Youth Impact getting 'our legs back under us' after death of founder Robb Hall

Thursday , March 08, 2018 - 5:15 AM

OGDEN — The staff at Youth Impact knows it has big shoes to fill following the Dec. 24 death of its founder and former executive director Robb Hall, 51.

The staff is also seeing signs that it’s capable of filling them.

“It's definitely a program that's feeling Robb's loss, but it's a program that's more committed to continuing than it ever has been before,” said Brenda Kowalewski, vice chairwoman of the agency’s board of directors.

“I think we're getting our legs back under us,” Kowalewski said. “We're finding the new normal. He's a big personality and you feel the absence of a big personality when it's gone. I think you can expect great things from Youth Impact.”

In January, the 25-year-old nonprofit that serves about 270 inner city Ogden school children with after-school and summer programs named Hall’s widow, Nicole Hall, as executive director.

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Having worked alongside her husband for many years, Nicole Hall was the best choice for the job, said board of directors chairman Jeff Kemp.

“She knows by osmosis what it would take someone years to learn,” Kemp said. “She has all the staff’s support.”

“Robb and I were a team,” Nicole Hall said. “We’re going to live out his legacy. ... Robb was very well loved in this community and I think everyone wants to see Youth Impact succeed in his honor.”

She said she believes the program will live on for at least another 25 years.

Other staff members serving with Nicole Hall are finding ways to walk in Robb Hall’s former shoes, too.

Staff members these days consult their memories of their organization’s founder in their heads before making decisions about what they should do in any given circumstance, Kemp said.

“They recognize they are not the whole Robb, but collectively, they think they can do the role Robb did,” said Cari Fullerton, a member of the board of directors finance committee

Besides capable leadership, Robb Hall also left behind a legacy of inspiration for fundraising that Youth Impact had never seen before his illness.

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Those involved said they saw unprecedented momentum for the program’s capital campaign during and after Robb Hall’s illness.

Robb Hall became ill late last fall, just as the then two-year campaign was starting to go public with fundraising.

From that time until now, the campaign has raised close to about half of the $1.25 million needed to build a new addition to the facility, Fullerton said. The new space will offer a place to separate physical fitness from studying and scholastic activities.

Youth Impact will host its annual gala to help raise the facility’s operating costs on Saturday, March 10.

Because of the momentum brought about by Robb Hall’s death, Nicole Hall said the community came forward to purchase gala tickets, selling out the event quicker than she ever remembers. 

“There are a lot of community folks that just loved Robb and loved Robb’s program and his life,” Kemp said. “The community wants to see that what he started thrives.”

As Robb Hall became ill and died, many program graduates came forward with success stories that generated momentum in the fundraising effort, Fullerton said.

RELATED: Despite urgent cancer battle, Youth Impact founder Robb Hall presses forward

Without such community support, Fullerton said, the program could not operate the way it does. 

“People, they do their part with what they’re good at and it all comes together in this umbrella in taking care of the kids,” Fullerton said.

Community volunteers, educators, public and private sectors all come together in helping, she said

“The program takes at-risk kids and turns them into excellent citizens,” Kemp said.

Despite any successes they may have, leaders said no one at Youth Impact is ready to forget about Robb Hall.

Notes and signs from program participants paper the walls of the facility expressing sadness at his loss.

Those interested may make a donation to Youth Impact on the website

You may reach reporter JaNae Francis at or 801-625-4228. Follow her on Twitter at @JaNaeFrancisSE or on Facebook at

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