The YMCA of Northwest North Carolina is breaking with the norm at the Winston Lake Family YMCA. Instead of hiring an executive director to oversee the historically African American branch, a branch director will be hired.
A job listing for the position states that the branch director “will be responsible for all aspects of day to day branch operations, including membership and program development; building strong relationships with members, community leaders, and stakeholders; and recruiting, developing, and motivating staff and volunteers.”
The salary range for the job, which closed to applicants May 29, was listed as $39,000-42,000. Listings for branch executive director jobs in other YMCA systems placed the salary range between $60,000 – $70,000, a range that is in line with local EDs, according to a source. The Winston Lake Branch will be the only freestanding Forsyth County Y without its own executive director. The YMCA of Northwest North Carolina’s Barium Springs location in Statesville has a branch director, as does an express location it operates at Wake Forest University.
YMCA of Northwest North Carolina CEO Curt Hazelbaker said a branch director has fewer responsibilities and is a good fit for Winston Lake because it has a membership of less than 2,000 – less than most other local branches.
“We feel real good about it. We feel it’s a good direction for Winston Lake,” he said, adding that the decision was made after getting feed back from an ad hoc committee of Y members and the Winston Lake Y Board.
The new branch director, who Hazelbaker says should be in place by early July, will answer to Vice President of Operations Richard Daniels, who also serves as executive director at Fulton Family YMCA.
“Richard will be active in the community and the face of the Y,” Hazelbaker explained. “The branch director will be …responsible for the day to day operations, what takes place in the branch.”
Daniels, who launched his career at Winston Lake 22 years ago, was promoted to the vice president position late last month, soon after some local residents questioned why the leadership of the local YMCA system lacked racial diversity.
The city native said he will serve as executive director for both Winston Lake and Fulton Family, splitting his time between the two facilities. Daniels will handle Board of Management development and annual giving campaigns – two key ED responsibilities – at both branches.
“I think this is a great opportunity for me, and I think this is a great opportunity for Winston Lake,” he said. “It just allows me to come back and bring my learning (experiences) to Winston Lake to help it grow.”
Hazelbaker and his staff had faced blistering criticism for letting the leadership position at Winston Lake sit idle for months. The branch has been without an executive director since January. Hazelbaker had said he hoped a new executive director would be hired by March, but as March, April and much of May came and went, the Y system failed to not only to hire a leader, but did not even advertise the opening.
During a series of meetings with Winston Lake Y members and volunteers, officials said they were weighing their options on how to proceed with the hiring process. Speaking on the condition of anonymity, a former Winston Lake Board of Management member expressed frustration with the hiring process, saying there is no excuse for the length of time Winston Lake has had to go without permanent leadership.
“My frustration was just with the way it was done,” he said. “I’m just sort of displeased with the procedure. I think it could’ve been handled altogether differently in the timeframe. It could’ve been done in 60 days.”
Al Jabbar, a longtime Winston Lake member and volunteer, has been vocal in his criticism of Y leadership in recent months. During an April 23 meeting with Y officials at Winston Lake, Jabbar took exception with the homogenous nature of the organization’s upper management, which was at the time all Caucasian. Jabbar said last week that Daniel’s promotion has allayed his concerns.
“To me, the big fight was to get a person of color on the vice presidential level so that we can start moving up,” he said. “…In terms of the health of Winston Lake, I feel a lot better now than I did before.”
Jabbar added that he understands the Y’s motivation to hire a director rather than an executive director.
“I know it’s a money factor, and Winston Lake does not generate the kind of flow in my opinion that would call for another executive director at Winston Lake,” he commented. “…We’ve got to create opportunities to get more membership. That’s why the other Y’s are more successful. Right now, we just can’t tell the (positive) story that needs to be told. We’re hoping that with the new administration, we will get in a position where we can be better recruiters for the Y.”