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VALPARAISO — Ryan Smiley, president/CEO of Boys & Girls Clubs of Porter County, has been named the president/CEO of the merging Boys & Girls Clubs of Porter County and Boys & Girls Clubs of Northwest Indiana.

It is the latest move in the merging of the two clubs, which becomes official Jan. 1.

The combined organization is expected to serve more than 10,000 youth and teen members annually throughout Northwest Indiana.

Smiley has served as interim president/CEO of BGCNWI since October 2016.

"We are serving more kids today than at any time in our collective and storied histories," Smiley said.

The average daily attendance of Boys & Girls Clubs of Northwest Indiana has increased 40 percent since October 2016 and active membership has grown by 1,046 youth in the past year. In Porter County, overall active membership has increased 14 percent over the past four years, while average daily attendance increased 42 percent.

Smiley said the two clubs have several other goals to accomplish in the next few weeks before the merger becomes official. It is expected the boards of directors will act on the new name for the club at the Nov. 27 meeting, he said.

In addition, they are working on merging legal filing, alignment of internal policies and procedures; accounting systems; administrative staffing structure; the final board governance structure; rebranding with the new corporate name and developing the new web and social media sites.

Smiley said they are also working on finding a new corporate office, more centrally located than the present offices in Merrillville and Valparaiso to serve the new, expanded club.

"When both organizations’ boards took the bold and visionary vote to join the two agencies this past June, it was under their direction and everyone’s understanding that this decision was in the best interest of all kids," Smiley said. "We now have the opportunity and responsibility to be a collective voice in Northwest Indiana that all children matter, regardless of where they live."

"It's (Smiley's) dedication that is his biggest accomplishment," said Julie Bieszczat, board chair for BGCNWI. "Through Ryan’s dedication and forward thinking, thousands of youth in Lake and Porter counties are given safe environments to learn and thrive."

"The board of directors for both Boys & Girls Clubs of Porter County and Northwest Indiana are excited about this merger. We have two very strong organizations coming together to serve more kids in our collective communities. Ryan Smiley is the right person to lead this effort. His focus is on our club members and his strong leadership will create a greater impact for our one mission,” said Michael Simpson, board chair for BGCPOCO.

"Ultimately, the merger will eliminate redundancies, improve efficiencies and allow us to direct more resources to our clubs and to the programs we offer to ensure our long term sustainability and relevance," Smiley said.

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Porter County Reporter

Joyce has been a reporter for nearly years, including 23 years with The Times. She's a native of Merrillville, but has lived in Portage for 39 years. She covers municipal and school government in Porter County.