In Marin / CONVERSATION
who changed the course of the future for dis-
ability, and that is inevitably and indelibly
inscribed in my feeling about Marin.
Did you ever imagine that the YMCA might be
a place that you’d end up? Not the Y in particular. But I was always drawn to social service.
To a very involved life that was intertwined
with community-based organizations.
How has the YMCA, as an organization that
goes back as far as it does, been able to grow
and change and remain relevant during all this
time? I think it remains relevant because the
most persistent work of the Y is to ensure safe
and trusted environments for young people.
And that was what George Williams had on
his mind in the 1840s when he founded the
YMCA in London. He could see that having
a safe place would foster better outcomes for
young men who needed to have that kind of
community environment. And that is a persistent, consistent, transportable phenomenon
in society. Many people need to grow and to be
nurtured in trusted, safe environments.
What do you think attracts people to the YMCA
as opposed to other programs? I was talking to
a young man in his 30s just the other day and I
asked him, “Why do you come to the Y?” And he
said, “Because I am overwhelmingly drawn to
the community the Y represents.” They like to
be in diverse communities.
You’ve served as the head of the San
Francisco YMCA since 2004. How much territory does the system cover in the Bay Area?
It serves San Francisco, Marin and San Mateo
counties. We also have almost 1,000 acres of
park in the Santa Cruz Mountains, where we
have an absolutely wondrous camp. And we
have the gorgeous Point Bonita Y in the Marin
Our youth court program in
Marin County is one of our most
important pieces of work
because we are dealing with
alcohol and drug prevention.