New leader of area’s largest YMCA: ‘We’ve been deeply touched’

A nationwide search for the new CEO of Countryside YMCA ended up with a person who lived just east of Lebanon.

Christopher “Chris” Johnson was chosen to be the new CEO of Countryside YMCA, the largest Y in the region and one of the largest in the country. He began March 1.

Being in the area for the past 14 years, and within Lebanon school district for the past five, Johnson is originally from North Lewisburg, Ohio, and graduated from Triad Schools.

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Johnson, and his wife, Allison, support their four children in various activities by cheering from the stands.

“When we can, the whole family enjoys hiking, especially at Fort Ancient or Clifton Gorge,” said Johnson.

Countryside bills itself as the world’s largest YMCA with about 20,000 members and more than 600 employees.

Johnson knows the place well.

“We have been members and volunteers here throughout the past 14 years,” said Johnson. “We have been deeply touched by the staff, volunteers and other members here. To be a part of leading that team is an incredible honor.”

Allison Johnson, a physical therapist in the Lebanon City Schools, works primarily with students in first and second grade, plus high school students.

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Their eldest child, Drew, 17, junior at Lebanon High School, is a member of the basketball team, National Honor Society and a Life Guard at Countryside YMCA.

Johnson said, “He serves as a Junior high teacher within our church (Antioch) and helps lead FCA at the high school.”

Emily, sophomore, is a member of the cross-country team, wind ensemble, FCA and serves in the Blessed Respite Care and after-school tutoring program at the Y. She also serves as a one-on-one buddy in their church special needs ministry.

Anna, a seventh-grader, plays soccer, basketball, runs track and serves in their nursery at church.

Their youngest child, Luke, a fourth-grader, is a member of the mini-Torpedos swim program at the Y and an avid outdoors fan.

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June 1997, Johnson graduated Magna Cum Laude from Ohio State University with a bachelor’s degree in industrial and systems engineering. He was hired by General Electric, August 1997, where his leaderships strengths were displayed during his 12-year career on GE’s senior leader development tract. “My last role before leaving was Region Sales Manager; leading our team representing GE products and solutions across most of Ohio, Indiana and Kentucky.”

The Johnsons were drawn to Lebanon because it represented their origins of a small town in Ohio yet close to larger cities.

Since 2009, during his nine-year tenure, he has been the executive pastor of Antioch Church, Lebanon, helping the congregation’s growth expansion.

Within the Lebanon Rotary Club, Johnson has served as project chair, 2nd vice president, 1st vice president and president.

In leadership capacities he helped the Lebanon Schools Capital Improvement Tax Levy, served as a Board member and on the Internal Affairs Committee of the Warren County Community services.

For several years, he coached Lebanon youth sports. Recently, he was named to serve on the board of Lebanon’s Harmon Civic Trust.

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When Johnson’s 2nd grade niece heard her uncle would become the President and CEO of the Y, her response was since her cousin, Drew, is a YMCA lifeguard: “So Uncle Chris and Drew will work together?” In her mind they would be peers at the Y.

Chris Johnson said that represents who “we are at the Countryside YMCA” and what he wants to continue to develop — “a team of staff and volunteers that are all equally important in providing care and support for our members and our community. Every one of us, each day have the opportunity to be there for those who come into our class, program, area or building. That is a great privilege and how we achieve our vision of building better people.”

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