Gerald Ogletree

Gerald Ogletree.

LOUISIANA – The new director of the Twin Pike Family YMCA in Louisiana was a product of the organization.

A search committee of the YMCA’s board settled on Gerald Ogletree, 42, after a national search for a director according to Board President Mary Perkins. He’ll start in the position in early December.

“The members of the CEO Transition Committee were committed to finding the right person to manage our unique and special YMCA. The committee received many applications from a diverse group of people with Y and non-Y backgrounds. Our choice, Gerald Ogletree, fit all the criteria we outlined. He stood out to us like a bright shinning star. His enthusiasm is contagious and like he says, “If you’re not excited, you’re not invited!” His love of the Y, and all the Y stands for is inspiring,” said Perkins, who also served as the chair of the search committee.

As a young man, he worked at the Columbus YMCA as a camp counselor and developed a relationship with David Steele, the long-time executive director of the YMCA in Columbus, Ga., Ogletree’s hometown.

“That passion for coaching youth led Mr. Steele to ask me to come in and be a youth sports director,” Ogletree said.

From that part-time position, he was later promoted to be a full-time youth sports director — and eventually to be the director the D.A. Turner YMCA in northwest Columbus.

“The YMCA: it's not a job, it's not a career, it's a lifestyle. You’ve got to be willing to fall into those four character values: caring, honesty, respect, and responsibility. That’s just who I am,” Ogletree said.

Ogletree also had a career in corporate America, working of the insurance company Aflac. That track offered opportunities for advancement, high salaries and generous benef, but he decided that the YMCA offered him something more.

“Nothing has ever felt more a part of me than the YMCA. I always like to say: ‘I’m just a Y guy.’ It's who I am,” Ogletree said.

From his time at D.A. Turner, Ogletree said he was especially proud of the organization’s work with young people. He pointed, as an example, to a travel basketball team they started up that focused on helping the players get ready for college.

Ogletree was born and raised in Columbus, and studied history at Columbus State. He will be moving up to Pike County with his wife, Carease, and a four-year-old daughter.

“I love it. My wife loves it,” Ogletree said. “I enjoy being outside,  playing with my dogs, messing around with do-it-yourself projects and things like that. It f me, you know?”

Ogletree said in an interview last week that he was currently looking at a lease on a home near the YMCA, and was considering building a house in Pike county in the long term.

Ogletree said he thought the D.A. Turner branch he was previously responsible for was similar to the Twin Pike Family YMCA in terms of amenities and programming, with the exception of after-school programs, which D.A. Turner tended to offer on-site.

Ogletree will start work in early December, succeeding Eric Abts and Kara Viorel, who managed the YMCA in an interim capacity.

“The priorities to me are always very clear when it comes to the Y: we’re going to identify and meet the needs of our community, wherever those needs may take us,” Ogletree said.

Send questions and comments to athorp@pikecountynews.com.

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