September 13, 2016
Meet our Executive Director, Erik Knowles!
My Y story:
My Y story is not actually based on a specific Y experience, but involves past experiences that drove my interest in working for the Y. After leaving the military to further my college education, I worked full time as an At Risk Youth Drill Instructor at the Wisconsin Challenge Academy. There I got to have an influential role in shaping the lives of teens who have, for some reason or another, taken a wrong turn in life. With this experience and later in life becoming a father myself, I understood that structure in a child’s life at an early age has a major impact in their future. After spending 12 years in the private sector of Managing Health Clubs, I felt an internal drive to get back into a position where I could influence children at an early age and have a greater impact in the community. I researched the YMCA and all the past accomplishments the Y has had in shaping the community and ultimately this led me to apply for employment. I officially started with the Y this past January 2016 and the biggest value that working for the Y has brought me is the knowledge that each day I am given the opportunity to impact a child’s life on a larger scale.
If you could have any two superpowers what would they be?
They would be being able to know the future and being invisible so that I could observe program impact to drive strategic decisions.
Who is your hero?
My hero would be my father. I grew up in disciplined house hold. At the time, I just thought my dad was mean and didn’t care about me, but later as I grew older, I began to understand the lessons my father was trying to teach me: work harder than the person next to you, do good to others, and never take things for granted.
What is your favorite part of the Y and YMCA of Metro Chicago’s values and mission?
Building strong families and communities; It truly does take a village to raise a child and it takes cooperation from all: society, local community, schools, and parents.