Y’s new leader sets ambitious course

Tina Postel plans to create partnerships with organizations that share similar goals
2010-07-20T00:00:00Z Y’s new leader sets ambitious courseZACH BENOIT Of The Gazette Staff The Billings Gazette
July 20, 2010 12:00 am  • 

The Billings Family YMCA has been around for more than 100 years and now has about 14,000 members, but new CEO Tina Postel thinks plenty more can be done to get the community involved and active.

“Those numbers are great, but Billings has 100,000 people,” she said. “So you can’t tell me that there aren’t kids, families and seniors sitting there who could benefit from this.”

Two weeks into her new job heading up the Y, Postel is starting to define her goals as CEO while getting to know the community. While the plan is still in the works, she said her main focuses will be increasing philanthropic giving, working to further educate the community about the Y and its programs and improving the facilities at 402 N. 32nd St.

Formerly the development director of the Rialto Square Theatre in Joliet, Ill., Postel said her experience there, and her education and previous jobs, will be valuable in reaching those goals.

One of her final tasks at the theater was to oversee a $5 million capital campaign for the 84-year-old building.

“Education was first and foremost,” she said of her fundraising strategy. “That theater was one of the best-kept secrets in Joliet. We don’t want to be the best-kept secret in Billings.”

The key, Postel said, is not to just call up everybody in town and ask for money. Instead, she plans to create partnerships with people and organizations that share similar goals and “have a passion for the same things we do.”

A second key — and a second goal — is to keep the community aware of and involved in what the YMCA provides, as much of the nonprofit’s raised funds go toward supporting its members.

About 30 percent of its members have some form of free or reduced membership due to financial problems, and the Y has raised about $90,000 this year for those programs, Postel said. However, many people aren’t aware that the program exists and don’t take advantage of it.

But, once they do, new members will realize there’s more to it than just a gym, Postel said.

“It’s really not just about running on a treadmill,” she said. “It’s about an overall healthy lifestyle.”

Postel’s third goal is to update the Y’s building. It has been at its current location since 1953, and much of the building hasn’t been improved in years. Every nook and cranny of the building is used, and she would like to see improvements such as new air conditioning and a kids’ fitness center.

“We’re in an old building right now,” she said. “We’re a nonprofit. We’re not a fitness club that can just make the changes without some help.”

While the plans are in the early stages, Postel estimated that the renovations could cost as much as $2 million.

Postel moved to Billings from the Chicago area in March when her husband took a job with NAPA Auto Parts. She said that after growing up in a smaller town in Iowa, Billings is a nice change from Chicago because this is a place where “people make eye contact, shake your hand and say good morning” and is a good place to raise her three children.

While the transition to a new job — especially one leading the local branch of a large nonprofit — isn’t always easy, Postel said it’s going smoothly and that she isn’t wasting any time getting started.

“I’ve spent my entire professional career in nonprofit,” she said.

“You’re not going to find me behind a desk. You’re going to find me out in the community. My priority in life is dedicated to serving my community. That’s more important than any paycheck.”

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