Jonathan wants the Y to be a place filled with people who recognize we are all on a journey and we all need cheerleaders — other people who believe in us and will help us become our best selves. Learn more about our Member Engagement Director, Jonathan Whitford, and his journey to the Ankeny Family YMCA.
Jonathan grew up in Rockford, Illinois where playing high school football made a huge impact on his life. While training for football, he became a self-proclaimed “gym rat” spending nearly every day working out at the Y during the summer. Jonathan became a volunteer football coach right after graduating and has been coaching ever since. He says he loves the opportunity to “make an impact in the life of another person,” and over the years he has coached at three universities (most recently Drake University) and several high schools.
After graduating from Northern Illinois University, Jonathan spent a short time in the financial planning field, soon feeling the call to make a change and go into full-time vocational ministry. He earned a Master of Divinity at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. After serving for four years as a chaplain at Aurora University in Illinois, Jonathan ministered in an Evangelical Free Church in central Wisconsin for 17 years in various capacities.
To give you a little flavor of who Jonathan is, when he moved from youth ministries to adult ministries he was asked if he was going to “grow up.” His response, “No, adults are just going to have more fun now!” If you ever talk with Jonathan, you will know what he meant! He’s very much a “people person,” but he is also a “structures, systems, strategy” kind of guy who enjoys working in the areas of organizational and leadership development.
Jonathan and his wife Jane have been married for over 28 years and have three children. He and his family are Iowa newbies having moved to the area in August 2015 after deciding to step out of local church ministry to pursue Jonathan’s passion for fitness while continuing to help people live better lives.
Jonathan feels a strong connection to YMCA values and appreciates the sense of community the Y has built and continues to foster. A place where everyone is welcome, a place of care and support, a place that helps people take the next step, whatever that might be and whatever their current situation. He wants the Y to be a place filled with people who recognize we are all on a journey (be it as a newbie or seasoned veteran) and we all need cheerleaders — other people who believe in us and will help us become our best selves.