By Cary Shuman
Gina Centrella-O’Hara, a member of the staff at the Jordan Boys and Girls Club in Chelsea for 17 years, has been named the club’s new executive director.
Centrella-O’Hara succeeds Michelle Perez, who is the new executive vice president of the Boys and Girls Club of Boston.
Centrella began her association with the-then Boys and Girls Club of Chelsea as a junior staff member. She rose through the ranks in various full-time positions, serving as the director of operations for the past eight years.
She was on the education staff when the $11 million Jordan Boys and Girls Clubhouse (JGBC) opened in 2003. Gerald and Darlene Jordan, for whom the clubhouse is named, and Robert and Myra Kraft were among the generous donors to the project.
Josh Kraft, who spearheaded the construction of the new clubhouse and is the chief executive officer of the Boys and Girls Club of Boston, officially welcomed Centrella to her new position as leader of the JGBC. The popular club on Willow Street has 1,000 members from ages though 18 who account for an average of 300 visits per day.
“Nothing makes me happier than to see Gina assume the role of executive director,” said Kraft. “She started as a junior staff back when she was a student at Revere High School.”
Kraft also praised Centrella-Ohara’s loyalty to the club and the community.
“She’s worked her way all the way up at the club, graduating from college with distinction. It’s great that she’s the new executive director because not only does she understand the community and the kids and families we serve, more importantly she cares deeply about them – and she brings a warmth and loving kindness to the club every day. I’m just so happy to see her in this role. There’s no doubt in my mind that she’s going to be a terrific success.”
Centrella-O’Hara was a highly respected scholar-athlete and student leader at Revere High School, receiving the honor of being captain of the 1999-2000 girls varsity basketball team. She graduated in 2005 from Salem State University with a degree in Elementary Education.
At the JGBC, she has been a key contributor on an energetic team that brought in new initiatives and expanded programs for members.
Centrella-O’Hara felt the skills she acquired in her leadership positions at the club and wide range of experience set a strong foundation for her candidacy for the executive director’s post.
“In each position I’ve gained new skills and I’ve learned new things about the way the club operates and I felt this was the next step in being able to help the program and put my mark on it,” said Centrella-O’Hara. “I’m excited to take on the new challenge of overseeing this program.”
She lauded her predecessor, Perez, and Kraft for establishing “some really great relationships” in the city of Chelsea.
“Michelle Perez did outstanding work at the club and in developing outside partners in the city. I hope that I continue to do the things she did so well. I also hope I can continue to build on the great foundation that Josh set up here in Chelsea, giving kids greats options after school and touching and helping many families in the city.”
Centrella-O’Hara is married and has two young children.