Youth Challenge Announces Leadership Transition

The Youth Challenge (YC) Board of Trustees is pleased to announce the appointment of Christopher J. Garr as CEO, effective February 4, 2019.  Garr replaces Founder and Executive Director, Mary Sue Tanis, who is transitioning into a new role as Director of Planned Giving. The announcement follows an 18-month search conducted by the Youth Challenge Board of Trustees and members of the Board of Advisors.

As YC’s long-time Director of Program Services, Garr brings years of experience in leadership, adapted sports, and inclusion for people with physical disabilities.  Garr believes that adapted sports and art, with a focus on fun and friendship, is a conduit for participants and volunteers alike, to become leaders, advocates, stewards, and innovators in the field of human dignity. Prior to his time at Youth Challenge, Garr taught high school Social Studies and English. He got his start at YC as a volunteer in middle school.

“I’ve held a deep passion for YC since first volunteering at the age of 12,” said Garr. “What started in 1976 with a handful of children and awareness of the need for inclusion in all forms of play, is now a reality—Youth Challenge is the recognized leader in Northeast Ohio for enriching the lives of young people of all abilities. I am proud to serve our families in this new capacity, alongside a staff of dedicated and caring professionals.”

For Tanis, who founded Youth Challenge in 1976, her commitment to community service is at the core of everything she has accomplished as a nonprofit leader for over 40 years.  She has worked tirelessly to raise awareness of the need for active sports and peer-to-peer socialization for the children and young adults with physical disabilities in the Cleveland area.   Her unique vision also saw the need for teen volunteers to get involved, one-on-one, with their physically disabled peers to learn and grow.

“I look forward to shifting from my role of 42 years as Executive Director to a new post, Director of Planned Giving, and serving YC in a whole new way,” said Tanis.  “With countless opportunities ahead for these amazing children and teens, I am extremely happy to be able to play a role in securing our mission going forward.”