Caring, honesty, respect and responsibility are the four pillars of the YMCA and the leader of the Pikes Peak YMCA (PPYMCA) has embraced those same ideals his entire life.
Boyd Williams, its president and CEO, worked with the national organization for more than 28 years, before beginning work with the local Y 12 years ago.
Williams’ father passed away when he was only 16 years old. “It was a tough time and I knew I was not ready for college once I graduated from high school,” he explains. “My dad had been in the Air Force, so I entered the military first and it gave me the discipline I needed to achieve my goals, both personally and professionally.”
Born in Salt Lake City, Williams spent most of his formative years in Wisconsin. He spent three years in the Army and earned a bachelor’s degree in sports management from Kennesaw State University in Georgia. But it was his first encounter with the YMCA that still sticks with him today.
“The Y is one of the biggest first-time employers in the United States,” says Williams. “I am no exception – I was excited to be a summer YMCA camp counselor in my home state when I was in high school.”
Williams recalls he worked with a “big stinker” at the camp, who happened to be a police chief’s son. “He was a ten-year-old know-it-all, but I just decided to love on the kid instead of yell at him,” laughs Williams. “I didn’t know what had happened to him, until I got a thank you card years later from him. That is what the Y is all about, on so many different levels.”
The PPYMCA is the oldest and largest locally based nonprofit in the region, dating back to 1878. President Theodore Roosevelt actually laid the first brick for the downtown building in 1901. Founded in England, the Y has a presence in more than 140 countries around the world. It is much more than a gym and summer camp organization according to Williams.
Boyd Williams has been involved with the YMCA at multiple levels, for more than 30 years.
“While we are a Christian-based organization – we are not made up of all Christians,” notes Williams. “We continue to evolve and serve a diversified client base.”
Williams points out the many programs the Y offers above and beyond the “gym.” PPYMCA serves more than 90,000 people through HOAs, metro school districts, Silver Sneakers, and corporate business programs. During COVID-19, the group served more than 135,000 individuals.
“We are truly about serving seniors, offering teen leadership programs, and being the largest childcare provider in the region,” emphasizes Williams. “I believe the Y is one of the long-standing organizations in our country that has helped to shape our culture, in so many positive ways. And we are always looking to partner with other organizations to continue to achieve our goals.”
“With 150 full-time staff, and a summer staff of 1200 – part-time and full-time – it isn’t getting any easier to run a nonprofit,” Williams notes about what keeps him up at night. “While we are asset rich – that means we must maintain all those assets. We also need to find good employees, keep them, and create an environment where they have a voice.”
PPYMCA presently partners with more than 200 different entities to provide programming, such as corporations, school districts, churches, HOAs, and municipalities – including Colorado Springs, Manitou Springs, and Fountain. It also offers programs at 13 facilities across the Pikes Peak region, along with Shady Brook Summer Camp in Deckers, Colo.
You might be surprised to know that the PPYMCA CEO, who eats clean and regularly works out in his own facilities, sneaks occasionally.
“Ok, every once in a while, I have to grab a burrito supreme from Taco Bell,” Williams admits. “The other thing most of my staff doesn’t even know is about my stint as a reggae club owner (and singer). I tried to grow out dreadlocks – which turned into a very unattractive mullet!”
"We are dedicated to serving as many community members as possible through our new facilities in Fountain and on the east side of Colorado Springs."
Williams’ gregarious attitude and passion for the YMCA and his community are evident. “The programs we provide help lessen the burden on our city and county governments,” he says. “We are excited to be part of the renaissance in our thriving downtown. We are dedicated to serving as many community members as possible through our new facilities in Fountain and on the east side of Colorado Springs.”
For more information about locations, programs, and services of the Pikes Peak YMCA, visit www.ppymca.org.
The YMCA's History & Future
Industrialized London was a dangerous place, especially for young men who migrated to the city from rural areas to find jobs. Twenty-two-year-old George Williams was troubled by what he saw. He joined 11 friends to organize the first Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA), a refuge to escape the hazards of life on the streets…and the YMCA was born.
Inspired by the stories of the Y in England, Thomas Valentine Sullivan, a retired Boston sea captain, led the formation of the first U.S. YMCA at the Old South Church in Boston, Mass.
YMCA house began in Chicago to give young men moving from rural areas safe and affordable lodging in the city. Chicago’s Farwell Hall, the first known YMCA dormitory, was completed in 1867, hosting through the years journalists Andy Rooney and Dan Rather, civil rights leaders Malcolm X and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., novelist Jack Kerouac, and U.S. Ambassador Andrew Young.
The first Railroad YMCA was organized in Cleveland, as a partnership between the YMCA and railroad companies, to provide wholesome overnight lodging and meeting space for railroad workers.
Dr. Luther Gulick, Y director in Springfield, Mass., gave teacher James Naismith two weeks to come up with an indoor winter game to challenge a class of Y directors. Naismith hung peach baskets on the walls and taught them a new game – basketball.
2023 offers a powerful association of people of all ages and all walks of life, joined together by a shared passion to strengthen the foundation of the community. As one of the nation’s leading nonprofits, the YMCA focuses on three crucial areas: youth development, healthy living, and social responsibility. Y programs include before- and after-school care, day camps, overnight camps, swim, sports and play, health and fitness, small group trainings, active adult programs, and more, in 10,000 neighborhoods across the nation.