Water Cooler Wednesday: Interview with YMCA CEO Dick Pollock

Dick Pollock has provided steady leadership at the YMCA

Dick Pollock has provided steady leadership at the YMCA


Dave Reeves recently caught up with Dick Pollock, President & CEO of the YMCA of South Palm Beach County. Dick discusses his long career as a “Y” executive, his travels, dancing acumen, and his golf game.


Dick, you’ve had a long and interesting career with the YMCA. How have you seen the organization change during your 40-plus years?

 Like our nation, the Y has evolved over the years. Beginning as an institution for men and boys, today’s YMCA includes women and girls, families and seniors, and a membership that is wonderfully diverse. Programmatically,  the Y maintains traditional programs such as wellness, sports, swimming and camping in state-of-the-art facilities. Additionally, the Y is a cause-driven organization devoted to strengthening communities through programs related to youth development, healthy living, and social responsibility. New initiatives include diabetes prevention, drowning prevention, and education enrichment for our day campers and after-school kids.  

We understand you’ve been with YMCAs in some interesting locales. Tell us a little bit about this.

I began my professional career in Youngstown, Ohio at the Y where I grew up learning to swim, playing basketball, and attending summer camp. After five years working in my hometown, I applied for a position in the International Division of the YMCA known as Young Professionals Abroad. I was accepted and assigned to manage a small hotel and conference center in Tiberias, Israel, a branch of the Jerusalem YMCA. During the course of my two years there I studied Hebrew and Arabic and travelled extensively throughout Israel, Egypt, and the Middle East. Since then I have held CEO positions in Plattsburgh and Albany, New York; Red Bank, New Jersey; and here in South Florida. Over the years I have had the good fortune to visit YMCAs in 20 different countries in Asia, Latin America, Africa, New Zealand, Europe, and the Middle East.

What Plans do you have for The YMCA of South Palm Beach County in terms of new programs, expansions, or new locations?

I mentioned program initiatives earlier. Right now our Y operates in two major facilities in Boca Raton and Boynton Beach. We also manage an employee wellness center and licensed child care at NCCI’s headquarters, and we operate an inter-generational child care program at the Volen Center. A natural next step for expansion would be in Delray Beach. We have had preliminary discussion with local officials and we feel confident that a Y or Y programs in Delray would be successful.

We recall that you reached a milestone by winning Boca’s Ballroom Battle, a local “dancing with the Stars” competition. Tell us about the challenge and what it was like to win.

I was privileged to take part in the George Snow Foundation’s Ballroom Battle along with seven other community minded competitors. We all practiced dance routines twice a week for the four months leading up the competition being led by the professional dancers from the local Fred Astaire studio. I’m the kind of guy who might try out a few moves at a wedding or gala but, believe me, the ballroom thing was a little out of my wheelhouse. My professional partner selected music from the dance scene in the movie “Pulp Fiction” where John Travolta dances with Uma Thurman. On the night of the event everyone performed  their routines beautifully but the judges selected me as the winner of the coveted Mirror Ball Trophy for the best male competitor. The real winners were the kids who receive scholarship assistance from the Snow Foundation with money raised from this and other events.

We’ve heard through the grapevine that your golf game suffered while your dancing skills improved. Can you tell us about that phenomenon?

It’s true that, since my incursion into the world of ballroom dance, my golf handicap has ballooned from a 9 to an 18! While I can’t really attribute my slump to the cause-and-effect of dancing, I feel relatively certain that if I devoted two hours a week for lessons and practice for four months I could turn my game around.