New CEO joins Boys & Girls Clubs

While YMCA and BGC may only share one initial, newly appointed Boys & Girls Clubs director Robert Hughes feels strongly that his mission in Sonoma Valley is very similar to his previous work leading Bay Area YMCA sites.

“There are more similarities than there are differences,” said Hughes in an interview prior to his formal start date on June 15. “While the Y serves all ages, and the Club has a youth and teen focus, one of the Y’s core missions is youth development.”

And perhaps most importantly, Hughes said, both organizations show “true passion, commitment and dedication” in their staff, leadership and boards of directors.

Hughes grew up in Ohio, and later moved to California, the son of an attorney and a medical research assistant. He received an associate’s degree from City College of San Francisco before transferring to San Francisco State University.

With a degree in health science and education, Hughes began his career in healthcare operations. His move this month from San Mateo to Sonoma County is a return of sorts. He lived in Santa Rosa for several years in the 1990s while working for Health Plan of the Redwoods.

He and his wife Sharon met in high school and recently celebrated their 20th wedding anniversary. As their son Devon was growing up, Hughes became interested in transitioning from health care to providing social services to children.

“I realized that I wanted to provide all children with the advantages that my son was experiencing,” said Hughes. Devon just completed his freshman year at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill as part of the prestigious Morehouse Scholars program.

In addition to his background in health care and leading YMCA sites, Hughes served as executive president of the Family Service Agency of San Mateo County until 2005, at which time he became executive director of the nonprofit Oakland Youth Tennis Advantage after-school educational and athletic program for inner city youth.

For the past eight years, Hughes has held YMCA leadership positions – first at the YMCA of the Silicon Valley, and more recently at the YMCA of the East Bay. In his most recent position, he served as associate executive director of the downtown Oakland branch of the YMCA of the North Bay. In this role, he oversaw all operational aspects of the location – including its 150 employees and $6 million operating budget.

Hughes is eager to get to work.

“I am excited to get to know the staff,” he said. “And I’m particularly interested in the great work being done by the Club in college and career counseling.” He has toured the new Teen Clubhouse opening this month in the Maxwell Village Shopping Center, and sees great potential for the site.

The BGCSV board reviewed 90 applicants, conducted a dozen phone interviews and spent a half-day with five finalists.

Said incoming board chair Erin Riley Downing, “Our search for a CEO resulted in many qualified candidates and we are so fortunate to have found Robert who brings strengths in finance, grant writing, facility management and fundraising to our incredible team.”

Outgoing board chair Larry Kreiger said, “Robert was top of the list with both the board and staff. Professionally, he brings a master’s degree in public health administration from Yale University, combined with experience running an organization three times our size. His background in finance, operations and fundraising are really impressive. Personally, we liked his quiet charisma and confidence.”

Added Krieger: “We have Maribel Campos competing for the Pacific Region Youth of the Year championship, our new Teen Clubhouse opening at Maxwell Village, six sites that are busier than ever, and Robert joining us. Things are really good at the Boys & Girls Club!”

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