University YMCA Hall of Famers

The University YMCA wishes to thank all of our Hall of Famers for being life-changers for our students and the communities we serve. Their investment in young lives provides opportunities for our students to learn and to lead, resulting in stronger and brighter futures for us all. Hall of Famers have been recognized for their leadership, always encouraging and nurturing others around them to develop their true potential in spirit, mind, and body. These individuals received a plaque at the University YMCA's 125th Anniversary Celebration in December of 2012.


Dr.  Bonita Baskin, a career scientist and business entrepreneur who founded and served as CEO for two successful medical technology companies – ViroMed Laboratories, Inc. and AppTec Laboratory Services, Inc. – which she led to acquisitions by larger public corporations joined the Minneapolis Association Board of Directors in 2009.  Dr. Baskin worked with the University YMCA to identify a cause driven community need.  The YCAP program was birthed out of that process.  YCAP – Collegiate Achievers Program is a retention program for first generational students of color coming from improvised communities.  Dr. Baskin saw the YCAP program as  unique and would represent a national model for higher education to address retention and graduation rates through innovative and creative services not currently being offered by the federal and local collegiate retention models.  Dr Baskin not only provided three years of funding for the project through her foundation, but she also worked with the staff and students to design and implement the model.  The YCAP program started its third year this fall with two cohorts of students.


Kim Boyce began working for the Minneapolis YMCA in January of 1978 as a Youth Outreach Worker at the Northwest YMCA in New Hope.   In the spring of 1981 Mr. Boyce became a program participant in the University YMCA’s “8 weeks to Live, 8 Weeks to Die” program – both to explore the topic of mortality and to get a sample of programming at the U Y.  Mr. Boyce became Program Director at the UY in 1981, leading several programs.  Mr. Boyce became the Executive Director of the University YMCA in March of 1985.   Mr. Boyce’s most powerful memories are from the hundreds of stories told by volunteer staff members at the UY year-end staff gatherings – as they shared their insights about the impacts their UY experiences had on their lives – and how they were using those insights as they moved into their future careers and relationships.  In June of 1989 Mr. Boyce left the YMCA to begin work with University of Minnesota Extension.  Mr. Boyce is still employed with University of Minnesota Extension serving as a Regional Director for Extension operations in the seven-county metropolitan area


Dr. Mead Cavert started at the UY in 1939 when he was a student on the St. Paul campus. From 1939-1942, Dr. Cavert served as president of the UY.  Dr. Cavert became actively involved with the Minneapolis UY from 1940 to 1960 and served two terms on the Board of Management, as well as being Chairman of the Board.  He also served as Chair of the Annual Membership Campaign, now called Y Partners. Dr. Cavert participated in “8 weeks to live 8 weeks to die,” a UY program that involved discussion on the process leading to death.  Dr. Cavert was also involved with the endowment fundraising committee and the Minneapolis Association’s Board of Directors.  Dr. Cavert is a retired faculty member of the University of Minnesota Medical School.  He was the first recipient of the UY annual ethical leadership award.


Mr. Cederblade operated from a very strong spiritual base. He devoted his life to the YMCA. He also had a passion for children, especially under privileged youth.  Lyndy started out as an after-school program director at the South Town YMCA in 1929, and three years later served as Director of Camp Ihduhapi.  Next, he served as director of the Roosevelt branch before becoming Assistant General Executive of Programming in 1946. He was instrumental in developing the Minnesota Youth in Government programs, which remains a vital program for the organization today.  He served as General Secretary of the University of Minnesota YMCA from 1960 to 1969 where he helped to establish such programs as Project Motivation, which partnered University students with inner-city youth.   Lyndy, a religious man, worked tirelessly to bring together people of different backgrounds together and was a pillar of the Hennepin Avenue United Methodist Church.

During WWII, he developed an interfaith council to increase awareness of the plight of Jews. 


Dr. Eleanor Coleman, a retired educator, joined the University Y Community Board in 2009.  Dr. Coleman chaired the Board Development Committee before becoming the Board Chair for two years.  Dr. Coleman, along with her husband, Greg Coleman, a retired Vikings player, started a foundation that supported educational initiatives.  When Dr. Coleman joined the UY Community Board, she and Mr. Coleman made the decision to have their annual Greg Coleman Celebrity Golf Tournament proceeds’ be designated to the UY in support of the mentoring programs.  The golf tournament has become the major fund raiser for the UY over the last three years.  Because of the golf tournament, the UY has been promoted on major television and radio stations. 


As a freshman at the University of Minnesota, Phil Courey was looking for a way to use his spare time to be productive and give back.  He was recruited to join the Y-Buddies Program as a Y-buddy mentor. He became a small group leader his sophomore year, a Program Coordinator his junior year, and a Student Board member  his senior year.   Mr. Courey invested more time, effort, and creativity in the Y-Buddies program while shifting toward experiential learning and community engagement that the UY provided.  The more involved Mr. Courey became, the more he valued his time with the UY, and the more he shared his experiences with friends and family.  Mr. Courey’s family members were extremely supportive of his involvement at the UY and they showed it by attending UY events, participating in fund raising events, and becoming Y Partners’ donors.


William Craig was a UY student from 1960 to 1965.  In 1963, Mr. Craig participated in the International Student YMCA exchange program, a summer program for North American students working on local YMCA projects.  Mr. Craig  worked in Tokyo building a youth retreat center.  From this experience,  Mr. Craig changed his educational goals.  Mr. Craig received the George Williams Fellowship in 1965.  He was a member of the University Y’s Men’s Club from 1967 to 1983.  From 1981-1982, Mr. Craig chaired the Guthrie Benefit.  He was also on the Board of Management for 5 years and chairing it for a year.  Mr. Craig is the founder of the UY Legacy Committee which is still in existence today.  Mr. Craig received the UY Ethical Leadership Award in 2004 and  the UY ‘Honoring our Leaders Award” in 2008.


Joe Dobberke joined Y-Buddies the school year of 2002-2003 and is still friends with his "Little Buddy", Cody.  Mr. Dobberke became a school group leader for Y-Buddies in 2003, a coordinator of the program in 2004, and a student board member in 2005.  Upon graduating from college, Mr. Dobberke joined the UY Community Board and was the Y Partners Chair for two years.  Because of his commitment to the mission of the UY and his ethical leadership,   Mr. Dobberke received many UY recognitions to include the George Williams Fellowship Award, the Sara Blosberg Award in 2006, The Honoring our Leaders Award in 2007, Community Board Special Achievement Award in 2007, and the Community Board Ethical Leadership Award in 2011.


Clarence served as Student Secretary for the Indianapolis Indiana YMCA, and was responsible for YMCA programs at Butler University and Indiana Central College from 1936-1941  Clarence served as Student Secretary for the North Central Area Council of YMCAs from 1943-1949.  Next, Clarence serviced as Director of Projects, YMCA-YWCA National Student Councils from 1949-1950.  Clarence Elliot was General Secretary of the UY and Executive Secretary of the Southeast Community branch of the Minneapolis YMCA from 1950 – 1960.  During his tenure, he designed programs that would allow students to grow into responsible, reflective leaders and would challenge them to participate in society.  Under his leadership, the UY began to focus on programming that allowed students to grow into responsible, reflective leaders with an understanding of their civic responsibilities.


Jim Gilbert started his Y experience as a detached worker. In 1984, he became the Executive Director of Urban Work and Vice President of Program Services.  Jim had a long relationship with Camp Menogyn, being a guide in 1949, moving to Assistant Director in 1956, and finally Director from 1957-1962.  He also served as Assistant Director of Camp Ihduhapi in 1955. Next, he moved on to serve as Executive Director of the Minnetonka branch for five years, and then Executive Director of the of the Urban Department. He then became Vice President of Program Services, and then Executive Director of the YMCA Minneapolis organization, retiring in 1994. Mr. Gilbert has been known to have an all- inclusive leadership style. Mr. Gilbert was a very strong advocate and supporter of the University Y and was very influential in garnering support for the UY through his leadership positions.  Mr. Gilbert help develop the Kautz Family YMCA Archives which is located at the University of Minnesota.  Known as the “Gentle Giant” or “Jumbo Jim”, he cared deeply for people, and his leadership style was to quietly lead and enable others to lead.  


Jim Gillespie has served in a many capacities for the University YMCA. But in “real life” Jim Gillespie had several careers over his lifetime which served to provide valuable experiences he shared with the Y.  Jim was an attorney, a banker, and a land-developer, just to name a few.   Beyond serving as the Chairman of the Board of Directors at the University of Minnesota in 1973, he also served on several committees, including  the Building and Food Service Task Force (in 1970), as well as the YMCA and YWCA Facility Planning Committee (1970).  Jim was also a member of the University YMCA Y’s Men’s Club, the Heritage Club, and the Century Club.  During the planning of the University YMCA’s 100 Years celebration, Jim provided his insights while working on the Centennial Endowment Committee. While listing just a few of his many activities and accomplishments during his service to the University YMCA, Jim also provided behind-the scenes leadership and guidance for the professional staff over the years.


William Gould’s involvement at the UY began with his participation in the Metro Internship program  in 1993.  The focus of the program during that time was on leadership development, diversity, and ethics.   Mr. Gould interned at HIRED,  a non-profit in North Minneapolis.  Because of his experience, he returned to the UY the following year to staff the program.  Mr. Gould has had a commitment and passion for current UY students being exposed to and having  similar experiences he had.  He has  volunteered his time to work with students and promote the benefits of the UY programs to donors.  Mr. Gould  is also completing his sixth year on the UY Community Board.  Mr. Gould, who holds designations in CPA and CMA  is currently a 2nd Vice President of Individual Actuarial and Financial at Securian  Financial Group, Incorporated


Emily Grill started at the UY in 2007 as a tutor in the Y-Tutors program her freshman year.  Ms. Grill worked as a Y-Staff  and Coordinator  for the program.  Because of her leadership skills and abilities, Ms. Grill was selected to be a member of Student Board and a liaison to the Y-Tutors program.  As a student board member, Ms. Grill took on multiple leadership roles to include being the chair of the Y Partner’s campaign and assisted with the branch’s United Way campaign.  She also wrote a successful Student Fee grant which provided additional resources for the UY.  Ms. Grill was selected to be a UY intern focusing on the tutoring work and United Way funding.   She is currently employed by Target Corporation but still finds time to volunteer as needed for the UY.


After graduating from Yale University Divinity School, in 1976,  Rick Jackson was hired by Dr, Douglas Wallace to direct the Metro Internship program and  create a Global Perspectives program.  Mr. Jackson succeeded Dr. Wallace as Executive Director in 1978.  In addition to developing many new programs, Mr. Jackson raised funds to renovate and occupy for 15 years the old UY building at 1901 University Ave. Under Mr. Jackson’s leadership, the UY was instrumental in helping lead Campus Ys around the country into the service-learning movement.  In 1985 Mr. Jackson became the Minneapolis Association’s Vice President for Urban Operations. In this role, he continued to advocate for support of the distinctive mission and programs of the UY.  In 1991 Mr. Jackson was employed by the Seattle YMCA.  In 2001 Mr. Jackson ended his 25-years of YMCA service to help found the Center for Courage & Renewal, a national nonprofit committed to fostering identity and integrity and the courage to act on it.  Mr. Jackson states that “In many ways, this successful new organization has been built upon the foundations of what I learned at the UY.”


Thomas LaSalle started at the UY in 1971 in the Metro Internship Program. In the 1980s he was on the UY Community Board and negotiated the Y’s agreement with the U for the building next to the Barn.  He became Chair of the Board in 1982.  Mr. LaSalle got involved in the Association’s International Committee, taking a trip to Africa with delegates from the UY to include Rick Jackson, Executive Director during that time.  Mr. LaSalle served on the UY Community Board again in the 90’s and provided leadership for the purchase of the current UY building site.  Mr. LaSalle also chaired the last UY Capital Campaign. 


Melissa Mason started at the University Y during her freshman year at the University of Minnesota in 2008.  During her first year, she was a big buddy in the Y-Buddies program  As a sophomore, Ms. Mason worked as a volunteer staff for the Y-Buddies program.  In 2010 and 2011, she was a member of the Student Board and provided leadership for Peace Jam.  Through her work at the UY,  Ms, Mason was able to secure a full time position with the YMCA of the Greater Twin Cities upon her graduation.  Ms. Mason attributes her success to the three and a half years she spent at the University YMCA, her experiences and the people she met.  Ms. Mason is still very connected to the UY as a volunteer.  In her own words, she states that  “ My time at the UY has proven more beneficial to me than the education I received at the U of M and it showed me a career path I had not considered before.”


Marion McNurlen started with Project Motivation as a volunteer in 1967, moving into a student  leadership role as a program staff person.  Mrs. McNurlen was the first female to be a permanent part-time staff person at the UY.  She was actively involved in the Y’s international programs.   In 1969, Mrs. McNurlen was a student member of the Y-USA International Committee and was appointed to the Board of Directors in 1971.  Mrs. McNurlen continues to be a very strong supporter of the UY.


Steve and Joyce Melander-Dayton were participants at the UY over 30 years ago. Mrs. Melander-Dayton started out as an Administrated Assistant under the leadership of Rick Jackson.  They both volunteered for Project  Motivation which is how they met each other.  They both served on Student Board which they viewed as a meaningful opportunity and training ground for future careers.  They saw the UY as an incubator for student service learning.  And, if not for the UY, they would not have met. Steve and Joyce are residents in New Mexico.  They are both philanthropists.  and have developed over time a commitment for serving and giving back. They participated in the UY Capitol.  They are life-long UY Y-Partners with the passion and commitment to continue giving in support of the UY for the rest of their lives.


In 1995, Harold Mezile became the President and CEO of the YMCA of Metropolitan Minneapolis.  The YMCA distinguishes itself with very cause driven services thorough out the community. Mr. Mezile is known for his civil rights work and transformational leadership style.  He is recognized for starting a number of national initiatives in the Y: Search Institute Partnership,   Strong Community Agenda Movement, Diversity & Inclusion, Multicultural Executive Development Program, and the Employee Resource Network Movement.  Mr. Mezile pioneered the Beacons after-school network in 1996, which provided out-of-school time services for over 4,000 youth in low-income urban communities on a daily basis. Mr. Mezile has been very innovative in creating new ideas that impact our urban landscape, to include the University YMCA and, throughout his career.  He has brought people to work together in a collective way to make a difference in the community.  Mr. Mezile, a cause driven leader, has been a strong supporter and advocate of the University YMCA and has been at the forefront in providing leadership for the continued success and sustainability of the UY.  In 2011, the YMCA of Metropolitan Minneapolis merged with the YMCA of Greater Saint Paul, and Mr. Mezile became the Co-CEO of the newly formed YMCA of the Greater Twin Cities, the third largest YMCA in the United States.  Mr. Mezile is now the retiring CEO of the YMCA of the Greater Twin Cities.


Bob and  Mary O’Connor  have been supporters of the University Y  for 40 years.  From 1969 through 1973 Bob was active in numerous UY programs as a participant and student staff. After graduating from college, Mr. O’Connor served for two years as an alumni volunteer staff with the Environmental Backpack Program. He also served on the Community Board in the mid-70's and again in the mid-90's, and has been part of the planning teams for several alumni gatherings over the past 20 years. In 2007, Mr. O’Connor helped migrate the UY's alumni records into the Minneapolis Association’s  new database system. Mr. O’Connor received the UY's George Williams Fellowship award twice in the 1970's.  Mrs. O’Connor participated in the backpack pick up trips in 1972 and 73 and Senior Seminars. After graduating from college, she served one year as an alumni volunteer staff with the Environmental Backpack Program. Mrs. O’Connor served on the UY Community Board from 2002-2008, the UY Capital Campaign Committee, and currently co-chairs the UY Legacy Committee.


Kenya Ollie was an active participant at the University YMCA from 2006 to 2011. As a freshman, Ms. Ollie worked with the Y-Tutors program. In her sophomore year, Ms. Ollie participated in a national research project focusing on the graduation and retention rates of first generational college students of color from impoverished communities.  Ms. Ollie was one of three UY students working with Dr. Baskin to design and implement the YCAP program, a collegiate achievers program that provides supports and break down barriers for first generational students of color entering the University of Minnesota as freshman.   Ms. Ollie was one of the first Program Coordinators.   She was also the first recipient of the UY Diversity and Inclusion Award. Ms. Ollie continues to volunteer at the UY.


Michael Petty  first became involved in the University YMCA during Freshman Week at the U of M in 1968.  After attending a Y party,   Mr. Petty spent a lifetime of involvement with the University YMCA.  Mr. Petty became President of the Freshman Council and later served as a student board member.  During the anti-Viet Nam war protests on the University of Minnesota campus, Mr. Petty was actively involved in dialogues with community leaders about issues of social justice, the war, sexism, racism, and other issues of the day – discussions sponsored by the UY.  It was out of those conversations that the Metro Internship program grew.  After graduating from college, Mr. Petty returned to the UY intermittently to be involved in programs or retreats, becoming a sustaining member.  Mr. Petty joined the UY Community Board in 2002 and served on the Capital Campaign Committee.  Currently,  Mr. Petty is the co-chair of the UY Legacy Committee.  The Legacy Committee has been a great opportunity for Mr. Petty and other committee members to meet with old friends and continue the legacy of the UY


Luke Reynebeau introduction to the University was through the internship program.  Mr. Reynebeau became a Coordinator of the program his second year at the UY.  Due to his gifted ability and knowledge to work with technology, Mr. Renyebeau became the UY Specialist in technology, providing leadership and administration for all of the UY technology needs to include Facebook, Twitter, and donor management.  Mr. Renyebeau updated the UY social media systems and work very closely with the Greater Twin Cities Technology Department to identify innovative strategies for better outreach to the UY current donors. One of Mr. Reynebeau’s accomplishments was a new and creative year end UY newsletter that he designed and wrote articles for. Mr. Reynebeau has stayed connected to the UY after graduation and continues to provide insightful and relevant ways for the UY to remain progressive.


Austin Rondou started working at the UY as a freshman in 2007. Mr. Rondou worked as a Y-Tutor for a year before taking on a Volunteer Staff position in 2008.  During his sophomore year, Mr. Rondou helped to develop and implement PHD: Physical, Healthy & Driven Program at the Blasdell YMCA which grew to reach hundreds of urban youth and undergraduates across the Metro.  As a senior, Mr. Rondou served as a Student Board Member. Because of his passion for working with disadvantaged urban students, Mr. Rondou developed and implemented curriculum for a summer project, PHD and Golf in which he facilitated health curriculum that included nutritional and physical activities in combination with golfing.  Mr. Rondou is the recipient of the 2010 Doug Wallace Creativity Award and the 2011 George Williams Fellowship Award. 


Steven Terry is a legacy participant at the University YMCA.  His father, Dr. Robert Terry, was involved with the University Y since the 1970’s and has been credited with starting several of the most successful UY programs.   Mr. Terry began his participation in the early 1990’s while studying Sociology at the University of Minnesota.  Y-Buddies allowed Mr. Terry a connection to inner city youth.  Mr. Terry also participated in the Metro Internship program, a valuable work study program.  He later served on the Metro Internship’s student board.  After graduation, Mr. Terry has stayed involved.  Most recently, he has served on the UY Community Board.  And along with his law firm, TSR Injury Law, Mr. Terry is the sponsor of the Greg Coleman Celebrity Golf Tournament which helps inner city students expand their horizons into the non-traditional sport of golf and also benefits the UY on a financial level.  Mr. Terry is currently the Lead Partner of TSR Injury Law.


Douglas Wallace has had an extensive and long term relationship with the University YMCA dating back to 1954 when he was a UY Student Leader.  Dr. Wallace became Program Director at the UY in 1963 and Executive Director in 1969.  Under his leadership, student participation increased by 50% and revenues increased by 75%, and, the UY gained a national reputation for its student leadership development work.  Dr. Wallace served six years on the UY Community Board in the 1990s.  In 1997, he Co-Chaired the UY New Home Fund Raising Committee which raised $1.2 million dollars to build the new current UY building.   In 2006, he help raise $500,000 for the UY Capital Endowment which was matched by the Minneapolis Association.

Dr. Wallace was recognized in 2004 by the UY, receiving the “Honor Our Leaders” Award.  Dr. Wallace has and continues to be actively involved in community service work.  His legacy at the UY includes an Endowment and annual student award in his name.


Kris Wayne got her start at the UY as a participant in Project Motivation in 1971. Mrs. Wayne was a student staff leader for a variety of programs and became a permanent part of the UY staff in1973 for several programs to include Project Motivation and 8 Weeks to Live 8 Weeks to Die - a simulated terminal illness program wherein students went from being healthy to terminal to dead in eight weeks.   Mrs. Wayne used her leadership experiences, program development and community activism knowledge and skills she learned from her work at the UY  to help a group of gay men in the early 1980’s to develop what would become the Minnesota Aids Project.  This project was instrumental for establishing other AIDs projects around the country.  Mrs. Wayne sees her experiences at the UY for building leadership skills being “a legacy and becoming the gift that keeps on giving for others as a catalyst to be a community change agent.”