1. How did you get started in the community recreation industry?
ZK: I started as a five-year-old at the YMCA in Montreal. My mom would go for exercise classes and I tagged along. That was also my first volunteer experience. Since there was no babysitting in the early 1970s, I got to peel carrots in the YMCA kitchen while my mom exercised. That was 49 years ago, and I am still thrilled to walk into the YMCA every day.
2. What’s been a key to your organization’s success? What are you most proud of?
ZK: The success of the YMCA in Moncton is because of the people who make the Y great: over 300 volunteers and a staff team that put members and the public first. The Y has been serving the Moncton community for over 149 years, and throughout that time, we have worked hard on creating lasting partnerships with all levels of government, as well as community organizations. I am most proud of the relationships we have created over time. To hear people tell their Y story and how the Y impacted their lives gives me goosebumps.
3. What has been one of the biggest accomplishments of your career?
ZK: Meeting my wife at the Montreal YMCA in the late 1980s. If it wasn’t for the Y, I never would have met her. All else pales in comparison.
4. What has been one of the biggest challenges you have faced in your career?
ZK: I was at a crossroad in my career back in 2005. I was not as challenged as I would have liked, so I had a choice: leave the YMCA and stay in Montreal, or leave Montreal and stay at the Y. I made an incredible decision to join the YMCA in Moncton and have never looked back.
5. What is one lesson you have learned that other community recreation professionals can learn from?
ZK: I have learned so much from such a wide variety of people over my years. Every day is a new challenge. Never approach a day the same way you did before. Be open to new ideas, and various approaches and opinions.
6. Tell us one fact about yourself others may not know.
ZK: I recently became a football referee in my spare time. I love football and played when I was younger, and this opportunity has given me a great chance to get away from work for a few hours a week and do something completely different.