The boards of directors of the YMCA of Western Ontario and the YMCAs across Southwestern Ontario say they have completed a successful business planning process to merge the two groups into one larger regional YMCA.
The newly merged group, which will be called the YMCA of Southwestern Ontario, will serve communities from Windsor in the west to Goderich in the north, south to Point Pelee National Park and east to Woodstock.
The announcement comes after a year-long process and was based on a strong history of collaboration, says Paul West, chair of the board of the YMCA of Western Ontario.
“For us, this was a natural next step in an already great working relationship between our two YMCAs,” said West. “We believe together we will be able to serve more people, in more communities.
Shawn Zettel, who chairs the YMCAs across Southwestern Ontario, said the move will initially create a stronger YMCA regionally, ensuring that communities across the region, urban and rural, will continue to have the presence of the YMCA.
“We commit to maintaining strong local leadership and community-level connections so that local YMCAs ‘look and feel’ like the community they serve,” said Zettel.
The unified YMCA will be led by CEO Andrew Lockie, who is currently the CEO of Western Ontario. Kathi Lomas McGee will take a senior leadership role in the unified YMCA and will remain the interim CEO of the YMCAs across Southwestern Ontario until full unification slated to take place November 1, 2018.
Over the coming months, a transition plan will be executed which will include the selection of the new board of directors as well as the leadership team of the unified YMCA.
Lockie is thrilled with the opportunity to create lasting impact in the communities within this region.
“The focus of this unification was not on cost-savings – it is about being able to do greater work together,” he said. “We’ve developed a detailed business plan that outlines our work over the coming years. With our partners, it positions us to continue to serve the needs of those in our community.”
Lomas-McGee said unifying both groups into one creates a stronger organization, one that focuses on communities and people who work at the Y.
“Together we are stronger and have opportunities that we could not realize if we remained separate,” she said.
Amongst the priorities and considerations in the unification decision was the ability to have greater and lasting impact on local communities and to serving more children, youth and families with an even stronger governance and operational model, including improved staff supports and opportunities.