Acceptance Speech – Patricia Pelton – New President World YMCA

Claude-Alain Danthe Daily Updates

Thank you… Thank you…

WHAT an exciting day!
I am so honoured that you have elected me to serve as the next President of the World Alliance of YMCAs. This election is particularly special because, my YMCA friends, we have broken new ground for our movement.

Reflecting on the Paris Basis, Kampala Principles, and Challenge 21, the global mission documents of the YMCA…I noted that it was twenty years ago that Challenge 21 was adopted; affirming our global
mission…in part as:

“A world-wide Christian, ecumenical, voluntary movement for women and men with special emphasis on and the genuine involvement of young people.”

And it set bold calls to action. Among those calls to action was; “Empowering all, especially young people and women to take increased responsibilities and assume
leadership at all levels…and working towards an equitable society”.

We have worked purposefully to heed this call. And now, a woman has been elected as President of the World YMCA.

The women leaders in our movement, past and present, have worked so hard to pave the way and see this day.

To the male allies for gender equality, amplifying women’s voices for change: you have impact.
Inclusion in leadership benefits us all. This. Change. Is. Momentous.

Let’s together demonstrate our thanks to, Mr. Babu Markus Gomes and Dr. Park Jai Chang, for putting themselves forward for election and indeed to all candidates who stood for all positions.
My election as President could not have happened without the support and commitment of so many

Thank you to the YMCA Canada Board of Directors for supporting my nomination and to the leaders within the Canadian YMCA who offered their time and encouragement.

A special thank you to my advisory team, who was always a source of sound advice as they walked with me on this journey. Thank you to all of my supporters from around the world.

And, to all that are gathered here, know that your stories inspire me and strengthen our movement.
Let’s also take a moment to appreciate the hard work undertaken by the Elections Committee, ably led by Ken Colloton. By the Executive Committee, chaired by Peter Posner; And of course, Peter, thank you for your leadership. As you pass the torch, you will continue to be a source of wisdom and counsel.

And to Johan, your devotion to the YMCA is apparent each and every day. Thank you for your service. As a candidate for President I most appreciated the opportunity to visit and to dialogue with our different regions and to witness the work our YMCA movement is engaged in.
I listened and participated and I am excited to help strengthen the foundation on which our work is

In Asia-Pacific…where I spoke with the Gender Equity Committee about the important work of Safe Spaces and learned about the social impact of their youth-led projects. In the Latin America and Caribbean Alliance meetings just a few days ago we spoke about strengthening governance, strategic alliances with the corporate and public sectors, mission-based work, and their important focus on youth leadership.

In Europe…I attended the General Assembly where we talked about governance, mission, and organizational structure and wow…I was so energized by the amazing young leaders. I’m making my plans to return for the YMCA’s 175th anniversary next year!

When the African Alliance met in Mombasa this spring, we learned about the importance of sustainability and entrepreneurship to support the good work of creating power spaces for youth.
In the United States, the YMCA is advocating “for a better us” – for what children and families need to thrive; doing the important work of inclusion by knitting community together in times of challenge.

In Canada….a federation-wide commitment to strengthening the YMCA with youth engagement named as a critical enabler…and an unprecedented initiative that re-examines organizational structure and operating models for the future. The dedication to youth and peace building was evident when, as a member of the Executive Committee some years ago, I visited the mission-driven and practical YMCA youth education and training initiatives in the Middle East.

My YMCA friends, while the delivery of the YMCA programs may look different, may seem different across each of these regions, you can see that there is so much that unites us. What unites us is found in the unwavering commitment to our global mission…as a Christian and ecumenical movement untiring in our pursuit of social justice and peace for all.

We work to change lives and reduce inequities. To promote health and education. To foster inclusion. To further peace and reconciliation.

For a YMCA that is a safe space to belong and a world that is a better place.
Everywhere, there is a strong commitment to Youth Empowerment. That special emphasis on, and genuine engagement with young people in ways that nurtures their spirit, mind, and body.
At its core, youth empowerment is about boldly declaring youth as equal partners.

When youth are equal partners, their inclusion is essential to decision-making.
When youth are equal partners, their optimism, creativity, and talent are transformative.
When youth are equal partners, our YMCAs and communities are enriched.

You have heard me say that the ground youth empowerment is built on, is comprised of strong YMCAs, good governance, and robust financial oversight.

In the four years since we committed to the Nairobi Statement we have been working toward that vision, but there is much yet to do.

Today, there are YMCAs who struggle.

I will work with the Secretary General to ensure that the World Alliance supports the work of the Area Alliances and National Movements in fostering strong YMCAs using the principle of subsidiarity. Strong YMCAs have mission clarity, social relevance, are well governed, and are sustainable.

Together with the Officers, members of the Executive Committee, the Secretary General, Area and National Leaders, and the Global Staff Team, we will clarify respective roles and responsibilities, providing tools and resources in support of their governance and operations responsibilities. Over these past months I have often spoken about robust financial oversight. That means not only living within our means at the World Alliance, but also mobilizing resources to collectively do more.

Today marks the beginning of our new term….a new page.
My commitment to you is this:

I will be open and accountable.
I will carry and I pledge my Christian commitment.
I will prioritize youth and equality, strong YMCAs, good governance, robust financial oversight,
resource mobilization and advocacy.
I will be inclusive and promote inclusion and safe spaces.

With your engagement, Carlos and the team will develop the implementation plan for the strategic plan you have just adopted…an implementation plan with clear markers for success…clear markers for impact.

We will communicate on a regular basis and value inclusive decision-making that reflects many

Together we will work towards trusting and collaborative relationships. We will use our voice for social change. We will take evidence-based stands on issues relevant to young people, and to YMCAs. We will help others find their voice. I will be working with Johan over the next few months through this transition and then with Carlos as he assumes his role as Secretary General. I have worked with Carlos in the past, know him to be a committed, collaborative leader, and I look forward to the two of us working boldly, bravely, and mission driven together in our respective new roles over the next four years.

To the new officers and Executive Committee members, put on your work hats; you are a strong, talented and passionate team, and we will harness that talent. There is so much to do. Our first Executive Committee meeting will be held tomorrow.

It’s a new dawn!

Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much!

We can create a global space for good.

Let’s get started!

Thank you.


13th July 2018 – 19th YMCA World Council – Chiangmai , Thailand