Naperville's YMCA gets longtime educator as director

  • Stephanie Kuzelis, a longtime educator, has been named the executive director of the Fry Family YMCA, which is now the only Y in Naperville after the June 1 closure of the Kroehler Family YMCA caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

    Stephanie Kuzelis, a longtime educator, has been named the executive director of the Fry Family YMCA, which is now the only Y in Naperville after the June 1 closure of the Kroehler Family YMCA caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Courtesy of YMCA of Metropolitan Chicago

 
 
Updated 7/10/2020 5:01 PM

Naperville's only YMCA has a new executive director.

The YMCA of Metropolitan Chicago on Friday introduced Stephanie Kuzelis as executive director of the Fry Family YMCA at 2120 W. 95th St. The center is one of six YMCAs among 14 in the Metropolitan Chicago network to have reopened following COVID-19 shutdowns.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Kuzelis, of Downers Grove, has spent 19 years of her 22-year career working in education operations and management. Her most recent position was as regional director of operations for The Learning Experience, where she set up early education centers in South Elgin and Lake Zurich.

Kuzelis replaces Agneis Koenitz-Hudac, who was interim executive director of the Fry Family YMCA.

Kuzelis said she brings a background of personal, professional and local experience to lead the YMCA through the challenge of the pandemic. She lived and worked in Naperville in 2009, when she was with the Goddard School, and remembers enjoying Ribfest each year with her friends while she was growing up in St. Charles.

"So you can see why it was important for me to come back to an area that I know and love," she said in a news release. "I constantly try to instill a sense of giving back to the community in my four children. I have a lot of respect for Naperville residents. They are very dedicated, engaged and proud of their city and it would be my honor to contribute to that."

To help the YMCA through its phase of reopening and whatever the pandemic brings next, Kuzelis said, her approach will be one of listening, partnering and advocating.

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"There is no denying that we are in challenging times right now. And I don't claim to have all the answers," she said. "But I do know that I have the passion to advocate for this community, the ability to listen to different perspectives, and the desire to work collaboratively with community partners, pandemic or no pandemic, so I think my chances are good."

YMCA of Metropolitan Chicago leaders chose Kuzelis for her leadership skills and knowledge of the Naperville community's needs, Denise Lam, executive vice president and chief operating officer, said in a news release.

The Fry Family YMCA, which opened in 1989, became the only YMCA in Naperville on June 1. That's when the Kroehler Family YMCA in the city's downtown announced it would remain closed permanently amid the economic challenges caused by the pandemic.

The Kroehler Y had opened in 1911 after efforts to organize it began two years earlier.

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