Fry Family YMCA Staff Spotlight: Erika Wood
Erika Wood, Fry Family YMCA’s Executive Director since April 1, 2023, has been working at YMCAs across the country for 34 years! Hailing from the South Side of Chicago (go, White Sox!), the West Communities YMCA was an integral part of her family’s life. There, she learned how to swim and also attended summer Day Camps.
When Erika turned 12 years old, she began volunteering in swim lessons and, at age 16, was hired to be a lifeguard and swim instructor! She loved the energy of the Y leaders and their passion for serving the community. After graduating from the University of St. Francis, she began working as a Program Director at the YMCA she grew up at!
As Erika moved through her career, she worked for the YMCA of Metropolitan Denver before returning to Chicagoland about 22 years ago. She now lives in Naperville, serving as the Executive Director of the Fry Family YMCA.
Family is incredibly important to Erika, and she loves spending time with her husband and daughter. They have always been supportive of her role in the Y, which is an integral part of their family! She loves that she lives, works, and plays in the same community.
Q: What is your job as the Executive Director of the Fry Family YMCA?
A: As the Executive Director, I have an opportunity to serve the community while leading terrific YMCA team members and partnering and collaborating with other local leaders to help best meet the needs of the community. I interact with diverse individuals every day — children, families, and seniors — and I learn from them and thoroughly enjoy their joy when participating in all things Y.
Q: What is your favorite part of working at the Y?
A: The wonderful people I meet each day, serving the community, and working with other great YMCA leaders.
Q: What do you like most about the work that the Y does?
A: Making an impact on the lives of others and bringing the community together.
Q: What is your favorite memory from working at the Fry Family Y?
A: So far my favorite memory has been the 2023 Healthy Kids Day Event. There were so many people laughing, having fun, being active, and enjoying the spirit of the YMCA. It was also great to have the Naperville Mayor come read to the children.
Q: What are you most proud of in your career so far?
A: I have learned about different communities, different populations, how to make a difference, and the importance of being a servant leader.
Q: What’s something new you’ve learned about yourself in the last year?
A: I am more resilient than I give myself credit for — if I take a deep breath, slow down a bit, I can manage difficult situations. I may not always like the outcome, but I do have the ability to “weather” the storm.
Q: If you could hang out with any person (real or fiction), who would you choose and why?
A: Oprah! I would love to cook a meal with her, hang out, and chat. I love her energy and her ability to have fun while engaging others often for the greater good.
Q: If you could instantly become an expert in something, what would it be?
A: Cooking a variety of foods, especially healthy. Food not only helps fuel your body but also brings people together.
Q: What piece of advice would you share with your younger self?
A: Always be kind and authentic, and live your best life. Save, save, save, so you can retire and take on new adventures.
The Fry Family YMCA believes in the power of play. We play for fun and for progress. Whether it’s through group fitness, Day Camp, aquatics, or any of our other core community offerings, we empower our community to learn, grow, and thrive. We are committed to connecting all people to their purpose, potential, and each other.
Here at the Fry Family Y, we want to show off our dedicated and talented staff, as well as their amazing talents and contributions to our community. Does our mission resonate with you? We’re always looking for even more talented, community-oriented individuals who want to work at the YMCA!