We are excited to announce that Chris Burke will serve as the new Executive Director and Chief Executive Officer, effective January 1, 2024. He will succeed Jim Doremus who has served as Interim Executive Director & CEO since October, 2022. Chris brings extensive experience in independent residential camping, youth development, and mission-focused non-profit programs. He will be the 12th executive leader of our award-winning organization that has been serving children and families in and around the Cheshire County region for over a century.
Chris has spent the past sixteen years with Becket-Chimney Corners YMCA serving as the Executive Director of Programs, Camp Becket Director, and Executive Director of Business Operations and Parent Engagement. Previously, he held leadership positions with YMCA Camp Lincoln and YMCA Camp Coniston. Chris focuses on community building, strategic thinking, business analysis, value-based programs, and a growth mindset for himself and his team. Chris is proud of leading initiatives focused on socioeconomic diversity, staff development, career networking, and strong financial management.
Before his YMCA career, Chris worked for Marriott as well as the Houston Independent School District. He holds a Bachelor of Science from Penn State University in Recreation and Park Management. Chris and his wife Katie, son Colin, daughter Grace, and daughter Ella have lived in Longmeadow, Massachusetts for the past eleven years. You can typically see the Burke family on a field/court or spending quality time out in nature. Chris is also a youth basketball coach and serves as the Treasurer for the local basketball association.
I am grateful for the opportunity to lead an organization with a strong community focus that helps youth through programs that build a sense of belonging, achievement, autonomy, and relationships. I look forward to working with the Board and staff to help today’s child thrive in a complex world. I personally know that the skills developed at my time in YMCA programs as a child, still guide me as an adult. It is a great honor to give back to children and the community the way others did for me.
We are thrilled to have Chris join us. This is the optimal time for a new leader to step in and chart an innovative path forward as we work to grow our camp, expand our programming, improve our fundraising, and develop a strategic plan that ensures we can continue to help kids reach their full potential while training staff members to be future world and local leaders. Chris has the experience, enthusiasm, and energy we need to revitalize our operations and reconnect with our communities to bring them along for this exciting journey.
In the meantime, I want to thank Jim for all that he has accomplished. In his relatively short-term role as Interim Executive Director and CEO, Jim has overseen multiple projects geared towards expanding and improving our facilities in Richmond to better serve the needs of campers and their families. He has also hired new senior staff members, improved the performance of our committees, initiated environmental studies designed to protect the future of our campus, and helped lead the search for our new CEO. We greatly appreciate Jim’s tireless efforts across the camp, community, committees, and beyond. While he will be missed, we are happy to report that he and his wife, Susan, have already registered to participate in our 2024 Family Camp program!
I also want to thank our CEO Search Committee including Susan MacFaddin, AJ Kramer, Katie Steele, Max Barrett, Desi Desmond, Sally Malay, Ryan Reed, and Jim along with Susan Joy and David Martorano from YMCA of the USA and Meagan Hamblett, from the YMCA Alliance of Northern New England. This committee put in an incredible amount of work over the past year. I said many times to them that I believe this is the most important work we will do as volunteers. The decision we have made, which was ratified by the full Board, will make a difference for many years to come. It will shape our path, build our staff, and strengthen the foundation of our beloved camp and community. I can’t even begin to describe how much their attention to detail meant to me. As President & Chief Volunteer Officer, having a reliable, dedicated committee is the best, most important tool for getting a job done and moving us forward. I couldn’t have done any of it – not one step – without them.
We will be working with both Chris and Jim, along with our Board of Directors, Governance Committee, Leadership Staff, and Meagan on transition planning and CEO on-boarding. Please join us in welcoming Chris and his family to our global community of Takodians!
A bright new future for our Y starts today.