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New YMCA chief to start in February

Kienle relocating from Florida

POSTED: December 30, 2013 11:40 p.m.

Amy Kienle is spending the New Year’s holiday relaxing with her family on a Florida beach, but in a little more than a month she’ll be making her home in Gainesville as the new CEO for the Georgia Mountains YMCA.

“Feb. 3, that will be my first day up there,” Kienle said. “I plan on making at least one trip up in January because there’s a YMCA board meeting that I plan to attend.”

Trading in the beach for the mountains, the wife and mom of two daughters was an appealing choice for the executive role, in large part due to her deep family roots.

“Her father was the CEO of a YMCA,” Georgia Mountains YMCA Board Chairman Rick Hamilton said. “She has a very close family. ... She’s excited about raising her children in this community and being a part of our community in many, many ways.”

Kienle, 40, has been working with the YMCA for nearly 20 years, beginning her career in Orlando and then Jacksonville, Fla. She now lives and works in Fernandina Beach, Fla., as the district executive director of the First Coast YMCA, as well as for a YMCA in nearby Baker County. For the first six months in 2013, she was the interim CEO for the YMCA in Waycross in South Georgia.

A new CEO was needed for the Georgia Mountains YMCA following Rich Gallagher’s departure in June 2013 to take the job of executive director at another branch in Matthews, N.C. Phil DiCasolo has been serving as an interim CEO since that time.

“We really needed somebody with a tremendous amount of experience in being a CEO and to kind of help us get our arms around our finances and our programs and our services to the community,” Hamilton said. “We just got to the point where we really needed some reorganization.”

DiCasolo, along with his wife, Sue, “righted the ship,” Hamilton said.

Once the interim CEO was in place, the search committee began looking for a permanent replacement. After a national search, which led to around 60 applicants, Kienle’s selection was announced earlier this month.

“My first year is going to be listening and getting connected in the community,” she said. “Hearing what the community needs are, and seeing how the Y can position itself to address those needs.

“I may not get anything done, but I sure am going to do a whole lot of listening those first few months,” she added, laughing.

When Kienle gets here, she will need to focus on both raising operating funds and offering programs that appeal to people from all backgrounds.

“Our entire mission is to provide services to the community,” Hamilton said. “We need people, particularly our leaders, to be involved in the community. It’s very, very important, and Amy fits that (role) well.”

DiCasolo continues to be the interim CEO through January, giving Kienle time to hopefully sell her home in Florida and begin the search process closer to Gainesville. Her two daughters, Hannah and Hope, are in seventh and fifth grades, respectively; she said they may remain in Florida with her husband, Rob, to finish out the school year. 

In the meantime, she’s been offered temporary housing by board member Jim Walters for when she begins in February.

“We’re excited to get up there and experience Lake Lanier,” Kienle said. “We love the mountains. We usually vacation in the mountains since we live near the beach, so we’re excited to get up there and experience what the area has to offer.”


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