wanted to take.

After that he bounced from work at department stores to private investigative work until he wound up substitute teaching at his little brother’s elementary school.

After spending some time at the school, Newman interviewed for a permanent position, but was not hired.

“I had been up for and not given a whole bunch of jobs in that school,” Newman said. “That one stuck with me.”

Subbing three days a week turned into two decades of programming for BGC of Philadelphia. And now, he says he gets to continue that work in Muncie.

Contact Gabbi Mitchell with comments at gnmitchell@bsu.edu or on Twitter at @Gabbi_Mitchell.