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Meet Gatto from the leadership class of 2024

| May 1, 2024

Jen Gatto was born in Cleveland and raised in Old Brooklyn, near the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo.  She attended Catholic schools; graduating in 1993 from Erieview Catholic School, an all-girls school located in downtown Cleveland not far from Cleveland State University. Hers was the first class to be offered post-secondary coursework, so Jen took classes at Cleveland State while working at the Ritz-Carlton located in Tower City. She graduated as valedictorian of her class; president of National Honor Society; played varsity softball and volunteered as a candy striper at Deaconess Hospital, located near her home.

Following graduation, Gatto attended St. Joseph’s College in Rensselaer, IN for two years before transferring to Malone University where she majored in psychology. By this time, Gatto had married and started a family and in 2000, she graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology.

She wanted to work for Stark County Children’s Services but needed experience first, so she started her career in social work with Columbiana County Children’s Services where her focus was adoptive home studies.   Several months into this position, Gatto was able to begin working for Stark County Children’s Services in the child protective unit. Her work focused on “forensic work” for sex abuse allegations.  She said it was “very rewarding work; very stressful but rewarding” and hard to convict.  She enjoyed being a witness on the stand and talking to grand juries, knowing she was making a difference in the lives of children.

After 11 years with children’s services, Gatto decided to focus on her family and began substitute teaching.  She also had been teaching dance and ballet, and was offered a position teaching movement classes to people with developmental disabilities. From that moment forward, Gatto “loved it and never looked back.”  She “can’t imagine doing anything differently.” Her career working with individuals with disabilities started as a direct support professional, a position she held for six years. She then accepted a position with Echoing Hills Village, Inc. as Director of Echoing U, their adult day program. COVID shut the program down, and Gatto offered to “help where needed.”  She was sent to Echoing Hills facilities around the state and did everything from direct-care to maintenance. In 2022, Gatto was offered the position of employee engagement manager, where she is a part of the marketing and development team, responsible for recruitment and retention of employees.  Part of her role focuses on programs for retention and to maintain the faith-based company culture.  She and her husband Dave live onsite, where he is employed as the camp caretaker in charge of maintenance; buildings; grounds and safety and compliance on the property.

Gatto is very involved in her church, Northgate in Dresden, and when she is “not on the clock” she volunteers at Echoing Hills, stating “I want to be present at camp. I don’t view this as a job; it’s my mission.” She does want to get more involved in the community and appreciates everything she learned in Leadership Coshocton that can help her find her fit.

Co-worker Jackie Householder asked Gatto to participate in Leadership Coshocton County, and as she was new to the community, she wanted to participate to “know where I’m living and how to get plugged in. I want to learn where to contribute.” Gatto is excited to not travel with work next year and get involved with the community. She said, “I was blown away by ag day.”

When asked her view of the community, Gatto said, “I love Coshocton. I think it’s beautiful. There is lots of potential for tourism here and feels like a respite.  It’s pretty self-contained with shopping and restaurants. I enjoy Roscoe Village and am proud to bring my family here.”

When asked what will make the county stronger, Gatto mentions having “more awareness of what is available in the community. I didn’t know anything about available resources; business; transportation, etc., until I went through Leadership Coshocton County.  Even though it’s rural, it’s a tight-knit community and there is so much more pride.

Gatto would “absolutely” recommend Leadership Coshocton for others, stating “I think everybody should go through it; it’s so amazing. It’s so encompassing; I learned so much and loved the curriculum. It’s a great way to learn about the community; ways to plug in and be proud of where I live.”

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Category: Clubs & Organizations

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Article contributed to The Beacon.

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