Bob Thomas is the chief experience officer for the YMCA of the Greater Twin Cities, a leading nonprofit dedicated to strengthening communities through youth development, healthy living and social responsibility. He is responsible for engaging community members to help them meet their personal goals while ensuring a great Y experience through integrated marketing, membership sales and healthy living programs including swim lessons, group exercise, personal training, chronic disease and healthy aging. Prior to joining the Y, Bob held marketing, sales and sales operations leadership positions at Boston Scientific. He holds a bachelor’s degree in economics and English from the University of St. Thomas. Bob serves as the chair of the board of The Sheridan Story and actively volunteers at Colonial Church of Edina.

Why the Y?

“My first experience with the Y was in 1980. Shortly after my dad passed away, my mom got memberships to the Y for my brother and me. We walked or rode our bikes there almost every day and we were able to enjoy activities and sports, meet new friends and experience freedom in a safe environment. One of my favorite activities was swimming and diving off the board and making the biggest splash possible! When I was 16, I volunteered to coach a youth sports team and witnessed how even at a young age myself, how I could have a positive impact on another child.  Today my role at the Y is to help impact even more people in our community by connecting them to programs they need to be healthy in spirit, mind and body. Most of my career has been dedicated to helping people live better and longer lives, and at the Y I get to do that right here where I live. I love seeing people of all ages, cultures and backgrounds come together to build a stronger community.

One of the things that inspires me most is to see youth from all backgrounds and cultures learning to swim and be safe around water. Water has always fascinated me.  Whether it is swimming, fishing, canoeing, or just enjoying the view, water is so relaxing to me.  Water is one of this state’s most valuable resources and it’s important to me that everyone in Minnesota can safely enjoy our lakes, rivers and pools.  Take Samuel’s Story – Samuel has Down’s Syndrome and ADHD, and his mom worried about his safety around water. The Y provided adaptive swimming lessons to meet Samuel’s needs, and today he can swim across the pool with confidence. This is just one of thousands of examples of how the Y helps everyone in our community access the programs and services they need to thrive.”