Staff Photo by Thomas J. TurneyGirls Inc. Executive Director Joyella Farrington, Monday, June 30, 2014

Staff Photo by Thomas J. TurneyGirls Inc. Executive Director Joyella Farrington, Monday, June 30, 2014

Farrington hopes to grow Girls Inc. for young girls

By Corinne Saunders

Staff Writer

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Joyella Farrington has experienced some unexpected twists and turns in her working life, but one thing remains constant: her love for working with kids.

Farrington, interim director at Girls Inc. of the Albemarle since last August, recently was named the organization’s executive director. She replaces Denise Rodgers, who departed last summer.

Girls Inc.’s board of directors said in a press release they chose Farrington for the director’s post because of her “passion and drive as an advocate for girls and education in general.” Farrington will help make Girls Inc. “the place of choice for girls to become healthy, educated and independent through provision of life-changing experiences and programs,” the board said.

Farrington is looking forward to that challenge.

“My first goal is to get us at capacity, to where we’re busting at the seams,” she said. “I would like to need a new building because of our numbers.”

A self-described Army brat from Texas, Farrington, 38 came to Elizabeth City by way of Wiesbaden, Germany, where her then-husband was stationed with the U.S. Army.

Even after her divorce, Farrington stayed in Germany. She worked there as a dental hygienist “for many, many years” before taking a job in child and youth services for approximately four years.

She had been in nursing school before the move to Germany, but found no way to continue her studies. So instead, she completed the Red Cross’ dental program, offered through the Army, and began practicing pediatric dentistry.

Later, because she was no longer an Army spouse, “that position was no longer available to me,” she said, explaining that there are a certain number of allotted spouse positions in the military.

The administrative experience she gained working in Germany helps her in her current role now, Farrington said.

Farrington decided to move back to the U.S. because she wanted her son to have college options beyond those offered by the military.

After a brief stint in Ohio, where the school environment was not working out for her son, Farrington moved to Elizabeth City at the encouragement of her best friend, who is a resident and spoke highly of the local school system. Her son graduated from Northeastern High School last month.

Farrington said she was working at Applebee’s and attending dental school in Virginia when she made the decision to move to Elizabeth City. She was planning to get her “stateside credentials” and practice dentistry here. But browsing Craigslist to see what opportunities the area had, she saw an opening for a program assistant at Girls Inc., and applied because she thought, “That looks like so much fun.”

With a smile, she added, “I’ve been here since.”

Farrington likes her current role at Girls Inc., noting that the common theme with her previous jobs is its focus on kids.

Going forward, she has plans to increase Girls Inc.’s reach. She noted that each grade level in Girls Inc.’s summer program has a waiting list, and she hopes that abundance of interest will continue into the school year and to next summer.