YMCA hires from across the nation and close to home

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Randy Grant is coming home.

Grant was hired Wednesday as the executive director of the Walla Walla YMCA, said Mike Monahan, president of the organization's board.

Grant's hire fills the gap left by the Oct. 1 termination of Jim Sanders. The position has been filled in the meantime by Ellen Wolf, former Walla Walla Public Schools Superintendent and former YMCA board president.

A native son of Milton-Freewater, Grant is a graduate of McLoughlin Union High School and Washington State University. He began working for the YMCA in Spokane in 1981. For the past 17 years, he has been in leadership positions at various branches of the national organization. He told his staff in Middletown, N.Y., today of his decision to take the job offer here, Grant said by phone. His tenure here begins March 1.

There were more than 60 applicants for the executive director slot, Monahan said. "We narrowed it down to half a dozen as a search committee." Two finalists were brought to interview in Walla Walla -- of those, Grant's long experience and passion for the job, coupled with his desire to come back to the Valley made him the perfect fit, Monahan said. "He has been home regularly and has had his eye on this job since Ned (Shafer) retired."

Grant, husband to Clara and dad to 15-year-old Savannah, has parents and siblings in the area. He hopes to finish his career at the facility on Park Street, he said.

Getting to that end while working here will be a good journey, Grant believes. "This gives me a chance to come back and do well. When I met with the staff and board, I made it clear I am here to serve the needs of Y and of Walla Walla. My first chore is getting to know the community as well as I possibly can."

Grant has spent much of his career as a trouble shooter, coming into facilities when things looked grim, he said. In contrast, "this Y is well-respected and well-supported."

There has been a recent bump in the road for the Y's staff, he acknowledged, "but we'll straighten that out as quick as we can."

Sheila Hagar can be reached at sheilahagar@wwub.com or 526-8322. Check out her blog at blogs.ublabs.org/fromthestorageroom.

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