By Doug Ireland
---- — SALEM — Only 18 months after Michael Centor took the reins at the Boys & Girls Club of Greater Salem, he has resigned as the club’s top leader.
Centor said yesterday he recently stepped down as chief professional officer to return to his native New York to get married.
“It was time to move back home,” he said. “It’s always hard when you leave. I feel good about what was accomplished.”
Club president Patrick Donovan praised Centor for his work with the club and said a newly formed search committee will start looking for a replacement in January.
Donovan said Centor is leaving the club on good terms and will be missed. His last day on the job was Dec. 13, Donovan said.
Chris Woodby, the club’s director of operations, is filling in until a replacement is found.
Donovan said Centor became engaged to his fiancee, Maria, four months ago and told the club’s board in October he would be leaving.
“When (the engagement) happened, everyone asked, ‘What will happen next?”’ Donovan said. “It wasn’t something we planned on.”
Although he left the club two weeks ago, Centor said he won’t be getting married until next summer.
“It was challenging to plan for the wedding when we were so far apart,” he said. “I do have a couple of opportunities I’m looking at.”
Centor, 42, joined the club in May 2012 after serving as the chief financial officer and unit director at the Boys & Girls Club in Schenectady, N.Y., since 2007.
Centor said his fiancee works as a director at the Schenectady club and he still owns a home in the area. He also has a teenage son in New York.
Centor said he will miss Salem and hopes to find a similar position in New York.
Donovan said Centor helped increase membership at the club, which averages about 400 children on a daily basis. The club has more than 3,000 members.
Donovan said the club is seeking a chief professional officer who will stay at least 10 to 15 years as opposed to 18 months. The position pays approximately $90,000 a year, he said.
Donovan declined to give a timetable for the search. “We’re going to take as much time as we need,” he said.
The board plans to launch a nationwide search, Donovan said, just as it did less than two years ago after the abrupt departure of Michael Goodwin.
Goodwin had been with the club for 12 years until leaving in January 2012 as part of a “mutual agreement,” according to Daniel Norris, head of the board of directors at the time.
Norris, who is still on the board, would not say if Goodwin resigned or was fired. Goodwin would also not comment.