Bertram L. Lawson II Joins the YMCA of Greater Brandywine (YGBW) as President & CEO

President & CEO of YGBW, Bertram L. Lawson II (left) is welcomed to the Kennett Area YMCA by District Executive Director, Nic Legere (right).

Bertram L. Lawson II joined the YMCA of Greater Brandywine this summer as President & CEO. A Lincoln University graduate, Lawson returns to Chester County bringing 26 years of experience in Nonprofit Leadership, Education, Business Development, Community Health, Engaging Underserved Communities and Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI). 

Lawson most recently served as President & CEO of the YMCA of Central New York and has held a variety of leadership roles at YMCAs across the Eastern region, in addition to serving as Chief Operating Officer for Mastery Charter Schools Network. 

“Chester County is doing such tremendous things,” shares Lawson. “At the YMCA, we have an opportunity to identify what we can do to help advance the initiatives already identified as areas of opportunity by our community leaders and residents and to partner with organizations and individuals to help get those projects across the finish line.”  

As Lawson returns to Chester County, he looks to expand the reach of the YMCA mission through the development of strategic relationships. Currently, the YMCA has a robust catalog of programming and a strong financial assistance program which awards upwards of $2 million annually. To impact more residents, Lawson knows YGBW must focus on strong partnerships and philanthropy. 

“The YMCA at its core is innovative and collaborative,” Lawson says. “From basketball to swim lessons to the first celebration of Father’s Day – people may be surprised to learn how much in our society originated at the Y. I hope to continue that tradition of innovation and collaboration to expand our impact beyond our financial assistance program and look forward to working with local government officials, community and business leaders, community groups and individuals who are aligned with our mission.” 

In a county rich in nonprofit organizations, businesses and visionary community leaders, the opportunities for collaboration are immense.  

“Last year, we awarded over $2 million in financial aid to 11,000 families in Chester County to ensure they had access to childcare, summer camps, programs and memberships at the YMCA of Greater Brandywine,” explains Chief Development Officer, Amy Bielicki. “There is an opportunity to increase that number tenfold – and still have opportunity left to uncover. Although our county is the wealthiest in Pennsylvania, there is still a tremendous need given the wealth gaps that exist.” 

Lawson plans to partner locally with community leaders, YGBW board members and YGBW donors to advance the YMCA mission and to reach more underserved communities throughout the region. In addition to a strong partnership strategy, Lawson is keenly aware of the import role that DEI and representation play – ensuring that those in need have a voice in the process. 

Lawson, a nationally recognized expert in nonprofit business and DEI, serves as the first African American leader of YGBW. In his first month, Lawson was invited by the National Association of YMCAs to speak about Board Equity and Governance at the YMCA General Assembly conference held in Atlanta, Georgia. 

“It is critical that our Board of Directors is reflective of the diversity we have here in the county,” explains Lawson. “All voices must be represented to ensure that our programs and services meet the needs of the underserved.”  

With a big vision for the organization’s future, Lawson understands that the change first needs to come from within. The YMCA has a large workforce of more than 1,600 employees that spans the entire county and beyond. Lawson wants YGBW to be viewed as an employer of choice in our region.  

“We have an important opportunity,” Lawson shares. “I have been in the role for less than two months and have spent much of that time getting to know this dedicated staff. The team is doing impactful work – and we have even more impactful plans on the horizon. My sleeves are rolled up, I’m ready to do the work to serve this great community.” 

Pin It

Share this post:

Related Posts

Leave a Comment