Introducing Dave Morgan, New YMCA of Greater Kalamazoo CEO0
Have you heard?
There's a new guy at the YMCA of Greater Kalamazoo.
If you're a regular at the Maple Street Y, it's likely that you’ll see the 'new guy' involved in a variety of tasks that might seem confusing - considering his role. As he quick-steps it through the hallways, one-minute re-evaluating the dwindling punch-list for the near-ending construction, clipboard in hand; the next, balancing two swishing buckets hanging from his elbows, cleaning bottles hanging from his pockets, rubber gloves on. Depending on location you might also see him like a doctor making his rounds, dropping in on meetings, checking in with staff, chatting-it up with the members and guests, welcoming and engaging all. He shares his enthusiasm and passion for the Y by immersing himself wholly in every facet of its operations and leading by example.
Morgan is new to the YMCA of Greater Kalamazoo, but he's no stranger to the Y. Having only ever worked for a Y since the age of 16, he knows the mission, inside and out. Now at 49, you might say that he lives and breathes it.
Unable to afford a membership he often snuck in, and more than often got kicked out. Finally one day (Morgan was told he was "relentless and not the worst kid ever") he was offered a membership in exchange for volunteering one-and-a-half hours a week doing housekeeping. By the time he was half-way through high school, he was invited to work there as a gym supervisor. And yes, his first job was monitoring youth, managing the kids that were - you guessed it - sneaking in!
That's hardly the history the YMCA Board of Directors knew when they hired him. Morgan's successes spoke for himself showing how he worked his way up in the organization with increasing responsibilities, working with youth, camps, overseeing healthy living and disease prevention programs and after-school enrichment projects. But his most recent impressive achievements as CEO of Stevens Point, Wis., involved taking a single branch Y association out of debt and developing a funding mechanism that would lead to the purchase of a summer camp facility - in cash.
"Dave presented to the Board of Directors a clear, concise plan for the future of the YMCA of Greater Kalamazoo that focused on community relationships, partnerships and collaborations,” said Sheri Welsh, past YMCA board president and member of the CEO search committee. "We had absolutely no idea that there was a personal experience that drove his passion. We simply recognized that he had a proven formula for success."
The board had no idea that Morgan's family life was not ideal often leaving him as a 13-year-old to fend for himself.
"Thankfully, there was a Y in my neighborhood," Morgan has said, "where I played ball, hung out with friends, and essentially stayed out of trouble. I was given a chance (at the Y) to do it right."
"When I went off to college on scholarship at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, I was a year and a half into an engineering program when I realized that I loved the Y. I couldn't imagine myself doing anything else. So, I changed my studies to make the Y the focus of my career because of the draw it had - and still has for me - to want to give back."
Morgan talks about the Y and its role in the community, always with a sense of measured urgency. That there isn't any time to be lost. That in every interaction with a community leader, staff, member, guest and vendor, there is an opportunity to make the case for supporting the Y for all its impacts.
"What makes the YMCA such an incredible organization - and what makes me most proud to serve - is that the Y has a very unique opportunity to serve the entire community," Morgan said. "Young and old. Rich and poor. Every demographic you can think of, the Y serves. I've seen some really unique situations where a homeless person is sharing a cup of coffee with a corporate CEO: There are very few situations that I can think of where that transpires without it being forced and it's natural. People aren't designated with a scarlet letter; a member is a member is a member. And that is what the Y is about - connecting with everybody.
"For me it's all about eliminating barriers to participation. I want our youth to think of the Y when they need a place to be safe. I want adults and families and the elderly to think of the Y as a place that supports their healthy living goals. I want the Y to be the catalyst for local social responsibility.
"I want everyone to have access to the YMCA. It changed my life. I hope for it to change other people's lives, too."
Dave Morgan joined the YMCA of Greater Kalamazoo as its CEO in February 2018. He now lives in Kalamazoo with his wife, Heather, and the youngest of their three children, Amber.