YMCA names Wilson Chief Strategy and Growth Officer

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Heather W. Wilson

The YMCA of Greater Brandywine announced the appointment of Heather W. Wilson as Chief Strategy and Growth Officer. Wilson brings with her 12 years of leadership experience within the YMCA movement and a passion for public health and health equity.

Most recently, Wilson served as the Senior Vice President of Membership and Health Innovation for the YMCA of Central New York, leading strategic efforts to expand the organization’s membership base and establishing key partnerships within the healthcare industry.

She also held leadership positions at YMCAs serving parts of Maryland, D.C. and New Jersey. In these roles, Wilson applied her passion for community-integrated health care, strategic planning and innovation to advance the mission of the Y and to increase health equity in local communities.

“The world of healthcare is complex and ever evolving,” comments Wilson. “The complexity can be off-putting, but managing your health needs to be a top priority. I am passionate about the ways that the YMCA can support the prevention and management of chronic disease and am excited to share my expertise with communities here in Chester County as we increase the impact that the YMCA has locally.”

In addition to her experience with the YMCA, Wilson served as the Head Men’s Basketball Athletic Trainer at Seton Hall University, where she was an Adjunct Professor for the School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences. Wilson earned a Bachelor of Science in Athletic Training from the University of Pittsburgh and a Master of Science in Education and Athletic Training from Old Dominion University.

“Heather’s expertise will be a tremendous asset for our organization,” says Bertram L. Lawson II, President & CEO of the YMCA of Greater Brandywine. “We have an ambitious growth plan that involves expanding our Youth Development programs, growing our Health Management and Disease Prevention programs and ensuring that our services reach underserved communities. Heather is the type of leader who will guide us to reach those objectives – and more.”

As a movement, the YMCA has a long history of innovation and a demonstrated ability to adapt to meet the needs of each community it serves. After a lengthy pandemic and the retirement of its former CEO earlier this year, the YMCA is evaluating the needs in Chester County and the role it plays in strengthening the community.

“The opportunity in front of us is immense,” continues Wilson. “The YMCA provides a wide array of offerings, but we are best known as a place to swim or exercise. The YMCA is much more than a gym. We are a community – a place to learn, to grow, to be supported, to lend your support to others and a place to focus on your health.”

“And not just your physical health – your mental health and spiritual health as well. Simply put, the Y is a community hub of health and wellness – and we want the community, individuals and businesses alike, to know that we are here to help.”

One of Wilson’s first priorities will be to determine where and how to expand the YMCA’s reach to underserved communities throughout Chester County. Wilson and her team will conduct zip code analyses to determine where the Y has opportunity to reach more residents with their life-impacting services.

“We are already reaching many families in the county with our services and we have the opportunity to do even more,” comments Lawson. “I’ve challenged our team to think differently to determine how we can bring our services outside the doors of the Y and into our local communities. Heather is an innovative thinker and I’m eager to see where she will lead us.”

Wilson’s passion and expertise in healthy equity makes her uniquely qualified for this role. In addition to her professional experience, Wilson holds relevant Y-USA certifications and serves as the National Chair for the YMCA of the USA’s African American Employee Resource Network (AARN).

“Good health should not be reserved for a subset of the community but is a right of all people from all walks of life,” Wilson shares. “I am thrilled to share my health expertise and passion for health equity with this vibrant community. Great things happen when we all work together, and I look forward to being part of the exciting changes happening in this region.”

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