WALLA WALLA — She’s spent her adult career motivating local children and adults to improve their health and activity level. Now Christy Druffel is ready to do the same for an entire county.
Druffel this week was named the United Way of Walla Walla County’s new executive director, said Gordon Wicher, board president. She succeeds Liz McDevitt, who is leaving after more than decade to take a new job at Helpline.
“We were looking for someone with good community connections, good leadership skills and a high energy level,” he said.
There is no argument Druffel has energy.
“Christy is the Energizer bunny,” noted Randy Grant, executive director of the YMCA, where Druffel has worked in a number of positions. “Her greatest strength is her work ethic, problem solving and knowledge. What she doesn’t have, she’ll get.”
After graduating from college, Druffel returned to the area her family had homesteaded since 1864.
“I came knocking on the door of the Y and I kept knocking until Ned Schaefer gave me a job,” she said.
In more than 17 years there, Druffel has undertaken a number of challenges, building and expanding programs. The normal YMCA career trajectory toward the top wasn’t for her.
“You need to be willing to move around and I wasn’t willing to do that,” Druffel said. “My family is here. But I still have the drive and I still want to make an impact on the Walla Walla Valley.”
The United Way will give her stage to do so, she believes.
She plans to dive in by working and volunteering with all the nonprofit agencies the United Way helps support to learn how they use United Way funds. As well, she has set a goal of getting a program in place to help middle- and high-school students countywide hook up with volunteer opportunities and events.
“Volunteers have a passion and a drive, but they don’t (need) roadblocks. We want to have things in place for them to walk in, know what to do and be able to do it,” Druffel said.
Druffel’s “extremely good communication skills” will facilitate that vision, Wicher said. “She can work well in a team environment with a group of dedicated volunteers.”
Druffel said she will miss working at the Y. “I have no doubt we have strong leadership here. We have wonderful, passionate staff at the Y.”
She will bring her Y experience with her to United Way when she starts at the end of April.
“The goal is to create lasting changes for the community,” Druffel said.