New YMCA head settling in, meeting community

  • Graydon “€Grady” Vigneau in the Nautilus Room at the Greenfield YMCA. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

  • Graydon “€Grady” Vigneau is the new CEO and executive director of the YMCA of Greenfield. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

  • Graydon “€Grady” Vigneau, new head of the Greenfield YMCA, talks with Bob Diamond, who has been a member of the YMCA for 47 years. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

  • Graydon “€Grady” Vigneau is the new CEO and executive director of the YMCA of Greenfield. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

Staff Writer
Published: 7/15/2019 5:16:40 PM

GREENFIELD — After more than two weeks in his new position, the head of the YMCA said he’s getting to know his staff and the community, and he loves what he sees.

“I really want to understand the organization and the community it serves before I start making any changes,” CEO and Executive Director Graydon Vigneau Jr. said.

Vigneau took up his new role at the Y on July 1, replacing Bob Sunderland, who retired June 30 after more than 32 years at the helm.

“Bob did unbelievable work,” he said. “The work he did has allowed the new person, me, to have time to take stock before I do anything.”

Vigneau said he’s getting to know every member of the staff and what each of them does. He said he does not want to micromanage, because the Y runs smoothly and that’s because of the staff.

“My philosophy, as I move ahead as director, is that everything starts with people, then programs, then facility,” he said.

He said people are the soul of the Y, the programs are the heart and the building is the body.

“I’ve seen amazing facilities that didn’t work because they didn’t have the people,” he said. “We have the people.”

Vigneau has an extensive business background, with a master’s degree in finance and a bachelor’s degree in early childhood education. Since 2017, Vigneau, who was born and raised in Brattleboro, Vt. and spent a lot of time with his grandparents in Turners Falls and Greenfield, has served as founding owner of Mission Centric Consulting, a firm that creates “sustainable opportunities” for independent schools, nonprofits and small businesses.

He has also served as head of school and CEO at Bridgton Academy in Maine, and was founding owner and executive director of programming, sales and marketing at Round Hearth at Stowe in Vermont, where he established a year-round student and youth group lodging and programming facility.

Vigneau, who has moved to Greenfield with his wife, said he is “settling in” and has begun looking at everything the Y offers. He said he has been spending time introducing himself to nonprofits, businesses and other organizations throughout Greenfield, as well as town leaders, bankers and others.

“I want people to know that we’re here to stay and are invested in this community,” he said. “This community is so passionate. And the Y’s employees are so loyal and experienced and passionate.”

Vigneau said he was amazed to learn not only about the Y’s full-time employees but how many part-time employees and volunteers make it run like a well-oiled machine.

“When you think about it, for those working here part time or for the volunteers, it’s all about passion. This isn’t their livelihood,” he said.

Vigneau said he would like to see the Y work more closely with all of the nonprofits in the county. He said he believes the Y will only strengthen their viability and expand the reach.

“I like teamwork,” he said. “We can all work together and make this an even greater place. I’m so inspired by what all of these nonprofits are doing. We want to be a part of that work.”

Vigneau said he also wants to see the Y execute even more relationships with Franklin County’s youth.

“They are our future leaders,” he said. “We need to show them care and help them know who they are. We need to give them limits and expectations so they excel. Believe me, they’ll rise.”

Vigneau said the Y needs to be a strong pillar of the community. He said there will be plenty of time to figure out new policies, if there will be any, and other things that will eventually be addressed.

“Right now, I’m talking with staff and addressing their questions and asking them to address mine,” he said. “We definitely don’t want to reinvent the wheel. Bob left us in good shape.”

Vigneau said he wants to bring the Y to the community, not the other way around.

“If we do that, they will come to us,” he said.

He also wants the Y to be a giver, not a taker.

“Yes, I’m a businessperson and we have to run a business here if we want to move forward and keep it going, but that doesn’t mean we can’t approach it in other ways, as well,” he said. “We’ll have our business model and our initiatives, but we’ll never lose sight of the people.”

He said once he gets to know the people in the community, he’ll start looking at what other programs can be added or improved. Then, he’ll start looking at the building and its needs.

“We’ll want to make the building as efficient, comfortable and functional as possible,” he said. “But that’s not a top priority right now.”

Reach Anita Fritz at 413-772-0261, ext. 269 or afritz@recorder.com.




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