WESTPORT, Conn. — Soon after Pat Riemersma, the new Westport Weston Family YMCA CEO, graduated from college in the Midwest, she went to work at a Girl Scout camp in the Twin Cities.
“The director there introduced me to the Y, and the rest is history,” she told The Daily Voice on Friday.
Riemersma, a 30-year veteran of the YMCA movement and an Iowa native, recently took the helm of the Westport Weston YMCA as its new chief executive.
She hails from Minneapolis, where she served as vice president of youth development for the YMCA of the Greater Twin Cities.
But she is no stranger to the Nutmeg State. Riemersma held the positions of program and executive director with the YMCA of Greater Hartford from 1989 to 1994.
“I loved being in Connecticut,” Riemersma said over coffee she purchased from the Y’s cafe.
Riemersma said she was attracted to Connecticut for its natural beauty and for the friends that she made while in the Hartford area. And she wanted to work for the Westport Weston Y because its because its size — smaller than some Ys she had worked for in the past — will allow her to make close connections with volunteers.
Riemersma said she found the position on the Y’s vacancy website — the first she applied to — and that it is a perfect fit.
“I tell people the stars were aligned for this job,” she said, just weeks into her new position.
Riemersma said she hopes to increase communication at the Y, raise awareness about the organization in the community and maximize the use of the Y’s new 32-acre campus.
"This is a great facility," she said. "It's a great building, and we have so many opportunities. I think we have just touched the surface."
Last year, the Y moved to its campus off the Merritt Parkway from its historic downtown Westport building. A glass plaque awarded by the Connecticut Building Congress for Project Team of the Year stands on a conference table in her office.
She replaced Rob Reeves, who resigned last October. Philip Dwyer, a retired Connecticut YMCA executive, served as the interim leader.
When asked what a perfect day would be for her at the Y, Riemersma said she would meet with campers, seniors and members, and, of course, “getting a workout would be ideal.”
And, if given the chance, she would do a stint at the front desk, where staffers greet members as they scan their membership cards.
Riemersma enjoys connecting with community members because she sees them as more than just people who use the facility.
“Yes, they’re members,” Riemersma said. But through informal social gatherings and just being at the Y, she said, “We become family.”
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