Director departing Eastside YMCA


Staff at the Eastside YMCA will miss the leadership and kindness of departing executive director Derrick Jaeger, pictured at center. (Linda Baumeister/Review)

Rebecca Rowe
Review staff

Friday, March 8, marked the last day at the office for the executive director of the St. Paul East Side YMCA.

Derrick Jaeger is stepping aside from his position to assume responsibility at the Hastings facility.

Located about 20 miles southeast of St. Paul, Hastings is the town in which Jaeger currently resides.

“It is a good opportunity for me to take that YMCA to the next step. They’re on the grounds of a hospital and are moving towards more community partnerships. When I get tired, I can go home and take a nap, right?” said Jaeger laughingly.

Management reorganization occurring at the YMCA of the Greater Twin Cities caused the change.

The nonprofit, youth-centered organization is still adjusting to the integration of the Minneapolis and St. Paul YMCAs and a new CEO beginning less than a year ago.

The YMCA of the Greater Twin Cities was officially formed as a 23-branch association on Jan. 1, 2012.

Assuming responsibility at East Side will be district executive director David Dominick.

The Arcade Street YMCA will no longer have an executive director dedicated solely to its building.

Dominick is slated to oversee both the East Side and Midway facilities.

Midway YMCA is located in the District 11 Hamline-Midway neighborhood.

The St. Paul YMCA opened in 1856, and the Minneapolis YMCA launched a decade later.

All for the community

Beginning his leadership of East Side only four years ago, Jaeger said he tried to use each bit of time to positively impact the community.

“My mission was to connect the YMCA to the oftentimes tight-knit neighborhoods here on the East Side. I worked to understand the people and their needs, and connect everyone to the programs and offerings at the YMCA,” Jaeger said.

Involvement in key partnerships and positive relationships with staff members helped Jaeger in his efforts to bond with East Siders.

“A couple of things in which I really got involved to share the message of the YMCA and lift up the community were the Prosperity Campaign and the East Side Area Business Association,” said Jaeger. “We’re also currently involved in the Payne-Maryland Partnership on the East Side, which has great potential sharing resources.”

Jaeger currently serves as president of business association, whose vision is to provide a unified voice advocating for the region’s economic stability.

Another aspect filling Jaeger with joy is the representative nature of the East Side YMCA.

The organization truly serves the whole community with a strong and growing diverse membership base.

“You’ll hear a whole lot of languages here at the Y,” said Jaeger. “And that definitely is a good thing.”

As for defining the word “community” that he uses so frequently, Jaeger describes a setting in which caring people choose to be involved and collaborate together to make a positive difference.  

A welcoming environment

Entering the East Side YMCA atop a hill overlooking Arcade Street, you’ll find a facility full of chatter by young and old alike.

Connected to John A. Johnson Achievement Plus Elementary, activity is occurring all throughout the day.

“We’re definitely a busy place,” said member services representative Sarai Masanz. “And we’ve been lucky to have Derrick as a leader.”

Atypical to most executives, explained Masanz, Jaeger stops and talks with people individually and truly seems to care. She feels as if he truly values her contributions to the successful operation of the East Side Y.

“Just listening to everyone goes a long way. I’m really about connecting. Our friendly atmosphere starts with the staff and hiring people who want to be here. It’s something noticeable about which guests comment frequently,” Jaeger said.

And, in regard to the lack of a full-time director serving the Eastside Y beginning Monday, March 11, Jaeger has few worries due to the quality of the branch staff.

“One of the aspects that really prompted this move is the absolutely strong teams we have here at the East Side YMCA,” explained Jaeger proudly. “We have a very wonderful people who have been here for a while and are greatly involved in the community.”

Moving forward

Whereas Jaeger previously served as a program director at the Southdale (Edina), Southwest (Eagan), and Northwest (Shoreview) YMCA locations, the East Side facility was his first urban experience.

His move to Hastings will mark a return to suburbia.

“It has been a fun and overall amazing opportunity working in the city,” said Jaeger. “I’ve worked in the suburban Y’s for most of my career and really fell in love with the urban impact and the mission upon coming here. I’m definitely sad to leave.”

Positively analyzing the change is the experienced director who will oversee operations at the East Side Y.

“I know David will be great. I have no doubt he is the right person for this community. He understands urban work, has been in St. Paul for over 10 years, and will tie some of his connections and resources on the western side of St. Paul with the East Side,” Jaeger said.

Dominick is a transplant Minnesotan originally arriving in Minnesota to serve as the CEO for the Viking Council of the Boy Scouts of America. Interestingly, Dominick served from 1992 to 1996 as mayor of Muncie, Indiana.

He began his work with the St. Paul YMCA in 2003 as the executive director of Midway, a facility Dominick will still oversee in the future.

Dominick’s workload slightly decreases with his new position, as he is currently a district executive for Midway, East Side and Minneapolis Heritage Park YMCAs.

As of March 11, Dominick is the direct supervisor for just Midway and East Side.

And, no worries, if any questions arise, the beloved Jaeger is only a phone call away.

“Hastings needs his community leadership,” said East Side Y employee Dave Anderson fondly. “They’re real lucky to have him.”

Rebecca Rowe can be reached at eastside@lillienews.com.


Did you know?

Although lyrics to the Village People’s hit song will never change, a national rebranding effort begun in 2010 reduced the name of the iconic nonprofit organization to simply “the Y.”
The effort emanated from an attempt to reduce the notion of Christian affiliation and create an inclusive environment where all people feel welcome.

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