Meet Bertram Lawson, the YMCA of CNY’s new President and CEO

Local News

SYRACUSE, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — Bertram Lawson has been settling into his new office at the YMCA of Central New York. He took over as President and CEO in February.

He’s the first African American to serve in this role here. “Thinking about my grandparents and my father who are now no longer with us,” Lawson said. “Thinking about the goals they had for me, being in this seat is very exciting and also what it does for young people that look like me.”

Lawson comes to the region from Philadelphia. He was the Chief Operating Officer for a charter school network there. He’s no stranger to the organization, he previously worked for the YMCA for 21 years. He’s taking the reigns from Mike Brown.

It’s a year into the pandemic and the YMCA has had some challenges because of it. “We were a very strong $25-million organization, a non-profit,” Lawson explained. “We lost about $10-million in revenue. The most important thing I would say, we had to furlough people.”

There’s also a reduction in building occupancy because of the pandemic and some people just don’t feel comfortable coming back to the facilities yet.

He and his team are working on different ways to still serve the community. “We’re not waiting for people to come to us, that we’re bringing programs and services to communities and to people based upon what they want and need,” Lawson said.

He knows he has his work cut out for him, but he’s ready for the challenge ahead.

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