Gerry Vandemerwe will retire after 35 years of service

Erie, PA (May 16, 2023) – The YMCA of Greater Erie Board of Directors announced the upcoming retirement of CEO Gerry Vandemerwe after 35 years of service to Erie County’s second oldest non-profit organization.

Chairwoman Julie Wilson shared Vandemerwe’s retirement announcement with the Y’s board and employees at its regular board meeting on May 16.

“The YMCA is grateful to Gerry and his leadership of our Y and to the Erie community. He’s championed a culture that invests in its employees and built upon a long-standing reputation of accountability, reliability and fiscal responsibility,” said Julie Wilson, YMCA of Greater Erie chairwoman.

Wilson will chair an ad-hoc search committee that will work with Y-USA to conduct a nationwide CEO search to be concluded by year-end.

Vandemerwe, a native of Durban, South Africa, was recruited by Gannon University to play soccer and moved to the United States in January of 1984. Vandemerwe is a Gannon University Sports Hall of Fame inductee and still holds the University’s Goal Scoring Points Leader record established in 1988.

Hired in 1989 as a program director at the Downtown Y, Vandemerwe progressed through the Y’s career lattice working his way to CEO in June 2003. “I’ve been very blessed to call Erie my home and to be part of the Erie community for almost 40 years.”

“I am very grateful to have been given the opportunity to grow my career within the Erie Y,” Vandemerwe continued, “I am proud of all we’ve accomplished. Our staff team is superior, and I am proud of the fact that a culture of growth and opportunities has been provided to all the staff of the YMCA. I have stood on the shoulders of some very talented leaders in our history.”

The Erie Y has been recognized as a Top 100 Y in the country among its 800 peer YMCA associations. This accolade is based on operational budget size. Vandemerwe accepted the Y-USA Childcare Champion CEO award 2010 at the Y’s National Childcare Conference in Orlando and was just one of five CEOs to be awarded this recognition.

“I really enjoy visiting our Y locations and seeing the impact our programs have on those we serve. The diversity of our programs affords us the opportunity to make a difference in people’s lives, from infants as young as six weeks to people in their 90s,” reflects Vandemerwe.

The Y’s impact was recognized by The Nonprofit Partnership in 2020 through its inaugural award of Nonprofit of the Year. The Y has received numerous “Erie’s Best” choice awards for its youth development and healthy living work.

And, for Vandemerwe, the Y has played a large part in his life. Through his employment at the Y, he met his wife Amy at the Eastside Y 30 years ago. Their three boys (Tyler, Joe and Kyle) participated in many Y programs throughout their youth.


About the YMCA of Greater Erie

The YMCA of Greater Erie is a leading nonprofit community resource founded in 1860. It provides services and programs in the areas of youth development,  healthy living and social responsibility.  Its cause is to strengthen the community. It serve a diverse population of men, women, and children with an emphasis on families.

Deeply rooted in communities throughout Erie County, the Y works in partnership with like-minded organizations to collectively improve the quality of life of all citizens by aligning our priorities with our community’s vision as identified by Erie Vital Signs.

Its membership is 21 million strong and spread across more than 2,600 Y associations nationwide. Here locally, four membership branches, outdoor recreation center, nine early and school-age education program centers and community outreach programs serve more than 35,000.


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