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YMCA of Ithaca & Tompkins County names Thornton as new CEO

The YMCA of Ithaca and Tompkins County has named Christie Thornton as its new Chief Executive Officer, effective August 1, 2022. Selected by the Y’s Board of Directors following a nationwide search, Thornton will succeed Frank Towner, who retired from the Y in January. During the search process, the organization was led by Interim CEO and Associate Executive Director Teresa Morehouse.

In her new role, Thornton will be responsible for leading the Y into a new era of growth, expanding partnerships, and reimagining the Y’s role as a leading non-profit serving the Ithaca and Tompkins County community.

Christie Thornton

“I am thrilled to welcome Christie to our YMCA and our community,” said Ryan Weese, Board President of the Y and chair of the search committee. “After interviewing candidates from around the country, Christie’s energy, experience, and passion for the Y’s mission made us confident that she is the leader our YMCA needs to guide us beyond the pandemic. All of us on the board of directors are excited to support Christie as she leads our operation to new heights.”

“For the past 13 years, I have immersed myself in the YMCA’s rich culture,” explained Thornton. “As my journey shifted from member, to staff, to organizational leader, I discovered an unstoppable passion for impacting the Y’s mission. I am honored to be given the opportunity to amplify that mission in Ithaca and Tompkins County. And I look forward to connecting with the many community leaders and organizations which make this such a desirable destination.”

Thornton becomes just the third CEO of the Y in more than forty years and the organization’s first female CEO in its 154-year history. Prior to accepting the position, Thornton spent the last nine years with the YMCA of the Twin Tiers in Olean, N.Y. Most recently, Thornton served as Executive Director of the Olean branch where she was tasked with improving program quality, strengthening membership, fostering community relationships and developing staff.

“During my time as Executive Director, I have gained vast experience in program and membership development, fiscal management, capital improvements, and strategic planning,” shared Thornton. “As part of the YMCA of the Twin Tiers’ executive leadership team, I have spent much of the past two years assisting in the formulation of strategies to combat many of the challenges the Y movement currently faces as we navigate into the future following the COVID-19 pandemic. We must continue to adapt and cultivate new ways to deliver the Y’s mission, philosophy, and vision.”