It has been far from a normal few months, but Kris Fulford has still been able to acclimate to her new job as Monroe County YMCA executive director.
“So far, it’s been fantastic,” Fulford said. “There is a great team at the Monroe County YMCA. They really care. And we have a great membership base. Our members feel like family.”
Fulford took over that role in August after her hiring was delayed by the pandemic. Her predecessor was Scott Spinner, who is most visible in the community now as Waterloo High School boys basketball head coach.
Fulford brought 24 years of recreation management experience with her to the job, including 20 years with the YMCA.
Most of her experience at the Y has been at locations in St. Louis and Jefferson County (Mo.), but for the last eight years she has served as Chief Operating Officer of the Y in Springfield.
Fulford said she has learned a variety of skills over her career such as how to lead people, manage money and supervise the day-to-day operations of a recreation facility.
“Most importantly, I’ve learned the importance of community partnership,” she said. “When a school, hospital or club wants to partner with somebody, I want the Y to be the organization of choice.”
Part of what drew Fulford to the job in Monroe County is the location.
An O’Fallon native, Fulford’s husband has continued owning and operating a business in Union, Mo., while she has been working in Springfield, so the family was looking for somewhere closer to his company.
“We do tend to like the small-town settings,” Fulford, a new Columbia resident, said. “This seemed like a perfect fit for us, and it has been great.”
Fulford also has a passion for many of the mission-based programs offered at Monroe County’s Y.
She pointed to the TEAMWork and parent and early childhood programs as examples.
TEAMWork, which stands for Transitioning Exceptional Young Adults into Meaningful Work, helps young adults with special needs become productive and independent after high school.
The early childhood programs, Fulford explained, are designed to assist children to prepare for kindergarten while also helping the parents ensure their child succeeds.
The Y works with the county’s schools to find those who may want that service.
“It helps the parents learn,” Fulford said. “And it helps close the achievement gap.”
As she continues leading the Monroe County YMCA, Fulford said she will strive to make those types of programs a priority.
To contact the Monroe County YMCA, call 618-281-9622.