The Executive Director of the Canton Family YMCA, Paula Grigsby is a Canton native who has dedicated much of her life to bettering this town and the youth who have grown up here. But that love for Canton is also part of the reason why Paula ended up at SRC to begin with.

She was Salutatorian of the CHS Class of 1972 and came to SRC after a stint at Bradley University as a young wife with a new baby and a goal to stay on track with her education. She credits her time at SRC with helping to keep her on a path to getting her degree.

Paula attended SRC in 1973, 1974, and again in the summer of 1979. During that time, she was an Administrative Secretary for Graham Hospital and a tumbling instructor at the Canton YWCA, where she started her tumbling team. She became a mother again in 1981. In 1982, she completed her bachelor degree, with honors, in business administration at Western Illinois University.

That degree helped her launch Paula’s Acrobatics & Aerobics and Paula’s Tumbling Tornados, which later became Canton Fitness Center. She taught tumbling and exercise classes at her facility which also housed weight-lifting equipment and tanning beds.

In 1987, she was hired to work at the Canton Family YMCA as a Program Director, her role until 2000, when she became Associate Executive. She became Executive Director in 2009 and has remained in the role since, guiding all aspects of the YMCA.

Along the way, she brought the Tumbling Tornados to the YMCA and built it into an elite, nationally-known tumbling, trampoline, and double-mini team. Among other awards and recognitions she’s received, she was the United States Tumbling Association’s Coach of the Year in 1991, 1993, and 1996 and was named to the USTA’s Hall of Fame in 2019.

She remains active in Canton, serving on Kiwanis and Rotary, the Graham Hospital Board and with the First Christian Church. She has served on the Chamber of Commerce Board, and was part of the committee which brought the Veterans’ Memorial to Lakeland Park.

Paula and her husband of 49 years, David, have two children, Jenni and James (“Boomer”), and eight grandchildren, with a ninth on the way later this month.

Paula Grigsby