Tiffany Patterson

Tiffany Patterson
  • Name
  • Tiffany Patterson
  • Title
  • District Executive Director, TownLake YMCA
  • Organization
  • YMCA of Austin
  • Years as Executive Director
  • 6 years in Austin, 3 years in San Francisco (been with the Y for 20 years)

  • What does your organization do?
  • YMCA of Austin has served the greater Austin community for more than 60 years. The Y is a cause driven organization with three focus areas: youth development, healthy living, and social responsibility. A strong community can only be achieved when we invest in our neighbors, our kids, and our health. The Y is a catalyst for transforming lives and strengthening communities through programs such as 1) Project Safe, program has taught over 10,000 first graders to swim since 2010, 2) MEND, a holistic childhood obesity program for the entire family, and 3) SNAP, programs that provide access and delivery of services for special populations. These programs are just a brief snapshot of the Y’s reach and diversity.
  • How did you become interested in this work?
  • I had just moved to the Bay Area after college graduation, and was taking time to determine what my next steps for my career path would be. Thought I might be a social worker or therapist. I came to the Y thinking it would just be a summer job where I would work at the camp. The idea of working with kids and going to all of the cool places around the Bay Area sounded like a fabulous way to spend a summer. I had no idea the Y would tap into my passion to work in an organization that has a tremendous, transformational impact on people’s lives and the community.
  • What drives your passion?
  • Community. Wellness. Youth. These three words capture the foundation and the motivating force behind my life and career. My passion is to ignite the fire within all of us to leave this world better than how we found it. In my personal and professional life, I enjoy walking with the dreamers, the believers, the courageous, the joyous, the doers, the successful people with their heads in the clouds and their feet on the ground. Always a nice touch on these adventures to share a wonderful bottle of red wine and a delicious meal.
  • Did you have a mentor or role model?
  • Yes, I had a wonderful mentor, Sal Cisneros. He was my ED at the first Y I worked as a Program Director, and has continued to be someone I can count on for advice/guidance after all these years. I think it’s crucial for professional growth.
  • What's the biggest challenge in your work?
  • Sustaining Board & Staff engagement at a high level.
  • What's the best advice that you have ever received?
  • Find out the type of person your supervisor is or the team you are signing up to serve on whenever possible because this can make or break your work world.
  • What are your top tips for new Executive Directors?
  • 1. Spend your first 90 days listening and observing.
    2. Approach the work and your team with openness and positivity.
    3. Be humble and admit when you make mistakes. Goes a long way.

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