Boys & Girls Club CEO has big plans


The Boys & Girls Clubs of San Dieguito recently named its interim chief executive to the top role on a permanent basis.

But because David H. Crean has served as interim CEO for nearly a year, there hasn’t been much of a change. Instead, he remains focused on the future of the organization.

“It’s very exciting. This position is incredibly rewarding,” said Crean, after the Board of Directors unanimously approved the move during its May 15 meeting. “It’s incredibly rewarding to come to work every day and do what we do.”

Founded in 1966, the Boys & Girls Clubs of San Dieguito serves more than 21,000 youth through its seven branches in Carmel Valley, Del Mar, Encinitas and Solana Beach. The organization has 35 full-time employees, approximately 120-140 part-time and seasonal employees, and about 200 volunteers.

Crean joined the board in 2010 and served as board chair from 2011 to 2013. He became interim CEO on July 1, 2013, following then CEO Keith Padgett’s retirement after leading the organization for more than a decade.

During his tenure as interim CEO, Crean supported the development of a Center for a Healthy Lifestyle at the Griset Branch in Encinitas. The commercial-style kitchen classroom was completed June 18, and the half-acre interactive organic garden is scheduled to be complete by the end of summer or early fall.

In addition, Crean developed a plan to expand services at Ocean Knoll Elementary School in Encinitas. Currently, the organization serves 35 elementary school children every day through its after-school program at the school. The Boys & Girls Clubs of San Dieguito plans to have a dedicated branch at the site, allowing the organization to increase enrollment and offer more programs.

Crean has also worked closely with the board to create a three-year strategic plan, something the organization hasn’t had for years.

“We’re really trying to grow and have greater impact on kids, in more ways and in more unique ways,” Crean said.

With a corporate background, Crean said his business skills have helped him manage the organization’s financial performance, develop staff and energize fundraising efforts.

“I run it like a business, but with a passion, a heart and a mission in mind,” he said.

A native of Buffalo, N.Y., Crean earned a bachelor’s degree in biology at Canisius College, followed by a master’s in oncology and a doctorate in biophysics at State University of New York at Buffalo. He worked as an assistant professor of clinical physics at the University of Toronto before relocating to the West Coast in the early 1990s to begin a more than 20-year career as an executive in the pharmaceutical industry.

“What I was doing in pharmaceuticals was also rewarding, but different,” Crean said. “Here, you’re really having more of an impact on somebody’s life. It’s very personal.”

As the official CEO, Crean wants to continue to mentor staff and engage board members. He also plans to further educate the public about the mission of the Boys & Girls Clubs of San Dieguito, as well as fundraise to meet the current and future needs of the organization. In addition, Crean wants to launch an alumni program and recruit additional volunteers.

“I don’t want to be out in the community and somebody not know who we are and what we’re doing,” he said. “I want people to have that top of mind.”

In addition to the Boys & Girls Clubs of San Dieguito, Crean has served as board president of the Solana Beach Little League. He also currently serves on the board of the Rotary Club of Del Mar.

A Cardiff-by-the-Sea resident, Crean and his wife, Heidi, have two children, Ryan and Heather, who actively participate in athletic and cultural activities at Boys & Girls Clubs within San Diego County.

“You have to evolve as an organization and embrace change,” Crean said. “If you don’t, you’re not going to keep up with the needs of your customers, and our customers are our families. We’re going to evolve with the changing needs of our customer base.”

For more information about the Boys & Girls Clubs of San Dieguito, visit