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Current Issue In Print Leadership The Last Word

Six Questions with Casey Thompson

Casey Thompson

In The Last Word, we sit down with an industry expert to share their wealth of knowledge. In the 2022 September/October issue, the conversation features Casey Thompson, the president and CEO of the YMCA of Metropolitan Lansing

1. How did you get started in the community recreation industry? 

From an early age I loved sports, fitness and being active. As I grew older, I found myself migrating to activities and places that had a health and wellness environment. When I was in college, I learned about a new degree at the time called kinesiology. It was a perfect alignment with my personality and passion. As I pursued a degree, I was hired at my local Y to work with youth programming, specifically working on large motor skill development.

2. What has been a key to your team’s success? What are you most proud of? 

Transparency, honesty and communication I believe are keys to our team’s success. I am most proud of this team for the shared vision and commitment they offer to make the Y the best it can be. They genuinely care for each other on both personal and professional levels. They are more than amazing Y professionals; they are incredible humans who will walk through fire for this Y.

3. What has been one of the biggest accomplishments of your career? 

My biggest accomplishment in my career so far has been my ability to collaborate and deliver programs to the most vulnerable and under resourced. It’s through the development of these partnerships I have been able to create mobile feeding programs and deliver evidence-based health intervention programs at senior centers, community centers and low-income housing complexes.

4. What has been one of the biggest challenges you have faced in your career? 

Finding new ways to engage, retain and recruit staff is extremely challenging today. Our tasks are to continue to grow and do more with less, while at the same time keep the quality and impact as high as possible. It’s easy for staff to feel overwhelmed and overworked. I will continue to make staff a priority and explore new ways to support and assure them their personal health and families are important. Self-care is imperative so we can take care of others.

5. What is one lesson you have learned that other community recreation professionals can learn from?

Be present and in the moment. Life is full of distractions but when you are with members, staff, volunteers and family, take the time to absorb every second. There is importance in making others a priority.

6. Tell us one fact about yourself others may not know. 

I taught at a local community college as an adjunct professor for 17 years. I have a special place in my heart for higher education and loved having the opportunity to inspire college students in the health and wellness world and to find joy in life-long recreation.

Brittany Howard

Brittany is the editor of Community Rec Magazine. Reach her at brittany@peakemedia.com.

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