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YMCA announces transition

by Andrew Maciejewski - amaciejewski@h-ponline.com

The Parkview Huntington Family YMCA will be seeking new leadership as CEO Ben

Davis recently announced that he has accepted a position with the YMCA of Greater Kalamazoo, Mich.

Davis began his role in April 2014, and since that time, the YMCA has experienced an increase in membership, programs and philanthropic support from the community. Davis said he hopes the new leadership continues to support the broader community outside of the YMCA’s membership.

Just this year, the Huntington YMCA offered free swimming lessons for elementary students across Huntington County to increase the safety of those in the community who cannot afford swimming lessons, and it has created events like the Sock Soaker obstacle race with help from the Professional Piddlers Association, who built the course.

“I think we have increased the perception of the Y being more than just a gym … That’s not all that we do – far from it,” Davis said. “I think we’ve taken steps in the past few years to make sure people see us as not just a pool, not just a fitness center, not just a gymnasium but as an organization that looks at what our pressing needs are in the community. What do people want and need from an organization like the Y, and what kind of programs or initiatives can we develop to address those needs?”

The Y recently celebrated its 10th birthday in the current facility on the campus of Parkview Huntington Hospital, and announced several new program and equipment additions.

Davis said although he won’t be around to see the projects through, he’s been working on a collaboration with area partners to potentially expand the YMCA’s facility, and he said he’s been talking with township trustees to bring outdoor programming to Lake Clare, like paddle boarding.

“It has been the highlight of my professional career, to serve this YMCA and this community for the last four and a half years,” said Davis. “It will be incredibly difficult to leave this great staff and all the connections we have made here in Huntington, but this new opportunity brings me much closer to my family which is the most important thing in my life.”

During his time at the Huntington YMCA, Davis said he’s been able to accomplish a reduction and restructuring of significant capital debt, a new focus on the YMCA mission of inclusion through financial assistance, along with developing a stronger and more effective board of directors and staff team.

“This organization already had many of the right ingredients in place to be successful, I just had the privilege of calling the plays for a while,” Davis said. “It’s been incredibly rewarding to work alongside staff and volunteers who care so deeply about the Y mission and about improving the physical and social well-being of this community.”

Prior to his arrival in Huntington, Davis served YMCAs in Cincinnati, Dayton and Eaton, Ohio. He was also Director of Alumni Relations at Anderson University (Ind.) from 2008-2014.

Susan Zahn, YMCA board president and chief volunteer officer, says that replacing

Davis will be no easy task.

“Ben has made a significant impact in the time he has been here,” she said, “not just to this YMCA but to the community overall. His passion, dedication and leadership will be greatly missed.”

Davis will remain in his role through the end of December. The YMCA board of directors is developing a succession and transition plan to be announced at that time.