New Faces, Greater Impact

photos of new senior leadership team members

Our Annual Campaign for the YMCA of Central New York works to expand programs and services to reach more people in the Central New York Region. Part of expanding those services means making sure we have the right staff in place to engage with and reflect our community.

In the past three months, the YMCA of Central New York has transformed the face of its leadership by adding new roles to create more capacity to serve and provide greater diversity amongst leadership at all levels. Here are a few of the new members of our senior leadership team.

  • Josh Royce is our new Chief Operating Officer. Josh is a New Hampshire native and comes to us from the Central Connecticut Coast YMCA where he served as their District Executive Director leading several YMCA sites (including Branches, an Outdoor Center and Men’s Residences). He is responsible for senior operations leadership of Branches/Program sites, member service delivery, program implementation, and supervises our Vice Presidents of Operations.

  • Mariella Canady-Towns is our new Chief Philanthropy Officer. Mariella is a Los Angeles native but has worked for the Gateway YMCA in St. Louis and for Allegro Senior Living as their Senior Marketing Manager. She leads organizational strategy regarding all fundraising efforts (Annual Campaign, Capital, Planned Giving, and Sponsorships) for our Association. With 18 years in the development and marketing industry, holding various senior leadership roles, she also sat on several boards, including the National Y board for the YUSA Multicultural Advisory Council as vice-chair of marketing, Chair for the Y Emerging Multicultural Leadership Committee, board member for FGI for her love of the arts, just to name a few. She was an Adjunct Professor for the University of Phoenix and Lindenwood University-Belleville. Currently, Mariella is a new member of Chief, a board member for a nonprofit that helps breast cancer patients, and brings 6 years of Y experience to Central New York.

  • Heather Worthy Wilson is our Senior Vice President of Membership and Health Innovation. She is recognized nationally as a resident expert and leading voice on community health and health equity matters. She leads our strategic efforts to grow our membership base, cultivate and steward our relationships with Healthy Living partners (including hospitals, medical providers and health insurance companies) and ensuring alignment with our broader membership and healthy living strategies. Heather has worked for the Y in Central Maryland most recently in the capacity of VP, Operations & Health Strategy and brings 10+ years of Y experience to the table.
  • Penny Snell was selected to serve as our Vice President of Program Development & Growth. She leads organizational strategy (including quality assurance and strategic partnerships) for all Youth Development and Social Responsibility program areas. She most recently worked for the YMCA of Buffalo Niagara as Vice President - Youth Development & Growth and brings 20+ years of YMCA experience to our Y.
  • Tony Williams is our Associate Vice President of Facilities & Capital Planning and leads organizational strategy for facility maintenance, capital planning, and association-wide maintenance/facilities vendor management. Tony is a Syracuse native and comes to us from Onondaga County where he led facilities management for 11 county library locations.

"I have been truly excited about adding these new roles and faces and all of the talent and experience they bring to our organization and Central New York region," said Bertram L. Lawson II, President & CEO of the YMCA of Central New York. "These new team members, in concert with our long-term staff, will support our ability to grow as an organization and allow us to be proactive in capturing opportunities to serve our community more fully."

Additionally, leadership roles were added at our branch operations level to assist with support of our neighborhood branches as our facilities grow and continue to rebound from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. They include:

  • Walter Gaceta and Jeff Eysaman – Associate Executive Directors at the Downtown Syracuse YMCA
  • David Sargalski – Associate Executive Director at the Northwest Family YMCA
  • Jesse Kanaple – Associate Executive Director at the North Area Family YMCA

Adding these key leadership roles will help us to deliver programs and services more effectively, create more paths for employee growth, and develop a stronger organizational culture as we continue to become an employer of choice in our region.