Articulate February 2019

North Central Florida YMCA’s New President & CEO Angela Howard


Written By: Chris Eversole

Angela Howard took the helm of the North Central Florida YMCA in January, and she expects to steer the organization forward as a more powerful force in the community.

“This is the place I want to be,” she said. “I’m jumping in wholeheartedly, and I’m making Greater Gainesville my community.”

Howard hopes to have the same type of success that she’s had over the past 14 years with two branches of the Great Miami Valley YMCA, located between Cincinnati and Dayton, Ohio.

Leaders of the North Central Florida YMCA are eager for Howard to strengthen the local organization.

“Angela will be a strong leader for our YMCA,” said Michele Martin, the board chair. “She has experience in personnel and financial management, relationship building
and fundraising.”

Howard comes at a time when the Y is regaining its financial footing after nearly closing two years ago. The Greater Gainesville community donated more than $1 million to address the financial crisis, but it needs strong leadership to improve its aging building and increase its services, Martin said.

“We look forward to great things for this Y in 2019, as we exit bankruptcy and benefit from Angela’s skills,” Martin said.

Howard’s past work set the stage for her new role. In her latest position, with the Middletown, Ohio, YMCA, she expanded its services through:

  • LIVESTRONG at the YMCA, a 12-week program to help cancer survivors regain their strength after treatment – at no cost to themselves
  • A unique physical education program for high school freshmen that includes life skills training as well as a lifeguard program that serves as a high school elective class
  • YMCA Safety Around Water, which provides swimming classes for free to children whose families could not afford to pay
  • The Leadership Development Institute, which developed directors for the Y’s programs

The key to Howard’s success has been her own community involvement. In Ohio, she was active in the United Way, Kiwanis, the local arts festival, a school communicators’ group, the chamber of commerce and a health coalition.

She also serves as a trainer for the YMCA of the USA and chairs a subcommittee with the national organization’s Multicultural Advisory Committee. The Middletown Kiwanis Club awarded her its Community Service Award.

Howard welcomes addressing the Y’s challenges.

“I understand what it has been through, and I’ve hit the ground running,” she said. “I faced a similar situation when I started in Hamilton in 2004, and I turned things around.”

She plans to replicate her success in Ohio by developing specific programs in partnership with community stakeholders – then raising money for them. Since its founding in London in 1844, the YMCA internationally has worked to improve social conditions, Howard noted.

In tandem with fulfilling that mission, she’s worked to make the Y welcoming for the entire family – with programs such as youth sports, fitness challenge, a teen center and family nights.

“The Y is a whole lot more than people realize,” she said. “It has a social responsibility to strengthen the foundation of community, provide a place for everyone to feel welcomed and belong and enjoy the relationships built while participating in programs. It’s a place to have fun.”

Howard and her husband, Kenneth, are 

looking forward to living in Gainesville.

“We love the diversity and the opportunities to do things, including watching Gator games, the restaurants and the parks,” she said.

The couple met in Pensacola, where she was enrolled in cosmetology school and he was serving in the Navy. They have three grown children and one granddaughter.

Kenneth, who is self-employed, intends to be active with the Y.

“He’s promised to be my No. 1 volunteer,” Angela said. 

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