Champlain College administrator and Burlington school board member Kyle Dodson will take over as president and CEO of the Greater Burlington YMCA. Dodson will start his new job May 2 and earn $145,000 a year.
Dodson, 50, says he’ll pursue what’s been at the core of his work for two decades, including during stints as a school principal and his position since 2008 — director of Champlain’s Center for Service and Civic Engagement.
“My work is supporting communities, supporting families and children to get the things they need — education, skill sets, networking — to create the lives that they want and deserve,” Dodson said Monday in an interview with Seven Days.
His résumé includes work in finance in New York City, various posts at Saint Michael’s College and four years as founding principal of Lee Academy Pilot School in Dorchester, Mass.
Dodson’s priorities will be to oversee fundraising and construction of the proposed new Y building at 298 College Street, on the site of the old Ethan Allen Club. That’s just up the street from the red brick building at 266 College Street that the YMCA has called home since 1932. It’s on the market for $3.75 million.
He also vowed to make time for the YMCA’s many programs for children, from after-school care to swimming lessons and preschool, and to “get on the ground with a kid who is playing with blocks and remember why I’m doing the work.”
The Ethan Allen Club will be torn down for the new building. There’s no start date for construction. In the short-term, Y leaders hope to hold fitness classes at the former Ethan Allen Club building, possibly starting this spring. The YMCA has hired Freeman French Freeman to start designing the new building. There’s no news on a buyer for the current building, Dodson said.
Dodson was elected to the school board in 2014 and said he’s proud of the work the board has done to stabilize district finances. Dodson isn’t sure he can continue to serve on the board given the demands of his new job. “I need to reflect on that,” he said.
Dodson isn’t timid. During controversy about the leadership of former Burlington school superintendent Jeanne Collins, Dodson was among those who called for her to step down. She did so in 2014. “Sometimes what’s right for the children isn’t what’s easiest for the adults,” Dodson said. “I just try to stick on that. Doing what’s right for kids, all kids.”
The 6-foot, 4-inch Dodson grew up in New Jersey and played basketball for the West Orange High School Cowboys. He went on to captain the Division I basketball team at Harvard. He still plays recreationally. “I’m not a superstar,” he said. “I’m in the mix.”
Dodson and his wife, Christine, the cofounder of Mamava, live in Burlington. They have three sons, ages 16, 15 and 13. The boys attended preschool and swim lessons at the Y and Dodson knows his way around the building’s basketball court.
Dodson has a doctorate in educational leadership and policy studies from the University of Vermont, an MBA in finance and management from Columbia University as well as a history degree from Harvard University.
Former Y president Mary Burns left to take a post at another Y in 2015.