Betsey Mills Club hires new executive director

Waddle seeks progress without neglecting tradition

Photo by Michael Kelly Members of the Wednesday afternoon Mahjong group (from left) Judy Heinrich, Virginia Henthorn and Susan Feil play their weekly match in the parlor of the Betsey Mills Club. The club’s new executive director, Kerry Jean Waddle, will take the leadership position starting Monday.

The Betsey Mills Club has engaged someone familiar to many in town to take oversight of the club.

Kerry Jean Waddle will replace Jocelyn Adelsperger, who after two and a half years has decided to move to another opportunity, Betsey Mills corporate board member Debbie Lazorik said Tuesday.

Waddle moves to the club from her former post as chief executive officer at the Marietta Family YMCA, which this year relocated and downsized in response to declining membership.

“We were looking for a new executive director, and Kerry Jean came up,” Lazorik said. “She was interviewed by the corporate board and staff at the club, and we all felt that her skill set and passion for nonprofit work was a great match.”

“I’m excited to be in this position at the Betsey Mills because of its great tradition in our community, to be part of an organization that has been around for more than 100 years,” Waddle said.

The Betsey Mills Club at 300 Fourth St. operates an array of services and facilities in a complex of buildings anchored by the historic Betsey Mills House. Members have the use of meeting rooms, a warm-water pool and gymnasium. The club offers fitness classes and educational programs, child care, and the second floor dorm rooms are available for women. The club has classes in yoga, Pilates and tai chi. There are ballroom dancing classes and instruction in dog obedience.

“They have Mahjong and book clubs, wine tasting, space for meetings and bridal and baby showers, groups meeting and having fellowship in different ways, social groups,” Waddle said. “The groups meet during the week, they know each other, and I’m looking forward to being a part of that.”

Waddle starts in the position Monday. She’ll be watching for new possibilities while carefully guarding those in place.

“Someone said during my interview that we need to make new friends while taking care of our old ones. And that’s what we want to do, make new friends, with new programs to get people in the door, while cherishing the traditions,” she said.

Although she brings years of experience from a community nonprofit, working with the YMCA, she said the two organizations have significant differences.

“The fitness and wellness programs at the Y are quite different,” she said. “But I think the two can work together, they’re both great community organizations, and we have a community that’s very supportive of both.”

Waddle said the city’s love for the club is visible in the numerous committees and boards affiliated with it.

“There’s a lot of support, and I was pleased to see that in the interview, lots of people who want to serve on those boards and committees,” she said.

Both the facility and the membership are unique, she said.

“They have fancy formal teas to keep traditions going from the past, and the building is beautiful, very ornate on the inside, it’s just something you don’t see every day,” she said.

Lazorik said Waddle will manage and oversee all aspects of the club, from the pool and the fitness and wellness programs to memberships, rental spaces and the gymnasium. She will report to the corporate board and also interact with the advisory council and the Betsey Council.

“It can be complex, but one thing she brings here is strong organizational skills,” Lazorik said. “She’ll be able to keep everything in order and running smoothly.”

Lazorik agreed that the club will start additional outreach.

“We think people will start to see some new programs, greater integration into the community, but no big changes right away,” she said. “We’ll let her come on board and get a feel for the direction of the club.”

Meanwhile, the Marietta Family YMCA also is making changes, although at a level that won’t be noticed by the membership, board president Rick Smith said.

Rather than hiring a new executive director after Waddle moved, he said, the local Y has pursued an agreement with a larger club in East Liverpool that will provide the shared services of a CEO, human resources and marketing.

“What we’re doing is what many YMCAs across the country of our size are doing, getting a management agreement,” Smith said. “Instead of a full time CEO, when your size doesn’t call for it, we’re using another seasoned CEO from another YMCA, and utilizing some of their back-of-house resources. He’ll be here frequently to meet with the community. We still have plenty of irons in the fire to expand our services.”

Waddle moved to Marietta from Springfield in 2012 when her husband, Andy Waddle, was hired as head football coach for Marietta College. They have two children, ages one and three years.

“This just feels like my hometown, a community that cares about you,” she said. “And my kids are going to be in the Betsey Mills daycare and preschool. How great is that going to be?”

Michael Kelly can be contacted at mkelly@mariettatimes.com.


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