OUR TRUSTEES ARE AGENTS OF CHANGE
The Summit Area YMCA is governed by a volunteer Board of Trustees which is charged with making sure we're always in a position to help the people in our community develop the skills and relationships they need to be healthy, confident and connected to others. Our Board establishes operating policies, provides planning and strategic direction, and helps secure the resources we need to promote change in the community and advance the YMCA's mission.
President & CEO
With over 25 years of experience in the Y movement, Paul is a New Jersey YMCA veteran. He began his career as a Sports Director at the Somerset Hills YMCA and progressed through the movement in leadership positions at the Metropolitan YMCA of the Oranges and Somerset Valley YMCA. He became President & CEO of the Summit Area YMCA in 2014 and is a life-long Union County resident who brings a unique perspective and understanding of the communities the Y serves. Paul grew up going to the Westfield Y where he experienced first-hand how the Y’s values and mission positively impacted youth and families and continues to be the driving force behind his work. Paul lives in Scotch Plains with his wife Maggie and their two daughters, Megan and Lauren.
As a child, I was part of the swim and soccer programs at the Summit YMCA. After graduating from law school, I moved back to the Summit area and enrolled my children in swim lessons at the same YMCA where I learned to swim. The YMCA is a place where everyone is welcome to better themselves regardless of income or age. It is an organization that strives to help all members of its community. A few years ago, there was a terrible fire in Summit where a family lost all of their belongings. The YMCA was there to help the family and raised thousands of donations from the surrounding community within days. This type of outreach is what the YMCA has always been known for. I am grateful to serve on a Board whose mission and vision so greatly serves the public.
I have been a member of various YMCAs for 30 years and running. Raising a family in Summit with my wife Sharyn gave us the opportunity to experience a broad range of YMCA programs and services. Our children have participated in numerous Y activities over the years, including swimming lessons, youth soccer, travel basketball and Adventure Guides. And I plan to play pick-up basketball at the Y for as long as my knees will allow me to! The benefits offered by the YMCA to children and families are immeasurable, and the culture and spirit of our Y is palpable – it is welcoming, inclusive and committed to having a positive impact across our entire community. It is my privilege to serve on our YMCA Board of Trustees to support and contribute to our shared mission of sustaining the values, services and programs of our YMCA for years to come.
Secretary of the Board
I have been connected to the YMCA for decades, starting with a family membership at the Shore Area YMCA in the 1960s where my five siblings and I were on the swim team and regularly participated in the many other activities that the Y had to offer. When I moved to New York City in 1986, I joined the Y of Greater New York and remained a member until 2006 when I moved to Summit. My family is active at the Summit Y — my wife and I regularly work out and my two daughters participate in the many programs offered such as aquatics, tennis, soccer and camp. I have been impressed with the YMCA organization and its mission — everybody is welcome, regardless of financial ability or background. I am very fortunate to work with a number of talented individuals on our board.
Born and raised in Summit, the YMCA has always been at the heart of my hometown. The YMCA was where I grew up going to camp, learning to swim and working out with friends when I graduated from college. When we moved back to Summit we enrolled our children in swim lessons and both swam for the Seals. The Learning Circle was our daycare and pre-K. The Y hosted numerous birthday parties for my kids. The YMCA truly is the “cornerstone” of our community and it serves everyone. You cannot walk into the YMCA and not smile at the positive feelings surrounding you. I am honored to serve on the Board of Trustees and look forward to ensuring the YMCA is there for others as it was for me and is for my family.
The YMCA has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. As a toddler I took swimming lessons at the Somerset Hills YMCA, where I went on to compete as a member of the swim team for thirteen years. I was also a very active participant in what is now referred to as Adventure Guides and a youth leadership program. My high school years found me adding work as a lifeguard, swim instructor, volunteer swim coach, and front desk receptionist at the Y to my swim team activities – meaning that the majority of my days were spent at the Y. On returning to the area I joined the Summit Area YMCA, where my two daughters have remained active in the swimming programs from when they were six months old to today as they are both members of the swim team. I am proud to be a member of the SAY community, and am fortunate to be able to serve as President of the Swim Team Parents’ Organization in addition to my role on the Board of Trustees. We are blessed to have such an amazing resource in our community – one that does much more for people than providing a place to work out. As an inclusive organization that that supports the development of children, active and healthy lifestyles, and social responsibility, the YMCA is unparalleled.
Treasurer of the Board
The YMCA has been an integral part of our family for decades. Our 3 children learned how to swim at the Y and had their first experience on the soccer field through the YMCA’s youth soccer program. The friends my son made in the Adventure Guides program are still one and the same over 20 years later. The Summit Seals swim team took up a good deal of time during the colder months for two of our children. The quotes on the back of the swim teams t-shirts still ring true with our children as they navigate their career paths. Today, as Carolyn & I approach empty nester status, we find ourselves in the Y several times a week with my time split between the gym and the pool. The Summit YMCA has been part of the fabric of our 23 years in Summit. Our children have learned many life lessons at the YMCA and we still have someone to greet us every time we walk in the door. I’m happy to have the opportunity to serve on the board and make sure the family friendly appeal of the Summit YMCA is there for decades to come.
Rob Radest grew up in Fair Lawn, NJ. In 1976 he moved to Boston to apprentice with a wholesale jewelry and liquidation company, Gordon Brothers Corp, founded in 1903. During his tenure there Rob became an expert buyer of fine jewelry, diamonds, colored stones and pearls. In 1991 Rob moved to New York to open a buying office. He met his wife, Nora, and they married in 1992. In 2000 Rob and two of his colleagues bought the wholesale jewelry division from the Gordon family and formed GBC, Inc. Rob and Nora are blessed with two children, Emma Radest and Jes Taylor, as well as Jes’ wife Lauren, and granddaughter, Grace. Rob has lived in Summit since August 1992.
Rob has been an active member of the Summit YMCA for 18 years, and a member of the Summit YMCA Advisory Board, since 2016. He has recently joined the Board of Trustees, and chairs the Capital Campaign Committee. Prior to their commitment to the YMCA, Rob and Nora were strong supporters of the Summit Educational Foundation and several other philanthropic organizations in Summit and elsewhere.
One of the first things I did upon moving to Summit in 1998 was to join the Y. Almost immediately, it became a hub of family activity, with my 5 children participating in the soccer and basketball leagues, climbing the wall, enjoying family swim, and exploring nature on countless Adventure Guide campouts. The Haunted House was an annual highlight, as well. Now, with the kids growing up, we come back for group exercise classes or to work out in the gym. The mission of the Y resonates with the whole family and so I’m proud to take an active part as a trustee to help promote and advance those principals.
Our two sons learned swimming at the Central London YMCA during one of my offshore assignments. It was an excellent family experience, and my introduction to the Y. Following our return to the US, we moved to Short Hills, the boys grew up and (thankfully) moved out after college. Around that time, I was diagnosed with early stage prostate cancer. Soon after treatment, I received an unsolicited invitation from the Summit YMCA's LIVESTRONG at the YMCA post-cancer fitness program. Recalling our London Y experience, and looking for something to lift my spirits, I enrolled, somewhat reluctantly since I wasn't a gym goer. In the LIVESTRONG program, we ten men and women, as diverse as any small group could be, all with a familiar recent story, met twice weekly at the Berkeley Heights Y. All of us were out of shape, just balancing on one foot was tough! But the directors always encouraged each of us. For me, during those 3 months, it was the program's director who changed my idea of fitness and the benefits of health conscious social outreach. Afterwards, I became a Y member, and now, together with a gym buddy from the program, and we work out weekly in Berkeley Heights. I not only feel much better about myself, but want to share what I was given, to help others where I can. And so, when an opportunity came up to interview for a Trustee slot at the Y, I was keen to lend my help. It is funny how life can surprise us when we're open to change.
My first encounter with the Y was when I was researching swim team programs for my daughters. Since swimmers spend so much time alone during practice, I wanted a program that was competitive but also provided friendship and team support; Summit YMCA was a good fit for my family. Five-plus years later, my daughters are thriving -- sharing bonds of commitment, hard work and achievement with their swim teammates. Spending so much time at the Y, my family jokes that the “Follow Me to the Summit Y” magnet was meant for my car! Now, I in turn want to give back and spend my time supporting the Y’s mission of promoting youth development, healthy lifestyles, and social responsibility. What sticks in my mind is how during Hurricane Sandy when so many of us were without power, the Y opened its doors to anyone in the area who needed a place to power up, shower or just to share stories and commiserate. The Y serves an important role in the community and positively impacts lives of all groups – children, families and seniors. I am pleased to be a member of the Y community and the Board of Trustees.
The Y is the community. It's not a gym. It's about making a difference. Something near and dear to me and my wife's hearts is one of my daughter's teachers, who helped diagnose my daughter with a learning disability, I saw that she was in the LIVESTRONG® at the YMCA program regaining her strength from cancer, and seeing how the Y has made an impact on her life has been phenomenal. I hope to be here and volunteer for a very long time.
Kate Wenger grew up in West Windsor, New Jersey, and her family moved to Summit in 2016. As a new member of the community, Kate and her family were welcomed by The Learning Circle where all three of her children either attended or are currently enrolled. Kate has been an active member of PTO at the Learning Circle, serving as both a class parent and President. The Summit Area YMCA has been a cornerstone to the Wenger family, providing a neutering and fun early childhood education; youth soccer, basketball, and swimming not to mention hosting numerous birthday parties. Kate is an Executive Director for Strategy & Governance for the COO office of Naxitis CIB.