Indy-area YMCA chief to retire after period of vast growth

After more than a dozen years as CEO of the YMCA of Greater Indianapolis and overseeing explosive growth in facilities and membership, Eric Ellsworth has announced plans to retire by the end of 2018.

Ellsworth, 63, became president and CEO of the organization in 2005. Over his tenure, membership has grown from 63,000 to 113,500, and its annual budget has swelled from $30 million to $55 million. Upon his retirement at the end of the year, the number of YMCAs in the Indianapolis area will have doubled from six to 12.

“Eric has raised the bar for greater Indianapolis and for YMCAs across the country. People and communities across central Indiana are stronger and healthier because of him,” said Jeffrey Harrison, CEO of Citizens Energy Group and chairman of the YMCA’s board of directors.

The board is beginning a national search to fill Ellsworth’s position and aims to have a new CEO in place by January.

A native of Evansville, Ellsworth has spent his entire professional career with the national YMCA organization. From 1977 to 1989, he was the executive director of the Hopkins County family YMCA in Madisonville, Kentucky. He also held leadership positions for YMCA groups in Evansville and Charlotte, North Carolina, before becoming president and CEO of the local organization in 2005

Ellsworth’s achievements include introducing five chronic disease prevention programs since 2009, including instruction for addressing diabetes, arthritis and blood-pressure problems. He also launched a financial assistance program to help make YMCA memberships and programs available to more people through income-based pricing.

He also led a coalition of education advocates to help meet the need for early childhood learning in central Indiana. That included opening five full-day YMCA Early Learning Centers since 2005.

Ellsworth said that he felt blessed to have served as the leader of the Indianapolis-area YMCA organization.

“It has given me the opportunity to work in the area of my greatest passion, which is to help people grow in spirit, mind and body,” Ellsworth said in a prepared media statement. “I’ve been fortunate to have worked alongside some of the most dynamic, caring people on the planet.”

As for future plans, Ellsworth said he was looking forward to “enjoying the next chapter together with wife, Barb.”

Barb Ellsworth retired earlier this year after serving as the executive director of Dress for Success Indianapolis, which provides career-appropriate clothing and development tools for women.

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