Baton Rouge area YMCA president to retire next year after 20 years at the helm

With less than nine months left in his tenure as president and CEO of the YMCA of the Capital Area, Bob Jacobs has encountered a new challenge.

The C.B. Pennington Jr. YMCA facility on Old Hammond Highway took in about three-and-a-half to four feet of water from historic recent flooding in south Louisiana. It will probably be anywhere between two and four weeks before the facility can at least partially reopen, says Jacobs.

He doesn’t expect the facility will be completely fixed before he officially leaves his post, effective April 30, 2017.

Jacobs is retiring after a 20-year stint as head of the Baton Rouge area YMCA . He arrived in Baton Rouge after working at YMCAs in South Carolina, Tennessee and Georgia.

Jacobs is credited with helping to broaden the YMCA’s footprint in Baton Rouge from three branches to nine and for growing the organization’s annual operating budget from $3.6 million to $14.3 million.

“It’s absolutely been a delight serving this community,” he says, attributing the expansion of the area YMCA to the generosity of donors.

The YMCA, Jacobs says, is a cause-driven organization that has remained relevant by listening to community needs, being inclusive and devoting itself to developing people. He says the organization has long been a frontrunner for community swim programs, afterschool programs for latchkey kids and summer camps.

Over his 20-year tenure, Jacobs has seen competition for fundraising dollars increase.

“We had to become a very astute fundraiser and at special event deals,” he says.

Jacobs says his retirement wasn’t a surprise. It has been a pending conversation for at least four or five years now.

After 35 years serving various YMCAs, Jacobs has a bucket list he wants to tackle and parents he wants to spend more time with.

“While it was a big decision, it was one that reluctantly everybody embraced,” he says. ”When you’ve grown from three Y’s to nine Y’s, people respect what you’ve done.”

In the meantime, the Pennington YMCA will receive his utmost attention, but Jacobs doesn’t see himself overseeing the completion of its repairs in nine months he has left.

“It’s much more than just putting in some drywall,” he says. “You have to make sure it will be tooled to the demands of those in the community.”

—Alexandria Burris

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