HARDYSTON, NJ - Rutgers University alumnus who saved a failing YMCA in Connecticut has been named second-in-command of the Metropolitan YMCA of the Oranges, the largest association of YMCAs in New Jersey.
Former Greenwich YMCA President and CEO Edward G. Philipp’s selection as senior vice president/chief operating officer of the 35,000-member Metro YMCA capped a national search that attracted more than 100 candidates. Philipp replaces Larry Lev, who is retiring after a 47-year career with the YMCA.
“Ed has an impressive track record as a YMCA leader, and he will be a big asset on propelling our organization forward with his passion for our mission of building strong communities by nurturing children’s potential, promoting healthy living and fostering social responsibility,’’ said Metro Y President and CEO Richard K. Gorab. He joins the Metro Y on August 24.
Philipp said he is eager to work with the executive directors of the Metro Y’s six branches. “My goal is to make a positive impact on the Y and ensure the branches continue to thrive,’’ he said.
Philipp, 42, grew up in the Town of Poughkeepsie, New York. his mother worked as an aerobics instructor at the YMCA in the neighboring city of Poughkeepsie. Philipp spent his childhood “playing any sport that involved balls’’ and graduated high school with varsity letters in basketball and soccer.
At Rutgers, he pursued an engineering degree – until he discovered the university offered a major in sports management. His parents were a bit leery. “I had to convince them that I could make a career out it,’’ he recalled. That summer, Philipp did an internship at the Poughkeepsie YMCA – and loved it. “Fitness, health and wellness. I knew that’s what I wanted to do with my life,’’ he said.
After graduation, Philipp landed a job as health enhancement director of the Rockland County YMCA in New York, but within 18 months he was back in the Town of Poughkeepsie as recreation director.
Missing the Y, Philipp in 2000 became associate executive director of the New Rochelle, New York, YMCA, which at the time was struggling to keep its doors open. Philipp helped increase membership, camp enrollment and revenue during his nearly three years there.
He continued to move up the Y ranks, taking the post of chief operating officer at the Rye, New York, YMCA. During his nine years, revenue from memberships and programs nearly doubled, and membership shot up 33 percent. Philipp also introduced Livestrong at the YMCA, a well-being program for cancer survivors, which he eventually hopes to bring to the Metro YMCA.
“What I’m most proud of was our focus on membership satisfaction: the Y’s scores ranked in the top 10 percent nationally’’ in five out of six years, he said.
When the CEO post at the Greenwich Y became available in 2012, Philipp was not interested. The Y had been plagued by a $24 million debt, dwindling membership and a stalled building renovation.
“I thought it was dead-end job, one that could derail my career with the Y,’’ he recalled. But board members persuaded Philipp to take the challenge.
“It was really more a of a start-up than a turnaround. All systems were off,’’ he said. Philipp attracted membership, increased donations and trained staff, many of whom had never worked at another Y before. A benefactor made good on a promise to pay off the debt once the Y got its finances in order. The Y has ended the past two years in the black, including this year’s $400,000 surplus, he said.
“Work still needs to be done, but the Greenwich Y is far stronger,’’ he said. Philipp is proud that during his tenure the Y was able to increase financial aid to families in need increased from $100,000 a year to more than $400,000 a year.
The YMCA is a family affair for Philipp: his wife, Bridget, is the senior health fitness directed at the Canaan, Connecticut Y, and their daughters, Samantha, 10, and Alexandra, 5, who have been attending Ys since they were babies.
Philipp is looking forward to setting roots in New Jersey. “I’ve wanted to end up back in New Jersey since I graduated from Rutgers,’’ said Philipp, a die-hard Scarlet Knights fan with season tickets since 1996.