"As government has fewer resources, nonprofit organizations fill the breach for individuals and families in our community that are struggling due to poverty, illness, or other circumstances that prevent them from reaching optimal health and succeeding in school."
Jim Berson was named president and CEO of the YMCA of Greater Providence in early September, but he’s no stranger to the Rhode Island nonprofit industry.
With experience in leadership roles at Meeting Street, a child services nonprofit in Providence, and The Providence Center, a nonprofit behavioral healthcare provider, he also has served on boards for the Rhode Island Association for the Education of Young Children and the West Bay Family YMCA as well as on the board of his new employer.
PBN: What do you foresee as your biggest challenge within your first year leading the organization?
BERSON: During the past year, the YMCA of Greater Providence adopted an ambitious strategic plan promising to strengthen the foundations of our communities and families through youth development, healthy living, and social responsibility. The biggest challenge within my first year will be to work with staff, volunteers and community partners to ensure the success of this plan. In a nutshell, we need to make sure that he work that we are doing is meeting the critical needs of helping kids achieve and improving the health of the community.
PBN: What is your top priority then for this coming year?
BERSON: Raising awareness of the YMCA’s great work among some of our key stakeholders including community leaders and corporate partners. For many, the image of the Y as simply a place to work out and swim is outdated. Today, the Y provides so much more.
PBN: Why have you chosen to dedicate your career to the wellbeing and health of your fellow citizens, particularly now to Rhode Island’s youth?
BERSON: As a parent and as someone who wants to see Rhode Island succeed, I have always believed that the future of our state is dependent on how well we support all our children to grow up to be healthy and well-educated adults. I know that the work I’m doing is making a real difference in the lives of children and families. It is both humbling and rewarding to know that I am helping these organizations achieve their goals.
PBN: Why dedicate your career to the nonprofit sector?
BERSON: As government has fewer resources, nonprofit organizations fill the breach for individuals and families in our community that are struggling due to poverty, illness, or other circumstances that prevent them from reaching optimal health and succeeding in school. By working through a nonprofit like the YMCA, I feel I can have a direct and lasting impact on our community that will hopefully outlast me, supporting the needs of children and families long into the future.
PBN: What is your greatest long-term hope for the organization’s future?
BERSON: I want the YMCA to be recognized as one of the top charities in the state with people near and far understanding the impact we have on the lives of children and families. I also hope that YMCA will be viewed as an essential community partner – in both the public and private sector – with respect to improving the health of our families and community and helping children succeed.