Jennifer L’Estrange’s sons first stepped foot on U.S. soil in 2013. They were born in Switzerland, where L’Estrange has dual citizenship, and spent two years in Australia, their father’s home country. When they moved to New Jersey, William was seven years old, and Nicholas just three.
For William, “it was a tough adjustment. He left behind friends, and had to start in a new school,” L’Estrange said. The YMCA became an anchor for him. “It was where he could belong to something and feel connected,” she said.
The boys took swim lessons and joined YMCA swim teams. William strove to achieve his personal best at swimming, and that boost in self-esteem and confidence translated into school success too, she said.
“They both learned that when you put the effort in, you see the results,” said L’Estrange, one of the new members of the Metropolitan YMCA of the Oranges Board of Directors. Already a volunteer of two YMCA swim teams, L’Estrange didn’t hesitate when invited to join the board.
“I’m happy to do anything for the YMCA. I saw it as a way to give back,” said L’Estrange, founder and managing director of Red Clover, LLC, a human resources firm in Fairfield that specializes in organizational change management, process design and implementation.
“Jennifer clearly gets the YMCA’s mission, and we are grateful she will share her expertise in effectively growing staff as we plan future facility expansions,” Metro YMCA President and CEO Richard K. Gorab said.
L’Estrange grew up in the U.S., and took swim lessons at YMCAs. These days, she’s at YMCA pools several times a week and officiates at her sons’ meets. While she feels strongly about the Metro YMCA’s swim program, “it’s the Y’s mission and values that appeal to me generally,” she said. “The organization makes such a difference in the communities it serves.”
L’Estrange, who is fluent in French, has worked in 10 countries. Her family shares her wanderlust, and they travel extensively. While in Europe this summer, L’Estrange said she was delighted to see the original YMCA, founded in 1844 in London. She and her husband, Paul, live in Mountain Lakes with their boys, now ages 13 and 9.