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D2 |Thursday, December 24, 2020

Community Champion Keepsake

The Columbus Telegram

FINDING HER
CALLING:
Gable thrives on
helping others,
raising her family

MATT LINDBERG
The Columbus Telegram

Editor’s note: This story first published July 18.

E

rica Gable grew up in Papillion happily and
was always busy. Her only problem was that as
she grew older, it became apparent she wasn’t
quite sure where life was going to take her.
“Everyone around me was passionate about something and really knew what they wanted to do with
their lives, especially once I got to college,” Gable
recalled, noting she changed majors three times. “I
just didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life in
college. That was really a struggle for me.”
Although Gable was arguably destined to be where
she is today and happy about it, in some ways, it’s
something she never imagined. She loved the big city
lifestyle Omaha provided throughout her childhood
and as an early adult; however, she’s found her calling
in the smaller and more rural Columbus, where she
helps area youth, is involved in various community
efforts and a proud mom of three.
“I truly feel everything you look at in life comes
down to how you choose to look at it,” Gable said.
“People always complain there’s nothing to do here,
but I think any town is what you make of it. I love being able to really make a difference and raise money for
causes … it’s a really great community.”

FINDING HER WAY

Gable was born and raised in the Omaha area,
where she said she had “a very happy childhood”
and normal upbringing living with her parents and
younger sister. She played some sports throughout
her youth, though acknowledged she’s “incredibly
uncoordinated.”
Sports weren’t her thing, but Gable still found
plenty of ways to stay busy. She took several art classes to explore her creativity and eventually dived into
theater. In high school, she also served as an editor of
her school’s newspaper and yearbook.
“I really loved yearbook, I loved doing that. I
thought I wanted to go into journalism,” Gable said,
adding that she was also inspired by the family’s
neighbor who was a good friend and a broadcast anchor for an Omaha TV station at the time.
But soon after arriving at Nebraska Wesleyan University in the early 2000s, she had a change of heart
when it came to determining her career path. Actually,
she had several changes of heart. She went from communications to English education and then business
education, graduating in 2008 with a degree business
administration and education.
Gable, who had volunteered with Big Brothers-Big
Sisters and other youth-oriented programs while in
college, decided to get into student-teaching upon
graduation. But, it didn’t go as planned.
“I determined I didn’t want to teach,”
she said.
She shifted careers by getting into
banking, which she did for nearly 10
years. During that time she excelled in
the field and was promoted to branch
manager with SAC Federal Credit Union
(now Cobalt) at one of its locations inside
a Hy-Vee in Omaha. She was thriving
in the role that she ended up having for
about five years (2008-2013).

Courtesy Photo
Erica Gable enjoys her role as an education specialist with Nebraska JAG and living in Columbus.

it came to her career.
“I knew I was missing my purpose. I always knew I
needed to be doing something that was making a difference, especially making a difference in the community,” she said. “I just felt like I wasn’t doing enough.”

FINDING HER PATH

In December 2018, Gable accepted a role as an
education specialist with what is now JAG (Jobs for
America’s Graduates) Nebraska, an independent
statewide nonprofit that essentially mentors students
who are considered at the highest risk of disengaging from school or dropping out of school without
the skills and motivation needed to succeed in higher
education and the workforce. It is affiliated with the
United Way of the Midlands.
Gable is responsible for ensuring that students
transition into the workplace and achieve expected
outcomes, including graduation and post-secondary
education. She also provides them with employability
and life survival skills through classroom instruction
of 37 core competencies, guidance, counseling, academic remediation, work-based learning experiences,
and follow up post-graduation, among other things.
“It was a total leap of faith, but I knew I needed to
make a change,” Gable said. “I love working with my
students, I love watching them unsure of themselves
and seeing their confidence build, making leadership

CHANGE OF PLANS

One day in 2008, Gable got a random Facebook message from an old high
school classmate, Jake. The two were not
that close while in school, but went to a
hockey game on their first date once he
moved back to town and made a connection. Things worked out well as the
Gables married in 2012.
“He’s probably one of the most hardworking people I’ve met in my entire life.
He puts 110 percent into everything he
does,” she said.
Her husband was working for Commonwealth Electric Company of the
Midwest and moved up the ladder,
eventually landing an opportunity in
early 2013 to be vice president and based
out of Columbus. She was a few months
pregnant with their first child, daughter
Charley, at that time.
“I really liked Omaha, but it was a
good opportunity,” she said. “It’s funny
now because if you had asked me a year
or two after we moved here, I probably
would have jumped at the chance to move
back. But not anymore. Columbus is a
great place to raise a family.”
She worked at Associated Staffing
in town as its branch manager/human
resources partner for nearly three years
and then at Pacific Premier Bank, but said
she knew she wasn’t quite fulfilled when

decisions … I love watching them push to be better
versions of themselves.”
Also part of her role, Gable teaches three classes
at Columbus High School to help guide students. She
stressed the program has a stigma of being for students who are considered “problematic,” but that it
isn’t true. Barriers to graduation, she said, can range
from academic struggles to socioeconomic issues and
those who simply just aren’t sure of what they want to
do next.
“Obviously, I can relate to that. I feel like I could
have used this program when I was high school,” Gable
said. “All students are looking for additional direction. This is maybe for kids who would otherwise fall
through the cracks.”

LIFE FULFILLED

Besides a rewarding career, Gable takes pride in
giving back to the community in various ways. She’s
been involved in the TeamMates Mentoring Program,
is a 2015 graduate of the Leadership Columbus program and a founding board member of Next Generation Kiwanis, among other things.
“Erica is an amazing person. She is always going
above and beyond to help and take care
of others. Her passion for her family and
her community is inspiring. Her compassion is also something that I admire
…,” said longtime friend and Columbus
resident Cassie Jeffryes. “She’s someone
everyone would be lucky to know, and
if you’re extremely fortunate, you can
call her a friend … Passionate is a great
way to describe her too; she wants to see
others succeed. She will be your biggest
cheerleader and is also willing to help
you solve the problem and be part of the
solution.”
The Gables now have three children:
6-year-old Charley, 3-year-old son,
Killian; and 8-month-old daughter
Freya. She acknowledged it was a little
chaotic being at home with three kids
and working full-time the last several
months during the COVID-19 pandemic,
but she’s happy to have found her calling.
“I love my life,” she said. “My job is
so rewarding and I enjoy going to work.
I also love that this position allows me
to spend more time with my kids in the
summer, and I feel it makes me a better
mom.”
The big city-loving girl still has an
affinity for Omaha, but Columbus has
undoubtedly become home.
“There are great parks, I love that it’s
safe and that there are extremely nice
people,” Gable said of Columbus. “It’s a
good community, and I love how fast it’s
growing … It’s a great place to live.”
Courtesy Photo

Erica Gable, her husband, Jake; and their three children.

Matt Lindberg is the managing editor of The
Columbus Telegram. Reach him via email at matt.
lindberg@lee.net.

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