Business & Professional
John Niederman and Pathfinder Services have been on an extraordinary journey, together, for nearly 35 years.
Pathfinder, the Huntington-based social services agency, has earned state and national accolades for the breadth and quality of its human and community development services. Niederman has led the organization to that status, and in the process has himself been recognized as an imaginative, inspiring voice in social services policy.
John Niederman is an “Army brat,” born in Hempstead, N.Y., who spent much of his childhood moving from military base to military base in the U.S. and overseas. He was an honors graduate in sociology from the University of Notre Dame and earned his master’s degree in social work from St. Louis University. He met the woman who would become his wife, the former Judy Schroeder, while they worked at St. Louis University Hospitals – she as a physical therapist, he as a social worker.
In the fall of 1978, Niederman moved to Fort Wayne, where John took a position as director of special services and vocational education for the Anthony Wayne Rehabilitation Center. He served in that role for more than six years, earning his MBA from the University of Saint Francis during that time. His growing prominence in area human services circles attracted the attention of Pathfinder Services.
Niederman joined Pathfinder in March 1985 as its president and chief executive officer. Pathfinder had been established in 1966 as a workshop setting for the developmentally disabled, and after nearly two decades of steady growth it was poised to expand and diversify its mission. Niederman proved to be the ideal person to guide that effort.
Under his leadership, Pathfinder has evolved into a comprehensive human and community development enterprise, serving those with disabilities and others who require assistance to become more successful and self-sufficient in a variety of life skills, from family budgeting to home ownership. Pathfinder established offices in several northern Indiana locations, with the goal of helping improve quality of life for everyone in the region.
Niederman’s organizational talents, his tireless advocacy for the constituents he serves, and his gift for marshaling resources to meet people’s needs has drawn wide acclaim. His counsel has been sought by counterpart agencies throughout the Midwest and by policy-makers in Washington.
Through the years Niederman has served on dozens of national, state and local boards of directors, advisory councils, and committees, from the PTO of his four children’s elementary school to the board of the American Rehabilitation Association. Honors and awards for his leadership skills and humanitarian outreach have come from far and wide. In 2014, the Indiana Association for Community Economic Development named its annual leadership award in his honor, and he was the first recipient.
John Niederman has been an exemplar of excellence for Pathfinder Services. That organization has, under his leadership, helped to improve the lives of thousands of people of all ages and abilities in Huntington County – and beyond.