AMY SAD, the Madison Community Center's new director, poses outside the building on Tuesday. Sad, formerly the assistant director, officially started as the director Monday after the previous director, Gene Wockenfuss, left the position about 2 months ago.
New Madison Community Center Director Amy Sad was surprised when she hosted a new director meet-and-greet last Friday. The people she talked with didn’t just want to know her plans for the Community Center –they wanted to get to know her on a personal level.
Sad, the former assistant director, officially stepped into the director position Monday. She and her family moved from the west coast a year and a half ago, searching for a “more family-friendly area.” They traveled across South Dakota, eventually touring a house for sale in Madison.
“We fell in love with Madison, and it just felt right for us,” Sad said.
Before working with the Community Center, Sad was a small business consultant for over 20 years. But, when she moved to Madison, she was met with a “warm and welcoming” community that she said motivated her to change her direction.
“I wanted to be out and involved as a way to give back. … It felt like the right place to be, where I could make a positive impact,” Sad said. “I’m very glad I went with my gut.”
The former director of the Community Center, Gene Wockenfuss, left about eight weeks ago to pursue an opportunity which would allow him to retire early, Sad said. She worked closely with Wockenfuss to bring in new programs and make the Community Center a place where “everyone is welcome.” Though she was the assistant director, Sad was not promoted directly to the position. She went through the same application and interview process as everyone else, she said. In the interim, city administrator Jameson Berreth served in the director position.
“There’s big shoes to fill, and the bar is high, and I have to remember that Gene and I did a lot together,” Sad said. “I’m happy to take that on.”
A large project the pair took on was bringing in a new software system in January. The change-over took about 90 days, but it streamlined several processes and has made navigating memberships and bookings far easier for staff and members, she said.
One goal rolling over from Wockenfuss’s tenure as director is working toward membership growth.
“We have lots of different ideas going forward. One of our biggest things is just growing what people perceive the community center to be–and it’s truly a place for everybody,” Sad said. “We’re looking at all different avenues, from different things we could add on to our fitness and class offerings, what benefits our members best.”
Part of that is hosting more events like Family Fun Night, which brings in people from across the county, whether they’re members or not. Sad also wants to see more children from ages 9-13 to come out to the Community Center, so she hopes to bring in more programming for that age group.
Her favorite part of working at the Community Center is connecting with people. Every day brings in new people and new experiences, which can be “enlightening,” she said. Members remind her every day why she’s happy to work where she does. One particularly inspiring group, she said, are students who come to play sports like basketball during the off-season.
“Those kids come up here, and they meet up and they all practice, and I just love that they do that all together. It just shows such a unity,” Sad said. “We need that passion and commitment. That’s the whole reason we’re here.”