New executive director of YMCA grew up with the organization
David Rodriguez believes he may have the YMCA in his blood.
Whether the new director of St. Croix Valley YMCA has a genetic predisposition to the organization or was socialized to appreciate it, this much is certain: It's been part of his world since childhood.
When he wasn't working at the family business in the Logan Square neighborhood of northwest Chicago, the young Rodriguez could be found playing basketball or swimming or involved in some other activity at the local Y.
"I grew up at the Y," he says. "I've seen what the Y can do. I'm a product of the Y."
After graduating from Chicago's Lane Technological High School, Rodriguez had planned to work at a bank while attending classes at De Paul University. One day at the bank was long enough for him to realize that he should have accepted a job offer with the YMCA.
The job was still open when he told the director of the local Y, a neighbor, that he had changed his mind. He worked at the neighborhood Y for two and a half or three years before moving on to the corporate office of the YMCA of Metropolitan Chicago for the rest of his college career.
Rodriguez said the YMCA's core values and mission of building "strong kids, strong families and strong communities" made him forego other opportunities and remain with the YMCA after graduating from De Paul with a degree in accounting.
He also remained at the Chicago corporate office, where he worked in the financial development office overseeing three major annual fund-raisers, including the Y Partners campaign that funds memberships for people who couldn't otherwise afford it.
After five years at the corporate office, Rodriguez assumed responsibility for day-to-day operations of the Irving Park YMCA in Chicago. The Irving Park Y is unique in that it is one of the few remaining YMCA facilities that rents sleeping rooms. About 240 people, mostly World War II veterans, lived there when Rodriguez was running it.
From Chicago, Rodriguez went to Green Bay for a year, where he served as executive director of the downtown YMCA. He has been district executive of the Jefferson County Family YMCA (managing two facilities) in Lakewood, Colo., for the past four years.
Rodriguez said he and his wife, Bridgette, were attracted to Hudson because it is a community "that really supports children." They have three sons, ages 5, 3 and 21 months.
Bridgette and the boys are remaining in Colorado while the Rodriguezes try to sell their house.
Rodriguez says he talks to them by telephone daily and is anxious for them to join him.
"For Bridgette and I, it's really important for us to be a part of the community and really get to know our neighbors and our community," he said. "We're really looking forward to it."
He said it's too early for him to have any specific plans for St. Croix Valley YMCA.
"My immediate goal is to get to know as many people as I can in a very short time frame," he said.
He began his duties at St. Croix Valley YMCA Oct. 27.
Randy Hanson can be reached at email@example.com.