In The Last Word, we sit down with an industry expert to share their wealth of knowledge. In the 2022 March/April issue, the conversation features Krystal R. Canady, the chief executive officer at the Gateway Family YMCA.
1. How did you get started in the community recreation industry?
After graduating from Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, New Brunswick, I was a former athlete searching for a job in sports management. I was living with my parents when I began my career as a program director at the YMCA of Eastern Union County – Five Points Branch. I am proud of my 36-year career with the YMCA, and that I was able to return to the YMCA of Eastern Union County — now The Gateway Family YMCA.
2. What’s been a key to your team’s success? What are you most proud of?
Clear communication and intentional staff development. Teamwork has always been the foundation of my organizational structure. I created our senior leadership team structure, which brings together experts within their fields to create synergy to move our organization forward, and improve the lives of individuals within the community we serve.
I’ve also had the opportunity to partner with five individuals working for me who are now CEOs at other YMCAs. I am proud to be able to assist them in their career and enable them to accomplish their goals.
3. What has been one of the biggest accomplishments of your career?
The overall growth of our YMCA’s programs and services, including anchor programs such as housing and social services, childcare, and adult day care. Additionally, I have been able to lead our Y and develop relationships with key donors, achieving the largest donation in our Y’s history of $2 million through an angel donor.
4. What has been one of the biggest challenges you have faced in your career?
I’ve just recently begun to focus on creating intentional downtime where I can truly focus on family, friends and self-care. After many years of being constantly “on,” it becomes a challenge to step back and relax, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. I continue to strive for perfection but now I give myself permission to vacation, turn off and recharge.
5. What is one lesson you have learned that other community recreation professionals can learn from?
Be a good listener. The most important information comes from your constituents. It’s so important to make data-informed decisions. The ability to talk with internal membership and community stakeholders when determining needs and opportunities is key to determining future direction for your organization. Take the time to ask the questions and bring groups together for discussion. Don’t be afraid of change.
6. Tell us one fact about yourself others may not know.
I was part of the Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, Women’s National Championship Basketball Team 1981-1982. The lessons I learned and teamwork I lived shaped the person I have become in my life and career.