Chris Urry, 27, of Round Lake, has joined Ela Township as its new youth services director, replacing Alexandria Tonigan, who recently resigned to attend graduate school. Let’s get to know him.
Did you grow up in Lake Zurich?
Yes, I grew up in the Country Side West neighborhood (my mom still lives there) and went to Isaac Fox and MSS before attending Lake Zurich High School. I graduated in 2007.
Where did you attend college?
I went to Northern Illinois University (NIU) where I majored in Physical Education and minored in Health Education before graduating in 2012.
What kind of work were doing before being hired as Ela Youth Services Director?
I was with the YMCA of Metro Chicago for 11 years prior to starting with the Ela Township. Shortly after turning 16, I started working at the Y as a camp counselor. When school started that year I transitioned to working as an after school program counselor at May Whitney. I did this for the next four years until I left for NIU. I continued to work as a camp counselor over the summers while in school and would work over spring and winter breaks when possible.
After graduating NIU, I was hired as the Youth and Teen Development Director at Foglia YMCA. In this role I was in charge of running the summer camp as well as the Ela Township Teen Club. After a couple years I moved into a role at the Y’s corporate office downtown working in membership/marketing, which is where I worked for the next couple years before leaving to come work for the township.
Why did you want to join the Ela Township staff as youth services director?
I was looking to get back into child care because I missed working with kids. The opportunity to work with youth again, in the town where I grew up was just too good to pass up.
What do you enjoy about working with children? What do you find rewarding about the experience?
The fun and excitement that each day brings is amazing! Kids have an enthusiasm for fun that you just can’t find anywhere else. The most rewarding part of the job for me is when the kids say they look forward to coming to the program everyday and the parents say the program has had a positive impact on their child’s life.
What do you look forward to in this position?
The opportunity to improve and expand an already amazing program.
How will you work to form strong relationships with the children in the Ela Youth Program and help meet their needs?
I think it is all about establishing a safe environment where the kids feel they can be themselves. After that, you can really get to know each of the kids and find out what their interests are and find ways to fuel those passions.
The Ela Youth Program already offers great activities that are fun and educational, but do you have any ideas for additional activities, classes or programs?
After working with children and going to school to be a teach over the past 10 years, I have no shortage of ideas. But it’s not really about what I want to do or what I think would be cool. It’s about what the kids are interested in and what the community feels is important. So my plan is spend the first month or two listening to the kids, parents, and other community members to find out what additional programs would have the most positive impact.
If anyone has any questions, comments, or ideas to share, I’m only a phone call or email away. Or better yet, stop by the community center and say hi. My door is always open!
Contact Youth Services Director Chris Urry at (847) 438-9160 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.