"To put Christian values into practice through programs that build healthy spirit, mind and body for all" is the mission statement of the YMCA of Metropolitan Dallas and one of the main reasons I started working for the Y nearly 34 years ago. The mission drives our work and is the basis for all we accomplish through staff and volunteers committed to putting it into action.
I am humbled and honored to have been chosen as the new leader for the Dallas Y. To some, I am a familiar face as I worked in Dallas from 1983-2003 before going to Winston-Salem North Carolina first as the Chief Operating Officer and then President/Chief Executive Officer in 2007. Although I was gone for fourteen years, my roots remained in Dallas as my parents and most of my family are here.
My Y career started as a camp counselor at what used to be called Camp T'Sungani, now Camp on the Lake. I spent the summer working with six-year-old boys and got to experience "firsts" through their eyes. The first-time swimming in a lake, the first time shooting BB guns and the first time riding a horse were some of the experiences I got to take part in. I saw how the Y impacted lives and knew it was where I wanted to spend my career. That summer led to roles as Day Camp Director, a Program Director working with teens, Executive Director at Garland, and then Coppell, before leaving Dallas as a Vice President of Operations.
My return to the Dallas Y began on January 16th and I have spent my time meeting with volunteers and staff, learning the culture of the Y, and more about the wonderful work that takes place daily. Lives are being changed through programs such as Safety Around Water, Youth and Government and Afterschool Childcare. Members are getting healthier by exercising and deepening their relationships with friends they met through the Y. Volunteers are raising money through the Annual Campaign to provide the resources that make the Y possible for those that need it but can't afford the full cost to participate. I am energized by what I've seen and truly appreciative of those that make it happen.
I've shared with our volunteer leaders four areas that the organization will focus on in the near future. The first is strengthening and building community partnerships. Second, is growing the reach of the Y through both existing locations and new ones we'll identify through a growth study. Third, continue our work in education through the implementation of Summer Learning Academies or SLAs. SLAs are geared to Kindergarten through 3rd graders in Title I schools focusing on reading and math with a goal of stopping summer learning loss. Finally, fulfillment of our strategic plan, Big Ideas for Big Impact 2.0.
My family and I are excited to be back in Dallas. Melody works in elementary education and she and I will celebrate our 29th anniversary in June. We are the proud parents of two exceptional daughters; Maddie is 22 and a recent graduate of East Carolina University and Caroline is a 20-year-old sophomore at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill.
I appreciate your support and commitment to the Y and look forward to our paths crossing in the future.