This month, Eric Tucker assumes the role of President & CEO of the Arlington-Mansfield Area YMCA. Since 1998, he has served in senior leadership capacities at YMCAs across the country, including in Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Idaho, Connecticut, South Dakota and Missouri. Here he shares his thoughts about his new opportunity – and about the future of the Y.
Arlington Today: Why was the Arlington-Mansfield Area YMCA position appealing to you?
Eric Tucker: The first thing that really caught my attention when I interviewed for the position was the sense of community pride and spirit evident within everyone I spoke with. Communities that seek to positively change the lives of its residents are very receptive in including the YMCA as a key partner.
Secondly, our YMCA is very successful in meeting critical community needs. In 2017, the Arlington-Mansfield YMCA served over 57,000 children, teens, senior citizens and families in our community. Now that is impressive! In addition, YMCA volunteers raised funds and awarded over $400,000 in financial assistance to ensure that no one is turned away for an inability to pay.
Thirdly, our YMCA is a mission-driven charity. Oftentimes, the YMCA can be perceived as simply a “swim and gym.” Nothing could be further from the truth. The YMCA served over 85,000 meals to hungry children last year alone. The YMCA engaged hundreds of special needs adults in social and well-being programs. The YMCA ensured that over 3,000 children were engaged in meaningful afterschool programs so that families, and in particular single-parent households, could go to work and provide for their families.
Finally, the YMCA is led by a remarkable group of volunteers who serve on the Board of Directors. They are truly excited and ready to develop a new strategic plan that will ensure our YMCA grows with the needs of the community.
AT: What have been your initial impressions regarding the new job?
ET: Our YMCA and community are special in so many ways. I am truly impressed with the caliber and professionalism of the YMCA staff team. They have a passion for the YMCA mission and are true servant leaders. I am also amazed at how so many community organizations work together collectively. It’s been a busy month for me. I have already met with municipal and school district leadership in Arlington, Mansfield and Kennedale and attended special events at the Chamber of Commerce and for the Salvation Army.
AT: What are your initial goals for the YMCA?
ET: We are going to focus on conducting a comprehensive needs assessment that will ultimately lead to a new strategic plan. Our community is in a constant state of change, and the YMCA will be a leader in identifying how we can better serve children, teens, seniors and families. I expect excitement and pleasant surprises along the way.
AT: What strengths do you believe you bring to the job, and how will you implement those?
ET: I’ve been successful in my career primarily because of the support provided by excellent volunteers and staff. The YMCA tends to attract top talent, and I’ve been blessed by those I’ve worked with. I also consider myself to be a passionate, enthusiastic “cheerleader” for the YMCA. I believe in what we do. I’ve seen the YMCA positively change lives of so many, including my own. I am always eager to grow the YMCA and ask the simple question, “How can the YMCA serve the community?”