As the calendar transitions from 2021 to 2022, the Attleboro Norton YMCA will undergo a transition in leadership. After 39 years as a YMCA professional and 13 years at the helm of the Attleboro Norton YMCA, CEO Robin McDonald will retire as of Friday, December 31st. Courtney Harrness will step into the role of CEO beginning Monday, January 3rd.
During her time at the Attleboro Norton YMCA, McDonald helped the 154-year-old nonprofit organization rebound from financial distress, double its membership, raise its endowment to $9 million, and drive the Y’s Annual Campaign from $85,000 in 2008 to over $640,000 in 2019.
“Robin has significantly improved both the facilities and the programs offered at the Y,” said Board President Paul Schleicher. “Robin has also significantly improved the relationships within the surrounding communities fostering many collaboratives that have greatly benefitted these communities.”
Focusing on community collaborations, McDonald enhanced the Y’s role as a strong community leader, partner, and driver of critical community initiatives. “One very special and unique thing I’ve found in the greater Attleboro community is that our collaborations with others are truly partnerships,” McDonald said. “We’re able to strengthen each partner by working together and we amplify the service outcome.”
McDonald’s collaborative efforts proved vital when COVID-19 reached our community. By working with other community organizations, McDonald helped launch the Stronger Together Fund, which helped raise over $500,000 to support the work of 26 local nonprofits through the statewide shutdown in 2020. Thanks to her innovative strength, McDonald steered the Y successfully through the trials of the pandemic. While the Y responded to the community’s most pressing needs, including food insecurity and emergency childcare, the Y also emerged from this stressful period financially strong and poised to continue serving the community long into the future.
“For me, it’s always been all about the people I serve with and those we help. I have served in Attleboro with the very best staff, volunteers, community leaders, and Y members,” McDonald said. “I’m most proud of how this YMCA has focused on what is best for our children, our families our community – to do the most good we can, for the most people we can. The Y is in great hands with an experienced staff team in place, with a Board of Directors who are more dedicated and capable than any I’ve worked with, and with a new CEO in Courtney Harrness who I’m confident will lead this YMCA to new heights.”
Harrness comes to the Attleboro Norton YMCA from THE BASE, a Roxbury MA based nonprofit where he serves as Development Director. Prior to his time at THE BASE, Harrness served as the Senior Executive Director and Special Projects Manager for the Twin Cities YMCA. He has also worked in leadership roles at the YMCA of Greater Boston and the Springfield YMCA.
“Since the announcement of Robin McDonald’s retirement, the CEO Search Committee spent a considerable amount of time working to replace some big shoes with the best fit for our Y,” said Jann Alden, who serves on the Y’s Board of Directors and chaired the Search Committee. “I am excited to work with Courtney. We believe his previous Y leadership positions along with his experience working in the field of philanthropy make him a great fit for our YMCA.”
Harrness has been described by his colleagues as a senior executive leader with extensive experience in strategic collaboration, philanthropy, volunteer development, program innovation and operations.
“I am honored to follow Robin as the next CEO of the Attleboro Norton YMCA,” Harrness said. “The remarkable foundation that has been laid by the staff, board, and community partners is a true testament to her leadership. The opportunity to build on that foundation in partnership with so many committed community members, is a blessing.”
Schleicher said, “We wish Robin a much deserved long and healthy retirement. That said, we are extremely excited about our incoming CEO Courtney Harrness. Courtney is just the individual to continue to move this Y forward into the future. He was the clear choice after a nearly yearlong nationwide search process.”