BRATTLEBORO — Longtime Boys & Girls Club of Brattleboro staff member Ricky Davidson is leaving the organization.
"My goal is to work more with youth and do less administrative things," the executive director said in an interview earlier this month.
Davidson will be leaving the organization at the end of the month. He has accepted the job of student assistance professional at Brattleboro Union High School, where he will provide education and support services to youth deemed to be at high risk for substance abuse and other risky behaviors, according to a news release.
The local Boys & Girls Club board announced Monday it has hired Bethaney LaClair of Guilford to serve as interim director while it searches for a permanent director. LaClair most recently served as vice president of internal affairs and corporate secretary for the CEO of World Learning in Brattleboro.
Board President Lisa Ford described LaClair as "a lifelong community member who understands the mission of our club and is thrilled at the opportunity to serve youth in the Brattleboro area."
Davidson said he did not come to his decision to leave "lightly."
"I want to get more involved in working with youth day in and day out, directly impacting their lives in a positive way," he wrote in a letter to organizations and "friends" of the club earlier this month.
Davidson said he is looking to create a better work/life balance for himself.
"Many of you have said things like, 'Wow, do you live here?' or, 'You are always here,' over the years and I have come to realize I need to have more down time and time to explore hobbies, time with family and friends and to create personal relationships," he wrote.
Davidson got his start with the group more than 15 years ago as a part-time staff member, working in college and career training, and teen programs at the club. He spent nearly eight years as program/unit director. He became interim then full-time executive director of the club in 2016.
"Ricky's service has certainly been invaluable to this organization and I admire him for seeking a new challenge" Ford said in the news release.
Under Davidson's leadership, the club became a certified after-school program for elementary-aged children, its summer camps expanded each year, new computers came to the technology room, and it was recently awarded a new van for teen programming by the Boys & Girls Club.
Asked if he would still be involved with the club, Davidson said he "can't see not doing that."
"I hope to see you at events and activities in the community," he wrote in the letter. "I have learned a lot in my 15 years at the Club and have worked with wonderful youth development professionals and seen so many young people grow and become incredible adults. The time I have spent here has been invaluable. No one person makes up the Club and I know the Club can and will continue without me. It will continue to be a space and place that is safe and life enriching for your children and all the young people of the greater Brattleboro area."
Lyle Holiday, superintendent of the Windham Southeast Supervisory Union, said she is sorry to hear Davidson is leaving the club.
"I have had the privilege to work with Ricky in a couple different capacities over the past few years," she wrote in an email before his new job was announced. "I know him to be dedicated to the youth of our area. I wish him all the best for his future endeavors."
Davidson also served on the Brattleboro Union High School board until the district dissolved in a merger that created the Windham Southeast School District.
Brattleboro Select Board Vice Chairman Tim Wessel said he does not know Davidson "very well, but I do know that he has been a huge asset to our community and a great advocate for young people in his capacity at the Boys & Girls Club, and I wish him the best of luck for whatever is in his future."
Town Manager Peter Elwell said Davidson "has selflessly devoted himself to the youth of our community and he has had a positive influence on many hundreds of lives these past 15 years. He's certainly earned the opportunity to slow down his pace a bit."
Reach staff writer Chris Mays at email@example.com, at @CMaysBR on Twitter and 802-254-2311, ext. 273.