The YMCA of Metro Atlanta’s new President & CEO Lauren Koontz recently appeared on WABE’s “Closer Look with Rose Scott.” In the segment that aired on Monday, July 22, Koontz shared her vision for the organization’s future and the mission of the Y’s new Leadership & Learning Center located in Vine City on Atlanta’s Westside.
“Moving into the new YMCA Leadership & Learning Center has been a game-changer for us,” Koontz said. “That’s where our headquarters is located that supports all of our local YMCAs, early learning centers, day camps, resident camps and afterschool programs. So, it’s the epicenter of everything we are doing.”
The YMCA Leadership & Learning Center will also host a community market and cafe that will open in early 2020 and will offer healthy grab-and-go food.
Koontz said that the YMCA’s model is all about doing what is right and sustainable for the community.
“I think you’ll continue to see us grow in ways that are very much aligned with creating YMCA models that work for the communities where we’re going.”
Until now, the YMCA of Metro Atlanta has never had children and programs happen in its headquarters.
“So, it brings a different energy,” Koontz said.
The new early learning center, Arthur M. Blank at E.A. Ware, located at the YMCA Leadership & Learning Center, will open its doors on Tuesday, September 3 and will serve 90 children from the Vine City and English Avenue communities. The center will include a mix of Head Start, state-funded pre-K and traditional fee-for-service preschool options.
“The way that we’ve tried to approach our early learning work in communities is all about making sure that everyone in the community feels welcome,” Koontz said. “So, as we talk about communities shifting and changing, we need to make sure that our programs are reflective of the community, but we also need to make sure that we are serving the most vulnerable children in the community.”
Koontz also shared that her vision for her first year as CEO will start with investing in the YMCA’s 4,000 employees — 90 percent of whom are part-time staff — and making sure that all staff members are creating the Y experience that embodies the YMCA’s values of caring, honesty, respect and responsibility.
“My biggest goal would be that every single member of our team, whether it’s a teacher in the classroom, whether it’s a lifeguard, whether it’s someone at a membership desk, that every single person really understands their role and how it connects to the larger mission and purpose of the organization.”
The YMCA Leadership & Learning Center will also provide ongoing training for Y staff and partners, and it is expected to train 4,000 people each year.
Listen to the entire interview here. The Y’s segment starts at 4:11.
By Erica K. Faulkner
Director of Content and Social Media