Mike Brown, CEO and president of the Gainesville-based Georgia Mountains YMCA, has resigned effective July 6 to take a similar post in Rockford, Ill.
"I came here and did what it is that I was hired for, and that was to get the Y off the ground and to build a reputation in the community," Brown said Monday.
"Now, it's time for change and, career-wise, where we're headed will be an opportunity to progress in a different YMCA."
Brown, 37, will serve as CEO and president at the Rock River Valley YMCA in Rockford.
Richard Gallagher, the Georgia Mountains YMCA's chief operating officer, will serve as interim CEO/president. He has some 15 years of YMCA experience as both a programs manager and active volunteer.
Gallagher has been involved in the YMCA's growth in White and Lumpkin counties through teaming up with those counties and their parks and recreation programs.
Chris Hollifield, the Georgia Mountains YMCA's chief volunteer of the board, said Brown's departure marks "a bittersweet moment in Hall County."
"We are excited at the accomplishments and impact Mike has led us to, and we are genuinely sad to see him go," he said. "At the same time, we are proud of him for all he has done and know that he will be a success in Rockford."
Brown, a California native, has been with the Georgia Mountains YMCA for 10 years, taking it from a $240,000 budget with 14 employees to a $6.5 million budget with about 600 employees.
Also, during that time, he oversaw construction of the J.A. Walters Family YMCA building at 2455 Howard Road.
The nonprofit organization now serves some 23,000 to 24,000 people per year, compared to some 200 people 10 years ago, he added.
"We have expanded beyond anyone's beliefs," Brown said. "... It's called planting the seed, and it has grown. I think where it heads next will be tremendous. I think it's in a good position to move forward."
The YMCA in Rockford has been established for 105 years.
"The Y is very important to that community and they will never let anything hurt it," Brown said. "In Gainesville, the toughest thing has been getting people to realize what the Y can mean in their community."
Also, the Georgia Mountains YMCA now has a strong scholarship and financial aid program for people who can't afford membership fees.
"We truly have not closed our door on anybody," Brown said. "I think that, in itself, is the mission and the ministry of the Y — that's been one of our largest accomplishments."