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Tom Beerntsen will become Executive Director of Wood Family Foundation


Retired Chicago Cub Kerry Wood and his wife, Sarah, have announced that Tom Beerntsen will be the new Executive Director of the Wood Family Foundation (WFF).

Currently the Executive Vice President of Association Development at the YMCA Metro Chicago, Beerntsen brings more than 40 years of experience in advocating for and serving children.  For many years while living in Naperville and serving as Executive Director of the Heritage YMCA, Beerntsen also wrote a column in Positively Naperville about the benefits of the Y.

His official start date is slated for November 1; however, Beerntsen will begin working with the WFF Board on a limited basis in September to assist the staff with events.

“We are beyond thrilled to welcome Tom to the team. From the moment we met him, we knew that he was above and beyond what we envisioned this role to be. We truly believe that his experience and vision will help the Wood Family Foundation continue to make an impact in the lives of Chicago’s kids for years to come,” added Kerry and Sarah Wood in a news release.

In his new role, Beerntsen will be responsible for the overall management of the foundation, programs and fund raising, responsibilities originally held by Sarah Wood. He will work closely with both Kerry and Sarah and the Board of Directors to craft a strategy that will focus on the compelling, long-term mission of the Foundation.

Beerntsen has been a part of the YMCA Metro staff since their consolidation with the Heritage YMCA Group in January 2011. His YMCA career is divided into two sections by a twenty year period, during which he and his wife, Penny, operated his family’s third generation confectionary business while Beerntsen also served as volunteer leader of numerous local charities in Wisconsin. From 2001-2003 he chaired the YMCA of the USA national board and travelled up to one hundred days per year as the ambassador for the YMCA in America and around the world. Beerntsen is recognized throughout the YMCA movement as a tireless advocate of the mission based, values-driven programs of the YMCA. He is passionate about the importance of putting heroes in the lives of young people.

“I am looking forward to beginning my work with the Wood Family Foundation team, the Board and Kerry and Sarah,” said Beerntsen in the release. “Their commitment to changing the lives of children in very positive ways is truly inspiring. Together they have a unique passion and focus and they want their legacy to be one of service to children in neighborhoods in Chicago. I could not be more pleased to have this opportunity to support the vision and works of the WFF.”

Major projects he will oversee include ‘Warm Wishes,’ the annual Coat and Toy Drive in December for selected CPS Schools, Back to School Drives and the new Kerry Wood Cubs Field, which plans are currently underway for the construction of the regulation high school baseball field at 3457 North Rockwell in Chicago. The Woods have determined that Lawndale, Austin, Humboldt Park and Englewood will be their focus communities to support.

FYI: Wood Family Foundation (WFF) is a non-profit organization founded in June 2011 by Kerry and Sarah Wood. The WFF works to improve the lives of children in and around Chicago by raising funds and awareness for its children’s programs and other children’s charities they support. The WFF acts as an advocate for children in the Chicago community, inspiring others to join them in their mission of giving children the resources they need to succeed. www.WoodFamilyFoundation.org.

Photo courtesy Daphne E. Ortiz

UPDATE October 25! Friends honor Beerntsen at Cress Creek

On October 25,  the YMCA Metro honored Tom Beerntsen for his service in Naperville during a reception at Cress Creek Country Club.  Family and friends gathered to wish him continued success on his next journey in Chicago.  (Pictured here are R.J. Bartels, Beerntsen, Penny Beerntsen, Jane Bowers and Judy Ellertson after he opened his  gift recognizing his service to the Y.)

During festivities, long-time friends and associates such as Tom Miers, Mary Ann Bobosky, Brand Bobosky and Kathy Birkett honored him for his  YMCA career, his big smile and especially his nine years in Naperville.

Beerntsen wrote a monthly column for Positively Naperville for most of his time in Naperville when his office was in the Kroehler Y on Washington St.  His monthly message usually included words to remind residents about the work of the Y.

“Like our schools, churches and the many organizations that have made Naperville a special place to live and work, the YMCA has become an important part of the rich community fabric,” he wrote a year ago. “…Naperville is a different community because of the YMCA and for this we can all thankful.”

Beerntsen is passionate about the importance of putting heroes in the lives of young people, a goal he intends to continue in his new position with the Wood Family Foundation.

Sometimes tearful during his remarks of gratitude to the community that gave him the opportunity to serve kids and families, a most humble Beerntsen  also said he’d rather be attending someone else’s retirement party.

Beerntsen begins his new position on November 1, 2012.


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