We are committed to assuring a safe experience for all attendees at The Michigan YMCA Leaders Conference.

At this time, we are still planning for an in-person conference and will likely be requiring masks. As the conference nears, we will make decisions based on the best information possible.

Conference Agenda

The one-day conference schedule is filled with two excellent Keynote Speakers, plus three rounds of Breakout Sessions and Networking opportunities.

time activity
8:00–8:45 am Registration Starts
8:45–9:00 am Opening Remarks
9:00–9:50 am Morning Keynote
9:55–10:50 am Network Groups
11:00–11:50 am Breakout 1
12:00–12:40 pm Lunch
12:50–1:40 pm Breakout 2
1:50–2:40 pm Breakout 3
2:40-3:00 pm Break
3:00–3:30 pm Afternoon Keynote
3:30–3:40 pm Closing Remarks and Prizes

Conference Breakout Sessions

This year, our breakout sessions will include information about fundraising best practices, board development, and great things happening at Y across Michigan.

Breakout Sessions - Board Development ▼

Board Development
Leadership Awakening

For decades, YMCAs have relied on a CEO-centric structure to set the direction and lead the organization. Through the past 18 months, some YMCAs have discovered the power - and absolute necessity - of an engaged and empowered YMCA Board. Learn what it will take to make this happen at your YMCA.

Presented by:

Gigi Woodruff, Founder, Gigi Woodruff & Associates, LLC

Board Development
Leveraging the Generative Mode in the Boardroom

Every YMCA board must learn to engage all three modes of governance -- fiduciary, strategic, and generative. After years of education and discussion, staff and volunteer leaders still struggle to identify truly generative opportunities or challenges - and how to engage others in the discovery. This highly interactive session will discuss what it takes for a board, and its leaders, to hold generative conversations, and how your YMCA board can reap the power of functioning appropriately at this level?

Presented by:

Gigi Woodruff, Founder, Gigi Woodruff & Associates, LLC

Board Development
Seismic Shake-Up -- What Have we Learned?

We don't want to repeat it, but we have learned a great deal about ourselves through the pandemic and other world challenges that have greatly impacted our organization and communities. Learn from and share case studies of how our organizational practices and priorities have been changed forever!

Presented by:

Gigi Woodruff, Founder, Gigi Woodruff & Associates, LLC


Breakout Sessions - Fundraising ▼

Data-driven Storytelling

Sometimes we have a story to tell, but not the data, and other times we collect data and need to know how to tell the story from the numbers. This workshop will help participants work through the steps of simple data collection, analysis, and creating a story of impact. Useful tools, tricks, and examples will be provided.

Presented by:

Dawn Palmer-Van Camp is a 14-year Y leader responsible for grants from writing to compliance with over 25 years of experience in evaluation and market research in for-profit and non-profit sectors.

Latitia McCree brings over 30 years of nonprofit leadership, communications/marketing, writing, and philanthropy experience to her role as Senior VP of Communications & Marketing.

Mike Strong is a veteran researcher with more than two decades of experience in market research, data analysis, questionnaire development, report writing, and presentation design.

Breakout Sessions - Advocacy ▼

Commitment to Quality

We will welcome the Licensing and Regulatory Affairs new Director, Emily Laidlaw to Leaders '21. Emily will share her vision for LARA as well as update us on changes and answer questions or address concerns. Please submit questions in advance if possible.

Presented by:

Emily Laidlaw, Director, Child Care Licensing, State of Michigan

The Future of Childcare

Come learn about the state's commitment to reimagining childcare and how these changes can elevate your programs.

Presented by:

Gov's office Michele Richards, & others

Partnerships, Playgrounds & Pandemics

Michigan schools have received historic levels of funding to respond to the pandemic. Partnership between schools & community placed organizations like the Y is critical to respond to the increased needs of our communities. Come hear from the educational experts on how to identify, build, and sustain school partnerships.

Presented by:

James Yake, Director of Health, Safety & Nutrition, Genesee ISD

Paul Libenow

Erin Skene-Pratt, Founder and Principal Consultant, Momentum Associates

Breakout Sessions - Human Resources ▼

Mental Health

Outcomes of this training:

  • Understanding the relationship of mental health, illness and a community organization like YMCA
  • Understanding changes in youth and adult mental health
  • Equipping participants with a tool to use in everyday mental wellness and resiliency 
  • Equipping participants with a tool to use in a mental health crisis
  • Understanding how the be nice. action plan can equip your staff and members with mental health and suicide prevention education

Presented by:

Cat Lanting & Christy Buck, Mental Health Foundation of West Michigan

Understanding Your YMCA Retirement Fund Benefits

A 45-minute presentation designed for new hires or those ready to save for retirement. Presentation highlights the difference between the Retirement and Savings Plans and how to make the most of the Savings Plan—403(b) Smart Account and Rollovers—features while working and in Retirement.

Presented by:

Miriam Paulin, Senior Client Relationship Manager, YMCA Retirement Fund

Breakout Sessions - Leadership Development ▼

Leadership Development
Designing a Thriving Organization: Build a high-performing organization that brings out the best in your people

This session is built on the research excellence of the Center for Positive Organizations, housed at the Stephen M Ross school of Business at the University of Michigan. Betsy Erwin will lead you in an interactive session that will deepen your understanding of the elements of a thriving organization and equip you with practices to elevate thriving in your own organizations.

Presented by:

Betsy Erwin, Senior Associate Director, Faculty Associate, Co-Director Engaged Learning and Innovation Center for Positive Organizations, University of Michigan Ross School of Business

Leadership Development
WLRN Connection and Lean in Circle Michigan Addition Launch

How is your work-life balance? What can you do, your Y do to support women leaders? Network with women leaders and allies from across Michigan and talk about tactics and tools to continue to move your career forward. Share WLRN Resources, sign up to participate in a LEAN in Circle and continue to strengthen the women's leadership network across Michigan.

Presented by:

Lynette Simmons, Vice President of Operations-Community Initiatives, YMCA of Metropolitan Detroit

Lauren Trautz, Vice President of Human Resources and Business Services, YMCA of Greater Grand Rapids

Lydia Mitchell, Executive Director of Youth in Government, State Alliance of Michigan YMCAs

Joslyn Jamrog, Membership & Marketing Director, Dow Bay Area Family YMCA

Breakout Sessions - Programs & Technology ▼

Aquatics Strategies for Diversely Abled Swimmers

Outcomes of this training:

  • Learn to identify and implement which teaching methods will work for diversely abled swimmers
  • Understanding cognitive and mental health benefits of swim lessons for diversely abled swimmers
  • Equipping participants with specific skills that will be beneficial to diversely abled swimmers
  • Utilizing volunteer instructor assistants with diverse abilities for a better Learn-To-Swim Program at your facility. 
  • Mobilizing staff and community to work with diversely abled swimmers
  • Creating a welcoming environment for diversely abled swimmers

Presented by:

Whitney Ferrell, Mary Free Bed YMCA

Dr. Marshall Spencer M.D., Cardiology Specialist, MidMichigan Medical Center

McKenna Crossley, Swim Instructor Aid

IT & Communications
Roll your own: open source solutions for “big budget” problems

In this session, the Detroit Y team will discuss 3 technology-related communication challenges (virtual YMCAs, digital in-branch displays, and parent-to-overnight camper communication) and share their budget-conscious, open source solutions.

Presented by:

Seth Amadei, Events Director, Y Arts Detroit & Boll Family YMCA

Jim Baksa, Director of Information Systems, YMCA of Metropolitan Detroit

Elizabeth Kerner, Director of Digital Marketing, YMCA of Metropolitan Detroit

Jacqueline Kippen, Executive Director of Volunteer and Virtual Services, YMCA of Metropolitan Detroit

Conference Location: The Lansing Convention Center

The Lansing Convention Center is located in the heart of downtown Lansing, Michigan.

We’ll meet at the Lansing Center, which is located in the heart of Michigan’s capital. Lansing Center is conveniently attached to the Radisson Hotel via a covered sky bridge that stretches over the Grand River.


Lansing Center

333 E. Michigan Avenue, Lansing, MI 48933
Phone: 517-483-7400


Parking lots under and north of Lansing Center are available for conference attendees to park free of charge on the day of the conference. If there is a parking attendant present, please tell them you are attending the Michigan YMCA Leaders Conference. The entrance to the parking lot underneath the Lansing Center is on Cedar Street.

There are many other paid parking options in and around the Lansing Center. You can find more information here.


Conference Safety

The Conference Planning Leadership is committed to assuring a safe experience for attendees. We will continue to monitor the progression of COVID-19 in the state including any variants and outbreaks and will make decisions based on the best information possible. At this time, we believe we will require masks in attendance. Should a switch to a virtual experience be required, we will make that decision soon after the first of October and will provide partial refunds as possible.