H.L. Neblett Center welcomes new director

Keith Cottoner, the new executive director of the H.L. Neblett Center, is shown Aug. 23 inside his office at the center.

Owensboro’s H.L. Neblett Center has officially welcomed a new executive director to its ranks.

Keith Cottoner assumed the role on Aug. 16 from former director Olga McKissic, who will remain with the center as director of its Western Academy.

“One of the things I have been wanting to do is push my career forward, and the opportunity presented itself here as the executive director of the Neblett Center,” Cottoner said Monday. “The Neblett Center does a lot of great work in the community, and I am hoping to be able to continue to push that forward.”

Cottoner, a native of Earlington, is a 2002 graduate of Hopkins County Central High School. He graduated from Kentucky Wesleyan College in 2007 with a degree in health and fitness management.

McKissic said the Neblett Center created an executive director search committee, and it received applications for the position from both Owensboro and other areas.

“I think (Cottoner) is just going to take the Neblett Center to the next level,” she said. “He is young, he is motivated, he is intentional, and he has such a sweet spirit. I feel like the community is going to see that too and embrace him.”

Cottoner said he is looking forward to building relationships with community members and looking to see how the Neblett Center can improve on what it already provides for the local community.

“I don’t want to just come and throw a bunch of stuff at the wall and hope it sticks,” he said. “I want to see what it is we can do to fill in any gaps that may be out there.”

McKissic said the growth of the organization’s Western Academy, now in its third year, has continued. By stepping away from the executive director role, it will allow her to completely focus on the success of that program.

The Western Academy is designed for African American and biracial males in grades 3-12 to solidify their reading and math skills.

“(The Western Academy) has evolved into just a powerhouse program that requires a single focus,” McKissic said.

The H.L. Neblett Community Center, at 801 W. Fifth St., was founded in 1936 and offers a variety of programming and services for all ages.

For more information about the H.L. Neblett Center, visit https://hlneblett.org.

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