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New executive director settling in at Boys & Girls Club of Janesville

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ROCHELLE B. BIRKELO
March 3, 2012
— Carrie Kulinski takes a 3:30 p.m. break most days to play air hockey or read to kids at the Boys & Girls Club of Janesville, where she started as executive director Jan. 23.

"That's the fun part of it," she said.


Kulinski isn't all work and no play, but she's definitely motivated.


"She's embraced the club and wants to be a part of it," said Sara Gehrig, board president.


During her first six weeks on the job, Kulinski has written eight foundation grants that could bring $125,000 to the club.


"We've been a hand-to-mouth organization for a long time," Gehrig said.


"Once we can alleviate that level of financial stress of having to juggle as much as we have been, it'll be reflected everywhere in the club. We want to get out of the red and into the black and hope this is a whole new era for our club," she said.


Kulinski said club fundraisers will continue, but new dollars would give some breathing room.


Kulinski has met with each board member to ask about what's working, what's not working, their vision and where they think she should focus. She has worked with the organization's regional director, who will be at the club in April to lead board training and a strategic planning session.


"This is important so we know where we want to be with our vision, mission and promise to the community in five years," Kulinski said.


The last strategic plan she could find for the club was written in 2008.


Kulinski brings stability to the club, which operated without an executive director for six months in 2011 after Heather Walz resigned to join another Boys & Girls Club in Green Bay. Then the board terminated Curt Kligora in November after only 36 days on the job. The club was without an executive leader, again, until Kulinski was hired in December.


"When we hired her, she indicated she wanted to have this job until she retired. I am hoping and confident we'll have Carrie for the next 10 years, and I can't tell you what that means to the board and me," Gehrig said.


Kulinski's community contacts are paying off. She's been invited to speak to local service clubs, been asked to join others and has visited the Kenosha Boys & Girls Club, where she said there is an amazing level of collaboration.


"There's a lot of collaboration that can be done that I don't think has ever been looked at. Part of my vision is to think beyond the walls (of the club) and collaborate," she said.


Kulinski hasn't made any changes to programs or to the club's 11-member staff.


"We have a talented staff we want to retain and great programming so are looking at ways to expand (them) before starting anything new," she said.


"I feel like I've worked here forever," Kulinski said.


"It's comfortable, a good fit and has everything—action, prevention, leadership, grant writing and community involvement—that I love to do. This was where I was supposed to be. I loved my job at the school district, where I thrived and was successful, but it prepared me for this position."



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