YMCA Celebrates Change at the Top

The YMCA recently announced Kevin Washington, CEO of the YMCA of Greater Boston, as the latest American CEO. Washington will assume these duties effective February 1, 2015. CEO of 5WPR Ronn Torossian said the move was not terribly surprising, but the early announcement allows the Y to establish a strong series of PR opportunities that will cross multiple news cycles.

When Neil Nicoll announced his retirement in June, the company announced its search for a new CEO. By promoting from within, YMCA telegraphs a commitment to established standards, an important consideration for any nonprofit, no matter the size. Donors can be skittish about change, so it pays to go slow.

Speaking of finances, the move also protects those who might wonder if the new CEO has what it takes to manage one of the nation’s largest charities. The YMCA of Greater Boston is one of the top 12 in the country based on total assets, and number one on the Non Profit Times 2013 Top 100. That’s the right track record for an incoming Chief Executive.

Of course, when change happens, most folks also expect to see some change happen. Washington should be good for that as well. As president of the Boston Y, Washington was instrumental in creating a new strategic planning process that reduced membership fees. This move didn’t hurt the bottom line because it sharply increased memberships – not to mention the diversity of that membership.

And, once they were coming, Washington added educational opportunities to his district’s menu of available options, helping thousands of kids get smarter and healthier at the same time. This experience told YMCA national level decision makers that Washington understood the vast network of social issues the more than 10,000 YMCA communities across the nation are dealing with. His proactive approach to servicing those communities, as well as his commitment to the larger goals and mission of the YMCA, make him a good fit in every respect.