Categories: Webinars

Lessons for a Brighter Future: Accelerate Roundtable Summary

Published On: Feb 19, 2021By

Our Accelerate Leadership Roundtable hosted on February 16th brought industry leaders from around the country to share their stories from the past year:

  • Kurtis Dawson, President and CEO at the YMCA of Southern Arizona
  • Todd Rockoff, President and CEO at the Tuscon JCC
  • Theresa Johnson, Chief Development and Marketing Officer at the YMCA of the Pikes Peak Region

Together, we discussed how they all leaned into the challenges of the pandemic in ways that offered lasting lessons. Hosted by Daxko’s CEO Ron Lamb, this webinar offered inspiration and insights to accelerate your mission and continue connecting community in new ways. In case you missed it, we summarized their takeaways below.

The webinar began like most everything the past year, tell us about March 2020. We are all familiar with the sudden shifts around the world; pivoting to new revenue models, needing to reprioritize staff time, revamping childcare and programming, and etc.. These are familiar stories we have all experienced. But as the dust settled into summer 2020, Kurtis, Todd, and Theresa were able to examine their practices and find opportunities to build a better future in a new landscape.

Virtual and In-Person (not or)

Distanced and virtual gatherings have become a necessity in COVID. Looking ahead, Kurtis, Todd, and Theresa shared the realization that these changes are here to stay. The accessibility of offering in-person and virtual options allows their organizations to have a broader impact. Although Kurtis keenly pointed out that virtual opportunities do not replace relationships, they do enhance them. Using virtual options as a gateway, Kurtis prioritized updating facilities and investing in new equipment throughout the summer to attract more people to their doors.  Similarly, Todd is seeking new ways to offer classes in and around the community, as well as new types of virtual gatherings like book clubs, classes, and discussion groups.

Community Partnerships

Our panelists all adopted an attitude of we’re better together. Digging into new and existing community partnerships in early COVID presented unexpected opportunities. For Todd’s JCC this included a partnership with Catholic Community Services to provide more than 1000 meals a week to seniors. Theresa’s YMCA was able to partner with local radio and tv stations in ways that led to a significant fundraising shift, where 30% of donations between March and December came from first time donors. Finally, these partnerships gave staff opportunities to volunteer at local nonprofits to provide food and essential services to the community. The benefits realized from these partnerships will continue to inform strategy moving forward.

Staff Morale

The final key to success for Kurtis, Todd, and Theresa has been a continual focus on staff morale. From moments of reckoning in early-COVID to rallying cries that have maintained their momentum throughout the crisis, all three have seen the importance of honesty and communication with their staff. Kurtis made sure to address the importance of staff morale as the key to positive impact on community. When the staff feels taken care of and safe, they are able to bring that positivity to the community. This is the mission, and having an attitude of stepping to the plate has helped these leaders as they’ve led their organizations the past 11 months.

A Brighter Future

This insightful discussion rounded out with a unanimous sentiment that the future will only improve. The lessons we have learned in facing a challenging time have taught us that community and relationships are of central importance to our lives. Those within the Movement have seen firsthand how nonprofit community centers are key in building and maintaining these foundations. The mission is to communicate that fact to the world.

For more inspiring content, check out the Accelerant Podcast, where leaders from around the country share their stories. For more visit

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