KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — Nicole Chandler, executive director of the Change Center is leaving the post at the end of the year. A search committee is already in place and searching for her replacement.

Under Chandler’s direction the Change Center has served more than 5,000 young people, saw a decrease in crime, hosted events, provided trauma support, and provided more than 3,000 hot meals during the COVID-19 pandemic to families, and more.

“As the Change Center evolves into the next phase of the vision, I am certain that greater things will come from this very special place. I look forward to watching the Change Center continue to thrive and to be a forever advocate of the Change Center.” said Chandler in a statement.

Pastor Daryl Arnold, board chair, calls Chandler the “heart, soul and lifeblood” of the Change Center.

“She has set the stage and laid the foundation for greater things to come in the continuing mission of the Change Center,” Arnold said. “The board is grateful for her service and although bittersweet, we remain excited about the work of the Change Center and the people who pass through this building.”

A search committee is in place for the incoming director. The inspiration for the Change Center came from local young people, parents, and community members in 2016, who cited a great need for safe spaces where young people could socialize outside of school hours. In addition to a roller-skating rink, multi-purpose sports venue, concert stage, movie wall, music mixing studio, game room and café, the Change Center offers a jobs initiative, event and community space.