Sue Ball began her career with the YMCA 29 years ago, as a gymnastics instructor in Little Rock, Ark. Fresh out of college, she needed a job and the local Y was hiring.
She didn’t stay in that role for long, however. A few weeks after she began, a position for gymnastics program director opened up, and she asked her boss if she could apply. She was instructed to write an essay on how she would improve the program, and a week later, she was hired for the position.
She eventually went on to become the executive director of the downtown Little Rock branch — where Bill and Hillary Clinton regularly worked out — and after more than a decade in Arkansas, she moved down to Florida as a district vice president.
Then, almost five years ago, Ball said she was ready for another change. She decided to change coasts, and ended up running the Cupertino YMCA in Silicon Valley before hearing about the La Jolla position.
“I had heard a lot of good things about the CEO down here, and there were a lot of reasons I was excited about it,” she said. “Plus, I wanted to live in San Diego. If the same opportunity had presented itself in Idaho, I don’t know if I would have followed that.”
Now Ball is the executive director and regional vice president at the La Jolla YMCA. Asked if she had ever imagined herself nurturing a 30-year career at the YMCA, Ball said, “No. Not even when I first started. It was just a job.”
That job has turned into a labor of love for Ball, who said she hopes to be at the La Jolla branch “for many years.”
“The longer you’re with the Y, the more it gets into your blood,” she said. “It’s been a great career for me. I get to do all kinds of things: I work with volunteers, fundraising, operations - just serving people. I think a lot of people look to make a difference in the world through volunteer opportunities. I get to do it through my job.”