Edward G. Philipp recently was greeted by a member of the Greenwich YMCA in front of the organization's building. "I'm so glad," she said, "that we're going to save the Y!"
And such is the mandate for Philipp, the local YM's newly named chief executive officer, who officially will come on board on August 20, following 15 years as the chief operating officer of the Rye (N.Y.) YMCA where he shared responsibility for nearly tripling membership during his tenure there.
Greenwich Citizen asked Philipp how he plans to address the many challenges he will face in his new position in Greenwich.
What will your priorities be as CEO? Membership or programming or finances? The YMCA certainly has faced a challenge in funding its renovations.
What makes this opportunity so exciting is that all three of those areas will be priorities. When I look at a YMCA I see a chair with three legs, and each one of those legs needs to be strong in order to hold up the chair. One leg is Membership, another is Programs and the last leg is Financial Health.
The financial challenge is still there, but I am confident that with the staff and volunteers we have in place we can develop an effective plan for the future. We are going to place an emphasis on quality and hope to build a culture of excellence that will result in a highly satisfied membership and high-quality programs.
What did you learn in your 15 years working as COO for the Rye YMCA, and in other positions in previous YMCAs that you can apply to your job in Greenwich?
I've learned that relationships are at the core of what we do.
As a result, we need to build deep relationships with our staff, members and the community. Additionally, I have learned that the Y is an organization that is there to serve its members and the community and, therefore, we will need to listen to what our members want/need and listen to the needs of the community.
I have also learned that we need to do a better job telling our story. Each and every day the Y is changing people's lives for the better -- and we need to make sure everyone in the community knows that.
What are your favorite sports?
Nothing out of the ordinary here: baseball (Yankees), basketball and football. I know this isn't going to be popular in UConn Country but as an alum of Rutgers, I am a huge Scarlet Knights fan.
In 2016 the YMCA will celebrate its 100th anniversary. Are you aware of any plans in the works for this occasion?
I am not aware of any plans for our centennial, however it will be a great opportunity for us to tell our story to the community -- and it certainly sounds like a good excuse to have a party!