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YMCA appoints Cameron Nicholson new President/CEO

Cameron Nicholson, President and CEO of the YMCA of Greater Des Moines

YMCA appoints Cameron Nicholson new President/CEO

Nicholson, who had been Chief Operating Officer, was chosen from a large field of applicants for the top job at the YMCA of Greater Des Moines

DES MOINES, Iowa – (Nov. 22, 2023) – The YMCA of Greater Des Moines has named Cameron Nicholson as the organization’s new President and CEO.

Nicholson, the Y’s Chief Operating Officer, had been serving as interim CEO since June, when former CEO Leisha DeSmet resigned to accept a position with YMCA of the USA. Following a nationwide search, a Transition Committee of the Y’s Board of Directors recommended Nicholson’s hiring to the full board, which approved the committee’s recommendation at a special meeting held this morning. Nicholson officially assumes his new duties on December 4.

Nicholson joined the YMCA of Greater Des Moines in 2012 as executive director of the John R. Grubb Community YMCA. He had previously held leadership positions at YMCAs in Chicago, IL and Charlotte, NC. As President and CEO of the YMCA of Greater Des Moines, Nicholson will oversee all aspects of the Y’s operations, including membership, financial sustainability, fundraising, programming, community engagement and staff development. Founded in Des Moines in 1868, the Y is one of the community’s oldest and largest nonprofit organizations, with six branch locations, 525 employees and an annual budget in excess of $15 million.   

Melinda Hanrahan, chair of the Board of Directors of the YMCA of Greater Des Moines, said the Transition Committee worked with officials from YMCA of the USA to conduct a nationwide search for candidates with the background, experience and skills to lead a multifaceted nonprofit providing programs and services to more than 75,000 individuals each year.

“As the field was narrowed down from nearly 80 candidates to a handful of finalists, it became increasingly apparent that the best person for the job was the person already doing the job,” Hanrahan said. “Cameron has earned the respect and admiration of Y staff, board members, volunteers and leaders in the community for his dedication to the Y’s mission of building healthy spirit, mind and body for all. We are excited for the Y to enter a new era under his leadership.”

In accepting the position, Nicholson expressed his appreciation for the opportunity and his commitment to the YMCA’s cause of strengthening the foundations of community.

“Over the last 12 years, Des Moines has become home for me, and my belief in the significance and impact the Y can and will have in this community has never wavered,” Nicholson said. “During the pandemic, we faced challenges that might have led other nonprofits to give up, but I saw these challenges bring out the very best in our people and our organization. My goal is to lead the Y to even greater relevance in our community as we continue on the path to long-term sustainability.”


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About the YMCA of Greater Des Moines

The YMCA of Greater Des Moines is a powerful association of men, women and children of all ages and from all walks of life united by a shared passion: to strengthen the foundations of community. We serve more than 75,000 citizens from communities throughout central Iowa and operate four YMCA fitness communities, the YMCA Supportive Housing Campus in downtown Des Moines and Y Camp resident camp in Boone. For 155 years, the Y in Des Moines has been a leading nonprofit organization focused on youth development, healthy living and social responsibility.

Posted on Wed, 11/22/2023 - 14:04
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