By Paul Leighton
---- — A former Beverly City Council president and past mayoral contender there has been named as the new executive director of the Cape Ann YMCA, returning to his roots in community service.
Tim Flaherty took the reins of the local Y on Middle Street on Monday, succeeding Scott Hitchcock, who is now executive director of the Lynch/Van Otterloo YMCA in Marblehead.
“It’s exciting,” Flaherty said. “I felt my background and the Y’s mission of having a strong sense of community go well together. That’s what I believe in, and that’s what the Y believes in.”
Flaherty, 45, got his start as the youth director at the McPherson Youth Center in Beverly and became executive director of the Cabot Street Y in Beverly in the 1990s.
He served for 12 years on the Beverly City Council, including two terms as council president, and ran for mayor in 2011, finishing third in the preliminary race.
Flaherty worked for 10 years as a funeral director, including at the Pike-Grondin Funeral Home in Gloucester, and most recently for a beer distribution company.
“Tim brings great passion and dedication for the Y’s mission to our team and truly lives the values of caring, honesty, respect and responsibility,” YMCA Chief Operating Officer Chris Lovasco said in a prepared statement.
The Cape Ann Y is one of the oldest of the North Shore YMCAs, having served Gloucester and Rockport for more than 150 years. It has more than 4,300 members.
As executive director, Flaherty will oversee the Cape Ann Y on Middle Street, teen centers in Gloucester and Rockport, and Camp Spindrift, which hosts the local Y’s summer programs.
YMCA of the North Shore CEO Jack Meany has said the Cape Ann Y should be operating out of a new site within five years, and city officials — including Mayor Carolyn Kirk — have raised the idea of the YMCA taking over at least part of the Fuller School building, as the citywide debate over the future use of that building and property continues to heat up.
Flaherty said that while the YMCA is known for its fitness and recreation programs, it also provides child care, programs for seniors and affordable housing. The Cape Ann YMCA provides $450,000 in financial assistance to 2,400 children, adults and families, he said.
“For some people, the Y is going to the gym and working out, but it’s so much more than that,” he said. In Gloucester. the Y also provides after-school programs for three Gloucester elementary schools, including West Parish, where Y staffers and the YMCA program were bought in last month to take over after an school-run after-school program was abruptly shut down over a lack of supervision when students reportedly acted “inappropriately.”
Flaherty is the third former or current Beverly city councilor to assume control of a local YMCA.
Former Beverly City Councilor Judith Cronin heads the Greater Beverly Y, while current Councilor Jason Silva is in charge of the Salem Y.
Staff writer Paul Leighton can be reached at 978-338-2675 or firstname.lastname@example.org.