Spotlight on: Buddy Evans, President/CEO, YMCA of Montclair & State Alliance Board Chair 

May 13, 2021

Q&A with Buddy Evans, the New NJ YMCA State Alliance Board Chair

With more than 28 years of experience in the YMCA movement, Pennsylvania native Buddy Evans is certainly a YMCA veteran.  He began his Y career right out of graduate school as a Youth Services Director at a YMCA in Massachusetts and progressed through leadership positions in Rhode Island, Atlanta and Orlando.  In March 2018, he was named President and Chief Executive Officer of the YMCA of Montclair.

How did you get started with the YMCA?

While getting my master’s degree in Sports and Recreation, I was offered an internship at a YMCA in Massachusetts.  After the internship, I was offered a full-time job with benefits.  Since I was getting married, I needed a job with benefits, so I took it.  Thankfully, I fell in love with the organization and have been here 28 years.

What is it about the Y that has kept you here for 28 years?

The Y is well aligned with our family’s life and lifestyle. Going back, probably 15 years, a board member offered me a great opportunity in his own company. I came home and discussed it with my family and both my wife and kids were against it.  You would have thought I was asking them to move to Hawaii!

What do you think are the greatest challenges facing YMCAs today?

I believe the greatest challenge is adapting to the changing needs of our communities. The past year and a half has been difficult for the YMCA. We had to take a hard look at our business models. COVID-19 showed us how vulnerable we were as a membership driven organization. But it also forced us to become innovative. We started doing virtual programming, online classes, blood drives and reaching out to seniors for mental health checks. We probably didn’t envision ourselves offering these kinds of programs today, but it forced us to pivot and get on board. 

People looked around the community and saw the Y out there doing food drives, conducting blood drives and getting involved in social justice issues.  I think people are starting to realize the Y does a lot more than the traditional gym and swim. At Montclair, we also transitioned one of our buildings into a virtual learning care center so parents could go to work.  We’ve upgraded all of our technology systems and Wi-Fi to accommodate a virtual school day.

As the new chair of the YMCA State Alliance, what is your vision?

First of all, I work with 31 fantastic CEOs across the state and couldn’t be prouder of the work they are doing.  I’ve worked in five different states and I will tell you, this is the strongest Alliance I’ve been a part of. I want to continue building upon the collective impact to address the needs of our local communities.  While we all have similar missions, I recognize each community has different needs. In the end, I believe we make each other better and we certainly are always looking for ways to improve our operations.

What are your hobbies?

Our family is very sports oriented, and we spend a lot of time outdoors.  Since we relocated to the northeast, we took up skiing again and we love to golf, play tennis and go fishing. We exercise at the YMCA. My son plays professional baseball with the New Jersey Jackals and our favorite pastime is going to his games to watch him play. I’m also a diehard Philadelphia Eagles fan.