Thursday, May 21, 2015

Ecke, Ayers kicked off YMCA board for questioning fee increase on lower-income children

KPBS:
Two board members of the Ecke YMCA in Encinitas, including the daughter of branch founder Paul Ecke, have been ousted after they objected to a decision to eliminate discounted youth memberships at all of San Diego County's YMCAs.

Lizbeth Ecke, who also is the granddaughter of the Y's namesake, Magdalene Ecke, says she and fellow board member, Bob Ayers, were asked to “temporarily resign” from the Encinitas YMCA’s board of management earlier this year. Like Lizbeth, Ayers has deep family ties to the North County Y.

They say the request to step down came after the two wrote a letter to the YMCA of San Diego County's corporate board of directors questioning a policy change they believed would cut off thousands of kids from recreation programs at the county’s 12 YMCAs.
UPDATE: Ousted YMCA board members start web site: YnowSD.com

29 comments:

  1. The trick is to know when to be proud for getting fired.

    I believe Ms. Ecke and Mr. Ayers should wear this firing as a badge of honor.

    --FP.

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  2. The YMCA Corporate Board of Directors now requires children to use their silver spoons to gain entrance.

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  3. Crimony. If it wasn't for Lizbeth's kin, there would be no YMCA on Saxony. And I never met Ayers, but when I worked there in 79, he was one of the main sponsors of the Y then (if not his dad). Whatsamatta with the Y?

    - FRED

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  4. Baron Herdelin-Doherty comes from Texas; his contract is for $600,000 per year. A YEAR!

    When he realized there was the potential to make even more money off of a Young Men's Christian Association, he axed the scholarships. This is now a Me-Ocrazy and good employees are headed for the exits. Reports of Scientology-like dictums coming down from THQ are frightening the longtime employees of Magdalena. It's rumored he ONLY eats protein.

    The IRS will be looking at Baron kinda-soon, donch'a think?

    But Baron might have his eye on creating Sister Wives out of the department heads at all the YMCA's in the County.

    Don't laugh, have you met him?

    Between this and the Leichschtag Conspiracy who needs Scientology?

    Besides John Travolta.

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    1. clearly, you are very familiar with this matter and the individual in question. all your comments are right on point. good job..need everyone to keep the heat on this issue. for that salary, one would expect a CEO of a $140mm company to have at least some legitimate management experience..not in this case.

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  5. Baron didn't happen without a board that has the same mentality. The board members are?

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    1. all corporate board members can be viewed at this link:
      http://www.ymca.org/annualreport/#book5/page23

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  6. When I worked at the Y, the Executive Director told me "If there's anyone parked in the parking lot when you close, just let them stay overnight. The Y is all about helping people."

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  7. Joanne Kinghorn RemillardMay 23, 2015 at 6:45 AM

    Having known Bob Ayers all of my life, and also watching the commitment of the Eckes family to the Y, I have nothing but high respect for these two individuals. They both stand nothing to gain by voicing their valid concerns. I hope the board and the community will take a serious look at these concerns, make adequate changes, and by all means re-instate these two. The community and the Y cannot afford to lose these two selfless champions!

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  8. It is my understanding that Baron has made significant changes since his arrival. I am not saying that they were good or bad...just changes. Many senior leadership staff within the Association have either left and/or were forced out upon Baron's arrival. It was a "get on Baron's bus" mentality or leave. It's sad to think that San Diego has lost such great leadership in Executive Directors that have left, senior management at local branches that moved on, and current staff and management looking to leave because of the ridiculous politics and changes that make no sense. Did you know some of those Executive Directors that left are now CEOs in other California associations or that some senior management that left are now Executive Directors in other Y associations?

    Even worse, those that are still in senior leadership positions as Executive Directors, Associate Executive Directors, and management are too scared/afraid to speak up. They used to be leaders that would be the voice for those that were not always heard, they would be a beacon to steer staff in the right direction, but now those once great leaders are silent figureheads at local Ys. They are now followers of Baron and his management style. Too afraid to speak up, too afraid to support staff/board/volunteers, too afraid to lose their jobs. While Baron rules with an 'iron fist' he continues to bring down staff morale across the association, staff continue to look for other employment outside of the Y, and faith in his leadership continues to plummet.

    Baron had the opportunity to really make a positive impact within the YMCA of San Diego County. He had big shoes to fill and footsteps to follow with the departure of Rich Collato, but Baron had been doing fairly well in other associations that he had led. Still all I have heard is the negative side. Decision making without realizing the impact (good or bad) that it will have on local Ys in San Diego County. And of course, when stories come out you only see/hear the 'bad' side first, but if Baron won't comment and defend his business management decisions then all the public and staff can do is think he is more coward than courageous.

    The YMCA of San Diego County has lost and will continue to lose great leaders and rising stars if something doesn't change for the better. THQ, specifically Baron, needs to start addressing questions that come in from the media and the Y staff/board/volunteers. We may not hear the answers we want to hear, but at least there will be answers. Who knows...Baron might realize he has made a few mistakes along the way and will try to rectify the situation(s)...one can hope. Regardless, leaders that can answer the tough questions turn good companies into great companies. Baron and his THQ staff and Board of Directors need to start taking these tough questions head on otherwise the YMCA of San Diego could go from good to bad instead of from good to great!

    If I could talk/say anything to Baron at this point it would be: Listen to the voices of the communities that the local Ys are serving, remember what it was like to be a staff or middle management, take the feedback with a grain of salt, remember the youth that you are unfortunately pushing out need the Y now more than ever...grow from every conversation/encounter and know that there is still time to turn the YMCA of San Diego County around.

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  9. Members of the Magdalena YMCA received an e-mail letter from Robert Green, Chairman which was supposedly designed to inform us of the recent controversy. In fact, the explanation was vague and ambiguous with most of it sounding more like a marketing blurb than a genuine communication.. The letter states if the youth rejoin or renew by the last of May, they may continue as members for another year, but after May 31, 2015, no one will be able to join or renew as a youth member. The board didn't send out this notice until May 23rd which doesn't leave much time to protest the change.
    In his final paragraph, Mr. Green wanted the members to know that their donations would remain at the Magdelena Ecke YMCA and be used in the community. However, I have already talked with one woman who was planning to leave a comfortable amount of money in her trust to the Y and has now changed her mind because she can't be sure the money would stay here. Others have stated they will no longer donate to the February Drive.
    And what will happen if Lizbeth is not on board to take charge of the Poinsettia Ball?!

    I also believe it is worth noting that Baron Herdelin-Doherty and others in management refused to be interviewed by the media. This further arouses suspicions of shady secretive machinations.

    Yet another issue is that of those who have provided their services as Ambassadors and volunteers. A year or so ago, the gratuitous memberships for those who served the YMCA many hours each week was revoked. Several of those volunteers left the "Y." Others who currently serve as volunteers have mentioned that YMCA volunteers are not being nurtured with so much as a "thank you." While there was apparently a dinner held to honor volunteers, the invitations were given to a select few.

    My personal concern for some time now is that I have learned while Baron Herdelin-Dohery has a yearly contract for $600,000 with other members of management receiving salaries in six figures and administrative staff awarded health benefits, instructors (many who have served Magdalena Ecke YMCA for years, and other staff are paid minimum wage with no health benefits. This wage disparity is nothing short of medieval.
    Management wouldn't have their jobs without the the dedicated hard work of instructors and other essential staff.

    Magdalena Ecke Family YMCA is a marvelous place and is serving a wide range of people of all ages. Many of us are, however, concerned that hubris and corporate greed is beginning to undermine this marvelous facility and probably other YMCA's around The county.

    Thanks to Lizbeth and Bob for taking this independent, courageous and moral stand.

    I too hope that there will be enough of a backlash from these revelations to turn the YMCA of San Diego County around.

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  10. Kids are as welcome at the Y as they have always been! No child would ever be turned away because of inability to pay. That has not changed and won't. The membership model that this Y has adopted is the model that is most common in YMCA's across the country.

    The bashing and misinformation spreading about the Y is absurd. The YMCA has been here, for the youth and families in this community for a very long time and I, for one, think they do a fantastic job!

    The YMCA of San Diego County branches have been implementing the switch from discount cards (formerly called "youth membership") to member/non-member pricing for over a year. All branches have made the change except the Ecke Y.

    People need to get their facts straight before making comments based on the story that 2 individuals are telling. The campaign they are on is very distracting and harmful to the good work the Y does in San Diego County.

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    1. Thanks Baron!

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    2. you're kidding right?! you are completely missing the point. right or wrong, this entire issue started because tough questions were asked of corp Y and what followed was a complete breakdown in management/leadership..no response whatsoever. From what I've been reading, not one person at corp Y has made an attempt to reach out to either Ecke or Ayers..seriously? At a minimum, this guy should be removed simply for lack of management skills. Let's be clear: this is not a Y issue..this is a Baron issue.

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  11. The YMCA of San Diego County’s standard is that no one is denied membership or access to programs and services due to the inability to pay. We have funds allocated for financial assistance to support this. In the past 11 months (fiscal year ends June 30, 2015), we have awarded $2,842,000 in direct scholarships.

    There are inaccuracies coming from the media and other parties. Please visit the link to our website below to learn about our side of the story.
    www.ymca.org/allfamiliescount

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    1. Looks like Baron's high priced media team has backed away from all the losing arguments like youth membership, unsubstantiated membership numbers and even reference to sacraficial lambs Ayers & Ecke. Easy to trip over your royal rope when a crown is covering your eyes.

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  12. Baron states that the YMCA trend nationwide is to no longer have youth memberships. This is not true, you can look for yourself at www.ymca.net. It is hard to find YMCAs without youth memberships. It is getting harder for families to afford memberships. We no longer have a free family membership (or individual membership) for volunteering with Playground Partners. To get rid of youth memberships is the wrong thing to do.

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    1. YMCA of San Diego has a membership category for teen/young adult just like the ones other Y's have that the writer above is referring to. It is a much lower cost than a family membership. Look it up... its like other Y's across the US. San Diego starats at age 13 and is a real membership where the teen can come to the Y unsupervised by parent/guardian opposed to a discount card with no other membership benifits.

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  13. Say no mo. http://i.imgur.com/SeBSjmL.jpg

    Am I one of your charges? Are we all?

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  14. We are all BARONS CHARGES http://i.imgur.com/SeBSjmL.jpg

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  15. YMCA of San Diego County still has a teen/young adult membership category that is much less than a family membership. Look it up...

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    1. Look out teens and young adults! You are probably next! If "youth" can go, nothing is safe. What about the military discounts? Headed to sea?

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  16. That is where all the misunderstanding lies. There never was a membership for kids under 13 that allowed access without a parent/guardian or in a program. All a Youth could buy was a "discount card" for programs. It never was a "membership" to the facility. The Teen/young adult category is a facility membership. There are more things for kids to do at the Y than ever before. If with parent/gurdian, they can use the wellness center, participate in exercise classes with parents, attend Family Nights and parents nite out, None of these opportunities for kids existed 5 years ago.

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    1. Misunderstanding? are you kidding? My family doesn't need your membership for other things. Consider other situations. if your kid is a high level gymnast going to the Y 5 days a week 4 hours a day, do you really think she needs to go to the wellness center. the exercise class with parent and attend the family nights? those flick and floats just don't cut it. and consider the family that has other children in other activities, such as mine. Another daughter in soccer, school and 2 clubs, as well as swim and another in tennis. I am the mom driving these three to all of these, doesn't leave much time for me to utilize my family membership, not to mention the other 2 children don't have time for that either. And fyi, this whole initiative that families spend so little time together, well mine does and I don't need you to tell me I don't. Despite the fact I pick them all up after 6 pm every night, we all eat dinner and breakfast together. you are all out of line and are sounding like profit organizations

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  17. So if there is confusion, the answer to our youth discount is "eliminate"!!! To Ayers and Ecke "out"!! Baron remains in charge because he is so good at giving explanations??? Mmmm. Me thinks the changes are being made to the wrong people.

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  18. "There are more things for kids to do than ever before." But the kids HAVE TO PAY MORE!!! Will you ever get it, Baron?? Ain't broke, don't fix it. Give us our Y back, Baron. You the only thing that's broke! Who is on this "Corporate Board" we keep reading about? Who are they? Where are they?

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  19. UPDATE FROM BOB & LIZBETH June 14, 2015: Another step to reach out to the members of the Board of Directors of the San Diego Association (the “Corporate Board”) has just been made. We sent a strong message to them – the people who have an obligation to listen. Baron Herdelin-Doherty and his key Executives also received our message. These are the people who make the decisions that affect the YMCA across the entire County of San Diego. We let them know that although they are not answering our questions, the hard working and conscientious Staff of the Y is. We are hearing from Staff (past and present) at all levels and from every corner of the County sometimes anonymously, sometimes not. While we are pleased to get answers to our questions, we are distraught by what we have learned. It is very disturbing in its detail and its scope. We just gave the Corporate Board a pretty good dose of what we have received and “implored” them to act. We wrote that the solution to us “is obvious”. We wrote that if they did not act within a defined (and rather short) period of time, we would return to those who “are listening”. EVERYONE WANTS THE ANSWERS TO THESE QUESTIONS. NOBODY CAN BELIEVE HOW HARD WE HAVE WORKED TO GET THEM. NOBODY CAN BELIEVE THAT AFTER 6 MONTHS, STILL NOT ONE CORPORATE BOARD MEMBER OR EXECUTIVE STAFF OF THE SAN DIEGO Y HAS REACHED OUT TO US. Reporters contact us frequently for updates. We want to give the Corporate Board one more chance to do the right thing. As for those who are reaching out to us, we hear you and appreciate your support very much. We realize that we may be the only safe outlet for frustrated and demoralized Staff. Hang in there everyone! We need you more than ever. You can still contact us confidentially via email at bobandliz@ynowsd.com. You can visit our website at www.ynowsd.com where you will find links to twitter, facebook and instagram. You will also find a confidential “dropbox” where you can deposit your message and information (you don’t need a dropbox account to use this). We are undeterred by Baron’s efforts to marginalize us (he recently referred to us as a “bump in the road”). How long is this going to take? We don’t know. We regret what is being done to such an important organization, but we have faith that public opinion ... those who LOVE THE Y ... will prevail. We will not stop. Helpful resources are coming to us all the time. Our resolve knows no limit. We believe that YOU that will cause the right decision to be made. Bob Ayers and Lizbeth Ecke.

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  20. The members of the corporate Board of Directors of the San Diego Association of the YMCA has told us that they are taking steps to get answers to our original questions and new questions that have arisen over the last five weeks. This process won't happen overnight but we hope to have some answers in the next 3 to 4 weeks. Thank you as always for your support. We continue to ask for your input, questions and concerns. bobandliz@ynowsd.com

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