John Kind

Mankato YMCA Executive Director John Kind plans to retire in summer 2023 after 14 years leading the nonprofit.

MANKATO — Mankato Family YMCA’s longtime executive director plans to retire this summer, the nonprofit announced Tuesday.

John Kind, 68, has led the organization for 14 years. The nonprofit will begin a national search for his replacement leading up to his last day as executive director on July 14.

Reflecting on his time at the helm, Kind said he’s proud to have led the “wonderful organization” through challenging COVID-19 pandemic times, along with overseeing program expansions, the building of the new Chesley Skate Park, and a 2016 capital campaign for locker room improvements.

He named the pandemic as the biggest challenge facing the organization during his tenure — in-person exercise and programming had to be scaled down for long stretches. A strong staff and leadership team now have the YMCA ready for a new chapter, he said, and his goal for his final six months as executive director is to leave it in good shape for the next leader.

“What we want to get accomplished is just to make sure the Y is in the best position possible for a new executive director to come in and have an organization that has a good chance to be successful,” he said.

In retirement he said he’s looking forward to spending more time with his wife, Wendy, who he thanked for being so supportive over the years. He’ll still serve on multiple area boards, plans to pursue volunteering opportunities and hopes to sharpen his golf strokes.

YMCA Board President Matt DuRose described Kind as an “incredible asset to the YMCA organization and the Mankato community,” in a release announcing the planned retirement.

“On behalf of the current and past directors of the board, I would like to thank John for his leadership and commitment to the community during this tenure as executive director,” DuRose stated. “I look forward to working with the community to identify the next executive director of the Mankato Family YMCA.”

The board plans to form a CEO search committee and use a Y-USA search specialist to identify candidates for the position.

Along with program disruptions, COVID-19 also threw a wrench in the YMCA’s plans for a second location on Mankato’s east side. Kind had been working on plans for the project for years leading up to 2020, at one point getting it close to the launch of a capital fundraising campaign.

The project falling through after COVID-19 hit, Kind said, was the most disappointing chapter during his 14 years leading the YMCA. The project was just no longer financially feasible post pandemic.

Kind also worked through a changing gym landscape in Mankato from the time he started as executive director to now. One gym after another opened up as competition to the YMCA’s workout facilities.

The YMCA’s pools, racquetball courts, basketball courts and other amenities meant the YMCA couldn’t match $10 membership costs, so Kind said the nonprofit changed direction by looking for ways to add value for members in the form of free programs and child care.

Great members, board members — Kind worked with seven board chairs over 14 years — volunteers, donors and staff helped the nonprofit navigate through all the ups and downs, Kind said.

“I have thoroughly enjoyed 14 years of serving this wonderful organization,” he said. “My sincere thanks goes out to the wonderful staff, volunteers and members who have made every day an adventure and a joy. I look forward to watching the YMCA grow and thrive with a new executive director.”

Follow Brian Arola @BrianArola

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