By Cindy Adams


Neci Hale-Hilton says she lives her life in the weeds, but her contribution across the agency looks a little more like a garden. She's in the background looking at data, particularly academic data for enCircle’s Minnick Schools, and her ability to sift and sort the numbers is not unlike a gardener carefully working seeds.

This was not what Neci envisioned when she retired from Roanoke City Schools four years ago, but the Minnick job description charmed her with its opportunity to make a quiet contribution. Of course, Neci’s skills in observation, instruction and best practices still call her back to the classroom from time to time. She has much to offer, and she enjoys the mix.

"I like what I do," Neci said. "I like trying to figure out what the teachers need and the challenge of discovering something that might help them."

Neci says she tries her best but sometimes wonders if someone more mathematically aligned would produce more, but Terri Webber, Minnick’s vice president of program operations, calls her the data queen.

"If it can be gathered, she’ll figure out how to do it," Terri said. "She is reliable and important to so many across our agency. What she does day to day informs us of our next steps."

Neci’s work is essential to enCircle’s network of programs designed to help others live an abundant life, full of meaning and purpose.

"Neci is an amazing partner," said Melissa Leecy, enCircle’s director of philanthropy, "Even when I come to her with specific and unusual requests, she can give me a pretty quick answer. We can always count on her ingenuity to get us where we need to be next."

As in any well-tended garden, what is nurtured beneath the surface proves bountiful. Neci's ability to sort and prep data and her natural way of using it to cultivate meaningful results enriches lives.

She can be proud of all that she has grown.