Home Jeff Fife stepping down as Waynesboro Y executive director: Big loss for Y, Waynesboro
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Jeff Fife stepping down as Waynesboro Y executive director: Big loss for Y, Waynesboro

Chris Graham
jeff fife
Photo: Waynesboro YMCA/Facebook

The Waynesboro YMCA is losing its long-time executive director, Jeff Fife, who will be stepping down from his position with the nonprofit at the end of the calendar year.

Big loss for the Y, bigger loss here for Waynesboro.

Fife has served as the executive director of the Y since 2004, taking the reins when the organization was on the brink of closing its doors.

Imagine the last nearly 20 years in Waynesboro without an active YMCA, right?

Fortunately for Waynesboro, the Y, under Fife’s leadership, was able to right the ship after a bumpy first couple of years, in which Fife worked to get the finances in order, and he is set to leave with the nonprofit on the verge of concluding a multimillion-dollar capital campaign.

“Replacing the institutional knowledge, professional experience, and personal commitment of someone like Jeff Fife won’t be done easily or quickly,” said Dave Mirra, the president of the Waynesboro YMCA Board of Directors, in a statement in a press release from the Y sent out on Wednesday.

Understatement of the year there.

It was noted in the press release that Fife is looking to pursue interests in real estate, travel and personal business pursuits, which can come across as, he is being pushed out, for some reason being left unsaid.

We spoke with Fife as news of his pending departure from the YMCA job was breaking on Tuesday night, and it’s actually the case that he’s just interested in finding and trying to conquer a new challenge.

That doesn’t make it any easier for the YMCA as an organization.

Fife, a Waynesboro native, is a Y lifer, from his days in the youth basketball program as a pre-teen player, then a coach while still in high school, before he was hired on as the executive director.

Fife shared, in an email to Y members that went out on Wednesday, one of his earliest memories from his time as the YMCA director, dating back to 2005, as he was still trying to get the Y from the brink of bankruptcy, “carrying significant debt, and just making payroll was a challenge.”

“Our Executive Committee was calling for a vote to close our doors at the next Board Meeting,” Fife wrote. “Before that vote could happen, a generous donor stepped forward with $100,000 and ‘bought’ us six months to restructure and reorganize.”

He left out some details in that telling. Of course, the donor didn’t exactly just step forward.

Just like the Waynesboro YMCA Foundation launched on Fife’s watch didn’t just magically have $2.5 million fall into its bank account.

That capital campaign mentioned above is $50,000 short of reaching its $3 million goal to provide the money for a reimagining of the 648 S. Wayne Ave. facility in the coming years.

“I’m proud of the things we’ve accomplished at the Y during my tenure, the impact we’ve had on the community, and feel at peace with this transition because of where we stand today,” Fife said.

Chris Graham

Chris Graham

Chris Graham is the founder and editor of Augusta Free Press. A 1994 alum of the University of Virginia, Chris is the author and co-author of seven books, including Poverty of Imagination, a memoir published in 2019, and Team of Destiny: Inside Virginia Basketball’s Run to the 2019 National Championship, and The Worst Wrestling Pay-Per-View Ever, published in 2018. For his commentaries on news, sports and politics, go to his YouTube page, or subscribe to his Street Knowledge podcast. Email Chris at [email protected].