PORTAGE | Chris Aungst's fondness of the Midwest and love of the YMCA's mission has brought him to the city as the new CEO of the Portage Township YMCA.
A Phoenix, Ariz., native, Aungst is replacing longtime YMCA executive director Dave Kasarda, who resigned earlier this year to take a position with the LaPorte County YMCA.
"I always wanted to lead a Y. It has always been an aspiration of mine," said Aungst, 30. "And I missed the Midwest, the friendliness of the people, the feel and the culture of the area."
After graduating from college, Aungst and his wife, Holly, settled in Bloomington where he got his first job with the YMCA there as its aquatics director. Then the family, which now includes sons Adam, 5, and Luke, 3, moved to Fort Bragg, Calif. where he worked as the executive director of a recreation center.
"It wasn't the Y. We missed the Midwest, missed the four seasons. Then I saw this position posted, applied and I'm here," said Aungst, who started his new position Aug. 26.
Aungst said he started his first week familiarizing himself with the Y's operations. He said he is impressed with the Portage Y, its building and its staff.
"It has potential. I see a lot of opportunities for it to grow. It has a lot of solid programs," he said, adding his goal is to follow the Y's mission of healthy spirit, mind and body.
Aungst said he wants the Y to work with other groups to make a difference in the community for every resident, from newborn to "super seniors."
"I'm excited to work with the board, to develop a strategic plan, and to work with other groups," he said, adding the family is also in love with the area.
"We love it, love the fact there are so many amenities within 15 minutes away. There's so much around, but it is still a small town feel," said Aungst. "I love it. It feels great to be here and to be a part of the Y again."