In The Last Word, we sit down with an industry expert to share their wealth of knowledge with you. This issue, the conversation features Carrie Ohorodnyk, the executive director of the Rose E. Schneider YMCA.
How did you get started in the community recreation industry?
CO: I’ve worked out for years. Twelve years ago, while a member at my YMCA, I decided to get my MBA, which required me to quit my full-time job. While going to school, I didn’t know how I would be able to afford living on my own and my Y membership, so I got a job working at the front desk part time — as an employee, I got a free membership. I fell in love with the mission of the YMCA, as well as the positive and healthy environment we create, and I continued to move up within the organization.
What’s been a key to the Rose E. Schneider Family YMCA’s success? What are you most proud of?
CO: Keeping a clean, friendly and relevant facility. We are constantly working as a team to evaluate our programs and services to ensure we are providing high-quality and popular programs. We need to provide our members with value for their money.
What has been one of the biggest accomplishments of your career?
CO: Realizing that culture is everything. We are working diligently to create a culture of accountability among all of our staff. It is a lot of work, but it’s already paying off. Staff involved in the initial stages are already more attentive to members and following our culture beliefs. We involved staff early on to make sure they had a part in creating the belief system — therefore, creating buy-in. I look forward to seeing how this cultural shift will play out and affect revenue, as well as overall staff and member satisfaction.
What has been one of the biggest challenges you have faced in your career?
CO: In March 2016, I was blessed to receive a promotion from membership director to executive director. It was what I worked so hard for and couldn’t believe it was actually happening. However, while on the top of the world in my career, my mom got sick with cancer. As I was trying to get comfortable in my new role, I was spending most nights at the hospital, trying to keep up with my then four-year-old, and manage life. My mom passed away two months after I received my new position — it was a challenge to keep myself in check. I had to fully commit myself to my new role while trying to work through the grief process of losing my mom. To be honest, I still am. It was with the support of my husband, daughter, and other family and friends that I was able to make it through this challenging time.
What is one lesson you have learned that other community recreation professionals can learn from?
CO: As a community recreation facility, we face a lot of pressure serving our people — however, we can’t be everything to everyone. We have to be OK with being enough. We will never be perfect and always please all of our members. If, at the end of the day, you feel you’ve done all you could do, that should be enough. Work to serve.
Tell us one fact about yourself others may not know.
CO: I’m kind of a boring person. I love fast cars and secretly wish I was a race car driver.