Having spent the last decade working with Wichita area YMCAs, Andover YMCA Executive Director Adam Kahrl is leaving the Andover Y to take a job with the company in Norfolk, Virginia.
Kahrl's career with the YMCA dates back to December 1998, where he worked as a Fitness Director with what is now the New Castle YMCA, located in New Castle, Indiana. He stayed in that position until the spring of 2002, when he moved to El Dorado to take the position of the first Executive Director of El Dorado's branch. He held that position until May 2009, when he helped start the Andover Y, and became its Executive Director.
Kahrl said starting two YMCAs was challenging.
"I moved to Kansas in 2002 when I was on my own, and I was single," Kahrl said. "I had never been an executive director before. I was in a new town in a new role. I didn't know any of the staff, who to go to for HR, or IT or anything like that, so it was hard adjusting, at first."
Kahrl said that at first, the El Dorado branch faced some challenges with day-to-day problems occurring, but that when the branch kept going, those problems came less frequently.
"It was harder to get El Dorado started, but it was easier when it got going," he said. "Andover was easier to open, but it's more difficult on a day-to-day basis just because there are so many more people we serve."
Kahrl's last day with the Andover YMCA is Dec. 5. He and his family are uprooting themselves from Andover to move to Norfolk, Virginia, where he will take the role of District Vice President. Kahrl said he first started considering taking a job in that area over the summer.
"This summer, my family and I went out to North Carolina to the outer banks where we vacationed," Kahrl said. "My wife really liked the area, and I have really fond memories of going out there for vacation, and enjoying that area. It was fun to share that with her, and she didn't even want to leave and come home because she had such a good time. She told me she wouldn't have any problem moving out there if there was ever an opportunity to do so. And that made me think 'Hey, I'll keep my eyes open.'"
A job opened in the Norfolk Virginia area, about an hour north of where Kahrl and his family vacationed. He applied for the job, visited the branch where he applied and was made an offer. Kahrl first announced that he had accepted to the job to his staff on Oct. 23. Staff members were shocked at the announcement.
"My jaw just dropped to the floor because I don't want to see him go," Lead Custodian Genia Cooper said. "I hate to lose him as a boss."
Page 2 of 3 - Full-time Andover Y Manager Bubbie Nixon had a similar reaction.
"As a man, I wanted to cry a little bit," Nixon said. "He's been my boss ever since day one. He's been my boss ever since I've had a real job, and a job I really care for. I was a little shocked. He's a great guy and he deserves to be VP of other Y's for sure."
In his new position, Kahrl will be in a role higher up than the one he is in now.
"I'm still going to be housed in a branch, which is the Blocker YMCA in Norfolk," Kahrl said. "I have two other Y's that I will supervise and look over, the Indian River and Hilltop YMCAs. They each have their own executive directors who will report to me. It's definitely a step up from where I am now."
Kahrl said he is prepared to take on the challenge of going to a higher position at the Norfolk YMCA.
"I've been out there and I've seen their operations," he said. "I think the Greater Wichita YMCAs are such a well-run association that it's prepared me to take on that challenge. I feel confident that I can do the job."
According to Kahrl, the person he is replacing in Norfolk has held the position for 17 years. Kahrl said replacing someone who has been in a role that long will add to how challenging the job will be.
"There's probably no one there who was here before him, so they only have known him as the guy who does this job," Kahrl said. "To come in and replace someone like that is challenging because I've opened branches; I've always been the first guy with the branch, there's never been anyone before me. So I might hear from people 'Hey, that's not how we do things here. We did that before and it didn't work.' I haven't really had to deal with any of that. It will be a new challenge that I haven't had to overcome before."
As for the staff he is leaving behind, Kahrl said to just have a positive attitude, no matter what.
"I think your attitude just defines everything," he said. "If you can have a positive attitude, it rubs off on everyone else. If you have a bad attitude, and you throw your hands into the air, everybody does that too. My advice would be to try to have the best attitude you can. Have the best attitude you can all the time, and see challenges as opportunities to grow and improve, not as a negative."
Nixon said that in looking at someone to take Kahrl's position, he hopes some of the same things Kahrl has done will be present in the new person.
Page 3 of 3 - "If you've been with Adam as long as I have, you know that if there's a phone call for him, he will literally be right over," Nixon said. "He will come that second. If there's a problem and I can't handle it, he comes right over. For instance, if there's a problem with a member I can't handle, he will come right out of the office, won't even think twice about it, and talk to them. He won't even ask what the situation is; he just gets right up and comes right out. That's a great boss."
Member Service Associate and part-time Manager Emily Hetherington agreed and thinks the staff is all looking for someone with the same attitude as Kahrl.
"I think we all are hoping for someone who has very high expectations of us, but they are not always on our case about getting it done and doing this and that," Hetherington said. "It's great that Adam always has his door open and we can go in there anytime. I think we're all hoping for a boss that will keep that same sort of pattern."
Kahrl said he will most miss the volunteers, members and staff of the Andover YMCA when he leaves. He said that making the decision to move to El Dorado a decade ago was the right choice.
"It's been a decade for me, working for the Greater Wichita YMCA and living in Kansas," Kahrl said. "If I could do it again, I'd definitely do the same thing all over again. It was definitely the right decision; I would never second guess doing it. I think it worked out great."