Ed Munster Retires After 43-Year Career With the YMCA

This month we bid a very fond farewell to Ed Munster, President & CEO of the YMCA of Metro Atlanta, as he retires after a 43-year career with the YMCA. As we wish Ed well in his retirement, we also celebrate his many contributions to the Y and to our community.

Ed is truly a Y success story, joining the YMCA at the young age of 11 in New Orleans where he grew up. He credits Y staff for keeping him focused on school, and helping him set goals and point him in the right direction. It was during his involvement with the Y teen leadership program that he set his sights on a career with the YMCA.

He started out as a physical director at the New Orleans YMCA and later spent eight years in various positions at the San Francisco YMCA. Ed came to Atlanta in 1985 as vice president and executive director of the Downtown YMCA on Luckie Street. In 1986, he was promoted to executive vice president and chief operating officer. As COO, he was known as an “operator’s operator,” because of his ability to know everything about every square inch of a Y and how to run it successfully. The next two decades would see the largest growth in our Y association’s long history. 

In 2009, Ed became President & CEO of the YMCA of Metro Atlanta. Under his leadership, we have created vital collaborations with organizations including Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, Emory Healthcare, Winship Cancer Institute at Emory University, the Shepherd Center – just to name a few. Ed’s long list of accomplishments also includes developing many successful public/private partnerships, joining with the YMCA of Cobb County, setting design standards for YMCA buildings including LEED certification, and developing an investment model for decision-making to determine the best use of organizational resources based on mission and finances. 

As COO, Ed developed and executed the Y-2001 and Y-2010 long-range strategic plans, resulting in significant growth of the association. And as President & CEO he has championed the Y-2020 plan, bringing our organization’s focus to four key areas: empowering healthy living, ensuring school readiness, improving academic achievement, and inspiring civic responsibility. Revenues from six branches were $4.5 million in 1985: they are more $100 million today with close to 30 facilities. Throughout his career, Ed was deeply committed to advancing the mission of the Y, and his dedication to changing young lives greatly increased our association’s focus on early learning and providing opportunities for all children to succeed.

As a tribute to Ed’s many decades of leadership for our association and the many young lives he impacted, the Early Learning Commons within the Arthur M. Blank Early Learning Center at the new YMCA Leadership & Learning Center was named in his honor. The official name of the space is the Edward G. Munster Learning Commons, but the space is already lovingly referred to as “The Ed.” We look forward to sharing Ed’s legacy with the many children who will utilize this space in the decades to come.

We would like to thank Ed for all he has done for the YMCA of Metro Atlanta. The impact he has made within our community lives on, and we wish him all the best in his retirement.

Lauren Koontz, former EVP and Chief Philanthropy Officer, replaces Ed Munster as President & CEO of the YMCA of Metro Atlanta as of July 2019.

By Reagan Goodnough
Director of Events and Development Communications