Central Florida Y president, CEO announces retirement
| 7:01 a.m. October 2, 2014
West Orange Times & Observer
After 21 years as president and CEO of the YMCA of Central Florida, and 41 years of service with the YMCA organization across the United States, Jim Ferber announced recently his intent to retire at the end of the year.
Throughout his career in Central Florida, Ferber has transformed the YMCA and grown the organization to be the ninth-largest in the nation.
Ferber has developed a personal relationship with the community, working to make the YMCA a place where families and neighbors feel comfortable and welcome. He has worked alongside the local YMCA organizations, including Roper, Dr. Phillips and Pine Hills, tying together all the Central Florida centers to create one large family.
“I’ve been around the best people a community has to offer,” Ferber said. “In all great communities, you have to have people who are willing to go a little beyond themselves, and luckily, we have some great families in the area.”
Ferber praised the accomplishments of centers such as the Roper YMCA. He gives credit to the Roper family for all the work it has done in the area and its ability to establish a connection with residents. He also is excited for continued success at the Dr. Phillips YMCA, the upcoming leader and a growing centerpiece within the community, Ferber said.
In 1993, Ferber was selected as president and CEO of the YMCA of Central Florida by local volunteer leadership. He, with the help of his team, brought about a new era for the Orlando-based YMCA association operating in Orange, Osceola, Seminole, Brevard, Lake and Marion counties.
Creating an environment focused on youth programs, preventative health and community bonding, Ferber led the Central Florida organization through tremendous growth, making it a dynamic force throughout the nation. Since he took over, the YMCA of Central Florida has expanded from an $8.5 million organization serving 15,500 members to an $80 million organization impacting the lives of more than 235,000 residents annually.
The YMCA places value on child development and education, one of Ferber’s major goals throughout his career. Under his direction, the Y has created programs to help children succeed, including efforts toward advancing children’s reading skills and combating bullying.
Two YMCA early childhood development centers opened on Disney property in 2004, providing developmental, curriculum-based care for 640 children. Ferber’s passion for curbing the chronic achievement gap for lower-income kids led to the YMCA implementing academic support curricula into after-school programs and summer camps.
“It’s amazing to see what has happened in the West Orange area because of the Y,” Ferber said. “To see how the whole family comes together — moms, dads, aunts, uncles and everybody coming together — is so important in this world when we have a world that is pulling us apart. There needs to be organizations like the Y that are pulling together.”
Ferber’s leadership has been the catalyst for nationally recognized programs and facilities, and his work has attracted attention and visits from President George W. Bush, first lady Michelle Obama, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, U.S. Sens. Bill Nelson and Mel Martinez, and many other local and state leaders.
Ferber said he is looking forward to watching the Y’s continued success in Orange County.
“I’ve been blessed, and what I’m most proud of is the best years are certainly ahead of us, not behind us,” Ferber said.
The YMCA of Central Florida board of directors, with support of the YMCA of the USA, began this month conducting the formal search process for the organization’s next CEO.