YMCA executive director takes national position
CHAMPAIGN – Wade Hampton's departure from the Champaign County YMCA comes as the organization is trying to complete a $7 million capital campaign to build a new facility in southwest Champaign.
But YMCA board members say they still hope to have a groundbreaking for the facility on Windsor Road later this year.
Hampton plans to step down July 15 as executive director of the Champaign County YMCA to take a position with the national YMCA, said Jeff Davis, president of the local organization's board of directors.
Plans call for Hampton to be succeeded on an interim basis by Operations Director Kim Webb, who has 20 years of experience with YMCAs, Davis said.
The capital campaign will help pay for a facility to replace the McKinley Family YMCA near downtown Champaign and the Family Fitness Center on Country Fair Drive. The new building would include a gymnasium, indoor aquatic center and dedicated gymnastics area.
Davis said Hampton informed him of the new job last week. Hampton plans to work from Champaign as a resource director for the Chicago-based YMCA of the USA. In that job, he'll consult with about 25 YMCA chief executives, helping them with their jobs. About 60 percent of his job will involve travel, Hampton said.
Hampton, 47, said he's largely accomplished what he set out to do when he took the job 7½ years ago.
"After many fits and starts, the Champaign County YMCA is poised to break ground ... on the kind of new facility the people of this area have said they wanted and deserve," he said. "My main priority when coming here was to get this project under way, and we have."
Hampton will continue to live in Champaign with his wife, Andrea Reno, a marketing representative for the YMCA's national office.
Because he's remaining in town, he'll continue volunteering for the Champaign County YMCA, "assisting in any way he can," Davis said.
Hampton said he'll remain active in fundraising, particularly for the Champaign County YMCA's Strong Kids Campaign.
Davis credited Hampton with moving the YMCA's building project along.
"He's got the Y to where it's meeting with contractors, and we hope to break ground as soon as possible," Davis said. "It's important for this community to have a Y to feel good about. He had the direction and vision to keep our eye on getting a new building built."
Hampton said he recognizes his resignation presents a challenge for the YMCA board, but he noted that the capital campaign is not about one person.
"I'm just an instrument, a tool, but not the driving force – that's up to the community," he said.
So far, the campaign has raised about $3 million of the $4 million it needs for the first phase of the project, Hampton said. That doesn't include the pool, which will be included in another phase.
"In the next couple months, we've got to make inroads," he said, expressing confidence the groundbreaking will come soon. "The reality is the board is committed to moving forward. Nothing is getting cheaper."
Davis said the capital campaign is "moving along, though not as fast as some would like to see." Any time a campaign depends on volunteers, it competes with their other commitments, he said.
As for the existing McKinley Family YMCA at 500 W. Church St., Davis said the organization has looked into selling that property, but has "no takers" at this point. "There's been some interest, and we're working on leads now," he said.
David Hood, a former YMCA board president, said the Champaign County YMCA has been fortunate to have Hampton as long as it has.
"Mark Ballard and I recruited Wade from the Kankakee (Area) YMCA," Hood said. "Our only fear in hiring him was that we would quickly lose him to another Y with deeper pockets.
"Wade promised me if he took our job, he would stay a minimum of five years. He stayed true to his word and then some, declining other job offers until now," he said, calling Hampton's new job "a fantastic opportunity."
"It's a great way for him to continue his career climb up the YMCA ladder," Hood said.
Hampton has spent 28 years with YMCAs, from front desk to CEO. Before working in Kankakee, he served at YMCAs in San Jose, Calif.; Lansing, Mich., and Minneapolis.
Hampton called his years at the Champaign County YMCA "an exciting ride."
"There are unique challenges in Champaign-Urbana to this whole long-term building process, not the least of which has been trying to keep this old building on Church Street from literally falling down around us," he said.
He said two factors came into play in deciding to take the new job.
"One is, I've just about exhausted all I know to do," he said. "The other is, I can't control the timing of opportunities. I've had five opportunities and let four go by. ... When doors are open, they're open, and you don't know when they're going to close."
Davis called Hampton "a community asset" and said it's "too soon to discuss" when and how the Champaign County YMCA will launch a search for a permanent director.