Annual Meeting 2023 Winners | West Suburban YMCA

Annual Award 2023 Winners

May 11, 2023

​The Ken Billings-Frank O’Halloran Award ​
This award honors and recognizes an extraordinary member who has made a long-term commitment to our Y and whose caring influence has helped shape others in a positive way.  To honor both Ken Billings and Frank O’Halloran and their legacies, the Y recognizes a long-term adult member or volunteer who demonstrates the personal qualities so characteristic of these two gentlemen. And between the two of them, they represent over 120 years of membership.
  • Beth Berman – member since 2014 and active volunteer with our LIVESTRONG at the YMCA Program​​
  • Andy Gluck – member since 2004, served two terms on Board of Directors, currently a Development and Church Street Capital Campaign Committee member​​
  • Paul Guzzi – long-time member, avid pickleball player and advisor to Y leadership​
Community Partner Award​
While every Community Partner and Supporter is valued beyond measure, the WSYMCA will annually recognize one partner that demonstrates the qualities that have enabled the West Suburban Y to deliver community strengthening programs and services over the past year.  Nominees are supporters in all ways up to and including: volunteerism, in-kind support, expertise, capital campaign support, annual campaign support and advocacy.​
Temple Shir Tikva: A friendly neighbor to Camp Chickami in every sense of the word, Temple Shir Tikva has long been a partner to the Y, allowing our campers to use their building during inclement weather. Most recently, they graciously granted us an easement to allow construction to begin on Loch Lodge, our new multi-purpose building that opened in October 2022, that will provide critical indoor space for our programming year-round.​
Teen Citizen Award​
Honors a teenager who actively demonstrates the Y’s core values – caring, honesty, respect and responsibility – at our Y, as well as at home, in school and in the community.​
Alec Chen: Alec has played a key role in the Aquatics department since 2021 as a lifeguard, swim instructor, and swim coach. He always has a smile on his face and an upbeat attitude and is always looking out for our swimmers and his fellow coaches.​
Youth Award​
Given to a youth member or program participant between the ages of 10 and 17 who exemplifies the YMCA’s vision of building strong spirit, mind and body in their experiences and activities.​​
  • Addie Bligh: Addie is a member of our Blue Waves swim team and actively demonstrates the core values of the YMCA. She is the first to volunteer when her coaches ask for a demonstration and always finishes her set without complaint. You can find her cheering on her teammates and giving them words of encouragement when they need it most.​​
  • Tom Perl-Olshvang: Tom is responsible and respectful, and dedicated to his commitment to the Blue Waves swim team. He is always checking in on his teammates, making sure they don’t have to go through any part of practice alone.​
Adult Volunteer Award​
Recognizes outstanding YMCA volunteers. This award acknowledges individuals that selflessly volunteer for the Y and instill our mission and values into their work and daily life.​​
  • Damon Barber, Kal Dagher, Seth Hauben, Camai Mazzulla, Ed McLoughlin, Marcello Micozzi, John Murnane: These Youth Basketball Association coaches kept their teams engaged and motivated throughout the season through their dedication, positivity and enthusiasm.​​
  • Peter Markow, CFAD Historian: A long-time staff member at Camp Frank A. Day, Peter worked tirelessly to research, write, and publish On the Shores of the Quacumquasit, Deep Among the Pines, the history of the first 100 years of camp.​

Commitment to Excellence Award​
Recognizes Y staff members who have continuously demonstrated outstanding achievement, skills, and commitment to excellence in fulfilling the critical duties related to their position. The individuals receiving this award demonstrate a positive attitude and/or behavior admired and valued by their colleagues.​​

  • Kelly Barker: As the Association Director of Aquatics overseeing three popular pools at two facilities, Kelly has performed extensive lifeguarding duties, taught swim lessons, coordinated lifeguard and instructor schedules, and is our primary trainer for staff CPR/First Aid. The Aquatics department has operated with high-quality service and programs throughout the many transitions thanks to her leadership.​​
  • Emily Flynn: In her role as Executive Assistant/Development Associate, Emily wears many hats. She interfaces with all of our constituents respectfully and with a smile. She approaches each project with creativity and commitment and is quick to help fill staffing needs throughout our programs whenever there is need.​​
  • Vladimir Ivanin: Vlad took on even more responsibility than usual when the facilities department was transitioning between Directors. A reliable worker with a wealth of institutional knowledge, he is integral in maintaining all of our properties.​​
  • Marie Minardi: Marie, Camp/Childcare Registrar & Community Events Manager, continuously demonstrates a commitment to excellence, not only in fulfilling her duties assigned to her position, but to the mission of the WSYMCA. Marie is a problem-solver with a keen eye for when her colleagues need support. Her positive attitude, willingness to help, and incredible organization skills have positioned her as a vital part or our team. ​​
  • Paige Nitardy: Paige has made an immediate and positive impact on the membership department since joining as the Church Street Membership Director in December 2022. She is kind and patient, and deals compassionately with employees, members, and prospective members. ​​
  • Stephanie Sobieraj: Stephanie has served in many positions a the WSYMCA and shows expertise in each one. She played an integral role during our member management system conversion and is now both an expert in using and teaching the interface. She has created written and visual manuals for the onboarding of new staff at both locations. Stephanie also manages our Financial Aid program, providing critical aid to our community.​​
  • Colin Spensley: Colin has been an invaluable member of the Aquatics department for 7.5 years. He is the beloved opening lifeguard during the week, manages the Camp Pikati swim times, and is an excellent swim instructor. Colin has also taken on responsibilities outside of his normal role, assisting with staffing, scheduling, and office management as needed. He is a tremendous team member.


Living Our Cause Award​
Recognizes an employee’s outstanding individual accomplishments that make an exemplary contribution to our Y through their demonstration or development of new practices, techniques, or programs which support a commitment to strengthening communities and building relationships encompassing all three areas of focus: Youth Development, Healthy Living and Social Responsibility.​
  • John Caruso: John is the Resident Coordinator of Newton Corner Place (NCP), our third-floor residence for formerly homeless men. John is a tremendous advocate for our residents. During the COVID-19 shutdown, John went above and beyond to make sure everyone in NCP stayed safe and healthy. He is an effective communicator with the residents, WSYCMA staff, and the outside organizations with which we partner.​​
  • Michelle Gagne-Bourque: Michelle has strong leadership qualities and organizational skills, she creates a warm and inviting atmosphere, and is respected by members and staff alike. Since becoming Director, she has built upon her prior relationships and hired new trainers and instructors at both locations who are growing our programming back to pre-pandemic levels. Additionally, she has successfully completed 2 LIVESTRONG at the YMCA programs, graduating over 20 survivors. We are very fortunate to have her on our team.​​
  • Nicholas Livoti: Nicholas is an integral part of our Fitness & Wellness team. His commitment to healthy living combined with his positive and friendly demeanor allows him to be an effective personal trainer regardless of his clients’ experience or ability. He is quick to respond to a call for assistance from a colleague or member and is passionate about making the Y a better place.​​
  • Alec Miller: Alec joined the Y team in October 2022 and has made an immediate impact on our members. He is always smiling and made quick friends with our swimmers. Whether Alec is checking in with the kids in swim lessons or helping our 90-year-old member Lee remember when she needs to get out of the pool, he is constantly lending a hand to members in need with a positive and accepting attitude.​
An award to recognize those instrumental in preparing our Y for historic expansion while maintaining a standard of excellence in existing programs. We applaud these team members; their contributions and diligence have transformed our organization and ensured that our services and programs are accessible across our service area.​
  • Kelly Barker, Association Director of Aquatics​
  • Jane Carroll, Senior Director of Member Engagement & Wellness​​
  • Jordan Cloutier, Wells Ave Y ​Membership Director​​
  • Joshua Downes, Association Director of Athletics​​
  • Nikita Karasik, Wells Ave Y ​Director of Fitness & Wellness​​
  • Katie Sopcik, Director of ​Marketing & Communications​
The Bob Groden Y Employee of the Year Award was established by Ned Morse and his family shortly after the tragic death of Bob Groden in 1998. The Morse family chose to honor Mr. Groden for his commitment to the YMCA’s youth and sport departments and to create an award that recognizes a committed and exemplary YMCA employee.​​
  • Kelsey Best: Kelsey has been an employee of the WSYMCA since May of 2017. She is a lifeguard, swim instructor, swim coach, and all-around great human being. Over the past several years, Kelsey has been a rock for the Aquatics Department, navigating the transitions at Church Street and being an integral part of the Wells Ave Y opening. No job is too big or too small for Kelsey, and she takes each task in stride with a positive attitude and warm smile. She is relied upon by her supervisor, respected by her peers, and loved by her swimmers in both lessons and swim teams. Kelsey and her family truly exemplify the Y’s core values.​​
  • Venda Mercer: Venda is the Lead Teacher in our preschool classroom, and her commitment, expertise, and passion for her students have been an invaluable asset to our Y. She stepped in and stepped up for our families as the childcare department navigated the pandemic and was a strong and steady leader through a challenging time with few staff. Venda plans our preschool curriculum, communicates kindly and effectively with families, and cares deeply about her class and colleagues. Venda has elevated and re-energized our programming, and she is simply adored by her students.​

Congrats all!