William Legge, executive director of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Central Illinois (BGCCIL), has announced he will be stepping aside after more than eight years leading the organization. “I’ve done what I set out to do, and now it’s time for somebody new to come in and bring some fresh energy,” Legge explained. However, Legge will not leave until January 2020 and says he hopes there can be some overlap with his successor to help ensure a smooth transition.
Legge came to the Club in late 2011, when the nonprofit’s finances and facility were in dire need of an overhaul. He spent the first few years working to rebuild the community’s trust and stabilizing the Club’s finances.
“When I first took the job, it was one of those beautiful accidents,” Legge said. After living abroad for graduate school, he decided to move back home to be closer to family. “I’ve always been very entrepreneurial, and my original plan was to start my own business,” he explained.
A friend was serving as the board chair for BGCCIL and Legge ended up joining the board; just six months later, he was asked to serve as the interim executive director. While his work experience was in the private sector, primarily management and sales, Legge said in hindsight, his skill set was a great fit for what was needed at the time.
“When I started, the place was really in crisis mode. We were all but bankrupt. The programming had fallen apart, especially at the main unit,” he said.
Working in conjunction with the board of directors, Legge helped re-establish the Boys & Girls Club of Springfield Foundation, which includes a fund at the Community Foundation for the Land of Lincoln to provide stability for future generations. He also launched the “Extreme Club Makeover” campaign, which led to a complete remodel of every room in the Club, including the gymnasium, computer lab, the addition of a music studio, new windows and heating and cooling systems. Additionally, Legge partnered with the board to establish a fund for future maintenance needs.
In recent years, the club has seen a tremendous growth in program attendance and outcomes. In 2018, the Club served more than 2,400 youth at its Central Unit located at 300 S. 15th St., as well as outposts at eight local elementary and middle schools.
“My job was to get the place fixed. We’ve done that, now it’s time for somebody to really take the programming and services to a whole new level,” said Legge.
In October, SBJ reported that Legge and his wife, Vicky, had purchased Grab-A-Java. While Legge said he doesn’t have definite plans once he steps down from the Club, he does hope to spend more time exploring opportunities in the specialty coffee industry. “There’s a lot of potential there. We’re looking at some growth opportunities in communities within a 90 mile radius,” Legge said. “Once I have some more free time, we’ll figure out what’s next.”
Regardless of his next venture, Legge said the Club will always have a special place in his heart.
“I hope that my involvement in the Boys & Girls Clubs will be the first sentence in my obituary. I’m so proud of this team and the fact that I’ve been able to be a part of it.”