Spotlight On: Kim Decker, CEO of the Fanwood-Scotch Plains YMCA

May 3, 2019

When Kim Decker was in college, she considered three majors: accounting, education and social work. She chose sociology, but little did she know that in her 30-year career with the YMCA, she’d wear the hats of accountant, educator, social worker and much more.

Decker is currently the CEO of the Fanwood-Scotch Plains YMCA, a single facility YMCA located in Scotch Plains, NJ. The 300-plus staff work hard each day to cater to the needs of its growing and changing community, including close to 11,000 members from its service area of Clark, Fanwood and Scotch Plains, and neighboring towns.

“I always tell the young staff who join the Y, that whatever their interest, they can pursue it here,” Decker said. “YMCAs offer a vast array of programs from summer camp to special needs to international work. If your passion is cooking, you can start a cooking program. If your goal is management, there is a network of management positions to consider. There also are great training opportunities available and wonderful mentors.”

Decker began her Y career as a summer camp counselor following high school graduation. Growing up in Roselle Park, NJ, she was not involved with the YMCA as a child and was a self-described “playground kid.” But that camp counselor job stuck and became her mainstay each summer throughout college.

After graduating from Georgian Court College, her Y experience led to two opportunities at NJ YMCAs. She began working for the Five Points Branch, part of the YMCA of Eastern Union County, as a program coordinator responsible for sports, youth classes and summer camp. In time, she became the School Age Child Care director and then the branch executive.

After a while, Decker began to have an itch for something new. Having lived her entire life in NJ, she took a job in Oakland, CA as branch executive at the YMCA of the East Bay Fremont Branch. During this time, she also took on association responsibilities as day camp leader and helped set up best practices.

Having enjoyed four years on the West Coast—and following the events of September 11, 2001—Decker decided to move back to NJ to be closer to her family.

Her first stop was director of operations at the Somerset Valley YMCA, followed by senior branch executive at the YMCA of Eastern Union County, where she was mentored by CEO Kathy Dunn and COO Krystal Canady. “The way Kathy and Krystal supervised gave me opportunities to learn new things. They let me sit at the table to understand and experience various issues and observe how to discuss, solve problems and resolve various situations. As I started taking on new challenges, they also were there with guidance and support,” Decker recalled. Upon Dunn’s retirement, Decker became COO at Eastern Union County.

When the CEO position at Fanwood-Scotch Plains (FSPY) opened up six years ago, she was ready. She was excited to work in a community with a growing number of families, an active senior population and people from all walks of life.

“Each Y reflects the needs of its community,” Decker said. “In Scotch Plains, our focus is child care, aquatics, membership and chronic disease. LIVESTRONG® is a big part of our offerings. We also have medical partnerships with various health care providers focused on MS, diabetes and blood pressure screening.”

Moving forward, Decker said FSPY will continue to expand its family offerings including preschool, child care and school age programs for elementary students such as their newer track program partnership with the local schools. The Y also will continue its focus on chronic disease prevention through programs such as the YMCA’s Diabetes Prevention Program, Blood Pressure Self-Monitoring Program and Enhance® Fitness as well as LIVESTRONG® at the YMCA for cancer survivors.

“As long as we are attuned to the needs to our communities, YMCAs will always be relevant, said Decker. “The Y is a great equalizer. You can have a CEO on a treadmill next to a homeless man and neither knows the other’s story. We are truly a family and we continually change and evolve to meet the needs of our family members.”