YMCA director to serve as interim at South Bend branch
NILES — Niles-Buchanan YMCA CEO Mark Weber was chosen to lend his talents to a facility across the state line, while continuing to serve southwest Michigan members.
As of Monday, Weber began officially serving as the interim CEO of the YMCA of Michiana in South Bend. The leadership change was instigated when the former CEO of the South Bend facility, Dan Asleson, announced his retirement early this year.
Weber said administration from the South Bend facility called him January and offered him the six-month interim position. Weber said he saw an opportunity with the new role leadership role.
“Even though we are divided by the state line, we are sort of one community,” Weber said. “We have people here in Niles that engage in South Bend and vice versa. It just makes sense. There is some amazing overlap in community.”
Through the management agreement, Weber said he will have the chance to work alongside leaders from both facilities to better assess how to leverage and strengthen the respective facility’s programs and subsequently local communities.
In South Bend, Weber said his focus will be to help the YMCA of Michiana make some upgrades to their facility. He also wants to better advertise and make improvements to the Three Rivers-based Camp Everhart, which is owned by the South Bend facility. The 220-acre camp serves youth throughout the summer providing them with a number of outdoor activities.
“It’s one of those opportunities that I don’t think people in southwest Michigan are aware of,” Weber said. “Our work will be to create some awareness and hopefully some more opportunities for kids in the community to take advantage of a summer camp program.”
Lastly, Weber said his role as interim director will involve examining how the facilities can collaborate and potentially share resources.
“For example, instead of having separate fundraising people, perhaps we could do some collaboration and joint fundraising for both communities,” Weber said. “Can we leverage accounting, marketing … to again be more efficient so that we can put more money back into our programming.”
The management agreement between the Niles-Buchanan and South Bend facility could potentially inspire a merger. Weber said officials will assess this possibility after the six-month time frame.
“Both boards are going to take a look at this and they may say ‘hey, there is some great collaboration opportunities, but they need their own CEO,’” Weber said. “Or it could go down the path of a merger, but that is why we are doing the six-month engagement.”
Weber also served as interim CEO about two years ago when the Benton Harbor facility was also under a leadership transition that eventually ended in a merger between the Niles-Buchanan facility and Benton Harbor.
Given that the Niles-Buchanan facility has since merged with the Benton Harbor facility, the three-way merger could open up more program opportunities for all. However, members are permitted to visit and use another YMCA facility as part of their membership agreement, Weber said.
In the months ahead, Weber said he is excited to collaborate and work together with South Bend administration.
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