BROOKINGS – Former Camelot Intermediate School Principal Tim Lease has been serving as the Boys & Girls Club of the Northern Plains CEO since June. 

While his job title changed over the summer, his mission hasn’t: helping kids.

“The role from principal to CEO is a little bit different,” said Lease jokingly. “But the mission is still the same: it’s all about helping out kids.” 

Lease oversees a plethora of items at the club, like building and finance committees, fundraising and programming, but he seeks to help out in any way he can. 

And he does his best to get as many high-fives from the students every day when they get dropped off at the center.

Last spring, outgoing CEO of the Boys & Girls Club Vanessa Merhib asked Lease if he would ever consider the position. 

After a few initial meetings so that Lease better understood what the CEO does at the Boys & Girls Club, he felt that this was a perfect fit and natural progression from being a principal. 

Lease has 24 years of teaching and education administration experience. The Mankato native earned his undergraduate degree in elementary education from St. John’s University and then later got his master’s degree in educational administration from South Dakota State University.

According to a press release from the Boys & Girls Club, Lease taught and was a high school basketball and baseball coach at the Onamia School District and the Mille Lacs Academy in Minnesota.

In Brookings, he taught at Hillcrest Elementary and then at Camelot.

He spent three years as the Koch Elementary School principal in Milbank before becoming Camelot’s principal for three years.

“It’s what I’ve dedicated my whole life to. I love working with kids,” Lease said. “I think it started back when I was in high school. I was a T-ball and little league coach back in high school and into college. I took over the summer rec program already and was working with kids and coaching them all day, and I really felt that that was a great fit for me and I loved seeing the positive impact and the results that you see and watching kids grow and learn.”

Lease said that the past four months have been a whirlwind of learning about the CEO position. He’s learned extensively about running a nonprofit and picks up something new every day, and he says he’s loved every moment of it.

Other Boys & Girls Club districts, as well as other nonprofits, admire the quality and capabilities of the Northern Plains district, Lease said. Frequently, people tell him how the local organization is what a non-profit should be.

The Boys & Girls Club of the Northern Plains has facilities in Brookings, Moody County and Yankton. Nationally, the Boys & Girls Club serves around 4 million children.

Lease, his wife Amy, who is a music teacher at both the high school and at Hillcrest, and their three boys are all looking forward to the new adventures ahead of them with the club and Lease’s new position.

The Boys & Girls Club of the Northern Plains is always looking to grow and move forward in its endeavors, Lease said, using the “philosophy of continuous growth.” 

The next major project here in Brookings for the club is the building of a new playground system. The system is expected to be finished on Oct. 21 and is being built just west of the Boys & Girls Club building next to Mickelson Middle School.

For more information about sending children to the Boys and Girls Club or becoming a donor, visit

COURTESY OF: The Brookings Register

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