July 2015 Associate Board Spotlight: YMCA Metro Chicago

As a new board having formed only in April of last year, you might think YMCA of Metro Chicago is still in its development stage. Not so, says John Tocora, President of the Associate Board and Vice President at BNY Mellon. John and other initial board members were extremely diligent when structuring and planning for the board. Now that the groundwork has been set, the board is poised for tremendous growth and opportunity focusing on the four pillars of the YMCA:

1)  Academic readiness
2) Character development
3) Violence prevention
4) Fitness and healthy living

The Associate Board has tasked themselves with supporting the YMCA through these four pillars and is now filling out the general member population with young professionals who would like to take on planning volunteer and other events related to these ideas. For instance, the Associate Board recently visited Kelly Hall YMCA in Humboldt Park which is slated to lose funding. After hearing from kids who regularly visit and depend on their local YMCA, the Associate Board launched a successful online fundraising campaign.


“We expect general members to help us cultivate ideas for similar programming and execute within the structure we have established for the board,” says John, “Given the range of causes and potential activities to support those causes, we expect our board to continue to grow to be quite diverse.” So far, that’s been true of the board. Members come from a variety of professional backgrounds and range in age from 22 – 45. John says this is unique to YMCA board; the board is strengthened by the energy and enthusiasm of the recently graduated population, but benefits from the wisdom of the more experienced members. “There’s a role for anyone who wants to be involved.” Outside of the programming committee, members can join the fundraising committee or board development committee (which focuses on recruitment and potentially member mentorship) and are expected to participate in the quarterly meetings.


To date, the YMCA Metro Chicago Associate Board has been a powerful source of raising funds and awareness through their prior experiences outside of the YMCA. John serves on the Board of Directors for Big Brothers Big Sisters and constantly draws on that experience for new ideas and to resolve challenges related to the Associate Board. He also took that perspective into account to ensure the Associate Board would have a meaningful role within the YMCA of Metro Chicago’s broader structure. John is currently working on developing the relationship between the YMCA’s board of directors and the associate board to provide meaningful networking opportunities and a path for associate board members to become board of directors members.


What else should people know about the YMCA’s Associate Board? “It’s about responsibility, not accountability.” Successful board members will feel connected to one (or more!) of the four pillars, volunteer in a meaningful way, and raise funds and awareness for the great work that the YMCA does across metro Chicago. Current and future board members feel a responsibility to give back and support families and youth in our community versus being held accountable to raise a specific dollar amount or volunteer a certain number of times. “We’ve built a really great board so far and know that the mission of the YMCA will attract more great members. I’m really excited to be a part of such an impressive board.”


Want to learn more? Check out their website and stay tuned for the follow up blog post soon to be featured on the All A-Board Alliance website.