Q&A responses written by Gina Horner, as told to Zoe Engels, Contributing Writer and Editor
Meet SODA National Board Member, Gina Horner! She has over ten years of experience working in the nonprofit world, specializing in community outreach, and is passionate about organ, eye, and tissue donation advocacy. Gina became a SODA advisor in late 2020 and has been part of the Board of Directors since its inception. Check out the Q&A below to learn about her family life, hobbies, and dedication to saving lives through organ donation advocacy and education.
What inspired you to get involved with SODA?
After six years of working in the community education field for LifeCenter Organ Donor Network, our Organ Procurement Organization in Cincinnati, I could see the fantastic work SODA was aiming to do with students. SODA had so many resources they wanted to share with the community, and I was in a position to help them share as the Youth Education Committee Chair for Donate Life America. SODA is a perfect fit for the work community relations teams want to be doing, and patients on the waiting list needed for those resources to link up!
What does organ donation mean to you?
After you have spent your life in your body, taken care of it, and no longer can use it, what do you do? Do you just leave with it or help people who are in need? Organ recipients don't get a second chance at life because someone dies; they get a second chance because someone else says ‘yes.’ I want to empower people to be that someone else—that person who makes life possible after they die.
Give someone a second chance by saying “yes” to organ donation. Register at RegisterMe.org/SODANational.
What do you enjoy most about being part of SODA National’s Board of Directors?
I have no idea how I am helping or contributing, but somehow I am. I enjoy being useful to a cause that is saving lives.
Who/what inspires you?
My son Jesse. He's three, and he's learning everything for the first time: the joys of life, failure, loss, frustration. It's my job to help him navigate those concepts, and I get to relearn them through him because I want him to approach those concepts in a healthy way. He's helping me tune-up my worldview, which is a gift.
If you could give students any piece of advice, what would it be?
At whatever phase of your life you're in, there is something to learn, and you can use it to build up to your Next Big Thing. Take advantage of as many moments as you can, be grateful and kind to yourself when you can, and please drink some water.
Tell us about yourself!
I am currently the Marketing Director for Cincinnatus Insurance. I went to Northern Kentucky University and studied education, and after that I worked in nonprofits for twelve years. I live in Cincinnati, Ohio, with my wife Christina, our son Jesse, and our two dogs and turtle. I love knitting and gardening, but most of my time is spent immersed in the Mushroom Kingdom because my son is obsessed with Mario!
When you’re not working, how do you enjoy spending your free time?
Most of my other free time is spent unpacking boxes because we just moved into a new house! But we make sure to take time and play because there's so much to explore in our new house and yard! And a three-year-old has a 15-minute attention span.
When you were a kid, what was your dream job?
I always wanted to be a teacher and a mom. I get to do the second one every day, which is perfect.
What are you currently watching and/or reading?
I read three books a night with my son Jesse. Our current favorites are Don't Forget the Oatmeal! (a Sesame Street book) by B.G. Ford, Spreading My Wings by Nadiya Hussain, and Too Many Mangos by Tammy Paikai. If I have time to watch a show, it's absolutely What We Do in the Shadows. The last book I read was This is How You Lose the Time War by Amal El-Mohtar and Max Gladstone because someone on Twitter with a suggestive/silly name recommended it.
Do you have a motto or personal mantra?
"Please warn me before you do a headstand on the couch, my nose is still broken." - said to my three-year-old on a nightly basis.
Finally, do you have a fun fact about yourself that you’d like to share?
During the pandemic I watched every Tom Cruise movie ever made and have zero regrets.
If you’re ready to build up your “Next Big Thing” by joining an organ donation nonprofit, visit sodanational.org/students to find a SODA chapter on your campus or apply to start a chapter.