Joel Smoker, who has a history of serving the local community, will become the next president/CEO of the YMCA of Coastal Georgia.
The board of directors, acting on the recommendation of the volunteer-led CEO search committee, approved the decision to promote Smoker to the top position, which he will begin April 2.
“Joel’s knowledge of our service area and his familiarity with our local operation will allow him to step right in and keep our association moving in the right direction,” said David Mason, the chairman of the board of directors. “He has established relationships with volunteer leaders in most all of the communities where our branches are located, as well as with many community leaders here in Savannah.”
Smoker has an extensive YMCA background. He first started his YMCA career in 1986 as a youth sports director at the YMCA of Providence in Rhode Island.
Two years later, he became the senior program director of the Hanover Area YMCA in Pennsylvania.
In 1992, Smoker came to Georgia, where he began his work with the YMCA of Coastal Georgia Association.
Randy Bugos, the current president/CEO of the YMCA of Coastal Georgia, had hired Smoker as the branch director of the Liberty County/Armed Services YMCA in Hinesville.
Then, when the Islands YMCA opened its new 40,000-square-foot facility in 1999, Smoker was hired to serve as the branch director of that location on Whitemarsh Island.
Seven years later, Smoker was promoted to vice president at the YMCA of Coastal Georgia Corporate Office, where he supervised several branches and worked on a number of community and partnership collaborations.
He served as the vice president until January 2014, when he was appointed the chief operating officer.
In recent years, Smoker has worked to bring cause-driven programs — like the Y’s diabetes prevention program, LIVESTRONG at the Y and early-readiness programs — to the low country area.
Additionally, he facilitated the partnership between the YMCA and Gulfstream that led to the creation of their student leadership program, which provides mentors for teens in the Savannah Chatham Public School System.
Smoker also serves as the president of Healthy Savannah, a volunteer-led, nonprofit organization that the YMCA has provided financial, technical and in-kind support for since its establishment in 2009.
“We are incredibly fortunate to have, in my opinion, the most qualified candidate for our CEO position currently on staff,” Bugos said.
“Joel has such a strong grasp of what our association does well and where it can improve,” he continued. “His plans to move ahead are both positive and well thought out. I strongly believe he will do a great job and continue to advance the Y movement in the communities we serve.”