LYNN — The Boys & Girls Club of Lynn has a new executive director. With him comes a new kitchen and a slew of technology to help further children’s education.
After months of narrowing down candidates to find the right fit after long-time director Obie Barker’s retirement, the board chose Brian Theirrien as the man to lead the charge in the club’s transformation. The Worcester native spent the last decade running the Haverhill Boys & Girls Club, first as executive director, then as CEO.
“He had experience in fundraising, capital campaigns, and running a Boys & Girls Club,” said Kendra Nagy, assistant executive director of the Lynn club. “There were numerous things on his resume that qualified him and ensured he could come in and jumpstart the transformation.”
Theirrien, who spent his teenage years as a member of the Worcester Boys & Girls Club, graduated from Holy Name High School and then moved on to Anna Maria College where he studied Criminal Justice. His career started in 1995 at the Friendly House in his hometown where he stayed for five years. He then moved to Long Island, N.Y., and became the director of sports and fitness at the Boys & Girls Club there.
“Lynn is a whole new concept for me but I’m excited for it,” he said. “This Boys & Girls Club obviously has a deep, rich tradition, it’s one of the first 20 clubs ever opened in the United States, so I know the community will rally behind us and anything that happens with the kids.”
The interview process wasn’t easy for the Lynn club’s board, as they vetted eight strong candidates, according to Nagy. Theirrien’s detailed ideas about new programs for the club and various ways to fundraise for them stood out during his numerous phone and face-to-face interviews.
“I’m excited that he really wants to upgrade the building, get more programming in for the kids and maybe allow for more hours of operation so the kids can stay for longer,” Nagy said. “The future is bright and I think it’ll get a new look. It’s needed and the services need to be expanded.”
The new director has plans to put in a kitchen where nutritional meals will be served to the kids as part of their club membership. Theirrien’s biggest focus will be integrating technology into the club’s educational programs, such as having the kids use the online math tool Khan Academy, known for providing step-by-step mathematics help. Along with expanding the learning center by adding tutors and installing wi-fi throughout the old building, he plans to add dance and cheerleading programs as well as basketball and floor hockey leagues.
“I want to fit in with the staff and give them the guidance necessary to get us to the next level, understand the donors, and understand the community by getting involved and showing that I’m committed,” said Theirrien. “From there it’s all program development, board development, and donor stewardship and keeping them educated on what we’re trying to accomplish here.”
During his tenure in Haverhill, he worked closely with Barker, Lynn’s long-time director, on a number of group projects. Whenever he needed anything or had questions that needed answers, Barker always picked up the phone, according to Theirrien. The new director’s biggest goal is to build off the foundation that Barker left behind.
“I have the utmost respect for Obie,” he said. “He’s a living legend and he’s the guy everyone strives to be like given the 30 years he dedicated to the Boys & Girls Club movement.”
The Lynn club’s board members and staff have embraced Theirrien and his vision of a transformation for one of the oldest Boys & Girls Clubs in the country. They have given him a lesson on the club’s history while opening their arms to some of the new wave programs he hopes to bring in for the young members. Their after school program provides care for over 400 members while their summer program, Camp Creighton, hosts over 250 kids.
Theirrien says it’s all about making upgrades and making the programs more appealing for the next generation.
“It’s the kids that are either really going to benefit from this or they’re going to stay at the same level,” he said. “The board and I had a very mutual agreement to continue to provide as many programs as we can for the kids so they’re ready for their adulthood and making those right decisions when they have to.”
Since his start at the beginning of July, Theirrien has already begun a number of renovations and expansions for the club’s transformation. His short-term goals are getting funders, donors and making sure people in the community get excited enough about these changes that they want to help sponsor them. The enthusiastic director already loves the new job and the new atmosphere and he is doing his best to understand the needs of each and every club member.
“When these parents get out of working overtime or working two jobs, the timing of taking a shower or giving the kids their dinner and putting them to bed happens really quick, so the extra time that could potentially change a child’s life is mostly spent within these walls,” said Theirrien.