ONTARIO — The Boys & Girls Club of the Western Treasure Valley has someone new calling the shots. Dana Castellani is the new chief executive officer of the national organization’s location in Ontario.
Following is a question-and-answer with Castellani regarding her new role in the community.
Argus: How long have you served in your new position as Chief Executive Officer of the Boys & Girls Club of Western Treasure Valley?
Castellani: I started with the BGC of WTV on Sept. 3.
Argus: Are you originally from this area?
Castellani: No, I moved here at the end of August from Red Lodge, Montana. I was born and raised in Montana, and other than four years of college in Tennessee, I lived there my whole life.
Argus: What unique aspects of the Western Treasure Valley make it stand out as a place for Boys & Girls Club outreach programs?
Castellani: Our programs are all designed to help kids find success in three areas: good character and leadership, healthy lifestyles, and academic/career success. In addition, we serve a hot meal and snack at no extra charge — the annual membership fee is only $10.
Our two Clubhouses, located in Ontario and Payette, fill an important gap in the day for many of our families who may not have any other high quality and affordable options after school.
Argus: Are you going to be initiating any new programs? If so, what are some of the ideas being proposed?
Castellani: During this time of transition, much of what we are doing includes taking a fresh look at many of our existing programs, rather than implementing new ones. Several of our programs are connected to our grants and are evidence-based. They are designed to help our kids be successful, but we have the ability to tailor these programs to fit the needs of our unique communities.
Argus: What are some of the biggest challenges of stepping into a role as important as this one is?
Castellani: Matt Sorensen, my predecessor, did a fantastic job in creating a strong, well-respected organization that has also been impactful. It is great to not have to make lots of huge changes! However, Matt moved to Eugene at the end of June to run the Boys & Girls Club there, so our Club had been without an Executive Director for two months. Getting us back on track and reorganized has kept me busy.
Argus: How has being a part of an organization like this impacted your life?
Castellani: My background was in teaching, so making a positive difference in the lives of kids has always motivated me. I got involved with my local Club in Red Lodge over five years ago, and my role was part-time, and I was just going to help them through a difficult transition. I ended up loving the work that we did at our Club and eventually was promoted to the CEO position. There are times when I miss being an English teacher, but I am very proud of the work that Clubs do by providing a safe and welcoming environment for all kids.